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And thirdly, if I can sustain that long note in the middle without my eyeballs popping out or my trousers falling down... (audience laughs) ...I think we should be reasonably secure for the rest of the evening.
—Michael Crawford, on why he opened a concert with "Gethsemane" from Jesus Christ Superstar
A Music Trope. A character in a musical or band ends his song singing a long note.
A very long note.
An incredibly long note, in fact.
Jesus, how much breath does this guy have?!
Can become an Overly Long Gag if held ridiculously long—and it often is—unless, of course, it's not meant to be a gag at all. A parodic version, for instance, would demonstrate just how unbearably long the character is holding that note for, and other characters will probably try to stop it. Doesn't have to be the last note of the song, by the way—long notes tend to appear in the middle of the song as well.
- Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has the song "Canaan Days." The end features the brothers holding a note for a very long time, running out of breath (possibly making a joke about cigarettes), and then resuming the note.
- The Three Caballeros has Panchito singing the last note of the title song to the annoyance of the other members, who precede to do everything in their power to stop him. Nothing works.
- The end of "Weird Al" Yankovic's song Spy Hard, has him singing an incredibly high note for so long, that his head explodes!
- Which itself is a parody of the theme from the James Bond movie Thunderball sung by Tom Jones, who (according to a debunked legend) held the final note so long he passed out.
- Which is in turn a shout-out to the them from the earlier James Bond movie From Russia with Love sung by Matt Monroe, who held the last note of that song considerably longer than Jones did.
- Shrek had a similar gag to Spy Hard—Fiona starts singing with a bird, but they do a note so long and so high the bird explodes.
- It's worth pointing out that that last note is also horrendously off-key. Cameron Diaz was unable to hit the note, much less sustain it, so they had to bring in a professional opera singer to do the singing part there. Y'know what they say: it takes a very good singer to sound that bad.
- Martin Short on Late Night With David Letterman (which Nathan Lane mirrors to the T for some reason).
- In the Bugs Bunny short Long-Haired Hare, Bugs pretends to be a conductor in order to torment an opera singer. Near the end he has the singer hold a note for 45 seconds, until it causes the collapse of the orchestra shell above the singer's head.
- This scene was directly referenced in the SCTV "Godfather" parody, with Luciano Pavarotti (John Candy) holding an extended high note.
- In Klondike Casanova Olive Oyl pulls this off, her neck stretching all the while, as Popeye runs back to the kitchen to whip up sandwiches for the hungry crowd.
- In Three Amigos (with Steve Martin) as they sing their theme song there's one part where they hold one note for a comically long time before continuing.
- Given how much
PDQ BachPeter Schickele loves the Overly Long Gag, it's not surprising that he has a bunch of these.
- Parodied in The Stoned Guest: Carmen Ghia takes a breath in the middle of a long note and a voice cries, "I heard that!" In one of her duets with Donna Ribalda, an Intermission is taken as they hold their penultimate note ("Have you got a stopwatch?").
- The Stoned Guest also has Don Octave gearing up for one of these, but he screws it up partway through. (Appropriately enough, it is in his "I Am" Song, during which he laments that he can't do anything right.)
- Another P.D.Q Bach example: in The Abduction of Figaro, Pecadillo gets two of these in a row, when he's calling Blondie in Act 1.
- There is no singer, but the first two notes in the Schleptet in E Flat Major are well over ten seconds each; in typical performances the horn player falls out of their seat by the end of the second note.
- In "Anything You Can Do" from Annie Get Your Gun, Annie sings, "Any note you can hold, I can hold longer," and then proves she can.
- Mentioned multiple times in Forbidden Broadway's spoof of Ragtime. First in the parody of "Wheels of a Dream (A Really Long Note)":
"And then this soooooong
- And then in "We Can Never Go Back to Before (I'll Never Get Back My Award)":
"They can never recount or revote
- And finally ending with "Make Them Hear You (Make Them Shoot You)":
"When they shoot you
Peter: I'm doin' this for you / but it's really for meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee [Commercial Break] eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
- Lois: Peter, are you gay?
- Joke example: A guy sees a sign for the "World's Longest Underwater Tarzan Yell Contest". He asks what the current record is, and is told "Dunno, last year's contestants still haven't finished yet".
- Murder Most Horrid had an episode which reached a climax with a woman going to be shot when she finished the last word of her song. The last word lasted a long time.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: in The Leech Woman Tom loses it and acts like Ma Clampet from Beverly Hillbillies screaming "Jeeeeeed" For THE ENTIRETY OF THE ENDING CREDITS. 57 unbroken seconds.
- Title of the Song by Da Vinci's Notebook:
Modulation and I hold a high nooooooooote...
- The note is then held through the next repetition of the chorus.
I'm still goiiiiiiiiiingg...
- A radio station in Troy, N.Y., once edited Jay and the Americans' "Cara Mia" so that the long note near the end stretched to over a minute. It's still a long note either way, though, and an incredibly high one at the very top of Jay Black's vocal range.
- Kurt's audition features this gem from Chicago: "Never! Even! Knooooooooooooooooooooo * fixes his hair* ooooooooooooooooow I'm there."
- The score for the song "Mr. Cellophane" actually says "vocalist continues note after orchestra stops"; though there is no indication that this is a gag, it is often played that way to emphasize the injustice of the character's invisibility.
- "My Pink Half of the Drainpipe" by the Bonzo Dog Band ends with Vivian Stanshall hitting a dramatic high note that goes on and on and on (and is clearly a looped tape), after the band itself has stopped, and cuts off abruptly at songs' end.
- "Marty" by Five Iron Frenzy ends with Reese Roper holding the last note long after the rest of the band stops playing, until he runs out of breath.
- While the power of Adam Lambert's vocal cords is common knowledge, the note he holds during the bridge of "Pick U Up" is, in a word, sublime
- Dumbledore, from A Very Potter Musical.
- In the film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Phantom of the Opera musical, everyone takes a deep, synchronised breath during the last note of Prima Donna.
- "Johnny One Note" from the Rodgers and Hart musical Babes in Arms is about a singer who can only sing one particular note, but does so very loud and very long.
- "Johnny could only sing one note, and the note he sang was this - aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..."
- In Chowder Grows Up, Chowder holds the last note of his "I Don't Want To Grow Up" song so long that a Time Skip occurs in the interim. He, in fact, grows up over the course of holding that note.
- In Chicago the second last note in "We Both Reached for the Gun" usually is a long note, but this actor holds it for freaking 23 seconds solely for this purpose. Showoff...
- The Igudesman and Joo version of "Ticket to Ride" has one of these at the end of the bridge, complete with a comically deep breath in the middle.
- Tim Minchin puts one at the end of F-Sharp. Warning: May cause physical pain to those with musical training.
- The end of Can You Stand Upon One Leg? by The Divine Comedy has the singer lampshading how holding a singing note 'for a stupidly long time' is his party piece, and decides to challenge himself by making it a high note. He holds it for almost exactly 30 seconds, and generally finishes many of his more recent performances with this song (because, really, if you're going to do that, you pretty much HAVE to finish on it).
- In "Bad Opera", an early Saturday Night Live sketch, the soprano in the famous German bad opera "The Golden Note" sings a high C of such pitch and duration that she suffers from "Larynx Lock", and can never stop singing the note.
- Stephen Lynch really likes to dick around with this one in his comedy songs, usually toward the end of a given song.
- One of the "Fenslerfilm" G.I. Joe PS As features an incredibly long belch. Well, that is not really the example contained in this entry; rather, they do it again right afterwards by stretching out the usual sung "G.I. Jooooooooe" to about 20 seconds just to cement the Overly Long Gag.
- The Nostalgia Chick's review of Les Misérables ends with a rendition of "One Day More" by a number of singers on the That Guy With The Glasses site. The Nostalgia Critic gets to hold the long note and plays it for laughs.
- There's also the one from her My Little Pony review.
- Balloon Shop made good use of this trope in both "The Sargentos" and "The Masked Avenger": In The Sargentos, Olan is overjoyed about the spaghetti that his chef has prepared for "Chris" that he lets out a long shriek similar to the most annoying sound in the world. In "The Masked Avenger", Senor Ortiz's bodyguard adds short bursts of "Oh no!" into the dialogue, at random, finally, he lets it all go for a full 13 seconds. Even Senor Ortiz is a little weirded out.
- At the start of the song I Fuck Dogs, Paul McDermott pulls a very long note... And gets a headspin for his trouble.
- Somewhat done by Wayne Brady and Brad Sherwood in this playing of "Greatest Hits" from Whose Line Is It Anyway?, but implied by Colin Mochrie that "they held that 'oooh' for 15 minutes".
- The Israeli band Kaveret's mock-tango "Sugar in the Tea" includes several instances of this. In the album version, another band member interjects the main instance with a sarcastic "In case of a genuine alarm..." - and then the singer goes on for a while more.
- "L'AMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUR-"(face explodes)
- "The Saint Louis Bluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuues!"
- Jim Gillette, Lead singer of Michael Angelo Batio's former band, Nitro, belts out a simultaneously awesome and hilarious 30 second falsetto scream in their song "Machine Gunn Eddie" (starting at about 49 seconds in).
- Morten Harket, lead singer of A-ha, holds the record in Europe for the longest note ever held in a pop song- namely, their song "Summer Moved On". That note is held for about 20.3 seconds!
- John Linnell of They Might Be Giants singing the end of Fingertips in this TMBG podcast starting at 6:18 and ending at 6:37, a full 19 seconds of him singing the letter "I"... He becomes noticeably out of breath the last few seconds.
- Sesame Street: Used at the end of the Elmo’s World episode Music.
- "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls is one of the best-known examples in modern theater; it includes not one but two Incredibly Long Notes at the end, back to back. This is the reason Jennifer Holiday won a Tony in 1982 and Jennifer Hudson an Oscar in 2007. There is no mediocrity with this song. Performing it is either a singer's Moment of Awesome or biggest Epic Failure.
- This guy's audition on American Idol. Funny for us, but the guy was completely serious.
- Lord Worm, the vocalist of Cryptopsy, holds a scream for over 30 seconds on the track Open Face Surgery.
- Dylan Carlson holds one note on the guitar for over 30 minutes on the track Like Gold And Faceted.
- The current real life record for sustaining a vocal note is held by singer Dean Frenkel at 57 seconds. If you include sustained notes on a musical instrument, Kenny G used to hold the record, having sustained a note on a saxophone for 45 minutes, 47 seconds. Costa Rican Geovanny Escalante currently holds the record with over 90 minutes of continuous playing. Of course, saxophonists—unlike singers—can use circular breathing...
- Vocally, it is actually possible for any experienced singer to hold a note out for a very long time, if that note is very soft. Obviously, a louder sound takes more air, so if you sing softly it is incredible how long a note can be held. Most of these examples, however, are belted, which is much more impressive.
- The song "Opening Band" by Paul and Storm ends with a succession of "Hello"s, the last of which is held for a long time. 22 seconds to be exact (studio version)
- Also an example of Careful with That Axe, but The Marshall Arts by Razor has a 27 second long scream that sounds more like a tire squealing than a human being.
- Chester Bennington of Linkin Park in the song Given up holds a 17 second scream.
- "The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side" by The Magnetic Fields ends in a series of "ride"s of increasingly long duration. They go up in pitch as well.
- In Dance of the Vampires, Michael Crawford held a note at the end of Act I for a very long time, as he was escorting his bride across the drawbridge into his castle. (Though it was pre-recorded, not actually performed live).
- Judas Priest: CAN'T! STOP! THE! PAIN!KILL!ER................................................................................................ (Almost 20 seconds. Have fun with that on Rock Band 2.) PAIN!
- The James Bond series has a long, long, long love affair with this trope. See exhibits A, B, and C for more details.
- "Dim All the Lights" by Donna Summer once held (and may still?) the record for the longest note held in an American Top 40 pop hit.
- Wicked has this happen a lot, in the form of "The Wizard And I" (Twice!) and "No Good Deed" (FOUR TIMES!) Stephen Schwartz explicitly said that while a mezzo-soprano, the vocal range for Elphaba's role in every other song, might be able to pull it off, she also needs to be a belter for the second number alone.
- The last "fly" in Martina McBride's "A Broken Wing" is held out for thirteen seconds. Martina has said that she can usually sustain it even longer in concert.
- "Run To the Hills" by Iron Maiden. You'll know the part.
- "Hallowed Be Thy Name", too.
- The first verse of the title track, The Number of the Beast, is prefaced by a legendary scream Bruce Dickinson has not been able to match since, much less ordinary humans.
- A lot of barbershop songs end with a single held note (called a "post") and the other three parts resolving around it. YouTube multi-tracker Finey Leee demonstrates for your enjoyment. (34 seconds, for those wondering.)
- And no mention of barbershop would be complete without a shout-out to Tim Waurick, who is no stranger to 30-second posts as seen here. (skip to 3:50)
- Mabel introducing herself in The Pirates of Penzance, if the actress can pull it off.
- When performing Styx's 'Suite Madame Blue', Dennis DeYoung seems to like doing this during the verse 'You've conquered the world, and mooooooooooore ... '. It's not drawn out on the studio version; it's only when live.
- Barbra Streisand's final number in Yentl (Papa Can You Hear Me/A Piece of Sky); her last note clocks in at over 20 seconds. Babs in general is famous for these.
- The Enchant song Pure features a sustained call of the word 'rain' for close to twenty five seconds, as heard here about 3:52 in.
- The title song of Company has two ensemble verses, each ending with everybody singing "We looooooooooove you!" The second time around, the word "love" is sustained for at least a dozen bars (the exact number may depend on the production).
- Melba Moore's 1982 hit "The Other Side Of The Rainbow": She holds the final note, at full volume, for an astonishing thirty-eight seconds.
- The song "Kiss of the Spider Woman", in the version presented in the revue And the World Goes Round has two instances of a note scored to last over eight measures. The first, coming at the end of the first chorus, is often cut short for choreography or stylistic reasons, but the final note (a high G#) is an excellent opportunity for a strong male vocalist to hold one of these.
- "Come Alive (War of the Roses)" by Janelle Monae has this, notable for not only its length (twentyish seconds) but its incredibly high pitch.
- Disney loves this. Notable examples include "Hellfire", "Bells of Notre Dame", "Heaven's Light", (noticed all three are from the same movie) "Go the Distance", "I Just Can't Wait to be King"...
- "I Want Out" by Helloween. After the solo, Michael Kiske sings "leave me aloooooooooooooooooone" for about 20 seconds, overdubbed over the chorus. Immediately after the note is over, Kiske's overdubbed chorus voice sings "to leave my life and to be freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-ohhhhhhh" for the last 13 seconds or so.
- Masaaki Endoh's schtick in JAM Project, in Steel Messiah and 110000000 (from Nico Nico Douga Selection: Waste of Talent).
- In both The Phantom of the Opera and its stage sequel Love Never Dies, the Phantom gets a long note to cap off his solo songs, "Music of the Night" and "Till I Hear You Sing" respectively.
- Bill Withers's classic R&B single "Lovely Day" features extremely lengthy held notes whenever Withers is singing, "A lovely daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay," in the chorus.
- Sweet chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiild of miiiine~
- And don't you cry.. toniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
- Let's add that ridiculously long one in I.R.S on Chinese Democracy
- Arguably, what takes the cake is the final scream of "You Could Be Mine". Just when you think it's over Axl somehow manages to grow an additional lung and keeps going for a few more seconds.
- And don't you cry.. toniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
- One of the most well-known examples of this: "And IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII will always love yoooooooooouuuu..."
- In the Dolly Parton original, it's more like "IIIIIIIII will alllllllll-waaaaaaaaaays love yoouuuu..."
- Anthony Stewart Head, of all people, gets a tremendous one in Repo! The Genetic Opera, during the song Let The Monster Rise. Sarah Brightman, as seen below, also gets a few.
- In the Tool song "The Grudge," singer Maynard Keenan holds a primal scream for 24 seconds, though it degrades significantly by the end. At concerts, the audio technicians loop the live scream back on itself so it lasts longer and causes less strain.
- Warren Zevon enjoyed holding the last syllable of "Berkeley" in live versions of "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" — in the album version it's only 2-3 seconds, but on Learning to Flinch it's a good 17 seconds.
- Hold your hammers HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH
- Kitananx is pretty fond of this.
- And then he cranks it Up to Eleven with Break The Vase, which contains THREE incredibly long notes in the ending.
- Counting Crows did this in the song "Sullivan Street."
- TEN THOUSAND FISTS IN THE AAAI~AIII...AII-III-II AII~IIIR! TEN THOUSAND FISTS IN THE AIR!!
- Bring me to Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiffe
- Boston's "More Than A Feeling". Particularly noticeable when the song keeps showing up in games like Karaoke Revolution and Rock Band.
Till I see Marianne walk awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...
- It is not uncommon for the actor playing Fyedka in productions of Fiddler On the Roof to see how long he can hold the "Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaazaaaaaaar" in "L'Chaim (To Life)" - with said actor usually holding it until the audience starts applauding. It is also not uncommon for betting to be going on backstage about when said actor will pass out.
- TWO FOUR SIX OHHH OOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNEEEEEEEEEE!!!
- "BIG! AAA~AND! LOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD-ah!"
- This actually got the electronic treatment to make it last a few more seconds, but it's still pretty sick.
- The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" has a note sung by Shahin Bada (and almost certainly stretched out digitally) that lasts for 63 beats at approximately 132bpm, making it just under 30 seconds.
- There is a film shown to high school music classes that has a segment by an oboe player, talking about how he used to ask children in classes he visited to try to hold their breath as long as he does as her plays the beginning of a Tchaikovsky piece. He then said he had to stop doing that particular demonstration after a child actually passed out.
- Sonata Arctica's "Draw Me" — twice.
- Roza Rymbaeva draws it out in "Alia". "AAAAAALIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Aru qyzy sen khaaaaalqyyyyyymnyyyyyn! AAAAAALIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Batyr qyzy sen khaaaaalqyyyyymnyyyyyn! Yerke kusy sen daaaalaaaamyyyyn! AAAAAALIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has a lot of these:
- What, no one's heard Clay Aiken's rendition of Solitaire?
- Craig Morgan, "Love Remembers". He practically screams the last "remembers" and holds it for 15 seconds.
- Hal Ketchum holds out the last "keep your mansions of gooooooooooold" at the end of "I Know Where Love Lives", complete with a very impressive vibrato.
- Jeff Buckley makes a "Hallelujah" last 23 seconds in, wait for it, Hallelujah.
- In the Bonzo Dog Band's "My Pink Half of the Drainpipe", Vivian Stanshall, voicing his irritation at his boring, normal neighbor, ends on a held note that goes on and on and gets looped so it stays at the same tone and volume going on and on while the music behind it stops and it keeps going on and on until the track abruptly ends.
- Kalinka via the Red Army Choir has a number of long held notes, but the longest (starting @ 3:15) goes for 26 seconds.
- Barenaked Ladies. Steven Page. "Break Your Heart."
- Muse have their cover of Prague, with an 18-second long vocal note.
- Near the middle of the Meshuggah song "Sum," vocalist Jens Kidman holds a scream from the Uncanny Valley that lasts for over 30 seconds.
- A scream? More like a ten billion ton nuclear assault formed into human voice.
- Nintendo Capri Sun of The Runaway Guys yells "LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!" during a Super Smash Bros. game. He drags the last syllable of "Rumble" out for at least ten seconds. And he could've kept going, but he dissolved into laughter and interrupted himself. Needless to say, the others are dumbfounded.
"What else can you do, Tim?!"
- Here he holds a note for 31 seconds.
- in למה את לא עונה לי (Why Won't You Answer Me?) the Israeli singer Yoni Bloh does a very long "WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHY?!
- During the final choral movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, he makes the sopranos hold a note long enough to make them pass out.
- Inspector Hans Kemp has one near the end of "He's Loose" in the musical version of Young Frankenstein, and the entire chorus holds one at the end of the same song.
- But only on the CD.
- Sara Bareilles's Come Round Soon, at about 2:19. Gives me goosebumps every time.
- Some performers like to hold a long note over the crescendo of "Gethsemane" in "Jesus Christ Superstar". One outstanding example - Steve Balsamo.
- The israely song למה את לא עונה לי (Why Don't You Answer Me?),by Yoni Bloch, has one near the end. the song might as well be named WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHY Don't You Answer Me?
- "Like a bat out of heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllll!" In his prime, Meat Loaf was great at this.
- Air Supply's "I'm all out of love, what am I without you? I can't be too late TO SAY THAT I WAS SO WROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG!"
- Freddy Curci of Sheriff holds a falsetto YOOOOOOOOOUUUUU for 26 seconds at the end of "When I'm With You."
- The last note in the song Meditation from the musical version of Shenandoah.
- From Thoroughly Modern Millie: Ooonly! In! New! Yoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo-ork!
People Who Just Like To Hold Very Long Notes:
- Amy Lee of Evanescence uses this trope so much.
- Anthony Warlow
- Axl Rose, usually at the end of a song.
- Barbra Streisand
- Celine Dion
- Christina Aguilera will throw one of these in occasionally.
- Jan Peerce.
- The late Luciano Pavarotti
- Franco Corelli
- Rockwell Blake
- Leona Lewis
- Mariah Carey
- Pretty much every singer who uses the "high pitched wail" form of Metal Scream.
- Bruce "Air Raid Siren" Dickinson
- Michael Crawford
- Patti Labelle
- Ramin Karimloo
- Peter Hammill
- Sarah Brightman
- Shirley. FREAKING. Bassey.
- Simon Gallaher
- Tarja Turunen, former lead singer for Nightwish
- Tom Jones
- Whitney Houston
- Roza Rymbaeva
- Patti LuPone
- Kenny G holds the world record for the longest saxophone note--he did it via circular breathing.
- Jessica Simpson, especially on her third album In this Skin.
- Corrine Drewery of Swing Out Sister, usually as an act of improvisation in live concerts, as she revealed in this interview
- Freddie "Somebody to Love" Mercury. FULL. FREAKING. STOP.
- In other words, Bugs literally "brought down the house".