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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" Isolated Vocals

Today during this post of "Isolated Vocal Week" we'll listen to the vocals on the song that started the grunge trend in music. It's Nirvana's 1991 release "Smells Like Teen Spirit", the opening track from their mega-selling Nevermind album, which has gone on to sell more than 30 million units worldwide. Here are some things to listen for. Take note that the vocal doesn't enter until 38 seconds in.

1) It sure sounds like there are a lot of punches on this vocal track, so much so that I'm not sure that they're all punches at all. The ones that are obvious are on the "Hello" part in the song's B sections. These were obviously just one section that was flown in as needed, with the initial breath being cut off.

2) As with most of the songs that we've listened to this week, there's a nice long reverb on the vocal. In this case it's definitely delayed and the top and bottom end is filtered a bit so it fits nicely into the track without sticking out.

3) Another thing that we've seen before that's also used on "Teen Spirit" is the arrangement technique of using a single lead vocal in the verse, then doubling it in the B sections and choruses.

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Unknown said...

nice series. i love listening to elements of multitracks/mixes. always something there to learn from.

i found a video on youtube of the same vocal track, minus the dropouts/peaks. so i'm guessing bp2utv's upload got damaged at some point.

Mojo said...

That' one's cleaner but you can still hear some of the punchin / mouth noise in spots, like the beginning of the verse after the solo. Also sounds like ADT was used for the B sections, instead of actually doubling the sections? Very cool as always to hear the vox by itself!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these isolated vocal examples, Bobby. Very informative.

Any ideas what sort of reverbs to reach for in our DAWs to approximate the reverb textures on these examples? Plate sims? Room sims? IRs? Pre-delayed?


Anonymous said...

Have you heard Layne Staley's Man in the box vocal track. Also verry awesome

Bobby Owsinski said...

Hal, most of the reverbs used on older tracks were plates. Most plates are dark sounding, so roll off the top end and you'll have a good approximation.

Anonymous, Staley's Man in the Box vocal is indeed cool.

Eric A said...

There's something else on that track-it's either a compressor or a phase/flange-you can really hear it on the choruses. I could be some really odd verb too.


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