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Step Up to the Microphone
The lead vocalist of a band steps aside to offer another band member (an instrumentalist or backing singer) A Day in the Limelight, singing the lead for at least the duration of a whole song. Usually occurs when the lyrics of the song in question were written by this particular band member.

In some cases, this can become a permanent promotion to lead singer: the lead vocalist departs, and rather than finding a new singer, one of the remaining band members takes the mic.

Compare and contrast with Vocal Tag Team.


Promotion to lead singer
  • A particularly successful example: after Peter Gabriel left Genesis in 1974, the role of lead singer was filled by the band's drummer Phil Collins, who had previously done backing vocals on a handful of songs, after an extensive audition process resulted in no vocalists that the band found suitable.
    • Phil Collins actually stepped up to mike on lead vocals on at least two songs prior to this, "For Absent Friends" from Nursery Cryme, and "More Fool Me" on Selling England By The Pound.
      • He also sang the lines for Rael's brother John in "The Colony of Slippermen" on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. The similarity of his voice to Gabriel's here is some nice Fridge Brilliance with regards to the Twist Ending.
      • Collins would go on to become one of pop music's greatest solo artists with hits such as "One More Night," "Sussudio," "In The Air Tonight," "Another Day In Paradise," etc.
  • Another very successful example: when Syd Barrett left Pink Floyd, the rest of the band sans drummer Nick Mason took over on lead vocals; first, it was keyboardist Rick Wright, who sang back-up in their early years, than guitarist David Gilmour, who replaced Syd, and then bassist/lyricist Roger Waters, with him and Gilmour switching back and forth depending on the album.
  • Another one: when Cazuza, leader of Brazilian band Barão Vermelho, left, guitarist Frejat took over the vocals.
  • When Jens Ryden, the lead singer of Naglfar, left the group, bassist and backup vocalist Kristoffer Olivius took over on lead and a new bassist was recruited. Opinion is split on who is best.
  • Tokyo Yankees vocalist Soichiro Umemura died in 2007. Instead of disbanding, guitarists Nori and Yoshi now share vocal duties.
  • The Beach Boys: Mike Love and Brian Wilson started out as the two main lead vocalists, but as time grew on, the other members began singing more leads as they became better singers (partially as a result of picking up the slack after Brian Wilson retired from touring).
    • Carl Wilson was notable for this. After only occasionally singing lead from 1962-1965, he beautifully sang "God Only Knows", and from then on, he began singing lead on many of their famous singles, such as "Good Vibrations", "Wild Honey", "Darlin'", "I Can Hear Music", "Good Timin'", and "Kokomo". When Brian quit touring, he took on most of his lead vocals too.
    • Al Jardine also took on lead vocal duties, starting with the Number One hit "Help Me Rhonda". Some of his later songs, such as "Lady Lynda", "California", and covers of "Cottonfields", "Come Go With Me", and "Peggy Sue" also became huge international hits.
    • Dennis Wilson sang on "Do You Wanna Dance?", and in the early '70s, when he hurt his hand and couldn't play drums, began singing and playing piano regularly on stage and in studio.
    • Bruce Johnston sang lead on several songs from the fan-favorite 'Sunflower' and 'Surf's Up' albums, including the international hits "Bluebirds over the Mountains" and "Tears in the Morning" and fan-favorite "Disney Girls", a live staple.
    • Blondie Chaplin, who briefly joined the group in the early 1970s, is most remembered for his lead vocal on "Sail On Sailor".
    • On the 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour, David Marks, the rhythm guitarist from their first five albums (and childhood friend of the Wilsons) took over lead vocals on "Getcha Back", singing it in the style of Dennis Wilson, who Mike Love wrote it in memory of.
  • It's a little-known fact that The Doors continued on for two more albums after Jim Morrison's departure, with vocal duties split between guitarist Robbie Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek. They only scored one minor hit during this period ("The Mosquito"). These albums have long since gone out of print, and Krieger and Manzarek disown them to this day.
    • From the Morrison years, Krieger has lead vocals on exactly one song: "Runnin' Blues" from The Soft Parade.
  • After lead singer Ian Curtis' suicide, the rest of Joy Division carried on as New Order. Bernard Sumner had the most distinctive voice, but he also had to play keyboards and lead guitar, and found it unable to do three things at once. The band's first album, Movement (1981), had the lead vocals shared between bandmembers, with bassist Peter Hook singing the first song. By that time they had recruited Gillian Gilbert to play keys, leaving Sumner free to sing lead.
  • When Peter Wolf quit The J. Geils Band in 1983, the band soldiered on for two more years with keyboardist Seth Justman on vocals.
  • Nick D'Virgilio of Spock's Beard is another Phil Collins-esque "drummer makes good" story: he stepped in for the departing Neal Morse, and served as lead vocalist for the band's next four albums.
  • In The Band's early days, Richard Manuel was their primary singer (and songwriter), with relatively minor contributions from the Vocal Tag Team of Levon Helm and Rick Danko. As Manuel's personal and substance-abuse problems worsened, however, Helm and Danko gradually took over the vast majority of singing duties.
  • Fictional example: In Degrassi, when Peter left Studz due to his drug addiction, Sav became the lead singer.
  • Rhythm guitarist Joan Jett took over as lead singer of The Runaways after Cherie Curie left.

A Song In The Limelight
  • Speaking of The Band, Robbie Robertson sang lead vocal on only a handful of their songs, including "Out of the Blue" from their concert album The Last Waltz. This is an unusual example, as Robertson wrote the bulk of The Band's material but rarely sang lead due to having a poor voice. He had improved considerably by the time he belatedly started his solo career in the mid 80s.
  • Christian Nu Metal band Love and Death has Empty, where lead guitarist and backup vocalist JR Bareis gets two verses as lead vocalist in a Linkin Park style back and forth with normal vocalist Brian "Head" Welch. Also qualifies as Soprano and Gravel.
  • Similiarly, Noel Gallagher of Oasis usually did not sing lead despite writing the bulk of the group's material. His brother Liam Gallagher was lead vocalist. Noel sings lead on only a few Oasis tracks, including the hit "Don't Look Back In Anger" and also "The Importance of Being Idle".
  • The Beatles: Ringo got to sing one song on every album (except on "A Hard Day's Night" and "Let It Be"). George also sang at least one song on every album, usually his own compositions.
  • Collective Soul's lead vocals are typically performed by Ed Roland. He also tends to write most of their music and lyrics. On Dosage, now ex-lead guitarist Ross Childress sings lead on "Dandy Life", a song he wrote in its entirety. Years later, current lead guitarist Joel Kosche would write and sing lead on "I Don't Need Friends Anymore" from Afterwords.
  • Doves: Jimi Goodwin is the lead singer, but the twins - Andy and Jez Williams - have sung lead on assorted tracks throughout the years.
  • Flogging Molly: "Cruel Mistress" and "Queen Anne's Revenge" were sung by bassist Nathan Maxwell.
  • Five Iron Frenzy: "Beautiful America" and "Second Season" were sung by trombonist Dennis Culp.
  • Franz Ferdinand: Jeremy Fraser and Van Tango are sung by Nick McCarthy.
  • KISS: "Beth", sung by Peter Criss and "Shock Me" by Ace Frehley.
    • Criss is an odd example, as he was the clear Garfunkel of the group, despite being regarded as the best singer of the four, giving a great performance on "Black Diamond", otherwise known as the only Kiss song the average music fan will actually admit to liking. this is most likely due to fact that he rarely wrote any of the songs he sang lead on
  • The Rolling Stones: Bill Wyman sings lead on "In Another Land" (which he wrote), while Keith Richards does so on a number of songs.
  • The Who: "My Wife", "Boris the Spider", "The Quiet One" and others, sung by John Entwistle; "Bell Boy" and others, sung by Keith Moon; numerous songs sung by Pete Townshend.
  • Arcade Fire: Win Butler sings lead on most songs, but his wife Régine Chassagne generally takes the lead for 2-3 tracks on each album.
  • As Tall as Lions: Their last album had bassist Julio Taverez sing lead on "You Can't Take It with You" and "Duermete", while guitarist Saen Fitzgerald took the mic for "Sleepyhead".
  • Court Yard Hounds are essentially Dixie Chicks Minus the Face, with Emily Robison on lead vocals, but giving Martie Maguire a song in the limeight with "Gracefully".
  • Cream - "Blue Condition" and "Pressed Rat and Warthog", sung and spoken by Ginger Baker. Additionally, "Outside Woman Blues", "Strange Brew" and "Crossroads" were sung by Eric Clapton.
  • Drive-By Truckers is fronted by the tag team of Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood, but after Jason Isbell left, his ex-wife Shonna Tucker, the band's bass player, stepped up to the mic for a song or two per album that she wrote. She also sings lead on the cover of "Where's Eddie" on Go-Go Boots. Before Isbell's departure, she sang the second verse of the band's cover of "Like a Rolling Stone", which appears on The Fine Print rarities compilation.
    • On "Gangstabilly," their first album, original bassist Adam Howell sings "Late for Church", which he co-wrote with Patterson Hood. Notable for being the only co-written lyric on a DBT album, and because otherwise Howell, like most of the musicians on the first two albums, is otherwise The Pete Best
    • All other original songs by the band have been sung by the writer (Hood, Cooley, Rob Malone, Isbell, or Tucker), with the exception of two Hood songs: "Wallace" from Southern Rock Opera, sung by Malone; and "Till He's Dead or Rises" from English Oceans, sung by Cooley
  • Guns N' Roses: "So Fine", sung by Duff McKagan. Also from those albums, "14 Years", "Dust N' Bones", "You Ain't the First" and "Double Talkin' Jive" are sung by Izzy Stradlin'.
    • Also, during Rock in Rio III in 2001, guitarist Robin Finck sung "Sossego", by Brazilian singer Tim Maia.
  • Iona's songs are almost always sung by Joanne Hogg when there are vocals at all, but Troy Donockley sang lead during the vocal section of "Wind Off the Lake", with Joanne only providing backup and a wordless vocal section at the end of the song.
  • You'd never know it due to the difficulty of telling his voice apart from Jason Wade's, but Lifehouse bassist bryce Soderberg sang lead on "Wrecking Ball", and also on "Bridges" when the band performs it live.
  • Midnight Oil: Drummer Rob Hirst sings lead vocals on two songs from Red Sails in the Sunset.
  • Meshuggah's Psykisk Testbild and Contradictions Collapse had lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal perform lead vocals on half the songs.
  • Pixies: "Gigantic", sung by Kim Deal. And "La La Love You", sung by David Lovering.
    • Kim Deal and David Lovering also took the lead on a pair of b-sides, "Into The White" and "Make Believe" respectively. Frank Black wrote the latter, but had David Lovering sing it because the lyrics are based on an in-joke about Lovering having a crush on 80's teen idol Debbie Gibson. And there was a period where Kim Deal would sing live performances of "In Heaven (Lady In The Radiator Song)", though earlier in their career it was always sung by Frank Black.
  • The Smashing Pumpkins: "Blew Away" and "Take Me Down", sung by James Iha, and "Daydream", sung by D'Arcy.
    • "Go" from the internet-only Machina II features vocals by James Iha as well.
  • The White Stripes: "In the Cold, Cold Night", "Passive Manipulation", and "St. Andrew", sung by Meg White.
  • REM: "Texarkana", "Near Wild Heaven" and "Superman", sung by Mike Mills. The latter has backing vocals by Michael Stipe, who refused to do the lead since he wasn't excited about covering the song.
  • Most songs by the Strawbs were sung by Dave Cousins, but John Ford sang "Part of the Union" which he co-wrote with Richard Hudson. Cousins was slightly miffed when "Part of the Union" became their biggest hit.
  • U2: "Numb", sung by The Edge (who is otherwise normally a backing singer). Also "Van Diemen's Land".
    • Bassist Adam Clayton performs a spoken word verse during "Your Blue Room", his only vocal contribution to date on a U2 album (well, technically a Passengers album). He also provided vocals on a B-Side called "Endless Deep" during the band's "War" era.
    • The Edge also does lead vocals for the first part of "Seconds".
  • Weezer's Red Album gave everyone a song in the limelight: Drummer Patrick Wilson sings "Automatic", guitarist Brian Bell sings "Thought I Knew" (a reworking of a song by his side-project The Relationship), and bassist Scott Shriner sings "Cold Dark World" and the bonus track "King".
  • All but one children's album released by They Might Be Giants to date has included a song written and performed by bassist Danny Weinkauf: "Where Do They Make Balloons", "Number Two" and "I Am A Paleontologist". Guitarist Dan Miller also provided "Infinity" for their third one.
    • Also, drummer Marty Beller does lead on "Alphabet Lost and Found", "Speed and Velocity" and co-lead vocals on "High Five!" with child singer Hannah Levine.
    • Also, songs on various albums not sung by any member of the band; they're usually done by John Flansburgh's wife Robin Goldwasser, but others take turns, including the aformentioned Hannah Levine on "One Dozen Monkeys", Margaret Seilor on "Boat of Car", several of the "Fingertips" segments are sung by others, "O, Do Not Forsake Me" by the band Hudson Shad, and "Mr. Xcitement" and "Your Mom's Alright" by Mike Doughty. And that's just the tip of the iceberg...
  • Pearl Jam's "Mankind", written and sung by Stone Gossard. There's also "Whale Song", a Protest Song against whale hunting written and sung by drummer Jack Irons (with Eddie Vedder singing backup for the chorus).
  • Relient K gave every band member - even brand new drummer Ethan Luck - a song in the limelight on their odds-and-ends collection The Nashville Tennis EP. Also, the hidden track "Good King Wenceslaus" on their Christmas album has each member imitating choirboys singing in falsetto, except for one who can't hack it and attempts to sing bass instead. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Nirvana's "Marigold", written and sung by Dave Grohl - it's also the only officially released Nirvana song that Kurt Cobain had no participation in (Krist Novaselic played bass and Dave Grohl played everything else). Despite the fact that it was an obscure b-side, the song even started getting some radio airplay once Foo Fighters were growing in popularity.
    • Krist sings "Get Together" in the intro of "Territorial Pissings", but just for laughs. Though, when asked about it later, he said that it was meant to make listeners ask themselves what happened to the ideals of The Sixties.
  • Likewise, once Dave Grohl got his own band, drummer Taylor Hawkins got to sing "Cold Day in the Sun" on the second disc of In Your Honor. He also sings it, while drumming, on several live DVDs and CDs the Foo Fighters have put out, and outside of the drum kit he performed Whole Lotta Love with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones on the Wembley Stadium DVD (Grohl took his place at the drum kit). Guitarist Chris Shiflett sang covers of Jawbreaker's "Kiss the bottle" and The Ramones' "Danny Says", both of which were used as b-sides to various singles.
  • Ann Arbor pop band Tally Hall has given the mic to keyboardist Andrew Horowitz once per album, with "The Whole World and You" on Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum and "You" on Good & Evil. He wrote both the songs in question.
  • Eddie Van Halen sings "How Many Say I" on the album Van Halen III. Also in Van Halen, former bassist and backing vocalist Michael Anthony was known to sing "Somebody Call Me A Doctor" during concerts.
  • Depeche Mode usually has Martin Gore singing lead on at least one song per album. ("Somebody", "Blue Dress", "One Caress", et al.) What's interesting is that he writes 99% of their songs; him singing is usually a stylistic choice rather than because the song was too personal.
  • While Tim Armstrong (later of Rancid) had a pretty prominent backing vocal part in most Operation Ivy songs, the one time he got to sing lead was on "Bad Town".
  • The Cure's cover of "Foxey Lady" was sung by then-bassist Michael Dempsey because Robert Smith was against the idea of doing cover songs at the time.
  • Early Flaming Lips song "Can't Exist" was sung by former drummer Richard English. Much later Steven Drozd would sing "Pompeii am Götterdämmerung", although his part wasn't originally intended to be the lead vocal. Wayne Coyne was going to sing over Drozd's multi-tracked, choir-like vocal part, but the band decided the song would sound better without this.
  • Lead guitarist Stu G of Delirious? sang the verses of "Inside Outside", although Martin Smith still sang the chorus.
  • Wings:
    • Denny Laine sang "The Note You Never Wrote", "Time to Hide", "Children, Children", and "Deliver Your Children".
    • Jimmy McCulloch sang "Medicine Jar" and "Wino Junko".
    • Joe English sang "Must Do Something About It".
    • Linda McCartney sang "Cook of the House".
  • Bjorn Ulvaeus sang lead on one or two songs on each of the early Abba albums, though "Two for the Price of One" was his only lead vocal on any of the later albums. Benny Andersson had one lead vocal in the band's entire career, "Suzy Hang-Around".
  • Queen: Brian May and Roger Taylor have sung lead vocals on several songs. John Deacon was always happy just doing backing vocals.
    • Only live, however. John never sang on their studio albums, and he always said in interviews that with three strong vocalists in the group, there wasn't much need for him to do any singing. His bandmates' favourite prank was to make his microphone louder than theirs during concerts.
  • All four members of Sloan take turns on lead vocals, generally on the songs they themselves have written.
  • Same goes for The Moody Blues - with a notable exception from the drummer Graeme Edge, who does speak in some of his songs.
  • Black Sabbath: "It's Alright" and "Swinging the Chain" are sung by drummer Bill Ward.
  • Pink Floyd: drummer Nick Mason sings two B-sides, "Scream Thy Last Scream" and "The Merry Xmas Song". Rick Wright kinda qualifies.
    • Mason also gets credit for delivering the only lyric ("One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces") from "One of These Days".
  • Green Day: for full songs,drummer Tré Cool sings "Dominated Love Slave" and "All By Myself", and bassist Mike Dirnt sings b-side "Governator"; for suites, American Idiot has one part of "Homecoming" sung by Cool ("Rock N' Roll Girlfriend") and one by Dirnt ("Nobody Likes You"), and Twenty First Century Breakdown has Dirnt singing half of "American Eulogy" ("Modern World"). Dirnt also gets an interlude in the Tre! track "Sex, Drugs and Violence."
  • Adrian Smith sings lead vocals on "Reach Out" for Iron Maiden. Possibly parodied by an "attempt" at making drummer Nicko McBrain sing. It's hilarious. (the original song, just for comparison).
  • Some Alabama album cuts feature bassist Teddy Gentry or guitarist/fiddler Jeff Cook on lead vocal instead of Randy Owen. Owen and Cook also get one line each in the bridge to "Mountain Music", and all three reprised their vocal roles when Brad Paisley sampled "Mountain Music" in "Old Alabama". Drummer Mark Herndon never sang, probably due to hearing loss (he also left the group in the early 2000s).
  • Michigan comedic musical group Da Yoopers. Most of their lead vocals have been the guitarist (Joe Potila until 1995, then Jim Bellmore ever since), or the only two original members: frontman/occasional drummer Jim DeCaire and keyboardist Lynn Bellmore. However, nearly every album has given at least one song to nearly everyone who has ever been counted as an official member of their Revolving Door Band, except for Bobby Symons (drummer since at least the late 90s). One of their signature songs, "Grandpa Got Run Over by a Beer Truck", was sung by Dave "Doc" Bradbury, who was bassist for only a short time in the early 90s.
    • DeCaire and Potila were also the primary songwriters, with Bellmore also taking over the latter role after Potila left. Not counting covers of Finnish folk songs, their first outside cut was the title track to their third album, Camp Fever, written by their second bassist, Joe DeLongchamp. One Can Short of a 6-Pack and We're Still Rockin' each had one song co-written by someone else ("40 Lb. Crappie" and "Bathroom Mercenary", respectively), and Lynn co-wrote "Don't Go Up Dere" on the former.
    • Taking this trope even further, most of their albums (except their debut Yoopanese and 1991's Yoopy Do Wah) have had contributions from local musicians on vocals and/or instruments. 21st Century Yoopers in Space had several songs written and/or sung by guests.
  • Country music group Blackhawk was usually led by Henry Paul, with Van Stephenson and Dave Robbins as backing vocalists. Van sang "If That Was a Lie" on Love & Gravity, and Robbins sang "I'll Always Love You" on Spirit Dancer (which had three other members added to the band following Stephenson's death from skin cancer). Since then, the band's lineup fluctuated repeatedly, with Henry Paul as the only consistent member.
  • Cheap Trick Bassist Tom Petersson has only one lead vocal in the band's discography, 'I Know What I Want' from the 1979 album Dream Police. (There does, however, exist an unreleased version of 'Voices' from the same LP with Petersson on lead.)
  • Whitesnake: in the early days of the band guitarist Bernie Marsden got to sing lead on two tracks: 'Free Flight' and 'Outlaw'.
  • Y&T: 'Squeeze' was sung by bassist Phil Kennemore.
  • blur: Guitarist Graham Coxon sings on three songs he wrote, "You're So Great", "Coffee and TV" and co-lead on "Tender" and the B-side "Red Necks," while bassist Alex James wrote and sang on "Far Out" and (in a Chipmunked vocal) the B-side "Alex's Song." Dave Rowntree's only vocal is on the Think Tank-era demo "Avoid the Traffic."
  • Havalina Rail Co. has done this a bunch over the years.
    • Drummer Jeff Suri sings "One Day", "Cajun Blue", "Bullfrog", and "Keep Smil'n".
    • Percussionist Lori Hoopes-Suri sings "Winter".
    • Saxophonist Nathan Jensen sings "Paper Moon", "Prelude and Blues", and "Nathan's Song".
    • Guitarist Mercedes Stevens sings "Carlos".
    • Keyboardist Dave Maust delivers a spoken-word bit on "Space, Love, and Bullfighting Suite".
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers: the song "Knock Me Down" from the album Mother's Milk has guitarist John Frusciante and lead singer Anthony Kiedis singing in unison — however, Frusciante's vocals are much more audible. Frusciante also had up to three solo numbers (usually singing slowed down shortened covers) at shows; and he sings a great deal of chorus on "Dosed" and "Right On Time", the ending of "Save The Population" and pretty much every second line of verses of the rare 2006 live renditions of "Funky Monks".
    • Also, Flea's song "Pea" from the album One Hot Minute. Flea would occasionally sing it live.
  • Country music band Trick Pony usually gave lead vocals to Heidi Newfield, but gutarist Keith Burns and bassist Ira Dean sang a few album cuts. They released only one single with Burns singing lead instead: "Just What I Do".
  • "Hourglass" by At The Drive-In, sung by rhythm guitarist Jim Ward - Ward would go on to front Sparta, whose lineup mostly consisted of other former members of ATDI.
  • Faces: Ron Wood sings "Ooh La La", while Ronnie Lane sings "Richmond", "You're So Rude", "Debris", and "Last Orders Please".
  • While other members frequently wrote the lyrics and music to songs, the only time someone other than Mike Patton took lead vocals on a Mr. Bungle song was on "The Secret Song", sung/spoken by bassist Trevor Dunn. Strangely, this ended up happening because the band originally left Dunn out of the song entirely: The song was written and recorded without him, and when he stumbled upon the track on his own, he jokingly retaliated by secretly recording lyrics about how angry he was about being left out of the song. The rest of the group was amused enough to keep it in, then they furthered the in-joke by not listing the song anywhere on the artwork to Disco Volante.
  • Fugazi mostly have Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto as a Vocal Tag Team, but bassist Joe Lally takes the lead for the songs "By You", "Recap Modotti", and "The Kill".
  • Madness. Suggs sings most songs, but Cathal Smyth and Lee Thompson also take the lead on occasion; the latter's usual live Song In The Limelight is Razor Blade Alley.
  • The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' b-side "Chocolate Pudding" has saxophonist Tim "Johnny Vegas" Burton on lead vocals.
  • Originally, the country band Lonestar had two lead singers: rhythm guitarist/occasional pianist Richie McDonald and bassist John Rich. They also split the vocals in slight favor of Richie over John, but only ever released one single with him on lead: "Heartbroke Every Day". (Coincidentally, this song charted at the same time that McDonald made a guest appearance on Mindy McCready's "Maybe He'll Notice Her Now".) Since Rich's departure, Lonestar has not had an official bassist, and McDonald has been the sole lead vocalist (until 2008-2011, when he left and Cody Collins replaced him).
  • Guster usually has a singing switching between Ryan and Adam. However, fourth member Joe has his own song, "I Hope Tomorrow Is Like Today", where Ryan and Adam sing back up vocals. During live shows, the band also occasionally does a "Chinese Fire Drill", where everyone switches instruments and roles and plays a song, badly.
  • There's a couple examples of this on Steely Dan's debut album Can't Buy A Thrill: "Midnite Cruiser" is sung by drummer Jim Hodder. "Dirty Work", "Brooklyn (Owes the Charmer Under Me)" and part of "Turn That Heartbeat Over Again" are sung by David Palmer, who was hired as the band's "lead singer" for live shows because the band's actual lead singer/songwriter Donald Fagen suffered from stage fright. Fagen and his songwriting partner Walter Becker eventually completely took over the band and retired from public performance, and fired the auxillary members, which meant that after the first album, all other recordings in the band's catalog were sung by Donald Fagen.
    • Actually, Donald Fagen didn't want to sing as he thought the band would get more airplay with a professional sounding vocalist. This is proven by the fact they have guest vocalists on their early demos long before they played any shows, not to mention their first single "Dallas", sung by Jim Hodder (which doesn't appear on an album). Donald sang on all the songs from their second album onwards to give the albums a sense of unity, but he got David Palmer and Royce Jones to perform vocals on the Countdown To Ecstasy and Pretzel Logic tours. They only sacked the extra vocalists when they became a studio-only band for The Royal Scam.
    • Walter Becker, who didn't do much singing aside from the odd backing vocal as he was more involved with the band's instrumentation, gets a long-awaited lead vocal on "Slang of Ages" from 2003's Everything Must Go.
  • Mercury Rev's "Hudson Line" had guitarist Grasshopper take lead vocals instead of Jonathan Donahue.
  • Linkin Park is well known for its Vocal Tag Team of Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda, although Shinoda himself became famous for his rapping in tandem with Chester's wide-ranged, versatile singing, which could range from anywhere from clean to Harsh Vocals to a full-blown Metal Scream. While 'Minutes To Midnight' featured much less rapping from Shinoda, he got an entire song to himself in "In Between" and has been singing quite a bit more on songs since then.
    • In a later and straighter example, lead guitarist Brad Delson got some vocals in "Until It Breaks" from Living Things, from the third verse 'til the end.
  • The Goo Goo Dolls have John Rzeznik and Robby Takac. Rzeznik is known for being the voice behind hits like "Name" and "Iris", but until close to that point, Takac was actually the lead vocalist as the band had mainly punk influences, with Rzeznik getting a song - usually a ballad - in the limelight every so often. Since the band found more mainstream success, it's been the other way around. Rzeznik has taken over as the main lead vocalist, but Robby Takac still sings lead on at least two or three songs per album.
  • Poison's song "I Hate Every Bone In Your Body But Mine" features lead vocals by guitarist C.C. DeVille.
  • Original Ramones bassist Dee Dee Ramone sings lead vocals on several songs. (He was the band's lead singer in the early days, but bowed out of that role when he discovered he couldn't sing and play bass at the same time). After Dee Dee retired from preforming with the band, his replacement, C.J. Ramone, handled vocal duties on at least one song from each of their last three albums.
  • The song "Can You Imagine", from Yes' 2001 album Magnification and the song "The Man You Always Wanted Me To Be" from their 2011 release Fly From Here feature lead vocals by bassist Chris Squire. Also, there are two bonus tracks on the deluxe edition of 90125 in which guitarist Trevor Rabin sings lead, and he does additional vocals for "Changes", among other songs from his tenure. Fly From Here also features a two-part harmony between Benoit David and Steve Howe, and "Tempus Fugit" from Drama is mostly a two-part harmony between Trevor Horn and Chris Squire.
  • Original Jethro Tull guitarist Mick Abrahams sang lead on the song "Move On Alone" from their 1968 debut album This Was. The two acts of their 1973 opus A Passion Play are separated by a musical spoken-word piece entitled "The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles", narrated (and towards the end, sung) by bassist Jeffrey Hammond.
  • Mötley Crüe played around with this trope a bit on their Generation Swine album, which features one song sung by Nikki Sixx ("Rocketship") and another by Tommy Lee ("Brandon"). Also, Nikki's vocals are so prominent on the songs "Beauty" and "Find Myself" that Vince's contributions to those tracks could be taken for backup vocals.
  • The Corrs is a four part band of three sisters and a brother. The two instrument playing sisters, one who plays drums and the other the violin, are both incredibly talented vocalists in their own right. The most prominent example of them singing lead is the song No Frontiers.
  • Billy Howerdel is the founding member of A Perfect Circle, but mainly sticks to lead guitar and backing vocals. However, he does sing lead on their covers of Devo's "Freedom Of Choice" and Depeche Mode's "People Are People". There's an acoustic version of "Orestes" with his lead vocals that was released as a b-side, but that may not count, since it was a solo demo recorded before the rest of the band got together.
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival's Mardi Gras was their final album and the only one to feature any members other than John Fogerty writing or singing songs. In fact, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford get three songs each, with Fogerty only contributing three originals and one cover.
  • Bob 1 from Devo got their semi-cover of "Secret Agent Man". Jerry Casale explained that he was chosen for the song because he is the most everyman looking member of the group.
  • Jamie Murphy did this on every Space album except Suburban Rock 'n' Roll; he had five songs on Spiders, three on Tin Planet (one of which he shared with Franny Griffiths), four on Love You More Than Football, and various B-sides. Yorkie sang lead vocals on 'Lost In Space' and 'Supersonic Jetplane'. Even the keyboard players got a vocal in the limelight, Franny on 'I Am Unlike A Lifeform You've Ever Met' and Ryan on 'Happy Clowns'.
  • Alison Krauss And Union Station sometimes gives Dan Tyminski or Ron Block the lead vocal. It can be quite disconcerting to listen to a song by a band with that name, then hear a male voice singing.
  • Rascal Flatts has only done two songs where this trope fits: all three members (lead singer Gary LeVox, bassist Jay DeMarcus and guitarist Joe Don Rooney) split the lead on "Long Slow Beautiful Dance" and their version of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen". Also, on a 2011 Christmas special created by the Country Music Association, DeMarcus and Rooney sang most of "Mary, Did You Know?" by themselves.
  • Keith Richards got two lead vocal showcases on The Rolling Stones' Exile On Main St. ("Happy" and "Soul Survivor"), and he's generally sung lead on at least one song on every album since. Meanwhile, "In Another Land" is the only Rolling Stones song to be sung by Bill Wyman.
  • The Oak Ridge Boys. Duane Allen usually sings lead, but the other three have gotten their turns. Notably, tenor Joe Bonsall sang lead on their Signature Song "Elvira", and all four take turns on "American Made" and "You're the One". However, they mostly averted this between 1987 and 1995, when Golden was kicked out of the band and replaced with Steve Sanders. During this span, Sanders sang lead on nearly everything except "True Heart", which had Allen.
  • Brooks & Dunn usually split the lead vocal about 60/40 in favor of Ronnie Dunn over Kix Brooks on album cuts. However, when it came to singles, Kix only sang lead on six out of fifty: "Lost and Found", "Rock My World (Little Country Girl)", "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" (the only of their 20 #1's that he sang lead on), "Mama Don't Get Dressed Up for Nothing", "Why Would I Say Goodbye", and "South of Santa Fe". The last of those was released in 1999, a good 10 years before they split up, and supposedly withdrawn just shy of the top 40 because program directors were saying that they didn't want another Kix song. And on most of the other 44 songs, Kix is either barely audible (perhaps because they tended to use studio backing vocalists as well) or just plain nonexistant.
  • The Velvet Underground had three lead singers on rotating duty - Lou Reed and Nico on the first album, Lou and Doug Yule on the last two - but bass/piano/viola player John Cale ("Lady Godiva's Operation", "The Gift") and drummer Maureen Tucker ("After Hours", "I'm Sticking With You") also got to sing two each.
  • Noel Redding of the Jimi Hendrix Experience got to sing a song of his own on both Axis Bold As Love ("She's So Fine", with backing vocals by Mitch Mitchell) and Electric Ladyland ("Little Miss Strange").
  • Journey usually had at least one member stepping in for the lead singer.
    • During the early era with organist Gregg Rolie as lead singer, Neal Schon sang on several tracks.
    • After Steve Perry joined the band, Rolie continued to contribute the occasional lead vocal until his departure.
    • Rolie's replacement Jonathan Cain sings lead on the unreleased track "All That Really Matters."
  • Sister Hazel is somewhere between this trope and Vocal Tag Team with Drew Copeland, who sings at least one song per album (except the first) at lead vocals. Also, guitarist Ryan Newell did all the vocals for "Christmas Time Again", on their Christmas album, Santa's Playlist.
  • Aerosmith's Joe Perry sings lead vocals on a few of their songs. He also sings twinned harmonizing vocals with Steven Tyler in "Combination".
  • OK Go's Tim Nordwind sings "C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips". So far this is the only song of theirs not to have Damian Kulash on lead vocals.
  • On the first Dinosaur Jr album, J Mascis and Lou Barlow actually had something of a Vocal Tag Team approach. All other albums featuring Barlow have him only singing lead on one or two songs. When Barlow was out of the band (throughout the 90's), no one other than J Mascis would sing lead - now that the original lineup is back together, Lou Barlow still gets a couple of tracks per album.
  • Johnny Hickman usually gets one to three songs on any given Cracker album, or else doesn't sing lead at all (though he also sings lead on various B-Side or compilation tracks). Also, "What You're Missing" is notable for giving everyone in the then-current lineup a Piss-Take Rap style verse.
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have been known to do this, mostly in concert. Tom sings nearly all of the songs but on occasion he'll step aside and let one of the Heartbreakers sing lead.
  • For the Max Webster song "A Million Vacations", lead vocals were provided by drummer Gary McCracken rather than usual singer Kim Mitchell.
  • On the UK release of Yeah!, Def Leppard's album of cover songs, the Queen song "Dear Friends" is sung, punk-style, by bassist Rick Savage.
    • A song recorded for the album, but not included, was Phil Collen singing a laid back, funky version of The Police's "Roxanne".
  • While most of their original songs are written by either Chris White or Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone generally plays the role of lead singer in The Zombies. Odessey And Oracle had some exceptions though: Rod Argent sang lead on "I Want Her She Wants Me", while Chris White sang "Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)" and a verse of "Brief Candles".
  • XTC are usually based around the Vocal Tag Team of Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding. However, Go 2 had Barry Andrews, keyboardist for their first two albums, sing "My Weapon" and "Super-Tuff".
  • Heart normally features Ann Wilson as the lead singer with her sister Nancy on the guitar. Nancy, however, has performed lead vocals on several songs, most notably "These Dreams", Heart's first #1 single.
  • Sugarland is a duo consisting of Jennifer Nettles (lead vocals) and Kristian Bush (guitar, harmony vocals). Starting with their second album, Kristian sometimes gets a shared lead vocal. He also did so when they, along with Little Big Town (who are a Vocal Tag Team) and Jake Owen, covered "Life in a Northern Town" while on tour in 2008.
  • The Breeders' "I Just Wanna Get Along" had Kelley Deal on lead vocals instead of her sister Kim - allegedly, Kim Deal thought that if she sang the song, it would be too obvious as a Take That to the former frontman of her previous band. The Cannonball EP features bassist Josephine Wiggs taking the lead on two songs - "900", which she wrote, and "Lord Of The Thighs", an Aerosmith cover.
  • Sufjan Stevens handed lead vocal duties to Shara Worden (who sang backing vocals on some prior albums) on "Impossible Soul". Well, it was only for the second movement of the song, but that second movement was long enough to be a standalone song ("Impossible Soul" is a long song).
  • During the tours supporting their self-titled album, Metallica bassist Jason Newsted would sing "Seek and Destroy" and "Whiplash." Very rarely, the entire band has swapped instruments for "Am I Evil?," with Lars Ulrich on lead vocals.
  • Parodied on Robby Roadsteamer's "I'm Falling Down (And I Don't Want To Get Back Up)" - guitarist Pete Tentindo sang and wrote the song, but Robby sabotages it by adding "backing vocals" that mock the lyrics (as would be in character for him). Played straight several times on the album I'll Be At Your Funeral - Pete Tentindo gets two songs ("A Lifetime In A Dream" and "I'm Falling Down" again, this time without in-character interruptions), Nick D'Amico gets one ("Maggie Poo"), and a few other songs have everyone else in the band singing a line or two.
  • Rilo Kiley's first album Take Offs and Landings had guitarist Blake Sennett sing four of it's fifteen songs (including a Hidden Track). After this he'd only get one or two lead vocals per album.
  • Crowded House drummer Paul Hester sings lead on "Italian Plastic", "I'm Still Here" and "Skin Feeling".
  • The Monkees have over 150 songs on their "official" releases (not counting rarities compilations, demos, jam sessions, or the 1976 reunion-in-all-but-name album); Peter Tork has lead vocals on only 15 of them, 6 of which he shares with his bandmates. It doesn't help his numbers that he was absent from the group for 3 albums. (Since the group wasn't allowed to play on their first album and Tork had no vocals at all on that record, he would have been left off of the album entirely if Michael Nesmith hadn't snuck him in to record a guitar part for one of Nesmith's songs.)
  • Dethklok has "Kill You", which is sung by the Pickles the Drummer while Nathan was resting his voice (and having a sandwich).
  • Reel Big Fish does this in concert with Where Have You Been, with lead singer/guitarist Aaron Barrett urging a different member of the band each time to sing the final line. Additionally, the album Cheer Up features Drunk Again, a slow ballad sung by trumpeter/back-up vocalist/back-up guitarist/whatever Scott Klopfenstein. Some editions of the disc even have a lead-in where, again, Aaron tells him to get up and sing.
  • Only two of Fockewolf's songs were sung by producer Robert Wilhelm; "Accidents With Scalpels" and "Frail Doll".
  • Most Sonic Youth songs are sung by Thurston Moore or Kim Gordon, but Lee Ranaldo usually has one or two songs on lead vocals per album.
  • Front 242's 05:22:09:12 Off album was mostly sung by Christine "99" Kowalski, with Jean-Luc de Meyer confined to only a few tracks.
  • Petra handed off the mic twice in their long (by Christian Rock standards) history: 1982's "Disciple" was a duet between lead singer Greg X. Volz and bassist Mark Kelly; and "Breathe In", one of only two new songs on their 2000 album Double Take, was written and sung by lead guitarist Pete Orta.
  • DreamTheater keyboardist Kevin Moore sings the first two verses of "Space-Dye Vest." Somewhat of a bizarre example, as James LaBrie's vocals are still in the mix, but it sounds like only one vocalist (the singer is clearly not LaBrie alone, but is also in a much higher register than Moore's solo recording of the song)
    • Starting with 2002's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, drummer Mike Portnoy would contribute harsh-sounding co-lead vocals to a song or two every album, providing a Sopranoand Gravel contrast to LaBrie's higher, operatic range. Notable examples are "Constant Motion", in which the two split the vocals almost 50-50, and "A Nightmare To Remeber", where he attempts a death growl in one verse.
    • The Wither EP features a version of the title track sung by guitarist John Petrucci and a demo of "The Best of Times" sung by Portnoy
  • The supergroup Flying Colors is fronted by Casey MacPhearson with some additional singing by Neal Morse, but Mike Portnoy sings "Fool in My Heart" from their debut. In concert, Portnoy also sings the Dream Theater song "Repentance," which he wrote for the band as part of his Twelve-Step Suite.
  • Most of Florida Georgia Line's songs have Tyler Hubbard on lead vocals. "Dirt" is their first release to have the other member of the duo, Brian Kelley, sharing the lead vocal.
  • Eyes Adrift primarily had Curt Kirkwood on lead vocals, but Krist Novoselic takes the lead for the songs "Inquiring Minds", "Dottie Dawn & Julie Jewel", and "Pasted".
  • The Wilkinsons, a Country Music group from Canada, usually had Amanda Wilkinson on lead vocals, with her brother Tyler and their father Steve on backing vocals. However, they sometimes let Tyler sing lead vocals, most notably on the single "Jimmy's Got a Girlfriend", where he and Amanda share the lead.

  • The Newsboys. When John James left, their drummer Pete Furler took his place as lead singer. The first album with Pete on lead vocals was, appropriately enough, titled Step Up to the Microphone. Now Furler has left and been replaced by Michael Tait. Phil Joel has several "Songs in the Limelight" - a few of the band's hits such as "Woo Hoo" and "Entertaining Angels", as well as lesser-known tracks like "Breathe (Benediction)". Many American fans probably didn't know this, as it was difficult to tell Joel's New Zealand accent apart from the Aussie accents of John James and Peter Furler (who themselves sounded quite like each other).
  • Steven Page was the lead singer of Barenaked Ladies until Ed Robertson sang the verses their 1998 hit "One Week", and the two shared the role from then until Page left, but every other band member has had sung lead at one point or another — Andy Creeggan on a couple tracks from Maybe You Should Drive, Jim Creeggan on a few songs as far back as Born on a Pirate Ship, Kevin Hearn on "Hidden Sun" from Maroon, and even Tyler Stewart on "Allergies" (making Snacktime! the only album in which all 5 members get a lead vocal). The practice continues now that Robertson is the de facto lead singer. In addition, vocal duties for Page's old songs have been divided among the remaining members of the band.
  • The Kentucky Headhunters have taken both versions of this trope:
    • Initially, Ricky Lee Phelps sang lead and played harmonica, while his brother Doug sang backup and played bass. Both Phelpses left in the 1990s over Ricky Lee's Creative Differences, with Mark S. Orr taking over on lead vocals and Anthony Kenney as bassist/backing vocalist. Orr left after only one album (also over creative differences) and Doug rejoined because he didn't really want to leave in the first place; since Ricky Lee didn't want to rejoin, Doug took over as lead singer. After Kenney left in the late 2000s, Doug once again became bassist.
    • The other side of this trope comes in on Songs from the Grass String Ranch, which gave the lead vocal to rhythm guitarist Richard Young on "Louisianna CoCo"[sic] and drummer Fred Young (Richard's brother) on "Dry-Land Fish". Richard has gotten at least one turn on lead vocals for every subsequent album, and has split backing vocal duties with lead guitarist Greg Martin following Kenney's departure.
  • An odd variation came with Country Music band Little Texas. Initially, Tim Rushlow was the lead singer, but keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Brady Seals got some songs in the limelight on albums, as well as one single (specifically, their #1 hit "My Love"). Also, rhythm guitarist Dwayne O'Brien sang lead on their cover of "Peaceful Easy Feeling" for Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles in 1993. Seals left for a solo career in 1995 and was replaced by Jeff Huskins, who never got a chance at lead vocal since the band only did one album with him before disbanding in 1997. The other three members (drummer Del Gray, guitarist Porter Howell, bassist Duane Propes) reunited in 2004 with O'Brien and new lead singer Steven Troy, as both Seals and Rushlow had founded other bands at that point. Troy didn't last long as lead vocalist, so guitarist Porter Howell got promoted to lead singer. Although Howell had been in the group since day one, he was previously just the guitarist, and never contributed even a backing vocal.
  • After lead singer Larry Stewart left Restless Heart in 1991, the band recorded Big Iron Horses with the lead vocals split among drummer John Dittrich (who got lead on their first post-Stewart singles, "When She Cries" and "We Got the Love"), keyboardist Dave Innis (the single "Mending Fences"), and bassist Paul Gregg, with guitarist Greg Jennings as the odd man out. After Innis left, they recorded one album with just Dittrich, Gregg, and Jennings (and several session musicians) before breaking up. When all five members got back together in 2004, their reunion album included Stewart on most of the lead vocals, but gave a couple songs in the limelight to the other members.
  • The final track on Don Caballero's Punkgasm features two notable versions of this trope as the final track features drummer Damon Che on guitar and vocals. Notable as Che primarily plays drums and Punkgasm is the first Don Cab album to feature vocals.
  • Steve Lukather, David Paich and (less frequently) Steve Porcaro occasionally provided lead vocals on some Toto songs. After frustrations relating to their inability to maintain a consistent lead singer after Bobby Kimball left the group, Steve Lukather decided it would be easier if he filled the position, and stayed there for close to ten years before Kimball returned to the fold.
  • The Frozen Autumn first featured Arianna as a guest vocalist on the title track of their second album, Fragments of Memories, before she became a regular member of the band starting with Emotional Screening Device.
  • On their self-titled first album, Yuck had Daniel Blumberg as the main vocalist, with guitarist Max Bloom only singing the song "Operation". Then Blumberg left the band, and Bloom took over vocal duties for the followup, Glow And Behold.
  • Squeeze's songs are normally song by Glenn Tillbrook, but primary lyricist Chris Difford does lead vocals on the minor song "Love Circles" and the much better known "Cool for Cats".
  • Steam Powered Giraffe, in its original professional format, had the robots Rabbit (Bunny Bennett), The Spine (David Michael Bennett), and The Jon (Jon Sprague) forming a Vocal Tag Team, with Mr. Reed stepping up to the microphone for "Steam Man Band", its reprise, and "Prelude to a Dream/Make Believe". When Jon left the band in 2012, drummer Sam Luke was promoted to robot, taking on the persona of Hatchworth the Robot and joining the Bennetts in the Vocal Tag Team.

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alternative title(s): Step Up To The Mic
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