The 10 Best Wordless Choruses of the 21st Century
Generally speaking, you know a chorus is great when it makes you when scream along with every word each time you hear it. That makes it doubly impressive when a chorus manages to be great with no words at all.
Now, we don't mean that in the "Seven Nation Army" sense where the chorus is entirely instrumental, forcing you to sing your own nonsense syllables along with you. We mean choruses where the non-verbal singing is already in place; choruses of "oooh"s, "woahhhh"s, "na na na"s and "duh duh duh"s. In other words, hooks that remove any semblance of clever wordplay, captivating storytelling or obviously human sentiment, but are so simple and guttural that it's physically impossible to get too drunk to sing along to them.
If you've already checked out our list of the 100 greatest choruses of the 21st century -- all fully worded -- check out our list below of the ten choruses from the new millennium that do it with absolute minimum verbosity.
10. Zombie Nation, "Kernkraft 400" (Sports Chant Stadium Remix)
Maybe not a chorus in the technical sense -- there are no verses, as the rest of the song is essentially instrumental, minus the voice intoning the "zombie nation" band ID. But the hook is as mega as they come, an oh-oh-oh-oh-oh chant -- -- you might not think you know it from the obscure song title, but trust us, you do -- that they'll be playing at basketball games until LeBron James IV is squaring off with Stephen Curry's half-robot great-granddaughter in the NBA finals a century from now.
9. Black Keys, "Howling for You"
Speaking of jock rock, who would've thought that Black Keys would have one of their biggest and best radio hits essentially reviving "Rock and Roll Pt. II"? The "Da da da DA DA! Da da da DUH DUH!" chorus to "Howlin' for You" might not quite much "Da da da da da da da da.... HEY!" for sheer ear-stickiness, but over that Gary Glitter drum swing, it's nearly as hard to resist singing along to.
8. Phillip Phillips, "Home"
The last true smash to originate from the Idolverse was also one of the last singles to adopt Mumford and Sons' strump-and-stomp stylings for a song that came off more rousing than cloying. The "Oooooo-ooo-oooh" sing-along that serves as the song's refrain is both chest-beating and hand-holding, a battle cry for when your days of battle have finally reached their end.
7. Kiiara, "Gold"
There are words to be found within Kiiiara's brain-scrambling "Gold" chorus, they've just been chopped up and stirred into an unrecognizable vocal stew that simmers with only a stray phrase -- "without ever letting me know" -- to be echoed intelligibly as the refrain repeats. It was the 2016 hook that you couldn't possibly sing along to, but still dreamed of at least attempting at karaoke anyway.
6. Young M.A, "OOOUUU"
One word, almost used like a pause button granting brief respite from the otherwise non-stop fire-spitting of Young M.A's breakout single. As uttered by the Brooklyn MC throughout the surprise 2016 hit, "OOOUUU" is alternately a taunt, a come on, a call and a response -- or all of 'em at once, or none of 'em at all. Only Katorah Marrero knows for sure, and you can be damn sure she's not telling.
5. Fun., "Some Nights"
Fun.'s second-biggest hit was just as emotionally and lyrically scattered as their first-biggest, but without the sing-along chorus to rally it all together. But the song's Peter Gabriel-like procession was still centered around the next-best thing: a soaring "Ohhh-ohhhh, woah-ah-ohhhh-ohhh!!" hook to still give the thing life-or-death-sounding stakes, and give you reason to hang around all the way to the end in order to hear one more time.
4. The Fratellis, "Chelsea Dagger"
Otherwise known as the "Duh duh da, da da duh, duh duh da DA da duh duh!" song from the beer commercials. You might not remember the band behind it -- though The Fratellis' other big commercial hit also had a damn good wordless hook -- and you might not have heard the whole thing, but one return listen and you'll be checking out flights and hotels for the next Eurocup in no time.
3. John Mayer, "Clarity"
Like Phillip Phillips' "Home," but about ten times subtler and 20 times more effective. It takes a lot of listens to "Clarity" to remember many specifics about it beyond the title and that spine-tickling "oo-OOOH-oo" vocal lilt, but those two things -- and maybe that shot of John Mayer in the video, curling up in the back seat as life drives on -- are all you need to understand what the song is about.
2. M83, "Midnight City"
Yes, that is a human voice -- that of M83's Anthony Gonzalez, no less -- doing that iconic yelping on the refrain, albeit with the help of some heavy distortion and digitization. Before the "Midnight City," M83 were still a largely underground proposition; afterwards, there wasn't a festival tent in America without at least one DJ trying to get cute by detonating that hook.
1. The Arcade Fire, "Wake Up"
The fist-pumping, flag-waving, heart-pummeling wail-along so goddamn invigorating it roused David Bowie out of semi-retirement and reoriented Arcade Fire's career path from becoming the next Broken Social Scene to becoming the next U2. And don't front -- you bawled watching that Where the Wild Things Are trailer too, didn't you?