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Gang Vocals?

Posted on Monday, August 11, 2008 at 12:01AM by Registered CommenterAllyson B. Crawford | Comments12 Comments

Here lately I've noticed a trend with new releases: gang vocals. The more I think about this, the more I think "gang vocals" is a dumb phrase.

Lynam and Motley Crue both feature gang vocals on their new albums. In both instances, those "gang vocals" are by an already famous group of musicians. I remember when this was credited as "backing vocals." The liner notes usually said something like "backing vocals provided by ...." or "so and so appears courtesy of Universal Records."

I wonder when semantics crept into modern rock and changed the way we think of layered vocal tracks? I mean, is this a ProTools evolution? It's pretty common for rock musicians to think of their respective bands as a "gang" and yet the term "gang vocal" seems derivative to me. 


I wonder how many more Glam bands will use gang vocals as a marketing tactic on upcoming albums?

**What do you prefer: vocals by your favorite band, or backing tracks provided by other famous musicians?

Reader Comments (12)

Backing vocals used to be either a couple of women to do the high notes or a friend who just happened to be around during recordings.

I used to love checking out the album notes to see who did any backing vocals etc.

The term 'gang' vocals ive never heard before but in this instance - i doubt we will hear more of it although i could be wrong - it has happened before.
August 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterred6ixx
I remember trying to work out where each famous person was on Dr feelgood, b/c they had so many people doing backing. But, I can't imagine buying a CD for the backing vocals, and I can see it being overdone.
August 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Gang vocals have been around for a long time. Generally speaking, they are shouted, not sung. The first time I heard the term was 85 or so.
August 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSt. Ayre
Yep, "gang vocals" are usually a shouted section - "AMEN!!" on Wildside by the Crue for example. We used gang vocals on a few sections in some of our material but it did differ from backing vocals... That was - live, anyway - our bass player, guitar and drummer. In the studio though we added my lead vocal line as well and on some songs I'd do 2 parts.
Every band has a different way of doing backing vocals though.

I agree about one thing; it was always cool to read the liner notes to see who contributed background vocals... Sometimes you hear someone famous once it's pointed out... Like Mick Jagger doing backing vocals on Carly Simon's "You're So Vain"...
August 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterValentine
I LOVE HINDER! Seein' them in concert soon with 3 Doors Down!
How can u not like them they are glam some way or another.
Well I'm fine with it cuz both those songs rock!
August 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMotleyCrue666
i prefer a band to do their own vocals so that when they tour it sounds close to what was recorded. now it it's just a project with no real thought about touring then whatever sounds good is fine. ultimately it's the bands choice and my opinion doesn't really matter. what they want to do they will do and if i like it then fine and if not well that's fine too.
August 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdon
I've seen the term used quite a bit since the early/mid 80's too. It came up pretty often when referring to thrash bands (Anthrax and Exodus esp.), as well as for harder rock/metal bands, when (as mentioned above) the section was more shouted than sung.

Sometimes when you had songs w/ more traditional/melodic background vox, and then a song w/ the shouted style, the same album might use both references.
August 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJack
HINDER and LYNAM aren't glam, they are NU-Metal and UGLY!
August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGG ALLIN
HINDER and LYNAM aren't glam, they are NU-Metal and UGLY!
August 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGG ALLIN
we used to call them bouncer convention backing vocals
August 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEddy M
I heard the term thrown around with AC/DC to describe their backing vocals. It's filling and harmonic, but not too soft or wussy.
November 23, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrock fan
'gang vocals' as a term came from the hardcore scene

With the current surge in popularity of hardcore and metalcore bands they're being referred to as gang vocals, which is a much more comprehensive term than just 'backing vocals' for what it actually is: lots of people shouting the same word or phrase, in hair metal I suppose Armageddon It by Def Leppard would be an obvious example.

Sorry, it's just that I work in a studio and when someone says 'gang vocals' I know exactly what they're getting at.
November 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoshy

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