Five of the best: rock and pop songs with epic choir tracks

There’s nothing like a good choir to add that extra sparkle and uplifting quality to a rock and pop anthem.  Here’s our pick of the best:

1.  You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones

A beautiful choral sequence starts this rock classic which then picks up pace, cleverly weaving the choir around its funky rhythm.

2.  Proud – Heather Small

A fantastic uplifting tune about aspirations, Proud was used for the 2012 London Olympic bid.

3. Earth Song – Michael Jackson

A great call and response role for the choir with some dramatic vocals.  A rousing song with great chord sequences.

4.  Like A Prayer – Madonna

With a choir precence from the start, you can’t fail to join in and tap your toes to this funky gospel vibe.

5.  New York – Paloma Faith

A big dramatic number which is elevated with great effect towards the end with a full choir sound.

What have we missed? Do you have any favourite rock and pop choir moments? We’d love to hear from you.

Comments on Five of the best: rock and pop songs with epic choir tracks

  1. Avatar joe says:

    leon russell
    “stranger in a strange land”

  2. Avatar Virginia says:

    Hi Christine,

    Many thanks for posting these, they are great. Do you teach these by ear from the track or is there sheet music and lyrics for these songs? If so where would I get them from? When you perform them, is there a track available without the lead vocal?


    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Hi Virginia,

      Thanks for your message. For the article I was just highlighting some great contemporary songs featuring choirs. If you have a look online I’m sure you’ll find some of the sheet music for them available.

  3. Avatar Alan Entwistle says:

    Pink Floyd

    Atom Heart Mother

    for an interesting use of a choir

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Thanks Alan,

      Great suggestion.

  4. Avatar dan klein says:

    alan parsons- breakdown
    elo- mr blue sky

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for adding these suggestions.

  5. Avatar Garry says:

    Melanie – Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)

  6. Avatar Subash Thapa says:

    Greatly chosen.
    One more to the list;
    The Foreigners: I wanna Know What Love Is

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Great song! Thanks Subash

  7. Hi, Victoria and Christine,

    Thanks for this article – it has made me think from the other side! I tried answering the question before I read your article, and came up with the word “assurance” – which for me as song leader means being confident and assured (and at least one step ahead of the singers!). I’m now thinking it’s also about assuring the singers – reassuring them, validating them, and yes, helping them develop. Underlying that must be empathy, as you point out, now that I think about it. Sometimes I feel I am so preoccupied with the technical things I’m doing that I may not be connecting as well as I could be with the singers: it’s as if I’m performing in a glass bubble in which I am concentrating and focused, and although I’m looking at the faces looking at me, I’m not actually connecting with them very deeply. Feeling empathy for the singers (and many of them may be feeling nervous or shy about singing) is also a great way to overcome any nervousness in ourselves. It’s up to us to help the group overcome their reservations: we are there to draw them out and awareness of empathy will be such a good tool. It’s also about celebrating the many moments of greatness in both individuals and the group: suddenly a passage comes right, or the song comes together. I’ll be mindful of empathy next practice.

    I am getting an enormous amount from your blogs, articles, and tweets: thank you! You address so many issues I’m grappling with. Yours is the one blog I open immediately when it arrives in my email in-box.

    I am in New Zealand and a relatively new “Song Leader” rather than a classical choral conductor, although obviously there is much overlap (I also sing in traditional repertoire choirs and my own origins were in early polyphony). We have a focus on exploring so-called “world” music in our small community group, at this stage women, but I’m thinking of throwing it wider into the community through judicious marketing – I liked your article about how to seed a choir – and it would be good to be able to derive some income as a lot of time is going into developing skills and programmes. At the moment this is on top of an unrelated full time job, so I am having to take things quite slowly.

    A couple of years ago the Song Leaders’ Network Aotearoa (Maori name for NZ) was set up – probably similar in intent to your UK Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network. We have just held our third symposium. There was a call to look at how to incorporate technology both in the preparation and presentation of sessions. I can’t wait to look at your video (great! this will be such a useful extra teaching dimension – visual) about preparing tracks: will it be dealing with technology and a programme such as Audacity, I wonder? I’m grateful for all your ideas – anything that helps us not to have to reinvent wheels when we’re all so time constrained is so welcome!

    I have been incorporating your warm ups into my choir sessions – great little book. And very stimulating website. Again, many thanks. Pam Nicholls

    1. Avatar Victoria Hopkins says:

      Hi Pam. Your excellent comment seems to have ended up on the wrong post, so I’ve duplicated it on the article “The one thing you need to be a great choir leader” and replied to it there.

  8. Great ideas here – We (Landmark Show Choir) are backing a local band the Ratzkins for Perfect Day (reap reap reap…what you sow bit at the end) and we also just performed the TV theme Happy Days with my son as soloist

  9. Avatar Erica says:

    Will You Be There – Michael Jackson from Free Willy
    The Greatest – R Kelly

    1. Christine Mulgrew Christine Mulgrew says:

      Great choices, thanks Erica.

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