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Yarling
aka: Nose Yodeling
Eddie Vedder concocted that way of singing because it was his original way of expressing himself. It came from a really real place, but then it kind of got codified, and made into a formula that didn't even mean anything. It was just sort of like "you have to sing like that, because that signifies alt-rock soulfullness." And it just kind of got repeated mindlessly.
Michael Azerrad Interview, Metal Evolution episode 7, "Grunge".

Yarling is a singing style popularized in The Nineties, in particular in Grunge and Post-Grunge bands, and has featured in a lot of indie music since. It dates back much further, however, having been popular with folk singers since at least the early twentieth century, and many famous rock singers (such as Jim Morrison and Johnny Cash) also employed a style strikingly similar decades prior. However, it was only given a name in the Post-Grunge era. Yarling from this period has also been dubbed "Hunger Dunger Dang," an onomatopoeic rendition of what the lyrics allegedly sound like.

It is characterised by a nasal baritone drone, with many of the words being slurred or unenunciated, thus making singers who choose this style prone to becoming The Unintelligible and their audience prone to Mondegreens. Although widely popular when first popularized by Eddie Vedder (and, to an extent, Layne Staley), this type of singing is controversial among music fans with many claiming it to have killed previous, 'powerful' styles of singing. Fans of classic rock and heavy metal are most likely the ones persisting this negativity, since it's become a staple of Modern Rock and some alternative (don't be surprised to find many fans of Alternative against the style as well). It tends to add a rough edge to a song, which may or may not be desirable, depending on the genre.

While it was commonly used in Grunge, it didn't become seen as a defining trope of the genre until many of the Post-Grunge bands that Flanderized it made this the main trait of the music by exaggerating this vocal style. Many critics claim that it, alongside Post-Grunge's usual Wangst and watered down comfort food simplicity, is the reason why rock and roll lost is power, while supporters point to its soulful, inoffensive style as the reason why rock expanded its boundaries during the new millennium. Because of the sheer number of successful late '90s/early '00s alternative rock bands that employed the technique, yarling is heard as a trait of the sound and a point of contention as to its quality as a form of singing.

The biggest point to be made is: Yarling is a dubious tool of Post-Grunge and nowadays an easy ticket to critical backlash and commercial success.

See also: Perishing Alt Rock Voice, which frequently overlaps with this trope. Both can be seen as vocal equivalents of Three Chords and the Truth.


Noted users include:


Waxing LyricalMusic Tropes    

alternative title(s): Grunge Drone; Nose Yodeling
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