Top 10 Hand Clap Songs
Hand claps can make or break a song. A well-placed set of claps can carry a tune into an entirely different stratosphere if timed correctly. They can also sound like a clumsy attempt to overstep the basic beat laid out by the drummer if they don’t hit it just right. The tracks on our list of the Top 10 Hand Clap Songs turbo boost already-excellent cuts into levels of sheer awesomeness. Give them a hand, won’t you?
‘Stuck in the Middle With You’
The hand claps in this Top 10 hit play against both the acoustic-guitar shuffle and the subtle rhythm laid out by the drums and bass. In a way, they’re the driving force of this Dylanesque song, which went on to score one of the most iconic, and bloody, movie scenes of ’90s: the severed-ear slice from ‘Reservoir Dogs.’
Glam rock was all about hand claps. In fact, there was a study in the late ’80s that estimated that 97.4 percent of all glam songs contained hand claps. But don’t quote us on that. But just trust us when we say that hand claps were as prevalent in glam as honking sax, androgyny and glittering stardust. ‘Bang a Gong (Get It On)’ is one of the genre’s all-time best.
A horned-up Joel tries to (Catholic) guilt a girl into bed over a steady stream of hand claps that ride ‘Only the Good Die Young”s backbeat like a 10-foot wave. Unlike ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ (see No. 10 on our list of the Top 10 Hand Clap Songs), ‘Only the Good Die Young’ stays on rhythm, adding more fuel to the percussion fire.
The Steve Miller Band’s hit song is not like most of the usual rhythm-guided claps on our list of the Top 10 Hand Clap Songs. Instead, the rapid-fire claps of ‘Take the Money and Run’ show up in bursts throughout the verses, punctuating the song rather than helping steer it. Either way, it’s a great use of two hands.
Can you imagine ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ without the hand claps pushing along the verses? They’re as integral to the mix as the band’s celebrated harmonies. Like in most pop music from the period, the claps almost seem like an afterthought in the Beatles’ breakthrough hit. But the group knew the power of a well-placed hand clap (see various other songs in their catalog).
Like glam rock (see No. 9 on our list of the Top 10 Hand Clap Songs), power pop was basically built on hand claps. But Badfinger’s best song uses claps sparingly. In fact, they don’t show up until the guitar solo, and they’re so underscored, you hardly notice them. Until one final run through the refrain near the end of the song unleashes a flurry of them. Gloriously.
Queen stole the beat and rhythm for their No. 1 hit from Chic’s great disco song ‘Good Times.’ But the hand claps that show up about halfway through the song, during the breakdown after the bridge, are all theirs, and they carry the song from just another dance-floor period piece into a realm where hand claps get together to cheer each other on.
For a proto-punk band that loved noise, chaos and, um, noise, the Stooges sure do get behind the feisty hand claps that propel this cut from their debut album. The claps run alongside ‘No Fun’ for its entire five-plus minutes, never missing a beat, not even during the super-fuzzy guitar solo that erupts all over Iggy’s vocal cords during the final couple minutes.
For ‘My Best Friend’s Girl”s first 30 seconds, it’s just bass, Ric Ocasek’s voice and one of the most famous hand claps in rock history. After that, the claps disappear until a brief appearance during the song’s fade. But for that first half-minute, they set up the song, guide it along and make sure it’s ready to take on the next three minutes. In other words, the hand claps do all the heavy lifting.
The hand claps in ‘Jack & Diane’ do so much for the song — they drive it, keep it in shape, power it, make it a much better song than it’d be without them — we’re just gonna name them the MVP of our list of the Top 10 Hand Clap Songs. The main instrumental passages and verses of John Mellencamp’s (still going by John Cougar back then) only No. 1 would be an empty vessel of a song without the claps. A round of applause, please.