Listen Closer! 35 Songs You Didn’t Know Feature Famous Background Singers

We bet you never noticed the famous folks doing undercover backup vocals on huge hits!
  • 1
    Elektra
    The Song You Know: “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Mick Jagger. Harry Nilsson was also present at the session, but his contributions were mostly taken off the mix.

  • 2
    Sire/Warner Brothers
    The Song You Know: “Justify My Love” by Madonna The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Lenny Kravitz

  • 3
    Roc-A-Fella
    The Song You Know: “Girls Girls Girls” by Jay Z The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Following Michael Jacksons death in 2009, Jay told Britain’s NME that the King of Pop gave an uncredited vocal performance on this track.

  • 4
    Motown
    The Song You Know: “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Michael Jackson

  • 5
    Warner Brothers
    The Song You Know: “Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Sting

  • 6
    EMI
    The Song You Know: The Wall by Pink Floyd The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Toni Tennille of Captain & Tennille, Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys, and some say Brian Wilson.

  • 7
    MCA
    The Song You Know: “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” by Elton John The Backing Vocals You Might Not: The Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston, and Toni Tennille.

  • 8
    MCA
    The Song You Know: “The Bitch Is Back” by Elton John The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Dusty Springfield

  • 9
    RCA
    The Song You Know: “Young Americans” by David Bowie The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Luther Vandross, a background singer at the time.

  • 10
    Getty Images
    The Song You Know: “Black Jack Bitch” by Prince The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Lenny Kravitz

  • 11
    Capitol
    The Song You Know: “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Moon of The Who, among other guests in the studio.

  • 12
    Decca
    The Song You Know: “We Love You” by The Rolling Stones The Backing Vocals You Might Not: John Lennon and Paul McCartney

  • 13
    Epic
    The Song You Know: “Play” by Jennifer Lopez The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Christina Milian

  • 14
    RCA
    The Song You Know: “Satellite Of Love” by Lou Reed The Backing Vocals You Might Not: David Bowie

  • 15
    RCA
    The Song You Know: “Fame” by David Bowie The Backing Vocals You Might Not: John Lennon, who also co-wrote the track.

  • 16
    Warner Brothers
    The Song You Know: “Graceland” by Paul Simon The Backing Vocals You Might Not: The Everly Brothers

  • 17
    ABC
    The Song You Know: “Peg” by Steely Dan The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Michael McDonald

  • 18
    A&M
    The Song You Know: “Tempted” by Squeeze The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Elvis Costello, who also co-produced the track.

  • 19
    KEEN Records
    The Song You Know: “Bring It On Home To Me” by Sam Cooke The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Lou Rawls

  • 20
    Reprise Records
    The Song You Know: “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor

  • 21
    Motown
    The Song You Know: “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” by Stevie Wonder The Backing Vocals You Might Not: The Jackson 5

  • 22
    Island]
    The Song You Know: “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Chaka Khan

  • 23
    EMI
    The Song You Know: “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithfull

  • 24
    Warner Brothers
    The Song You Know: “Short People” by Randy Newman The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Glenn Frey of The Eagles

  • 25
    Capitol
    The Song You Know: “Fire Lake” by Bob Seger The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit of The Eagles

  • 26
    Asylum
    The Song You Know: “Doctor My Eyes” by Jackson Browne The Backing Vocals You Might Not: David Crosby

  • 27
    Atlantic
    The Song You Know: “Another Day In Paradise” by Phil Collins The Backing Vocals You Might Not: David Crosby

  • 28
    Philles Records
    The Song You Know: “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Early in her career, Cher worked as a backing singer for many Phil Spector productions, including this 1963 girl-group classic, as well as “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by The Righteous Brothers.

  • 29
    Ode Records
    The Song You Know: “You’ve Got A Friend” by Carole King The Backing Vocals You Might Not: James Taylor, who also recorded his own version.

  • 30
    Liberty Records
    The Song You Know: “Surf City” by Jan & Dean The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, who co-wrote the song.

  • 31
    Columbia
    The Song You Know: “Wishin’ You Were Here” by Chicago The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson and Al Jardine of The Beach Boys

  • 32
    Warner Brothers
    The Song You Know: “Our Love’s In Danger” by Chaka Khan The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Whitney Houston, a background singer at the time, as well as Luther Vandross

  • 33
    Capitol Records
    The Song You Know: “Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone” by Glass Tiger The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Fellow Canadian Bryan Adams lent his famous voice to the track.

  • 34
    Spectra Records
    The Song You Know: “Magnet & Steel” by Walter Egan The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham

  • 35
    RCA
    The Song You Know: “Spoon” by Dave Matthews Band The Backing Vocals You Might Not: Alanis Morissette

VH1 Music Editor + Seltzer Enthusiast