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The lead vocalist (or lead singer) is the member of a band who sings the main vocal portions of a song. Lead vocalists may also play one or more instruments (most commonly rhythm guitar, piano, keyboards or bass guitar). They are sometimes referred to as the frontman or frontwoman, and as such, are usually considered to be the "leader" of the groups they perform in, often the spokespersons in interviews and before the public. On rare occasions, the frontman of the band is someone other than the lead vocalist.

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Ambiguous lead vocalists

Some rock groups, such as The Beatles, Gomez, Kiss, The Beach Boys, Eagles, Runrig, Pink Floyd, The Libertines, and The Band have more than one featured vocalist, making it difficult to establish a single "lead singer" or "frontman." Other bands, such as Alice in Chains, Fleetwood Mac, Status Quo, Toto, Blur, Deep Purple, The B-52's, Oasis, The White Stripes, The Velvet Underground, The Who, The Clash, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Wings, Type O Negative and The Cars had, in addition to the designated "lead singer," one or more members who provided significant lead vocals in the course of the group's career.

While the lead vocalist often defines the group's image and personality to the general public, several bands, such as AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Journey and Van Halen have changed lead singers and maintained the original band name and, to some extent, identity.

Frontman

The lead vocalist of a band is sometimes called a frontman. This term "frontman" refers to the duties of musical leader amongst the band and spokesperson for the band before the public. While lead vocalists or spokespersons for any musical ensembles can be called a frontman, the term is used very widely in rock music. Since the position commonly has an expanded role from simple lead vocalists, there have been cases in which the frontman for a band is someone other than the lead vocalist. For example, Pete Wentz, the bass player for the band Fall Out Boy, is generally called the frontman, both in the media and by the band members themselves, since he represents the band in most interviews and has most contributed to the band's image in the popular media.[1] Additionally, Dave Clark of The Dave Clark Five was the group's drummer, not the main vocalist. Other bands that have other members as frontmen include Angus Young of AC/DC,and Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains. In several bands (such as Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Queen, Iron Maiden, Journey, Van Halen, Oasis, The Who, Motley Crue), the lead guitarist or bassist may share spokesman responsibilities with the lead singer. Usually, this is derived from that guitarist's specific role as a co-songwriter, co-founder and/or co-vocalist. Also in some cases, there are two frontmen, like in the band, Underoath, with singers Spencer Chamberlain and Aaron Gillespie. Chamberlain came in later in the band, but is the main vocalist, while Gillespie is the only original member, making them both frontmen. Another band with two frontmen is Blink-182, with singers Tom Delonge who also plays guitar and Mark Hoppus who is also a bassist. The two usually carry out most media together while the band's other member, its drummer Travis Barker usually remains quiet. Barenaked Ladies is another band with two frontmen, Steven Page who also plays rhythm guitar and Edward Robertson who also plays lead guitar. The Barenaked ladies' other members do occasional lead singing.

In some cases, lead singers have even less of a defining role. For instance Ayreon, traditionally a one-man project often employs besides the voice of the permanent member a wild array of guest vocalists on most albums while Delerium has only one permanent member though being consistently a duo while recently all vocals have been performed by guest musicians to individual tracks. The approach to commission vocalists as guest musicians for single tracks is not uncommon in various forms of electronic music and progressive rock.

See also

References

  1. ^ CARAMANICA, JON (December 12, 2008), "The Frontman in the Background". The New York Times. (accessed 2009-01-19)
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