Have you ever been fascinated by songs with whispering? You might not even notice that it was the seductive sound that gave you goosebumps.
“Shhhh!” People can experience positive sensations when listening to or watching something with whispers.
Join us as we slide into some of the greatest tunes with whispering.
Let’s hit it!
What Is It About Songs With Whispering?
There’s a thing about whispering. It captures your attention even though you’re trying to be quiet. It’s a sound made by a parent when they want their child to use their inside voice. But there’s also this thing called ASMR – autonomous sensory meridian response.
ASMR is the sensation people get when they watch stimulating videos or participate in other activities. Some people describe it as a tingly sensation, while others say it’s relaxing.
There isn’t a lot of science on ASMR yet. Most of the information is anecdotal. But the topic is intriguing, and whispering certainly captures interest. There’s a YouTube channel with more than 1.3 million followers, all tuning in to activate a pleasurable response.
Intentionally or unintentionally, musicians have used whispering in their songs, eliciting pretty spectacular sensory overload. Here are seven of our favorite songs with whispering.
#1 Angie by The Rolling Stones
Mick Jagger titled the song Angie, and Keith Richards wrote most of the lyrics. It’s the lead single from The Rolling Stones’ album Goat’s Head Soup, released in 1973.
Angie is a takeaway from the band’s usually hard and aggressive rock and one of their few songs that’s acoustic. A colossal hit, Angie is the only Rolling Stones ballad to hit number one in the U.S.
There’s speculation about the song’s origins. In a 2021 interview with Havers (udiscovermusic), Richards says the name Angie came to him while detoxing from heroin in Switzerland.
The song starts with Keith Richards and Mick Taylor playing acoustic guitar. Then Mick Jagger begins to sing the calmest you may ever see him. In the middle of the song, after an instrumental break, Mick whispers loudly, “Angie,” twice. It certainly grabs your attention, and you want to know what comes next.
#2 Come Together by The Beatles
Come Together is the opening track to The Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road. The song reached the top of the charts in the U.S., and the album hit number one in the United Kingdom as well as the U.S.
Funny story, John Lennon wrote a song for psychologist Timothy Leary, who experimented with LSD. The song was for Leary’s lackluster campaign for governor, and he never used it.
So, Lennon repurposed the phrase “Come Together” and added new lyrics with some nonsense thrown in. They slowed the tempo down in the studio and produced a song with softer, rounder tones.
The introduction to the song sounds to us like someone whispering shoop. It would be a groovy sound to make in the sixties. The whispered lyrics are actually Lennon saying “shoot me” followed by a handclap. The bass line drowns out the “me.” LSD indeed.
#3 I’m Not In Love by 10cc
The song I’m Not In Love is by the British group 10cc. It became an instant ballad classic in 1975.
Eric Stewart wrote the song for his wife, trying to find a way to say, “I love you,” without saying the words. The group almost didn’t record the song, thinking it was crap. Then, they heard staff members humming the tune and decided to try again with a new twist.
The actual whispered song lyrics are, “Be quiet. Big boys don’t cry.” It’s 10cc’s secretary, Kathy Redfern, who whispers the words. That’s just one part of the overall vamp the group put to the melody.
The entire song gives us that ASMR vibe. I’m Not In Love sounds like a large wordless choir whispering. The sounds that give us the tingles are the masterfully multitracked voices of the band. The mixing involved 256 vocal dubs with distorted synthesized effects.
It’s so ethereal.
#4 Lullaby by The Cure
Lullaby is by English rock band The Cure and is from their eighth studio album, Disintegration (1989). The hit is the band’s highest charting single, and the music video won the Brit Awards’ 1990 British Video of the Year award.
The Cure’s lead singer, Robert Smith, says the song is about the fear of sleep. As a child, he had a recurring nightmare of being eaten by a giant spider. David Lynch’s 1977 debut horror movie, Eraserhead, inspired the dark video.
You can barely hear Robert Smith’s breathy lyrics, drawing you in to listen harder. He sounds a bit intoxicated. Coupled with the video, the song is creepy.
Smith’s voice, in and out of whispers throughout the song, brings to life lyrics like, “And I feel like I’m being eaten. By a thousand million shivering furry holes. And I know that in the morning. I will wake up in the shivering cold. And the Spiderman is always hungry.”
It gives us shivers too.
#5 Mellow Yellow by Donovan
Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan (Donovan Phillips Leitch) wrote and released the hit Mellow Yellow in 1967. The song peaked at one, two, and three on different U.S. charts.
An early story was that Mellow Yellow was about smoking dried banana skins, rumored to be hallucinogenic. Donovan said he wanted to capture the mellow and easy-going essence of the sixties. He later admitted that the song, in part, was a reference to a vibrator or “electrical banana,” as mentioned in the lyrics.
Donovan was also trying to embrace a cool, laid-back setting, as achieved through meditation. It became a more serious practice for The Beatles and him in presenting music.
Paul McCartney is a background reveler on the track. Contrary to trendy belief, Donovan, and not McCartney, whispers “quite rightly.”
Yes, it’s groovy, and we love it. We also want to know where we can get our hands on that cover art.
#6 Too Much Time On My Hands by Styx
The signature electric rock song, Too Much Time On My Hands, is by Styx and from their album Paradise Theatre, released in 1981.
Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw wrote and sang lead vocals for the track. The song is about a guy who spends all his time at the local bar with nothing better to do. Shaw drew his inspiration from a real bar in Michigan. A local watering hole where you’re sure to know someone there.
The “t-t-t-t-ticking” staccato whisper tracks with the bassline that popped into Shaw’s head. Audiences around the world tick right along with him. Shaw takes the song to its psychedelic whispered conclusion that he has too much time on his hands. It leaves us wanting more.
#7 True Colors by Cyndi Lauper
One of Cyndi Lauper’s most famous songs, True Colors, came out in 1986 with an album of the same name. The songwriting team of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly composed the song and are known for penning hits for Madonna and Heart.
True Colors is about looking below the surface to see what someone is really like. Steinberg said he employs stream-of-consciousness writing. The first verse, “true colors shining through,” sets the stage for the coming lyrics. Kelly recognized how the song would have universal appeal.
Indeed, that is the case. The LGBTQ community embraces the song. In 2007, Lauper launched the True Colors Tour to support gay rights and fight hate crimes.
The song ebbs and flows. Lauper delivers a stark contrast between her soft voice in the verses and her forceful, passionate chorus. It’s almost haunting as she whispers, “Can’t remember when I last saw you laughing.”
It’s quite touching.
Whispering Songs Draws the Listener In
Songs with whispering are a great enhancement. Scare us or make us cry; get us to sing along. It gives us all the feels and connects us more deeply to the music.
What’s your favorite whispered song? Have you experienced ASMR with it? Tell us about it in the comments below!