Rock's greatest screams

A top 15 countdown

Music Features
Share Tweet Submit Pin

Sometimes words aren’t enough in rock ’n’ roll.

The most profound phrases may pour forth, yet the resulting song may still lack that little somethin’ somethin’—that spark of ultimate rockitude capable of transforming it from pleasant ditty to full-on anthem. So what’s a rock star to do? Just take a cue from the following artists: toss back your head, throw all care for your delicate larynx to the wind, and scream. Scream like a banshee. Scream like a cat in heat. Scream like a strung-out Wheel of Fortune contestant in the throes of ecstasy with both big toes caught in a mousetrap, as you buy vowel after vowel with your supersonic ululations. For practice, take any of the following greatest screams in rock (conveniently transcribed below) out for a test yell.

15. “YEAOOOOOOO!” Seth Avett, The Avett Brothers, “Nothing Short of Thankful” (2:25)
14. “WOO HAH! WOO HAH!” Busta Rhymes, “Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check” (0:23)
13. “AGAAAAAAEAH!” Paul McCartney, The Beatles, “Helter Skelter” (0:12)
12. “OOOWWWW!” Patterson Hood, Drive-By Truckers, “Sink Hole” (3:12)
11. “WOOOOOH!” Little Richard, “Tutti Frutti” (2:10)
10. “AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Yoshimi Yokota, Flaming Lips, “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Pt. 2” (1:46)
9. “YEEAAAHHH!” Roger Daltrey, The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (4:28)
8. “OOOOAAAASCREEAAAAAAOOOOHHHHH!” Axl Rose, Guns N’ Roses, “Welcome to The Jungle” (0:09)
7. “AAAAHHHHHHOWWW!” Paul Westerberg, The Replacements, “Bastards of Young” (0:04)
6. “LUUHUUHUUHOVE!” Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin, “Whole Lotta Love” (4:19)
5. “LOAAAAAAAARD! EEOW! HOO!” Iggy Pop, The Stooges, “T.V. Eye” (0:00)
4. “YEEEAAHHHOOOEEEOOOEEEOOHHHH!” Jeff Buckley, “Mojo Pin” (3:55)
3.“WAYYYGHGHHGHYYY!” Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, “Territorial Pissings” (2:15)
2. “NEEOOOHHHOOWWW!” Jim Morrison, The Doors, “When The Music’s Over” (8:09)
1. “OOEEEOOOWWW!” James Brown, “Get Up Offa That Thing” (0:00)