Jun 062012

The “money shot,” that big payoff moment… David Bowie provides one of rock’s all-time money shots at the 1:16 mark of “Heroes,” when he jumps up to the higher register. Even rock fans who have had issues with Bowie tend to dig “Heroes,” and I bet even the most down-to-earth, meat-and-potatoes rockers among get a little chill when his vocals leap an octave.

I believe a significant portion of 1980s music was founded on this device, surely not a device Bowie founded but one he drove into our collective conscious. Bono, in particular, has tried to work this money shot move into 75% of U2’s songs.

In future weeks we’ll examine money shot moments featuring other instruments, but today let’s focus on vocalists. What are some of rock’s other most-influential vocal money shots?


  26 Responses to “The Money Shot: Vocals”

  1. machinery

    What immediately sprung to mind was Joe Cocker’s scream in his version of “With a little help from my friends.”

    Everyone knows it. It’s at 3:50 here:


    A screaming money shot. how appropriate.

  2. cliff sovinsanity

    I’m thinking Surfer Girl towards the end of the song when Brian (I think it’s Brian) sings “little one” falsetto over the the chorus.

  3. hrrundivbakshi

    Janis Joplin’s scream before the final chorus in “Piece Of My Heart.”

    BTW, I’ve always hated “Heroes.” CHEESE!

  4. Maybe not influential, but one of my favorites: Hall and Oates, She’s Gone. At the end, when the music keeps climbing and climbing during the solo, slight pause, and then “She’s go-oh-oh-oh-one! Love that modulation and high part.

    This video may have posted before. Hall and Oates look like they are about to have the last of their make-up put on to star in CATS.


  5. Leave it to us to find someone who doesn’t like “Heroes”!

  6. Near the end of the Four Seasons’ “Rag Doll”. Listen for the octave leap at 2:28 in the following clip – that’s the moment.

  7. Roger Daltrey did his screaming money shot at 7:45 in “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.

  8. What is rock’s first great scream, something from Little Richard?

  9. The degree of difficulty may have been too hard for other artists to attempt to replicate, so although it may not be “influential” it’s definitely legendary. Who knows, though, maybe Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and their ilk spent their youth trying to sing along to that part?

  10. I never liked “Heroes”, but it sounds like U2 based their sound on the soaring vocals and repetitive pulsing of the rest of the band.

  11. BigSteve

    I think a better Bowie vocal money shot would be “Ain’t there one damn song that can make me … break down and cry-hi?” from Young Americans.

  12. misterioso

    Imagine anyone not liking “Heroes.” Boggles the mind. May as well just declare you hate life itself.

  13. misterioso

    The “what a beautiful buzz” section of “Loving Cup” on Exile.

  14. alexmagic

    Yeah, when I read the title and saw it was about Bowie, I thought of Young Americans first, too. That and the “YOU’RE NOT ALONE!” part in Rock ‘n Roll Suicide. No surprise that Bowie specializes in this sort of thing, right?

  15. hrrundivbakshi

    I love life — especially when I don’t have to listen to “Heroes.”

  16. For singers, I think one of Elvis’ big moments was the “Don’t let our love die…” part in the middle of “Suspicious Minds”.

    He had to have one or two in the early days as well but I’m blanking.

  17. ladymisskirroyale

    Well, Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden in “The Trip” have some impressive octave-leaping.

  18. ladymisskirroyale

    “Devil put aside for me, for me, for meeeeeee…..”
    Bohemian Rhapsody at 4:10. Try it, it ain’t easy.

  19. Slim Jade

    I’m gonna have to toss in Lou Christie’s “Lightnin’ Strikes”.

  20. pudman13

    Near the end of “Out There” by the Blake Babies, Juliana Hatfield’s high note on “there’s nothing out there.” I guess it’s falsetto, but it’s one of the all time great rock and roll moments.


    It’s at about 2:27 in this video, which I find oddly disturbing.

  21. Great topic.

    I like it when Saint Bruce Springsteen cries out, “it’s a town fer losers, and I’m pullin’ outta here ta WEEEEEEEEEEEN….”

  22. underthefloat

    I just watched most of the “Classic Record Series” of Lou Reed’s “Transformer” (Netflix) because I’ve always loved the album. Anyway; Lou pretty much gives a money shot salute to Bowie for the background vocals which end Satellite of Love. I have to agree with that assessment.

  23. Slim Jade

    Howsabout Bowie on “Teenage Wildlife”?

  24. jeangray

    Howsabout pretty much anythang by Kate Bush???

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