Top Ten Most Vulnerable Sounding Songs

A vulnerable song is a song that sounds very petite and delicate, usually showing a certain authenticity and honest emotion. While most songs that try to deliver a certain feeling want to achieve this by giving a powerful and extrovert performance, there are also some songs that do the exact opposite. The singing is done very quietly, the syllables are rarely drawn out and maybe there are even a few charming imperfections in the delivery. The outcome is that it sounds less staged and way more natural than the more climatic songs we are used to. There is a certain warmth in the way the songs are sung we rarely hear in the more extrovert pieces of music. Often, yet not always, vulnerable vocal performances are backed by minimalistic instrumentals, often only consisting of a single instrument.
The Top Ten
1 Smells Like Teen Spirit - Tori Amos

A unique Nirvana cover made for this list. Just play the song sample.

2 I Wanted You to Know - Brooke Ramel

It's a pity how I - and most other people, judging by a majority of the comments on both YouTube and Amazon - discovered this song and its singer: because it was played in some episodes of "Drawn Together". Don't get me wrong, DT's deeply dark sick twisted deranged humor is awesome (why was the series cancelled so early by the way, it was highly successful? ) but the exact opposite of the song. This song is about her being honest to her lover about all the little oddities she likes. I have never heard of this singer otherwise, but this is a true treasure I bet the majority of people out there will never discover. Maybe several people who watched the series won't even know this is a "real" song. As I said, a pity. This song is pure beauty.

3 Lilac Wine - Jeff Buckley

His voice and style sound vulnerable in general, and many of his songs can be on this list. Great singer.

4 Raining Blood - Tori Amos

Yes, this is a Slayer cover and Raining Blood is one of heaviest and most aggressive metal songs.
But Tori Amos made it sound vulnerable. Made it slow and it's only her sad vocals and piano. Sounds like a completely different song. Unbelievable how she transformed this song.

5 Das Liebeslied - Annett Louisan

Well, the German culture lesson continues: may I introduce you to Annett Louisan, Germany's (female) chanson singer number one. At least in the 21st century. Else it would be Alexandra.
Louisan is known for her mature songs about relationships, and mature in the sense of grown up and classy. This involves around topics such as her ending a relationship when it gets too serious, her disappointing her lover who had bigger expectations in the relationship or her not wanting to be with the seemingly perfect man because he reminds her of an unpleasant former lover of her. Louisan portrays a woman who knows what she wants in a world that doesn't. Often, she is in for the fun, thinks her partner knows and unintentionaly hurts someone who takes it all more serious. But "Das Liebeslied" is different: this time it is her who falls in love. And she doesn't like it. She has "already too much to lose at this point", she sings in the chorus. She doesn't like not being in control of her feelings, maybe is afraid of being hurt, that makes her other lyrics more understandable.

6 Un Amore Grande - Peppino Gagliardi

It's a song in Italian. According to Google Translate, the title translates to "A Great Love".

7 Girl In Your Dreams - M2M

M2M were a perfect example of vulnerable and heartfelt music. Two girls that just discovered what teen life is, with their world upside down because of feeling their own imperfection, their first love or on the other hand not feeling love. And they wrote their music themselves, and also played the guitars. "Shades of Purple" is one of my favorite albums of all time, because it captures all the doubts and insecurities you have as a young inexperienced teenager. Nothing melodramatic, nothing trying to be cool and nothing crude. Marit Larsen pretty much stayed like this until this day, Marion Raven however became a tough rock chick. Maybe that was why they have grown apart after 2 albums.
"Girl In Your Dreams" stands out as an especially vulnerable, intimate moment. The girl the two impersonate acknowledges she is not the ultimate beauty ideal her lover may want, but therefore she has honest feelings and would do everything for him, but obviously that's not enough for him. M2M have such a natural way of performing and writing that even basic things such as them singing they smiled or cried indeed change your mood to happy or sad respectively.

8 Hurt - Nine Inch Nails
9 Splitternackt - Andrea Berg

You know, modern schlager isn't exactly my genre, but I don't pan it like many people do. It's often light hearted, easy digestible, completely harmless, unedgy and simple pop with lyrics about love and occasionally something fun. That's fine. Some schlager singer actually can sing well, and there is worse than forgettable music.
But Andrea Berg, who is arguably the second most famous female schlager singer after Helene Fischer, has something I really like. Maybe it's that she also had songs that are not all happy, maybe it is that even her happy songs at least have beautiful wordings, maybe it's that in recent years she writes her own songs while other schlager singers are solely performers.
But since I heard this song I am pretty sure its is because her voice has much feeling to it. Fischer is a gifted singer who could also easily perform classic soul songs (in fact she did at a show) and wouldn't need to perform mere schlager songs, but Berg has this honest, not so polished voice that stands out.

10 30 Minutes - t.A.T.u.

This song has something very fatal about it, and even though the lyrics are very vague and open to interpretation, I am somehow very sure it is about a dual suicide by a couple that feels the world doesn't understand them. I always loved the studio voices of the t.A.T.u. girls, the accent, the mix of soft and shrieking vocals and how everything they perform sounds full of extreme and often contradicting emotion (the chorus of "Clowns (Can You See Me Now? )" changes from delicate, child-like vocals to punk-ish screamimg within a second). Just do yourself a favor and don't ruin the magic by googling a live performance.

The Contenders
11 Killing Me Softly With His Song - Roberta Flack

Yes, this is definitely a song I haven't thought of when creating a list that deserves to be on it.
The Fugees' version is also great yet not vulnerable, I love that it sounds colder and not as warm as Roberta Flack's singing. Flack is more shy and melancholic when the singer on stage sings about her life. Hill is more like under a state of shock. She's a more intense and dominant personality, and she has to let the experience sink in.
I must say the talking, announcing and chanting done by the other members of the Fugees sometime in between (it's not really rapping) only make sense on the album, because else the song would sound extremely out of place on the relatively bleak hip hop album. But on its own it slightly annoys when you want to get into Hill's feeling.

12 The Coldest Night - Vanilla Ninja

Oh, Lenna Kuurmaa. You have not unlikely my most favorite voice of all. I grew up to your singing and since then have never heard anyone remotely like you.

On "The Coldest Night", which is about a woman that is scared to show her lover the darker sides of herself, Kuurmaa's voice feels just as insecure as the person described. In fact... she sings in the chorus as if she is truly frightened by what may happen if she reveals her dark secret (whatever it may be, we never get to know), as if she would shiver and is close to tears.

13 You've Been Flirting Again - Björk

I am a massive fan of Björk. "Post" ranks among my favorite albums of all time. If she is more on the pop side, she is extraordinary pop, if she does avantgarde, it's not as unnecessarily difficult to listen to and intentionally challenging as other art musicians. She is someone who really feels the music in its true essence, who looks beyond the horizon and understands everything on the planet can be music, and music is life, and the planet is life (sorry if that sounded cheesy but that's what I get from her).
But even with all that admiration: I am still not sure if she is a good singer. I have no idea what it is that makes me so unsure. She hits all the right notes and in some songs she can belt at an astounding level, but somehow she always sounds... exhausted. I don't know if this is just me or if others noticed as well. But that does not weaken my great opinion on her, because the overall music is great, and a really outstanding and amazing experience. And it certainly helps this very minimalistic song to sound all the more gripping and honest.

14 Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word - Elton John
15 Everytime - Britney Spears

If you ever need to convince someone that Britney Spears is not just looks then play this song. Britney's first four albums were great pop music mostly because she knew how she needed to act to authentically deliver a certain mood. "In the Zone" has songs very temptingly erotic, but then it also has this song, which is among the most emotional pop ballads of the 2000s. It is not oversung like Aguilera's, Beyoncé's, Anastacia's or Shakira's truly great ballads are, it is calmer, quieter and it really makes you stop to listen to it carefully. There are so many nuances in her performance that the impact is even more powerful than the loudest belting.
Unfortunately, the albums after "In the Zone" made her entire career dependent on the catchiness of the material she gets offered, as the producers decided to drown her voice in thick layers of autotune.

16 Pull Marine - Isabelle Adjani

She's a French actress but singer/songwriter Serge Gainsbourg wrote this song for her.

17 Ces Petits Riens - Françoise Hardy
18 Isch liebe disch - Tic Tac Toe

A song by an all female pop hip hop group known for having established foul language in the country of Germany may not be what you expect to find on a list like this, but this song is different. Firstly, it's not performed over a hip hop beat. With acoustic guitars and a soft piano, and what sounds like real soft percussion, it is more like a chanson. Secondly the lyrics: it nostalgically tells the story of a summer romance the protagonist experienced with a French man some years ago. She fell in love with him and he always told her how their love would last forever, but as the summer holiday ended so did the relationship. She also mentions how those were the sweetest lies she ever heard. In the third chorus she reveals she also lied to him, having told him that she was still a virgin, or having exaggarated with his beauty and strength. The song's tone is overall blittersweet: many years have passed since the events, and she thinks back at the fun they had together, the rapping is done very soft and with a constant smile on her lips.

19 Tell Me Why - LaFee

American audiences may know this song because it was sampled in the unofficial posthumous Tupac song "Close My Eyes". The song, an English language version of "Wer bin ich", has the singer wondering why it's exactly her that her lover wants. It could have turned out cheesy with lines like "afraid to close my eyes cause I don't wanna miss a moment of you", but somehow it actually manages to capture the extreme feelings you have when being in love. Plus LaFee's voice is so soft you can picture her lying in her bed next to her sleeping boyfriend and thinking "why me, out of all girls? ".

I put this at the tenth position in my original remix because after the second chorus it has a break from the minimalistic piano based instrumental and adds powerful drums and a melodic guitar solo before going back to the original tone just with a bit more instruments, which is a great moment in the song, goosebumps almost, but this particular section is not very vulnerable, though the rest of the song is.

20 Somewhere Only We Know - Keane

Yeah, it was the first song I could think up that fit the bill.

21 Closing Time - Semisonic
22 Deadly Valentine - Charlotte Gainsbourg
23 Parfum - Dita Von Teese
24 Gotta Be Somebody's Blues - Jimmy Eat World
25 Mein Herz Brennt (Piano Version) - Rammstein
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