This Saturday (27 April), Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ turns 15. Aside from Elizabeth Fraser’s haunting vocal, it’s chiefly known for its bass drum mimicking a heartbeat – and the video that played on the notion. But mimicking? Here are 10 songs that actually used real bodily functions (not including singing) to integral effect.
Coughing! As percussion! The 21st century Bobby McFerrins nailed it in 2012.
They were only – what? – 12, so what could be funnier than closing debut album ‘1977’ with a hidden track full of vomiting noises? Don’t listen on a full stomach.
More coughing. It’s Tony Iommi’s cough cut up and looped, to warn the kids of the dangers of puffing away on recreational cigarettes.
French – and we’re legally obliged to call her this – chanteuse Camille let out a trouser cough of her own on this track from 2011 album ‘Ilo Veyou’, and was so impressed with the effect she kept it in. Well, she kept the sound in the record.
You can probably guess the percussive effect Kool wove seamlessly into this big dumb hip-hop cut from 1996.
An actual heartbeat, Massive Attack. Plus some laughter (and a cash till). The heartbeat also pops up on ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ closer ‘Eclipse’.
Let’s have some laughs. Phil Collins’ cackle on ‘Mama’ is like a perverted drum solo. Call him the proto-DJ Kool.
The ‘Mode’s hymn to sadomasochism baulked at the idea of including real whips, but producer and Mute founder Daniel Miller nobly stepped in with some hissing and spitting to recreate the noise. They also fashioned a quasi-drum solo of their own on ‘Personal Jesus’ with some panting/hyper-ventilating.
A baby crying – isn’t that sweet? Sweeter than Phil Collins’ death rattle anyway. Stevie’s ode to the joys of childbirth samples his daughter Aisha to “awww, bless” effect.
Can we count footsteps as bodily functions? Matthew Herbert probably used them on his own human body-sampling masterwork ‘Bodily Functions’, and we can call that the textbook. Anyway here, rather than acting as percussion they provide atmosphere. Footsteps providing atmosphere was big in the first half of the 80s – look at Wham!’s ‘Club Tropicana’ and Duran Duran’s ‘Friends Of Mine’. But you knew that already.
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Any other tracks that use bodily functions/emissions for a handy purpose? Maybe some belching?