Harmony can make your song sound fuller and more stand out. And when mixed with a traditional rock sound, the effect can be electric.
Harmonies aren’t just for vocals; there’s something about multiple human voices that blends seamlessly together. Read on for the best rock songs with harmony.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
Song year: 1975
Operatic and performing at the height of rock drama, Queen never fails to impress with their orchestrations. Their songwriting is rich with texture, layering, and musical interest, so it’s no surprise that it includes some fabulous harmonies.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is one of the most well-known rock songs of the past century, not least thanks to Freddie Mercury’s vocal range. However, the other band members also contribute harmony on some of the most iconic bits, such as the word “Galileo.”
The song was officially inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004 and is 10x certified Platinum in the United States.
“She Loves You” by The Beatles
Song year: 1963
The Beatles are no strangers to harmony in their music. Even though “She Loves You” is an early rock hit and fairly simple in structure, the voice leading is what makes this Lennon-McCartney-penned tune stand out.
The singers begin in unison, then separate to create two lines, only to come back together again. This weaving in and out makes for an aural treat and isn’t too difficult to copy on your own as the intervals mostly stay in 3rds or a similar close pattern.
“Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas
Song year: 1976
Kansas is a bedrock group of the progressive rock genre. Blessed with extremely talented musicians, Kansas crafts endlessly interesting songs to listen to. The vocal lines in this classic tune drift from Steve Walsh’s high range to thick harmonies and back again, alternating back and forth throughout its duration.
Though their music tends to be complex, Kansas has had the distinction of writing some radio-friendly hits as well. “Carry On My Wayward Son” was the band’s first Top 40 single off their most prestigious album, Leftoverture.
“My Immortal” by Evanescence
Song year: 2003
Amy Lee’s beautiful voice has never sounded better than in this signature Evanescence tune. A modern emo-rock favorite, the harmonies in “My Immortal” contrast in range for a lavish tonal blend.
There are two versions of this song. One is more intimate, led by piano and vocals, and the other, included here, launches into a full-fledged symphonic rock production after the second chorus.
“More Than A Feeling” by Boston
Song year: 1976
One of the most recognizable songs of its time, “More Than A Feeling,” features a catchy chorus and is thick with harmony in the sustained vocals. Easy to sing along with, VH1 called it the 29th best hard-rock song of all time, and Rolling Stone also put it on their Greatest Songs list. The song peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Top 100 and the lyrics, which focus on the painful loss of someone close, is a classic song you can often find on the radio.
“Tequila Sunrise” by The Eagles
Song year: 1973
The Eagles are a unique brand of country rock evocative of the Southwestern desert. Multiple guitars and steady percussion drive the song forward as Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and the rest layer their tight vocals.
Famously, the Eagles were Linda Ronstadt’s backing band in their early years, so she is known to sing the upper harmony parts to many of their classic tunes.
“More Than Words” by Extreme
Song year: 1991
This romantic ballad is Extreme’s most well-known song, which is surprising when you consider most of their music was hard rock. Intimate acoustic guitar and manual hand beats support the melody and harmony, which intertwine beautifully for a poignant effect.
“I Get Around” by The Beach Boys
Song year: 1964
Brian Wilson and Co. exemplify vocal harmony in rock and pop music. This surf-rock throwback is famous for its development throughout the song, which meanders around keys and modulates a few times.
The main voice part carries the melody, while the other singers flesh out a luxurious blanket of sound underneath. Beach Boys harmonies sometimes almost resemble organ chords in their depth and breadth.
“Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac
Song year: 1976
“Go Your Own Way, released by Fleetwood Mac in 1976, is a popular and iconic tune in both the United States and the UK. The lyrics address Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nix’s drama, as the bandmates were in a turbulent relationship for a time. “Go Your Own Way” is catchy and easy to match pitch because the harmony is simple.
“Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash
Song year: 1969
“Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” is a song with a textbook exemplification of three-part harmony. Over seven minutes, the music encompasses three main sections, each showcasing masterful lyrics and gorgeous, multilayered vocal parts.
Though it stems from the 1960s folk-rock movement, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” shows significant classical influence in its structure. It’s a good choice for the music nerd who wants to dissect a rich composition once they get past its crystalline harmonies.
“All I Have to Do Is Dream” by The Everly Brothers
Song year: 1958
The endearing vocal lines and rich harmonies in “All I Have to Do Is Dream” are more impressive when you consider the limitations of The Everly Brothers’ era. The two lead singers usually shared one mic and blended smoothly together, almost as one voice. This staple of early rock n’ roll is sweet and simple, allowing harmony newbies to easily pick up on the intervals.
“No Excuses” by Alice In Chains
Song year: 1994
Seattle grunge isn’t known for its musical contours, preferring to remain moody and edgy. But Alice In Chains fits that stereotype while also inhabiting a rich harmonic space. “No Excuses” uses open fourths and fifths in verse, lending the song a haunting sound. On the chorus, the band adds the 3rd part, sounding more like Boston or a similar 80s-era band than grunge.
“I Will Wait” by Mumford and Sons
Song year: 2012
Mumford’s signature frenetic strumming and fast-paced rhythms are at their peak on “I Will Wait,” which quickly gained popularity and charted in multiple countries. There’s a clearly-defined solo voice here, but the other parts rise in solidarity with the chorus to support a tight chordal line, which sustains over the activity of the instrumentals.
“Love Is Only A Feeling” by The Darkness
Song year: 2003
The English glam-rock band departs from their typical energetic fare with this power ballad. Singer Justin Hawkins, known for his high astronomical range, soars into the stratosphere on the chorus. The backup harmonies act as a call-and-response, repeating the phrases Hawkins sings in layered parts.
“You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC
Song year: 1980
One of AC/DC’s most recognizable songs begins with drums and one of the genre’s most recognizable riffs. The voice kicks in on the first verse, and then by the chorus, background vocals fill out the chord structure.
“You Shook Me All Night Long” charted in both the U.S. and Australia, the band’s native country. Though the harmonies aren’t overly complex, they add fullness to the song once they appear.
“Californication” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Song year: 1999
This earworm is a staple for fans of beachy California rock. The steel guitars and harmonies are reminiscent of the Beach Boys, as the bandmates blend their voices together in thirds that sound as effortless as summertime.
The Chili Peppers have performed “Californication” in almost every one of their live shows since the song debuted. Many fans sing along with the melody part, and some know the harmony as well, creating a stereo effect at the band’s concerts when everyone joins in.
“I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith
Song year: 1998
Stephen Tyler’s incredible range dominates this classic rock fare. The band Aerosmith had already reached the height of their success in the previous decade but saw a resurgence when “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” was included on the soundtrack for Armageddon.
The melody is eminently singable and popular karaoke fodder as a result. It would have worked as a standalone textural line, but the addition of harmonies helps catapult this song into a rock-genre mainstay.
Top Rock Songs With Harmony, Final Thoughts
The capacity for harmony is what can transform a decent song into an astounding one. With capable vocalists and brilliant songwriting, the pitches complement each other in a way that fills out the sound and makes the singer shine. These rock songs with harmony feature the most fundamental components of musical structure and deserve a place at the forefront of any songwriter’s goals when penning their next big hit.