When it comes to musical enjoyment, we are lucky to be a species born with various instruments. The human voice and its wide acoustic range is the most widely used innate instrument, but we can also use our hands to make percussion sounds and beats.
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To this effect, we have even created instruments that emulate the sounds of hand clapping; to this effect, Spanish castanets and slapstick boards come to mind.
Many songs feature hand clapping as part of their underlying rhythm, but many others use claps to accentuate beat passages. With this in mind, here are 10 of the best songs that utilize clapping as part of their musical score:
Legendary British band Queen is synonymous with stadium rock, which is a subgenre that aims to channel the energy of live performances by getting the audience to participate through singing or clapping.
The introductory rhythm of this song is a combination of forceful bass and snare drum strikes combined with equally strong hand clapping. Queen used to kick off concerts with “We Will Rock You” in order to fire up the crowd, and it worked every time.
After the wild success of “The Name Game,” a novelty song recorded by American soul sensation Shirley Ellis in the mid-1960s, it only made sense for this song to be released as a companion.
As the name of the song suggests, there are instructions in the lyrics to clap along for maximum enjoyment.
“The Clapping Song” was so popular that it has been covered by dozens of artists over the years; even Queen drummer Roger Taylor, who is really into hand clapping, covered this song for an album he recorded in 2021.
Some people say that hand clapping goes against the essence of punk rock, but this song by Black Flag has proved them wrong each and every time.
There are a few versions of “TV Party;” fans of Black Flag say that the first one recorded for the 1982 album of the same name is the best, but the band updated the list of television shows for subsequent recordings, and the most popular one can be found on the soundtrack to the science fiction film “Repo Man.”
It is truly a shame that this song was written specifically for Nina Simone, who performed it beautifully, but it did not catch fire until The Animals recorded a legendary cover a few months later.
Some people say that Joe Cocker recorded the better versions, but they are missing out on the clapping masterpiece of Santa Esmeralda, a French-American disco ensemble that incorporated flamenco beats into their epic recordings.
This song starts off with complex hand clapping that puts you right into a dancing mood.
Goth and depressive rock are not known as musical subgenres that should feature clapping, but you have to leave it to The Cure to pull it off masterfully.
The beat of “Close to Me” is irresistible, and it is accentuated with a few hand claps.
The Beatles needed to split up in order to give John Lennon a chance to showcase his Flower Power and countercultural revolution sensibilities.
This song is a staple of the hippy movement, and it requires hand clapping because hippies were known for their fondness of campfire rock songs with uplifting messages.
This is one of a few songs that capture the vibrant musical styles of the early 21st century.
Even though Outkast is a hip-hop duo, it is a bit difficult to place “Hey Ya!” within this genre because of its signature pop music melody, which features a clapping accent similar to the aforementioned “Close to Me” by The Cure.
This catchy song is silly, but it really puts you in a clapping mood.
There is no question that James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem is the Quentin Tarantino of modern hipster dance rock.
Murphy formed this band because of the encyclopedic knowledge he acquired from managing DFA Records, and this really shows in each of the tracks he produces and records. “Us. vs. Them” is a perfect example of minimal dance rock production, and it features hand clapping to a great effect.
Murphy could have gone the digital drumming way to produce this beat, but he preferred natural clapping instead.
You know the kind of music you get with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys: Pure American blues stripped down to energetic performances, and this includes hand clapping as percussion.
“Street Walkin'” is not the most popular song in Auerbach’s extensive catalog, but it is definitely a catchy one.
Inspired by the country rock sensibility of John Prine, John Mellencamp often sets out to make records about American life that will sound good in a rock arena or on AM radio.
The clapping in “Jack and Diane” punctuate the storytelling flavor of this song, which these days is often played by classic rock stations.