What's the name for the kind of song when a LOT of people sing one word?
January 20, 2017 1:35 PM   Subscribe

So is there a name for the type of song that We Are The World is? Something where a big group of people get together and each sing a little part of it? I need to find examples of songs like that - really with pop music - and I'm not sure what I'm searching for.
posted by rileyray3000 to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The song is just a pop song with a chorus singing the chorus and soloists singing the verses. The type of group is a supergroup, specifically a charity supergroup. Is that what you're looking for? Famous vocalists from other bands forming a supergroup to release one single? Band-Aid's Do they Know it's Christmas is the one I thought of.

posted by kapers at 2:00 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm specifically looking for ones that AREN'T for causes. Just like a bunch of different singers came together to each take a line. Ideally on a cover song.
posted by rileyray3000 at 2:03 PM on January 20, 2017

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction concerts usually mash all the most famous inductees together on a song. Sometimes vocalists will switch verses (probably not lines, though.)
posted by kapers at 2:07 PM on January 20, 2017

This seems borderline given your follow-up, but this cover of Lou Reed's Perfect Day is great. It was originally recorded as a promotional video for the BBC's music coverage but was then later released as a charity song.
posted by heavenknows at 2:11 PM on January 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Travelling Wilburys (Tom Petty, Dylan, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, Roy Orbison) often each took verses. More rock than pop, not covers, but not for charity.
posted by kapers at 2:13 PM on January 20, 2017

Nick Cave's Death is not the End wasn't for charity and had him, Kylie, Shane McGowan, Anita Lane, PJ Harvey, Blixa Bargeld and some others, taking it in turns on the lines in a Band Aid style. Also feels somewhat apt for today.
posted by merocet at 2:43 PM on January 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

This cover of London Calling was the Grammy tribute to Joe Strummer is a favorite of mine. (Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl, Steven Van Zandt and Elvis Costello )
posted by 26.2 at 3:09 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

There's Forever Country, a video produced for the CMA's 50th anniversary. They're not all in one place, but it's a who's who of country music stars (and Darius Rucker!) all taking a line or two or John Denver's "Country Roads." It then turns into a medley mashup of "Country Roads" and "I Will Always Love You." It's good.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:10 PM on January 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Is verse-by-verse OK, or were you looking for units that were smaller than that (by the line, maybe, or by the word)?

A good example of singers changing verse by verse is the 1985 pop-country cheezeball "Highwayman" written by Jimmy Webb (of "Wichita Lineman" fame / "MacArthur Park" infamy) and recorded by The Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson.)

I don't know of a name for this phenomenon, in any case..
posted by Nerd of the North at 3:19 PM on January 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don't have a link but a bunch of people recently did this kind of group cover of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows."
posted by mama casserole at 3:22 PM on January 20, 2017

This version of Will the Circle Be Unbroken features a bunch of singers and musicians, such as Johnny Cash, Bruce Hornsby, Levon Helm, Emmylou Harris, The Carter Family, etc. They're listed under the video.
posted by modesty.blaise at 3:22 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

You might try "ensemble" as a search term. It's a term that's commonly used for things like TV and movies where there are big casts and everyone carries a roughly equal load; e.g. "Community" is an ensemble sitcom, with 8 regular castmembers in most episodes, and of the core 6, none was more important than any other, despite the fact that some were played by far more famous actors.

I found this wiki page (about UK one-hit wonders) which calls them "Aggregate Ensemble Groups." So maybe "aggregate," with or without ensemble, would work.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:38 PM on January 20, 2017

Sounds like you're wanting a song like Carole King's "You've got a friend" ; featuring Carole King, Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Gloria Estefan.
posted by mountainblue at 3:40 PM on January 20, 2017

'do they know it's halloween' had a zillion people on it (beck, arcade fire, the unicorns, many more) and was a spoof of those charity songs
posted by noloveforned at 4:38 PM on January 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

There was a multi-singer version of "Fight Song" presented at the Democratic National Convention last summer on Hillary Clinton's behalf. Here it is.
posted by carmicha at 5:39 PM on January 20, 2017

Playing for Change does this, sort of. They film singers and musicians all over the world, performing the same song, and edit them together. Usually each singer does an entire verse, though.
This isn't precisely what you're asking for, but for me it scratches that itch.

Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay

Stand By Me

La Bamba
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:44 PM on January 20, 2017

You reminded me of a cover of the Buzzcock's Ever Fallen In Love was recorded in this style after the death in 2004 of the legendary DJ, John Peel, but there's almost no trace of this online other than a few news articles, so I've no idea if it was any good or not.
posted by sarahdal at 7:21 AM on January 21, 2017

The God Only Knows song was released as part of the BBC Music launch in 2014 as a charity single to benefit Children in Need.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:35 AM on January 22, 2017

Ken and Andy on WFMU.org tried to organise a version of 'God Only Knows' using callers phoning into their show Seven Second Delay, one word each, in 2007, you can hear the whole thing here.

"It takes a village to record a Beach Boy ballad"

(but I don't know what this kind of song-singing is called – they use lots of ways to describe it, but they don't have a single noun term for it)
posted by Joeruckus at 2:06 PM on January 22, 2017

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