5 Best Featured Vocals Of All Time | Features | MN2S

Featured appearances from guest vocalists are a staple of house music history, so we take a look at some of the best featured vocal performances of all time.

In celebration of our new signing Kym Mazelle, who has featured on great tracks from the likes of Soul II Soul and Maceo Parker alongside her storied solo career, we thought we’d look at some of the best featured vocal performances in house music history, starting with a great track that features Kym Mazelle herself.

1. Kym Mazelle – House To House’s ‘Taste My Love’

This 1987 track comes from the peak of the early Chicago house era. The Marshall Jefferson production features all the tenets of classic Chicago house, with an upbeat drum-machine groove and deep synthesized bassline. Mazelle’s vocals perfectly compliment the track’s spaced-out, dreamy atmosphere, floating over the beat in hushed tones, with louder flourishes hinting at the immense power of her vocal cords. It’s an admirable exercise in restraint, and a testament to Mazelle’s musical instincts. She knows exactly how to sing this song in a way that improves the track without distracting from Jefferson’s production.

2. Craig David – Artful Dodger’s ‘Re-Rewind (The Crowd Say Bo Selecta)’

1999’s ‘Re-Rewind’ didn’t just introduce Craig David to the mainstream; it also brought UK garage to the forefront of the world music scene. The track was written by David and The Artful Dodger’s Mark Hill. Later released as a Craig David solo track on his debut album Born to Do It, which was written and produced entirely by David and Hill, ‘Re-Rewind’ is unapologetically garage. David’s smooth, soulful melody plays off against a chopped up, sound-effect laden two step beat that swings back and forth from mellow to rough throughout the song’s four minute duration.

David’s spiralling verse melody and self-referential lyrics provide perfect contrast to the track’s stiff, spoken-word chorus. This track catapulted David and Artful Dodger to fame, with Mark Hill going on to produce many other artists, and Born to Do It being voted the second greatest album of all time by MTV viewers behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller in 2009.

3. Juliet Roberts – David Morales Presents The Face’s ‘Needin U II’

Everything about David Morales Presents The Face’s 2001 track is over the top in the best possible way. Its drumbeat seems slightly faster than it ought to be, creating a sense of urgency and excitement. It features house music’s definitive piano riff from new Fuente Music signee Eric Kupper, and, of course, powerful guest vocals from legendary house diva Juliet Roberts.

Morales’ original version of this track, titled simply ‘Needin’ U,’ is a classic in its own right, but the addition of Juliet Roberts’ vocals takes things to a whole new level. Now, complete with Roberts’ booming leads and a swelling gospel chorus, the song lifts listeners to a higher plane. Its epic scale makes it the perfect choice for festival crowds.

4. India – Masters At Work’s ‘To Be In Love’

In the mid-1990s, Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzalez and ‘Little’ Louie Vega’s Masters At Work had already made a name for themselves as one of the best remix teams in the world. In their short career they had provided remixes for Michael Jackson, Chic, Madonna and Jamiroquai. By the time 1997 rolled around they had a fair few original productions under their belt too, often featuring Grammy-nominated vocalist India.

India’s vocals on ‘To Be In Love’ are some of her best, displaying her ability to hold a melody in the midst of a perilously funky groove. The Masters’ squelching synths, bass guitar lines and smooth Rhodes are the perfect bed for India’s soaring melody and lush backing vocals. Masters At Work and India are truly a match made in house heaven.

5. Taka Boom – Joey Negro’s ‘Must Be the Music’

DJ and producer Dave Lee has worked with countless featured vocalists in his time. Under the name of Joey Negro he collaborated frequently with Taka Boom, and ‘Must Be the Music’ is their best work. Taka Boom (famously the sister of Chaka Khan) has one of the strongest, loudest voices in dance music, which is a perfect match for Joey Negro’s high octane production. For one minute and thirty seconds, Taka Boom whispers over a subdued beat; from that moment forward the two artists take us on a journey, with musician and vocalist giving it their all. Taka Boom’s vocals are at their loudest when Negro’s beat is swirling and quiet, then the beat takes over as Taka croons the chorus. ‘Must Be the Music’ is a fantastic example of DJ and singer working in tandem to produce great results.

Banner image features ‘Craig David Paris’ By Julienmorvan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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