It’s taken me decades, alas, to discover that if you have the volume on your headphones loud enough, you can belt out a song while – in your mind’s ear at least – your voice appears as if it’s in tune. In order to belt out a song with impunity, it’s wise to vacate the premises. Think of it as your own personal karaoke, where you can unashamedly belt out those high intensity songs you might otherwise reject publicly.
I discovered this whilst listening to one of my favourite songs to belt out – let’s call it a belter – Elvis Costello’s ‘That Day is Done’. I can’t tell you what makes a belter – it’s probably the chemistry of high emotion, long ending notes, rising pitch and intensity in the music, and so on – but you know when you are singing one. If you can muster a tear in your eye whilst doing so, all the better.
Being a man in the 21st century, I was immediately drawn into creating a list as the result of this new experience. I present to you my top five favourite belters, in no particular order:
1. Love on the Rocks – Neil Diamond
This is brilliant to belt out, partly because of the rising pitch during the chorus. It feels like a set of steps taking you all the way to the top where the belting magic starts.
2. When a Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge
Sledge would famously break down into tears when singing this and there’s no reason why – still in the comfort of your own home, of course – you can’t do the same. In fact, it’s obligatory.
3. Fortunate Son – Credence Clearwater Revival
When those drums start and that guitar follows, there’s nothing you can do but give in. This is one of those song which is belted out from start to finish – good job it’s only around 2.20 minutes. Award yourself extra points for inserting perfectly-placed ‘oooo’.
4. That Day is Done – Elvis Costello
Brilliant if you’re in a sorrowful, sentimental mood and want to imagine what it might be like to see your lover continue to enjoy happiness when you’re already dead. You can’t ask for more than that from a belter.
5. Ce que je sais – Johnny Hallyday
Sung in (quite easy) French, it shows how belting it out travels well. Delivered with defiance and sustained notes throughout, this song grows to such an intensity half way through that you’ll be all alone and beside yourself.
No doubt you’ll have your favourites. When you’ve finished belting them out, tell us about them…