This is a little bit of a cheat, but what the hell. First up, an audio clip of “Last Night on Earth” by Green Day, from their 2009 album 21st Century Breakdown; following that, the video of a revolutionary cover version by Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong and his canine housemate, Rocky.
I’m not entirely sure what the correct term for this musical arrangement would be… A self-cover? A partial cover duet?
Then, of course, there is the question of how to describe the musical arrangement. Sheet music publishers would probably oversimplify it to “piano and vocal,” which is entirely insufficient in light of Rocky’s distinctive vocal instrument. The one other musical opus I know of that makes use of a canine vocalist is P.D.Q. Bach‘s half-act opera The Stoned Guest, in which the role of “Dog” is scored for a houndentenor. The 1970 recording of the work (pictured at left) features a St. Bernard named Bernice in the role. However, a quick listen to the highlights from album reveals that the houndentenor voice is really a percussion instrument — nothing more than a simple bark.
All this leads me to conclude that it has fallen to me to name Rocky Armstrong’s vocal range. I’ve given it a good deal of thought… and I’m stuck. All I’ve come up with are “howlentenor” and “contrahowlto,” neither of which I like that much because they don’t feel dog-specific (I’ve heard many human singers who could well have been described as one or the other).
Help me out, readers: leave a comment with your idea(s) of musical descriptors for Rocky’s voice. Then we can have a vote for the top nominees. Sing out, people!