The unique and compelling sound of the Righteous Brothers still moves us today – 50 years on!
Their harmony and their timbral blend was simply a magic recipe for breaking hearts and sending our emotions soaring.
Coupled with the ‘Phil Spector sound’ their voices were the icing on the cake of their biggest radio hit, You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling:
…and here they are in 2002 when they were in their 60s – not bad for 40 years on!
I think we get more than a loving feeling from the way the Righteous Brothers approached their career:
1. Use material in line with your real singing capabilities
How, after decades of touring and ‘living the touring life’, could they still produce such a great vocal sound?
I sincerely believe it’s because someone recognised how well their natural ranges worked together – they were like one feeling and one voice in two.
In the opening verse, Bill Medley’s deep sob quality is almost operatic, but totally natural. It’s then complemented in the harmony by Bobby Hatfield’s stunning tenor voice. Initially like a teaser, then at the break section Bobby flies.
Their songs were produced to match their capabilities but their skills stretched far beyond their vocal power. They had real duet skills!
That level of awareness takes time and commitment to nurture. But one thing all singers can do is to ensure the material fits your strengths.
2. There’s together and there’s together!
The duo was renowned for their acute attention to timing and blend in those harmonies.
Their phonetic shapes, their breath intake and the length of their phrasing was absolutely synchronised. Because they had this ‘down’ they could also appear very relaxed.
This effortless unity of voices really builds to a level of excellence, leaving us breathless and in awe.
Whether you are in a duo or a set of background vocalists, timing, phrasing and phonetic shape (those Ah’s and Ooh’s) need to be practiced to perfection.
That’s what we call ‘tight’ in the industry, and a tight performance is always respected by the professionals and admired by the fans.
3. Explore the power of togetherness
We’re in an industry that promotes the rock star or deva – the solitary singer who exercises a magical power over a crowd.
But listening to the Righteous Brothers reminds me of another kind of power – the power of ‘more than one voice’.
We experience this power at a football match, but we can also experience it when we commit to singing with someone else.
The Righteous Brothers always sang as if they were ‘in agreement’, as if they were in a harmonious conversation about someone they loved,
We could completely relate because this outpouring of two voices at the height of passion in the song’s climax allowed us to sing along, or cry, but definitely to really feel!
If you’ve been solo for a while, maybe its time to re-experience this feeling by collaborating with another singer as a duo on a track or two…or perhaps you can just offer to do some background vocals for a friend’s band!
I can’t resist one last Righteous Brothers song, performed in their uniquely tight and together way:
Rachel Bennett is a London-based vocal coach and singer songwriter. She is the lead singer / songwriter of RAIE and a Musical Director for theatre, television & recording studios across London. She has associations at WAC Performing Arts and Media College and Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama. You can learn more about Rachel on her Website or Facebook. You can see more of Rachel’s writing here.