It takes a lot to make a song a massive hit. Between the talent of the musicians, the production, the marketing, and more than a little bit of luck, it's a miracle that any songs get as huge as they do.
Strip all of the other elements away, and it becomes easy to see just how truly talented some of these performers are. Here's some absolutely massive hits with just the vocal tracks left in.
Warning: Some of these songs contain explicit language or mature themes.
Queen - "We Are The Champions"
Freddie Mercury has remained one of the undisputed greatest singers in music history well past his death, and a track like this shows off why. It even does a good job at highlighting how much the band's backing vocals really added a lot to their songs.
Eminem - "Lose Yourself"
The biggest hit of Eminem's career (so much so that it won him an Oscar for Best Original Song), "Lose Yourself" takes on an even more intense edge when the vocals are isolated. Without the song's somber, piano-based backing track, you get a real sense of the pure emotion behind every line.
Michael Jackson - "Beat It"
It should come as no surprise that the King of Pop doesn't need musical accompaniment to sound impressive. Even without the infectious beat and Eddie Van Halen's iconic guitar solo, "Beat It" stands strong as an eternal testament to Jackson's sheer talent.
Soundgarden - "Black Hole Sun"
A testament to just how much of a tragedy the sudden loss of Chris Cornell has been, "Black Hole Sun" is just as powerful and haunting when stripped down to the late singer's vocals. We miss you Chris, and we'll always remember why.
System of a Down - "Aerials"
Best known for their chaotic songs with nonsensical lyrics and pretty abrasive sound, System of a Down hide a pretty hauntingly beautiful set of vocals beneath the chaos. The harmonies between vocalist Serj Tankian and guitarist Daron Malakian become especially eerie without the accompanying instruments.
Click to the next page for even more amazing vocal performances!
Bon Jovi - "Livin' On A Prayer"
One of the indisputably biggest hits of the 80s sounds surprisingly somber without the upbeat instruments Jon Bon Jovi's echoing, almost bluesy performance would feel right at home on a downbeat movie trailer instead of one of the biggest party jams of the decade.
Pantera - "Walk"
One of the biggest heavy metal anthems of the early 90s, "Walk" has been the go-to pump-up, tough guy jams in music history. Take the instruments away though, and suddenly vocalist Phil Anselmo just sounds like a raving lunatic yelling at nothing. Hilarious, especially when his low-tone harmonies come in.
Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Kurt Cobain was a singer who literally suffered for his art (stories say he used to cough up blood after every live show thanks to his style being so hard on his vocal chords). While we all remember his angry, gravelly choruses, stripping away the instruments just how powerful his more subdued lines were.
Evanescence - "Bring Me To Life"
Amy Lee has been the absolute focus of nearly all coverage of the band since they first became big, and it's hard not to see why. She is an absolute powerhouse of a singer, and listening to this song with the instruments removed only reinforces that.
Metallica - "Enter Sandman"
Possibly one of the most popular songs in rock history, the band began its departure away from their thrash metal roots in grand fashion. James Hetfield stopped screaming and started singing, and the results are still infinitely catchy to this day.
Which is your favorite?