The old fashioned harmonies of a barber shop quartet and the smooth and seductive lyrics of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” are wonderfully at odds with each other in this version of the song by Jimmy Fallon and his Tonight Show group The Ragtime Gals, with a guest appearance by Steve Carell.
Barbershop vocal harmony, as codified during the barbershop revival era (1930s–present), is a style of a cappella, or unaccompanied vocal music, characterized by consonant four-part chords for every melody note in a predominantly homophonic texture. Each of the four parts has its own role: generally, the lead sings the melody, the tenor harmonizes above the melody, the bass sings the lowest harmonizing notes, and the baritonecompletes the chord, usually below the lead. The melody is not usually sung by the tenor or baritone, except for an infrequent note or two to avoid awkward voice leading, in tags or codas, or when some appropriateembellishment can be created. Occasional passages may be sung by fewer than four voice parts.