The BEST VOCAL PERFORMANCES of 2011 (The Year-End Awards)

By Chris Moore:

This is a tough category.  All of the songs on the my upcoming top fifty songs list have excellent vocals, many of which are standout performances.  However, there are also songs that go unrecognized on the top fifty list that are notable for their outstanding vocals.  Thus, as a rule, songs included in the top fifty list are not considered here.

I suppose you could consider this my way of sneaking in an extra ten songs that I didn’t find room for on my best songs list, but I hope you’ll consider it an additional category.  These ten songs are great in their own rights, but especially by virtue of the excellence of their vocals.  Some are smooth, some are rough; some are passionately outraged, some are tenderly heartfelt.  Taken together, they’re the standout vocal performances of 2011:

1) “Something to Believe In” – Parachute (The Way It Was)

2) “Estate Sale Sign” – The Mountain Goats (All Eternals Deck)

3) “Blue Spotted Tail” – Fleet Foxes (Helplessness Blues)

4) “Shakin’ All Over” – Wanda Jackson (The Party Ain’t Over)

5) “2012” – The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (La Carotte Bleue)

6) “When You Wish Upon A Star” – Brian Wilson (In the Key of Disney)

7) “Talking At The Same Time” – Tom Waits (Bad As Me)

8 ) “Sunloathe” – Wilco (The Whole Love)

9) “Bridge Burning” – Foo Fighters (Wasting Light)

10) “Amy, I” – Jack’s Mannequin (People And Things)


The Best Vocal Performances of 2010

By Chris Moore:

Welcome back for another installment of this year-in-review list series, brought to you by the Weekend Review.  Tonight, I’m happy to present the top fifteen vocal performances of 2010.  Some, like “In Vain or True” and “White Blank Page,” are impressive for their use of complex vocal arrangements.  Others, like “Machine Gun” and “Memories” are notable for the emotive quality of Sara Bareilles’ and Rivers Cuomo’s respective performances.

There have been some excellent vocal performances this year, ranging from the raw vulnerability of Steven Page’s cover of “Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure” to the unleashed quality of Alison Mosshart’s lead on “Gasoline.”  This was one of the most difficult lists to assemble, as the great vocal leads of the year run the gamut in various ways.  So, I’ve done my best to assemble and rank these tracks, taking into account the quality of the individual voices, the emotion behind each delivery, and the overall coherence and interest potentially generated by each vocal.

Without further ado, here’s the list, and be sure to check back tomorrow for another list in this end-of-2010 series!


1)  “In Vain or True” – Dhani Harrison, Ben Harper, & Joseph Arthur (of Fistful of Mercy; As I Call You Down)

2)  “White Blank Page” – Marcus Mumford (of Mumford & Sons; Sigh No More)

3)  “Machine Gun” – Sara Bareilles (Kaleidoscope Heart)

4)  “Memories” – Rivers Cuomo (of Weezer; Hurley)

5)  “Please Move” – Kevin Devine (of Bad Books; Bad Books)

6)  “Thieves” – Zooey Deschanel (of She & Him; Volume Two)

7)  “Gasoline” – Alison Mosshart (of Dead Weather; Sea of Cowards)

8)  “I Have Learned” – Ed Robertson (of BnL; All in Good Time)

9)  “Only the Ocean” – Jack Johnson (To The Sea)

10)  “Summer Sun” – Ben Thornewill (of Jukebox the Ghost; Everything Under the Sun)

11)  “The Chorus Girl” – Steven Page (Page One)

12)  “Ain’t No Grave” – Johnny Cash (American VI: Ain’t No Grave)

13)  “The Dance Class” – Rhett Miller (of Old 97’s; The Grand Theatre, Vol. 1)

14)  “Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure” – Steven Page (A Singer Must Die)

15)  “Don’t Look Down” – Philip Selway (Familial)