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)

“It’s Too Late” (Carole King Cover)

By Jim Fusco:

Could it be Jim Fusco covering a woman’s song…in the original key??  Then you KNOW it’s the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog- the BEST music video blog ever created!

This is a great song, isn’t it?  It’s off of Carole (not to be confused with “Carol”) King’s classic hit album, “Tapestry”.  I’ll admit that I don’t have the album and just know the single from hearing it many times on the radio.  But, after hearing what a great tune it is (you know, actually just sitting and listening to it), I think I may give the album a try.  It’s a fairly simple song and reminds me (especially the ending, which ends on the same chord and with the same pattern) of a song my brother Mike and I wrote a long time ago called “Stuck In A Dream”.  You can listen to that song, which is off of the “Meaningless: Echoes of Dreams” sessions, by clicking HERE!  We wrote that song about six or seven years ago, so you know that this song, even though it uses some great Major 7th chords, is still pretty simple.  On the piano, it’s much easier than it is on the guitar.

But, it’s got some great guitar parts in the original recording- a very cool solo.  Plus, it’s got that nifty little piano riff thrown in there, which again, for some reason, strikes me as something only a rudimentary songwriter would put in.  You know, someone that’s just tinkering around with the piano and came up with it.

So, I finally do a song from a female artist and here I am picking it apart, calling it amateurish.  No, I don’t mean that at all.  That’s one of the reasons why I want to hear the rest of the “Tapestry” album- if some of the other songs strike me as “professional”, I’ll know she came up with this song on purpose, and I do believe that’s the case.

This is a pretty powerful song, especially the part about “not trying”.  Too many relationships fail not because the people weren’t compatible, but because they just stopped trying.  Effort is truly the number one factor in a relationship, in my opinion.  I mean, this song isn’t saying what I’m really thinking right now- I’m getting married in less than two weeks and, contrary to what everyone insists on telling me, I’m full of hope and happiness for this.  I’ve promised time and time again that I will always put as much effort as possible into my relationship, as it’s the single most important thing to me.  Not music, not anything else- my relationship with my family (which will include my new wife) and my closest friends.

The way this song relates to me right now is that I kind of feel I’m not getting the same effort back from some of the people I consider close.  And some, like the song says, are irreparable.  That’s not to say that myself and the other person won’t be happy again- we certainly will.  It just won’t be as a result of one another.  The only thing I can hang my hat on at the moment that makes me feel any better is the “fact” (at least from my point of view) that the decisions that got it to this point were not mine at all- if it were up to me, everything would’ve stayed the same.  But, alas, just as Carole King sings, it’s just too late, baby.

I hope you enjoy my acoustic rendition of this classic song tonight.  I had a b***** of a time getting it right, as I must’ve done about twenty takes and even after I got the perfect one, I realized it had all kinds of inexplicable pops and clicks in the audio, which I’m trying to fix now.  I hope you can listen past the imperfections and hear one of my better performances underneath.  Have a great week and stay tuned for Chris’ post from the Dylan concert tomorrow and Jeff and Chris later on!