It’s a mystery to me how some melodic tricks can sound shallow and manipulative in one song, and completely awesome in another.
When Dave Faulkner pops up the octave in Come Anytime, it happens far too late and does nothing for me, although it is pretty cool in What’s My Scene? Ditto most of the times Iva Davies does it (and he does it a lot), although it is pretty cool in Don’t Believe Any More.
These occasions, however, rock my world:
Nilsson, Without You: “can’t give any more … CAN’T LIVE …”
Billy Idol, White Wedding: “It’s a nice day to … START AGAIN …” (technically, this is a major 6th, not an octave, but it still rocks.)
David Bowie, Heroes: “I, I WILL BE KING …”
David Byrne, Road to Nowhere: First he sings “There’s a city in my mind …”, then he sings “THERE’S A CITY IN MY MIND …”
And perhaps the greatest of them all, Roy Orbison, Crying: “FOR YOU DOOOON’T LOVE ME …”
Not to mention “CRY-I-I-YIIING …”
Roy Orbison used to walk out onstage and sing – no patter, no lectures about the environment – then do that song last. The audience would go nuts and call for an encore, so Roy would go out and sing it again.
I’m keenly aware that I have no examples of females doing the same vocal trick. This is partly because of how the female belt register works, but it also just doesn’t seem to happen as often. I’d love to be wrong about this … Aretha, Annie, Ethel … nope. Lots of big notes and examples of what some show queens call ‘optioning up’, but not an octave: Pat Benatar nearly gets there in the middle of All Fired Up, but this is really a marathon of optioning up .
At the end of Big Yellow Taxi, though, Joni Mitchell takes it UP and then down an octave. Not many guys could do that.