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A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.

It's not Ominous Latin Chanting, it's not the Cherubic Choir, but somewhere in between, close to the Ethereal Choir. A solitary, usually wordless wail (possibly to simulate wind or grieving), usually done by either a woman or, for extra poignancy points, a child (usually a boy soprano). The best time to include this trope is during the aftermath of something really dramatic — a battle, natural disaster, etc. Basically, any event where Ominous Latin Chanting would just fall short in the sadness department.

Often fills out a Moment of Silence. Kin to the Lonely Piano Piece. This is also what can come to mind when you hear the word "Opera".

You get extra extra poignancy points for cutting out all sound during the epic event, go into Slow Motion, and having the One Woman Wail play over it.

Beware, though, for overuse of this trope can send you on a Narmtastic voyage...

Clean-up note: Wordless singing that isn't the otherworldly, often anguished, and even startling wail is not this trope, it's Scatting. Feel free to move examples which would be more at home over there.

Examples of One-Woman Wail include:



  • The track "Libera Me From Hell" from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, instantly identifiable by being an integral part of all the most Badass scenes of the second arc. And for being a fusion of Opera with Ominous Latin Chanting (the words actually are a Latin prayer) and rap (although the rap part is skipped the second and third time it plays).
    • The lyrics actually are very similar to Dies Irae, which is more commonly used for Ominous Latin Chanting.
    • The lyrics are more similar to a responsory used for the Office of the Dead called "Libera Me"
  • The song "Dante" from Fullmetal Alchemist features a uniquely low female voice echoing Dante's Leitmotif.
  • The opening theme to Gate Keepers 21. The second half flips the themes, and this is moved to the ending credits, while the catchy J Pop song "Ima, Egao ga Areba" in the ending credits plays to a new OP sequence.
  • During Misuzu's final moments in AIR, the acapella intro of the song "Aozora" starts playing. It evolves into a full-blown song after a while, but it serves its purpose as a One-Woman Wail at that point very well, immensely heightening the impact of an already very sad scene.
  • Prominently featured in Anemone's theme from Eureka Seven.
  • "Lilium", Elfen Lied's opening theme, is both this trope and Ominous Latin Chanting by being a one woman Latin wail. When it's used during scenes, it sounds like it's sung by a bunch of monks instead.
  • The "Introjection" track from (disc III of) the Neon Genesis Evangelion soundtrack.
  • Ghost in the Shell: SAC, where almost ALL the opening themes are sung by a Russian singer named Origa. The first theme, "Inner Universe" even takes the next step and features latin vocals from boy soprano Ben Del Maestro.
  • Appears frequently in Blood+, where the aria "Diva" is sung by Elin Carlson.
  • Kira Yamato's personal battle theme in Gundam Seed Destiny, "Kira Just As He Pleases" features the One-Woman Wail, in direct contrast to Shinn Asuka's theme, which has Ominous Latin Chanting.
  • "Ake ni Somaru" from Hell Girl features both a woman and a child, mixed with creepy trance music. It did a damn good job of turning mundane, peaceful scenes (like a cityscape at sunset) into spooky panoramas.
  • The ending credits to Gunslinger Girl has One Woman Wailing in Italian, with a second voice occasionally speaking without tone during interludes. The entire sequence shows a handgun lying on a cobblestone street as it rains and the credits scrolling up, heightening the tragic overtones of the series.
  • Flag's opening puts a One-Woman Wail over photographs of war and the childhood of the protagonist. It's actually pretty good.
  • Saint Seiya had two different One-Woman Wail songs. One sung by none other than famous theme song singer Horie Mitsuko, who'd later join the cast as Princess Hilda.
  • The Sailor Moon S anime featured one of these every time Hotaru manifested her powers as Mistress Nine. Here it is.
  • The track "Cage of Fate, Circle of Destiny" from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Used in scenes such as the final confrontation with Precia.
  • The track that accompanied the opening scenes of the Mahou Sensei Negima ~Ala Alba~ OAD's first episode, where Ku:Nel confirmed that Nagi was alive and could possibly be found in the Magicl World and Negi and crew proclaim their intent to search for him there.
  • Spoofed in Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei: the track that would normally serve as a One-Woman Wail tends to play during faux-dramatic scenes and sometimes at completely random times, such as during the sponsor message. It's also often cut short when the shot suddenly changes.
  • Dragon Ball Kai: When Goku dies in front of his friends, the BGM changes to a One-Woman Wail as the episode draws to a close.
    • And also after when Yamcha is killed by a Saibaiman's sacrifice, also before that Tenshinhan it's going to do the Kikoho and sacrifice their life, in the same moment that Kamisama is predicting their own death, when The Saichoro dies, and by consequence, the namek Dragon Balls are turned in stone before the third wish, when Vegeta is dying by the hands of Freezer, and in a filler scene when Goku is having a nightmare during their combat with Freezer, now using the 50% of their maximum power.
  • Prétear has a creepy One-Woman Wail (accompanied with either clanging piano or doomy sounding kettle drums, depending on the version) titled "Nikushimi no Hate" that's a Leitmotif for the Dark Magical Girl. It's one of the best (and creepiest) songs on the entire soundtrack.
  • Used in Bleach when Ulquiorra releases his Zanpakuto.
  • "Autumn of Life" during the final confrontation with Kagato in Tenchi Universe.
  • Innovator from the second season of Gundam 00.
  • The main theme of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. It's the main theme because it sort of embodies the tragic insanity everyone, including most of the young girls and the male lead, fall under. It's most often used during scenes regarding the aftermath of the Great Hinamizawa Gas Disaster.
  • A great example is from Uchuu Senkan Yamato. Almost every movie and TV series opening starts with a voice-over narration accompanied by a magnificent One-Woman Wail The Infinity of Space. Example from the Space Battleship Concert 1984
  • In Digimon Savers, the Burst Mode evolution theme is an orchestral piece accompanied by a One-Woman Wail. Much, much Better Than It Sounds.
  • There are a couple of songs in the anime Soul Eater that fall under this category — usually the darker sounding negative ones played during parts dealing with evil magic users in the show. Notable are Kindertotenlied (translating roughly as "Song of the Dead Children") and Peace be with you.
  • Tiger and Bunny scores Barnaby's flashbacks of his parents' murder with an ominous operatic wail.

Films — Animation

  • Mocked in Team America: World Police, during the scene after the dam bursts and everyone drowns.
  • Used to great effect in The Prince of Egypt: "Deliver Us" and several other tracks feature vocals by Ofra Haza, who also voices Moses' mother.

Films — Live Action

  • At the end of Liam Neeson's Michael Collins, when Mick gets killed, you hear a woman's wail as his top aide is screaming at him to "don't go on us, Mick! Please!"
  • A rare male version appears in the Godfather III. Micheal's daughter is shot when an assassin is aiming for him and Micheal kneels over her body, wailing. For the first minute or so, there is no sound; then, a heart-breaking scream of anguish. Al Pacino actually wasn't wailing at first and then was; he got so into character he acted accordingly.
  • The main theme of Black Hawk Down features vocals by a tenor, another male variation.
  • This happens in The Day After Tomorrow, as the camera lovingly pans over scenes of meteorological destruction.
  • The Matrix: while they're acupuncturing Neo into being able to function as a physical person.
  • The soundtracks of Gladiator and Troy indulged in a fair amount of this.
  • The Lord of the Rings had several moments like this.
    • A boy soprano cutting in at dramatic moments like Gandalf's escape from Orthanc, his fall at Khazad-dum and the Ents breaking Saruman's dam, and almost any other moment when nature shows resurgence.
    • Faramir's apparent death is accompanied by a One Hobbit Mournful Solo (that's happening invoked at the same time In-Universe).
    • Female solos when:
      • Leading a chorus of other singers during Gandalf's lament in Lothlorien, and as Haldir and the other Lorien elves are cut down at the Battle of Helm's Deep.
      • The revitalizing resurrecting dream Arwen sends to Aragorn after his tumble fighting the wargs.
      • When Gollum recovers the One Ring.
      • When the Eagles rescue Frodo and Sam at the end.
      • Used in-universe in a deleted scene scene of the extended version in which Eowyn sings a lament at her cousin Theodred's funeral.
  • Appears in-universe and to chilling effect (though there was more than one woman performing it) while the Harif army in Lawrence of Arabia is setting out to cross the Nefud and attack Al-aquaba. The shot from the top of the cliff with the mourning women drowning out the stirring battle songs from below...
    • It's called "ululation", which is different from a wail and could also be interpreted as the women giving the men an encouraging send off.
  • Flash Gordon: While Aura is resuscitating Flash. But that was Freddie Mercury: One Queen Wail.
  • The trope is used many times in the movie Crash (the one without James Spader or fetishism) to make some scenes more moving. It actually pushes them into Narm territory.
  • There's a bit in the end credits music of Cloverfield.
  • Mercedes' lullaby to Ofelia in Pan's Labyrinth.
  • In The Red Violin, a woman humming, called "Anna's Theme" on the soundtrack, introduces the titular violin. In a beautiful and subtle transition, the woman's hum becomes the sound of Joshua Bell the violin.
    • And if you pay attention, during the credits the violin's score returns — and then fades back into Anna's humming.
  • The "Jill's America" motif in Ennio Morricone's soundtrack to Once Upon a Time in the West: slow, arching very high and very low, and achingly beautiful. It first appears in the background when she arrives at her house and sees what should have been her new family, every member gunned down in cold blood.
  • In ~The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly~, Ennio Morricone gives us the "The Ecstasy of Gold". Not so much a One Woman Wail as a One Woman Orgasmic Scream, though.
  • Not surprisingly, the Graeme Revell score for The Crow has a lot of this going on.
  • Ennio Morricone's score for Exorcist II: The Heretic features some weird Yoko-esque keening in spots.
    • The phrase "ice-water enema" springs to mind.
  • The entire ending sequence of The Mist, starting after they escape the food mart and continuing to the Downer Ending.
  • Heard for a while in Borat, after Azamat leaves.
    • This same piece of music, Ederlezi, was first used in Emir Kusturica's Time of the Gypsies during Perhan's dream on the river.
  • Like many tropes, this one is parodied hilariously in Tropic Thunder.
  • Blade Runner has this. It was a great effect with the blue light filtering in from overhead.
  • Apollo 13 features Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics wailing away as the titular ship disappears into radio silence behind the far side of the Moon and Marilyn Lovell finally breaks down crying. She sings several other times, but usually with accompaniment. The soundtrack to that movie is awesome.
  • The Field of the Dead from Alexander Nevsky.
  • Several cues in the score for Francis Ford Coppola's ~Bram Stoker's Dracula~ featured an especially ghostly female vocalist.
    • A One Woman Wail provides an "eerie vampire sadness" motif in Dracula 2000 as well.
  • Drop Zone has one right after the hero's kid brother is shot and yanked out of the depressurized airplane cabin.
  • Revenge of the Sith has an extremely eerie one as Anakin is sitting in his quarters and fighting with himself as to whether he should save Padme by protecting Palpatine. At the same time, Padme senses that something is wrong with him and goes to her window to look outside. Without realizing it, they are looking at each other from miles away as they're sharing the same fears. Cue chilling One-Woman Wail, with no other sound.
  • In the film King Arthur with Clive Owen. While Bor's... wife? Wife-to-be? is singing what appears to be a Sarmatian song, her voice gradually fades out as the scene cuts to the other knights, who are mouthing the words.
  • Inama Nushif from Children of Dune, which plays over the Cleansing of the House montage towards the end of the first film. For added points, it's in Fremen
  • Used when the marines destroy Hometree in Avatar.
    • Also used in the beginning of the movie, when Jake remembers his taking the contract after the death of his brother.
  • The Diva's song in The Fifth Element during Leeloo's fight against the mongolore soldiers is a partial example of this trope (partial in that it is a moment of high asskickery rather than of grief or dramatic tension). Also an example in which the One-Woman Wail is a part of the Crowning Music of Awesome.
  • Gavin Hood's jaunt through real-life attrocity, Rendition features a lot of one-woman wailing since much of the movie is poignant.
  • Heard during the execution sequence in Dead Man Walking.
  • Certain versions of "Lux Aeterna" from Requiem for a Dream have this.
  • A Mood Whiplash moment in the Kevin Bacon comedy She's Having My Baby: Kevin Bacon's wife is in labor, and he's in the hospital, psyching himself up to coach her. Before he can enter the delivery room, a nurse pushes him back, informing him that, due to complications in the delivery, they have to perform a potentially dangerous cesarean section on his wife. As it dawns on him that he may lose both his wife and unborn child, the soundtrack shifts to Kate Bush wailing the first notes of "This Woman's Work".
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera. There is a short burst of this at the start of 'At the Opera Tonight', and the choir backing up 'We Started This Op'ra Sh*t'.
  • Is a recurring theme throughout the soundtrack of The Grudge 2.
  • Used in Rob Roy. As Archibald Cunningham murders Alan Mac Donald, setting the plot in motion, Rob and his clan listen to a woman (Karen Matheson of Capercaillie) sing a mournful solo performance. The film cuts between the two scenes with the song playing over both.
    • Genius Bonus if you know that she's singing "Aleinn duinn" ("Dark Alan"), the lament of a woman whose lover was lost at sea...and the last, shadowy image we have of Mac Donald is that of Cunningham sinking his body in the loch.
  • Used in The Karate Kid (2010) during the cobra scene (and whenever it makes reference to it).
  • Used at the start of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 as Snape overlooks the soulless military camp that Hogwarts has become. For bonus points, it's Lily's Theme.
    • Used twice more to great effect: the tracks are called Snape's Demise and The Resurrection Stone. While Lily and Snape are very mournful lamentations that complement each other, the warmer, more hopeful Stone plays as Harry prepares to join his loved ones in the Forbidden Forest, bringing the Marauders' strand of the story to its close.
  • During the opening scenes of The Hunger Games, ethereal vocalizations play as we are introduced to Katniss and her impoverished home in District 12.

Live Action TV

  • Heard in the background every so often on Rome.
  • Used often on Heroes.
  • The theme song for Star Trek.
  • The opening credits for the CBS detective series Cold Case features a rather ghostly female wail.
  • Used in "Slayer's Elegy" from the Buffy episode "The Wish" when absolutely everything is going wrong.
  • Nobody's mentioned the remake of Battlestar Galactica yet? Examples include "A Call to Arms" and "The Storm and the Dead". And, y'know, the start of the main theme. It also shows up in "Lords of Kobol",where it's combined with The Power of Rock to make, um... holy crap.
  • Dollhouse's main theme also carts out this trope.
  • The X Files had bunches of these, though the most notable was probably Scully's theme from Season 8.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, where the singing is heard while Herc is mourning the death of his second wife, and the singer turns out to be Xena.
    • The funeral song that Xena sang in multiple episodes of the franchise was actually a pre-existing song called "Burial" written and performed by Lucy Lawless.
  • Doctor Who has its resident wailist, Melanie Pappenheim, notable for contributing wordless vocals for tracks such as the old Doctor's theme, "Doomsday", "Martha's Theme", and "The Doctor Forever".
    • The Steven Moffat era seems to have switched over to Yamit Mamo, who sang "The Stowaway" and "My Angel Put the Devil in Me," for the wailing, as heard in "The Mad Man with a Box."
    • And in Season Six we have one for the, as a fan described it, "having my brain explode" moments.
  • The beginning of the Firefly episode "Heart of Gold". That one is an old Punjabi wedding song called Madhaniyan, if anyone cares to listen.
  • Used to great effect when Jack Bauer raids the warehouse where the Drazens (who Jack believes to have killed his daughter Kim) are hiding out near the end of the first season of 24.
  • "Take This Sabbath Day," The West Wing's Very Special Episode about the death penalty, has the female cantor at Toby's synagogue practicing "Hashkiveinu" as he discusses the issue with his rabbi. The song is also played over the montage at the end of the episode. "7A WF 83429", the episode in which the President's daughter was kidnapped, used Dead Can Dance's "Sanvean (I'm Your Shadow)" over a montage showing thousands of floral tributes left at the White House Fence, evoking memories of Princess Diana although Zoey has not died and will eventually be found.
    • Toby lampshades this by asking if the Rabbi placed the cantor there on purpose.
  • Included in the theme music for Stargate Atlantis (otherwise an Instrumental Theme Tune).
  • Promos for various cop shows, especially Law & Order, use a wordless Arabic-style women's vocal when this week's episode is going to feature Muslims in some way.
  • In Over There, the One-Woman Wail would usually play in the Iraqi side-story.
  • Used in the fifth episode of "The Philanthropist" when a bomb goes off in Kosovo and kills four people.
  • Used in The Colbert Report during the segment Mysteries of the Ancient Unknown: King Tut's Penis", with some accompanying eyebrow twitches. Also used the first time he talks about the revolts in Egypt.
  • Parodied in the Community episode "Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples." A female vocalist ululates Abed's name for a sort of joking Biblical epic effect many times throughout the episode, then in the "dramatic" ending, the singer eerily wails Shirley's name.


  • One of music's Ur Examples is surely Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground." Supposedly a musical interpretation of Christ's suffering on the cross, it was considered such a powerful expression of human loneliness that it was chosen to be sent into space.
  • Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, "The Great Gig in the Sky".
  • The soprano solo in Ralph Vaughan Williams's "Sinfonia Antarctica", who alternates with a wordless wailing female chorus accompanied by a wind machine. (The symphony is derived from the film score for Scott of the Antarctic.)
    • Vaughan Williams's "Pastoral" symphony features another wordless soprano solo.
  • Yoko Ono is known for this. Example: "Don't Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)". Particularly the version on her release with John Lennon, Some Time in New York City/Live Jam.
  • Tenacious D does a one-man wail in "Tribute": "Nay, we are but men! Rock!"
    • To not mention the various "Ah"s from "Master Exploder" here would be a crime. One of them, focused on a single target, is capable of blowing his brain out of his skull.
  • The Cat Empire do the male version of this all the time, making use of Harry James Angus' magnificent falsetto.
  • Ian Gillan also does the one-man wail in Deep Purple's "Child in Time", especially the live version.
  • Some early Judas Priest songs had Rob Halford doing the male version of this, most notably the incredibly powerful falsetto passages in "Run of the Mill" and "Dreamer Deceiver".
  • Fortress Europe by Asian Dub Foundation.
  • Dead Can Dance: It was while a member of that band that Lisa Gerrard developed her aforementioned signature style.
  • Tiesto — A Tear in the Open (A Tear Jerker, of course). The Gaelic stock vocal snippet(based on a Scottish folk song) was also used in the Tomb Raider: Legend soundtrack.
  • Inverted: Ozzy Osbourne does a one-man wail in the song "Black Rain".
  • Used by various Gothic Rock bands such as Within Temptation (What Have You Done, The Cross and the haunting live performance of Memories) and Lacuna Coil (Our Truth — twice).
    • Another Within Temptation song makes excellent use of this trope is The Truth Beneath the Rose, immediately after the first chorus and again at the end of the song.
  • Henryk Górecki's "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs", although not a straight example as the Wail is in Polish and sung in a rather traditional operatic style, as opposed to the more recent examples that have an "exotic" flavor to them.
  • Natalie Merchant's "My Skin".
  • Ryann of Schoolyard Heroes pretty much is this trope. Try Children of the Night, Cemetary Girls or Plastic Surgery Hall of Fame
  • Havergal Brian's "Gothic Symphony," a work for which "large orchestra and chorus" is an understatement, has at one point a wordless, unaccompanied soprano solo.
    • Somebody knows their obscure English orchestral repertoire.
  • Michael Jackson's "Little Susie" starts with sad chanting, and then moves on to a small girl (presumably the titular Susie) singing wordlessly accompanied only by a music box.
  • Blixa Bargeld does this often. Nick Cave once described Blixa's wailing as "a sound you would expect to hear from strangled cats or dying children."
  • Ayreon's "Ride the Comet".
  • A signature of Enya, who some small minority of people claim pushes the envelope into Narm.
  • Kate Bush and her various devotees, most obviously Tori Amos, Sarah Brightman and Sarah McLachlan... the latter of whom used a classic example of this trope in the song "Silence" with...
    • Delerium, a Canadian techno duo whose music employs this trope to the point of excess. Featuring a series of female back-up singers (including their label-mate, a pre-superstardom Sarah McLachlan), Delerium songs rarely employ more than a handful of words; the substance of the song comes from long wordless vocal interludes over techno-rock orchestrations. Originally an ambient soundscape band, Delerium found commercial success with a more emotionally-oriented techno-pop approach — the keystone of which involves this trope.
      • Conjure One, a "side-project" of Delerium partner Rhys Fulbar, records albums that are virtually indistinguishable from those released under the name Delerium... especially in their (over)use of this trope.
  • The late Ofra Haza provided one in Temple of Love by The Sisters of Mercy.
  • Orbital: "Belfast", "Halcyon (& On & On)", "Are We Here", "Dwr Budr", "Nothing Left" (both featuring Alison Goldfrapp), and "One Perfect Sunrise" (featuring Lisa Gerrard). The latter is depressing as all get.
  • Hybrid featuring Kirsty Hawkshaw — Just For Today, which also samples the vocal from the aforementioned "Belfast" at one point.
  • Blue Amazon: "The Javelin", "Paradise Regime", etc.
  • Juno Reactor's "Pistolero", "Giant", "Mona Lisa Overdrive", and "Navras", all featuring Taz Alexander, and maybe others. The latter two also use Ominous Latin Chanting.
  • "First Strike" by Signum.
    • "Healesville Sanctuary" also uses this.
  • BT — Firewater.
  • The Inner Child from Mike Oldfield.
  • Rhapsody: Queen of the Dark Horizons.
  • Sarah McLachlan.
  • Found in The Most Unwanted Song
  • Vocaloid KAITO's Sayang: The beginning and ending's wail obviously sung "Sayang", but it's officially a One Man Wail in the middle.
    • Another KAITO song, Pane dhiria, features this as one of the background vocals.
  • Amanda Palmer likes this on tracks like Slide and Deliah
  • Rapsody's Prince Igor features frequent switches to an impressive One-Woman Wail from Sissel Kyrkjebo, wherein she sings an excerpt from the original Prince Igor.
  • "Persia" by The Art of Trance.
  • Swans' former vocalist Jarboe was prone to this. "Blood On Your Hands" comes to mind, as does the Swans Are Dead version of "I Crawled", in which it eventually mutates into a truly Badass Metal Scream. Hell? Yes.
  • Roza Rymbaeva, especially in "Alia". "AAAAAALIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Aru qyzy sen khaaaaalqyyyyyymnyyyyyn! AAAAAALIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Batyr qyzy sen khaaaaalqyyyyymnyyyyyn! Yerke kusy sen daaaalaaaamyyyyn! AAAAAALIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
  • Nina Hagen's Natuträne. The song starts out as a very positive, poetic description of a German city. Then she mentions how much seeing a loved one outside makes her want to cry, and how the little bits of nature around the city touch her heart, and she starts to warble in the most Crazy Awesome way.
  • The Tiger Lillies do this occasionally, despite being an all-male band — the lead singer is a perfect falsetto. Their song "Maria", a 9-minute wail about a woman who is slaughtered by a madman, is the most prominent example.
  • Tarja Turunen naturally is rather fond of this. Nightwish tunes "Astral Romance," "Angels Falls First," "Swanheart," "The Siren" and especially "Passion and the Opera" use it, and most of her solo works as well.
  • Much of Iced Earth 's recent Set Abominae-based material has made use of both this and Ominous Latin Chanting. Most blatant one is probably "Awakening."
  • The third movement of Leonard Bernstein's "Jeremiah" Symphony has extracts from the Lamentations of Jeremiah sung in Hebrew.
  • Another rare male example occurs in Rush's 2112, at roughly 1:45 here. Of course, if any man can do a One-Woman Wail, it's Geddy Lee.
  • The deeply unsettling Doom. A Sigh by Istvan Marta features field recordings of two Romanian women singing laments for the dead; the first seems to be actually weeping as she sings, and the poor quality of the recordings gives it all an otherworldly feel.
  • On the ABBA song "The Day Before You Came", Agnetha Falskog sings the verses with lyrics about a romantic affair and then Frida Lyngstad(who is a trained opera singer) sings a long mournful wail.
  • Emilie Autumn likes this, and it's most notable in "Shalott" and "God Help Me". Usually preceded by a Madness Mantra.
  • Deborah Sasson's "Carmen (Danger in Her Eyes)" samples "Habanera" from Bizet's Carmen.
  • PJ Harvey does this in The Mountain
  • How was Diamanda Galas overlooked?
  • Another one-man wail inversion occurs in Simon and Garfunkel's live rendition of "For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her". Also doubles as a Tear Jerker in this troper's case.
  • Namgar uses these.
  • Canadian goth-synthpop band Austra uses this trope regularly.


  • Bernard Herrmann's opera Wuthering Heights ends with an eerie soprano voice resembling Cathy's, accompanied mostly by the sound of the wind, calling out to Heathcliff.
  • Cirque Du Soleil occasionally uses this, such as the intro to the Boleadoras act of Saltimbanco.

Theme Parks

Video Games

  • The third Prince of Persia game often has this as background music when navigating the ruined city of Babylon.
  • The music in the Velvet Room from the Persona series, from the first game on (variously translated as "Aria of the Soul" and "The Poem For Everyone's Souls"). In the first two games, it was justified by having the singer (Belladonna) actually standing at a mike in the Velvet Room.
    • Also used in the final boss battle of Persona 3, which makes sense given that the song's title can be translated as "The Battle For Everyone's Souls". Here it is.
  • Eternal Darkness
  • "This clip" from Darius Gaiden. It doesn't help that in that clip it is heard just as the boss appears. Not only this is the final stage music, the bosses in Darius Gaiden is Nintendo Hard in and of itself. Even the uploader admitted that he'd die if the boss pulls the disappear into the background trick again; yeah, The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. For bonus score? This particular boss resembled the very first boss, giving a very nasty surprise to any unprepared players. ** That same warbling voice echoes in the game's many different endings, most of which are either tremendously nihilistic or just downright weird, kinda like the music.
  • When regular video games do this it's emotional, when Michael Giacchino does this you f-ing Sob.
  • The opening (and later, the ending) of Metal Gear Solid features a One Woman Wail... in Irish, which not even a native speaker can follow. (Ironically, if you look at the official translated lyrics, she's singing about how life is wonderful and how people aren't alone).
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 took it to a more obvious extreme by wrapping the trailers in a Hebrew One Woman Wail which is more emblematic of the trope. It's about how terrible war is. A vocal only version accompanies Snake's trip through the microwave hallway, as he damn near kills himself, and his allies do the same thing.
      • Metal Gear Solid 4 also features a callback to the first game's One-Woman Wail when Snake goes back to Shadow Moses Island.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 also has the credits song "Here's To You", which probably counts as a one-woman wail if you don't speak English. The bulk of Japanese gamers probably don't have to sit and wonder who Nicola and Bart are.
  • The "Enchanted Banquet" boss music in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, appropriately enough used only when fighting female bosses.
    • There's also Prayer, the song used on the menu screen.
    • Castlevania: Lament of Innocence gives us this.
  • In Dark Cloud 2, Emperor Griffon's battle theme, "Sun", features a dramatic One-Woman Wail set against a male choir of Ominous Latin Chanting, representing Sirus' longing for Alexandra as well as his psychotic hatred towards humanity.
  • Appears prominently in the soundtrack for Baten Kaitos, particularly as things get darker around the second disc. Probably the most memorable use is Ruinous Commander, the Final Boss theme from Origins.
  • In World of Warcraft, an obscure questline ends with you going to Undercity to give Lady Sylvanas a necklace she lost in battle, at which point she conjures a choir of banshees and sings "Lament of the Highborne" as she recalls the fall of Silvermoon and her own death. The song replaces Undercity's normal BGM for its duration, and all players in the city will hear the ghostly dirge, which especially adds to the city's haunted feel for players who don't know about the quest. There are words, but they're entirely in Thallasian (the High/Blood Elf language).
    • The Wrathgrate Cinematic created for Wrath of the Lich King has one near the end, during Highlord Bolvar Fordragon's death.
    • The intro cinematic to Wrath of the Lich King also features this, using the Ascension theme from The Frozen Throne (see below), except this is a boy soprano, not a woman.
  • The Diablo III cinematic trailer unveiled in June 2008 features a One-Woman Wail.
  • Reina Akikawa's theme in Wangan Midnight R, which can also be listened to in Maximum Tune 3 by unlocking the Wangan Midnight R soundtrack.
  • The game Medieval — Total War uses this trope in every way it can.
    • Rome Total War has it as the theme for losing battles and battles ending in a draw, as opposed to the victorious-sounding Ominous Latin Chanting played during victories. It is fittingly entitled "Lost Souls".
  • The first level of Einhander.
    • At 1:05, you can hear the same vocal sample that was used inSan Francisco Rush's "Rave Rush" music.
  • Parasite Eve: While it has a few musical themes using this trope throughout the game, the most notable of these is Eve's battle theme, "Influence Of Deep", which features a One-Woman Wail being heard amidst techno music. It also has an instrumental segment played using an organ tossed in for good measure. Yoko Shimomura certainly knows how to do good music.
  • "Lost Carol" from the Silent Hill 3 soundtrack.
  • Resident Evil Code Veronica: Alexia's battle themes use this prominently for the "Berceuse" melody.
    • Resident Evil 5 also uses a track in its opening cutscene.
    • "The Third Malformation of G" from Resident Evil 2.
  • Warcraft III uses this when Arthas returns before killing his father, a One Boy Soprano Wail as he catches a rose petal and watches it wither in his hand, and a One Woman Wail in The Ascencion cinematic at the end of The Frozen Throne.
    • The Night Elves' defeat music also features one.
  • The last level in R-Type Delta has a One Woman Wail as a soundtrack.
  • "This Illusion", the opening for Fate/stay night turns into this halfway through.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has one in the nighttime Hyrule Field theme.
  • "Ashes" from the Halo: Reach OST.
  • No More Heroes with Bad Girl's theme, Pleather for Breakfast.
  • Notably in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, the background music on the aptly named planet Styx. [1]
  • This is a favorite technique of Shadow Hearts series composer Yoshitaka Hirota.
  • While the soundtrack of the original Deus Ex is almost entirely techno — the second game, Invisible War features a One-Woman Wail remix of the original game's theme. The soundtrack of Human Revolution, on the other hand, has a wail in almost every track.
  • The main theme and related leitmotifs for Ninety-Nine Nights features this technique.
  • Blaz Blue features this as the Leitmotif for Nu -13-. Awakening The Chaos
  • The themes for the battles against Fienne, Thuris and Drazil in Soul Nomad and The World Eaters.
  • Dragon Age loves this trope, with wailing at the title credits and during the Battle of Ostagar. Leliana will sing in camp if you have high enough approval rating with her.
  • The opening animation sequence of Suikoden II.
  • The opening animation sequence of Suikoden III.
  • Might & Magic 7 features this in heaps. The wailing is present almost everywhere, but the soundtracks for Barrow Downs, Eofol, Deyja and the Bracada desert really lean on it. Perfect wasteland wandering motifs.
  • The BGM for Ace Combat Zero's final mission, "Zero," includes about 50 seconds of One-Woman Wail... before heading into a remix of the BGM from Ace Combat 5 The Unsung War's final mission.
  • From Lost Odyssey, "Parting Forever", which plays when Lirum dies.
  • From the Myst series, Uru: Ages Beyond Myst and Uru Live (AKA Myst Online) has a One-Woman Wail in Kadish's Gallery. Another such wail plays in Kadish's Vault.
  • An in-universe example happens in the first Mass Effect, wherein defeating the geth in the Armstrong Cluster triggers a recording of a lone quarian woman performing a One-Woman Wail. This is also one of the first indications of their (for want of a better word) humanity.
  • The Snowy Roads music in Twisted Metal Black uses this. Also used, along with For Doom the Bell Tolls, on the Freeway level.
  • "Red Carpet Extend-o-Matic" from World of Goo.
  • One song that plays often near the end of Snatcher has a decent-for-its-time clip of a woman screaming between repetitions.
  • "Critical Moment of Contra" from Contra: Shattered Soldier.
  • The '"Dance Dance Revolution songs "L'amour et la liberte" and "Tears".
  • A number of the special Infected Leitmotif in both Left 4 Dead games feature ominous wailing, especially the Witch's theme.
  • The beginning of "After The Drop" from Medal of Honor: Frontline has a boy soprano version of this. Halfway through the song, a full Cherubic Choir joins in. Ditto for "Arnhem".
  • Hearts of Iron III's song Letters From Home features this, and it is gutwrenching.
  • The ending theme of Metro 2033 that plays if you get the good ending includes this alongside the music as Artyom sits atop the tower, looking out across the world.
  • The Super Smash Bros Melee remix of the Pokémon theme.
  • The Super Mario Galaxy 2 remix of the "Road to Bowser" music from Super Mario 64.
  • LittleBigPlanet 2's Victoria's Laboratory Int Music with only the Melody playing.
  • DEFCON has this in the main background music. Extra points for not being a woman singing in a sad voice, but actually crying. Which is very fitting, considering that the point of the game is to bomb as many of your enemies' cities with nukes as possible.
  • There is an incredibly haunting track on the second volume of the Portal 2 soundtrack called "Potatos' Lament".
  • Gears of War 2 has this in With Sympathy, except that the wail slowly becomes more powerful towards the end.
  • From Hellsinker we get the theme of the Apostles of the Seed.
    • And soon thereafter we get Segment 7, the theme of Rex Cavalier althouth it's more of a One Man Wail.
  • Oerba Village, from Final Fantasy XIII. Particurarly powerful, since the place used to be Vanille and Fang's hometown, and has now become abandonned ruins, partially buried in white sands. The music still plays whenever you enter into fight mode, driving quite well the overall nostalgia of the place.
  • Some tracks of the game Malicious use it, such as the eponimous music (very soothing by the way).
  • A Middle Eastern type wail is heard in P.N.03's intro cutscene, as well as the final stage.
  • In .hack//G.U. we have the Keel Mountain Range of Briona Gwydion, which is just one of several pieces like this.
  • In Turgor found in the tracks called "The Adit" and " Sister's Death"
  • In Dead Island, the background music for the church safehouse has a theme based on this trope.

Web Original

  • Broken Saints, at the final part of Chapter 24 Act 4, contains a very powerful One-Woman Wail titled "Truth" (as if the incredibly depressing scene wasn't heart-wrenching enough).
    • Apart from that, the tracks "Come Into The Dark", "The Eight Element", "Belief", "Kenoma", and "Qaf", used at various points in the series.
  • A rare male example: Red sings one in There Will Be Brawl while, across town, Peach is kidnapped. Later, a recording of him does it again over Yoshi's murder and his own funeral.

 Ear poison! It is EAR POISON!!


Western Animation

  • Courage the Cowardly Dog uses this trope during a boat chase scene where Doctor Gerbil pursues Courage. 'EPIC'
    • Also in the episode "Shadow of Courage", played whenever Muriel rushes over to whack Eustace with a rolling pin (because he's scaring/harming Courage).
  • In Code Lyoko, you hear an One-Woman Wail whenever Aelita uses her Creativity power. (Some viewers mistake it for Aelita actually doing the singing, but she sometimes speaks at the same time, showing it isn't the case.)
  • The Space Ghost Coast to Coast theme song, which begins with a wail of parts of the original Space Ghost theme.
  • The Grand Finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender features the Wail during the climax of the battle between Aang and Fire Lord Ozai.
  • Couple of brief moments in Jack and the Spartans.
  1. It's number 5 on the list, for those who don't want to watch the whole thing.