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"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, Metal Evolution episode 7, "Grunge".

Yarling is a singing style popularized in The '90s, 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 the "grunge drone", "nose yodeling", "Hunger Dunger Dang" and, more recently, "ham singing"note  as 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 its 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.

Not to be confused with Y'alling or Yarrring

Noted users include:

  • Aaron Lewis, as both the vocalist of Staind and a solo country singer.
  • Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is the Trope Codifier, as illustrated by the page quote. He would later yarl much less as time went on though.
  • Layne Staley, when he's not Metal Screaming. Staley's replacement William DuVall kept up the tradition on The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here.
  • Sully Erna of Godsmack.
  • Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots. Employed much less often in Velvet Revolver.
  • Wes Scantlin of Puddle of Mudd, which is done to imitate Layne Staley.
  • Chester Bennington in Grey Daze, his band before Linkin Park, most obvious in songs such as "Morei Sky". It occasionally crept into his work in Linkin Park as well. He also heavily used this voice during his time as frontman of Stone Temple Pilots.
  • Scott Stapp of Creed is one of the more infamous abusers of this technique. While Word of God is that his singing is largely based on Elvis Presleynote  and Jim Morrisonnote , non-fans accuse him of lifting Eddie Vedder's style wholesale, and indeed a number of casual listeners largely unfamiliar with both Creed and Pearl Jam find it difficult to discern Stapp from Vedder.
  • Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, who combines this with slightly Harsh Vocals. Along with Scott Stapp, Kroeger tends to be the biggest target of this technique's misuse.
  • James Hetfield of Metallica, particularly on their later material, though a notable yarl is certainly identifiable on many songs on their earlier thrash albums.
  • Brett Scallions of Fuel - varying levels of yarl. The yarling style is most noticeable in the album's "Something Like Human" songs "Empty spaces" and "Bad Day".
  • Mark "Vinnie" Dombroski of Sponge.
  • Chris Daughtry.
  • Dallas Smith of Default.
  • Shaun Morgan of Seether.
  • Tyler Connolly of Theory of a Deadman.
  • Dave Matthews.
  • Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down.
  • Brent Smith of Shinedown.
  • Chris Robertson of Black Stone Cherry.
  • Ed Sloan of Crossfade.
  • Leigh Kakaty of Pop Evil.
  • Pasi Koskinen of Amorphis (often alternated with Tomi Koivusari's Harsh Vocals), a rare non-Alternative Rock example.
  • John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
  • Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave, although he generally preferred Metal Screaming.
  • Exaggerated and parodied by the Dicklick Brigade with "We Should Create Random Songs And Post Here Them Double..."
  • Paul Isola of Breed 77, a rare metal example along with the aforementioned Sully and Pasi.
  • Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers, especially on the band's earlier albums and even through their most renowned work, Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Californication. Over time, it evolved into a Fake Brit/Fake Jamaican voice.
  • Travis Meeks of Days of the New, in a similar vein to Layne Staley.
  • Hugo Ferreira of Tantric, interestingly enough formed by ex-members of Days Of The New.
  • Jon Harvey of Monster Truck, a rare stoner rock example.
  • Daniel Johns of Silverchair on their first two albums.
  • Scooter Ward of Cold.
  • Lana Del Rey, who is considered one of the rare examples of a female yarl.
  • Jason Ross of Seven Mary Three.
  • Doug Ingle of Iron Butterfly could be considered one of the earliest examples.
  • Roger Young of Cinder
  • Darius Rucker, both with Hootie & the Blowfish and in his solo country career. He's seen as one of the originators of the style, besides Eddie Vedder.
  • Peter Steele of Type O Negative. Though not a full fledged yarl, his higher tones bare a striking resemblance.
  • Ben McMillan of late '80s grunge band Gruntruck.
  • Nick Pollock of My Sister's Machine, another original grunge act.
  • Gavin Rossdale of Bush.
  • Allen Epley from Shiner does this, which is very unusual since they're a Post-Hardcore and Math Rock group and nowhere near Post-grunge otherwise.
  • Dan Swanö from Edge of Sanity yarls in some songs while clean singing in his middle register. Another metal example. It's most noticeable with some of his recent works with his current band, Nightingale.
  • Eddie Ellis of Haji's Kitchen. Yet another metal example.
  • Dax Riggs from Acid Bath has a very similar vocal style to Layne Staley, though he does mix it up with Harsh Vocals.
  • Parodied in an episode of Bojack Horseman with the "Generic '90s Grunge Song", which is made up primarily of yarling.
  • A rare Country Music example is Billy Ray Cyrus, who largely sang this way on his earlier albums (Trail of Tears being the approximate turning point).
  • Several Filipino rock vocalists of the '90s (and in some cases, beyond) had quite the yarl, including, but not limited to Basti Artadi (Wolfgang), Dino Navarra (Bonehead), Eugene Santos (Head-On Collision), Rexy Valencia (Bliss) and to a lesser degree, Kevin Roy (Razorback).
  • Alex Band of The Calling. Parodied to hilarious effect in this sketch from MADtv (1995) featuring the actual Alex Band.
  • Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty.
  • J. Loren Wince of Hurt.
  • Josey Scott of Saliva.
  • Benjamin Burnley of Breaking Benjamin.
  • Jim Morrison of The Doors. Because he based his singing style on Frank Sinatra, his version tends to be more articulate than most examples.
  • Ian Curtis of Joy Division adopted this kind of singing voice once the band started working with Factory Records. His voice was even compared with the above-mentioned Jim Morrison, who happened to be one of Curtis's favorite singers.
  • Paul Banks of Interpol is known for his distinctly nasally and monotonous manner of singing not too dissimilar-sounding to a somewhat higher-pitched Ian Curtis. This of course didn't do anything to assuage the multitude of Joy Division comparisons the band both received and openly resented in the early days of their career.
  • One early ancestor of the style was David Clayton-Thomas, lead singer of Blood, Sweat & Tears, the Jazz-Rock band who had a brief bout of massive popularity at the end of The '60s. Clayton-Thomas had a distinctive hammy baritone, but his style was generally closer to crooning than shouting. But in their uptempo moments (the choruses of "And When I Die", "Lucretia MacEvil") he yarls it up big time.
  • The earliest recorded example may be the King of Rock 'n Roll himself. Just listen to the way he hits the lower notes on "Heartbreak Hotel" or "Blue Christmas".
  • Skunk Anansie has Skin, who delivers another fairly rare example of a female yarl.
  • Brad Roberts of Crash Test Dummies typically sings this way, albeit with a much clearer enunciation than is usual, although most of their music isn't really grunge, and alternates between acoustic-driven Folk Rock and New Wave-influenced alt rock.

Alternative Title(s): Grunge Drone, Nose Yodeling