Five on Friday: Back It Up

I haven’t participated in a blog meme in a long time. But when I heard about Travis’ “Five on Friday“, I thought I would give it a shot. First of all, it’s very similar to the “Friday Five” that I used to do with my brother and a few friends, except that it’s more organized & more widely observed – plus, occasionally he provides you with a theme or a direction, which would help on those weeks that you’re brain is fried. SO, anyway… here goes!

The ultimate dream for many adolescent boys, at least from my generation, was to be a rock-and-roll star.  That desire has even been put to music itself in songs like the Byrds’ So You Want to be a Rock & Roll Star or Bad Company’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy.

I guess I was the weird one.

(4 out of 5 dentists agree that I could’ve dropped the “I guess” from that last sentence.)

But I never wanted to be the guy in front. I had no desire to be the star – I wanted to sing backup!

I didn’t want to be Elvis; I wanted to be a Jordanaire.

For whatever twisted, bizarre reason, I always thought the guys in the back were cooler than the guy up front. When I sang along with my 45’s I often sang the backup parts without actually thinking about it. Instead of singing “Let me be your Teddy Bear”, I was stepping side-to-side singing “Bop shoo waddy waddy”.

Even now when I look at rock & roll bands, I am usually more drawn to the supporting musicians than the front-man.  Adam Clayton is cooler than Bono. Bill Wyman was cooler than Mick Jagger. Clarence Clemons was cooler than Bruce Springsteen. Peter Criss was cooler than Gene Simmons or Paul Stanley.

So, for this Five on Friday meme, here are five of the best sing-alongable backup vocal performances of all time (in my opinion at least):

The Jordanaires – possibly one of my earliest backup fantasies. (Not to mention the fact that they got to wear those sweet plaid jackets!)

The Pips – Check out those moves! (Gawd, I love this song!)

The video gives the backup vocal credits to the Belmonts, but it was actually the Del-Satins that recorded it with Dion – and not the band as the video would suggest. (I dare you to try & watch it and not sing along!)

the Moniques – This has to be one of the best all-female backup songs ever. “Just a little bit – just a little bit…”

Queen – Slightly more recent, but just as awesome. Proof that sometimes the regular band can effectively serve as the backup singers too.

So what are your favorite songs featuring prominent backup vocals?

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8 thoughts on “Five on Friday: Back It Up

  1. Now this is a fantastic introduction to FoF. Welcome aboard!

    I shall overlook your blog name for the time being. As you get to know me, you’ll discover that I am terrified of the eight-legged creatures.

  2. That was a total delight. I’ve always been a HUGE fan of The Jordanaires, and my dad used to do his own Temptations moves just for fun, so that every time I see a Motown backup act doing them it makes me smile and brings my dad near.

    A favorite backup singer tune? Hmm. Well, here’s one you may not have come across before. Ordinary Man by the Swanky Modes – from the movie Tapeheads.

    Of course, there’s no getting around The Temptations. I mean, My Girl – who’s watching the lead singer? I’ll tell you who’s watching the lead singer. His mom.

  3. I love this featuring of the backup singers! I always find myself resenting the featured singer, especially when they were originally a part of the group. I find it interesting when a singer provides his or her own backup vocals. I was listening to Neil Sedaka on the early version of “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” but I bet it would be hard to do in a live show. :)

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