10 Hit Songs That Feature Sound Effects

If you’re a music producer who wants to learn how to include sound effects in your next production, here are ten great songs to get you inspired.

What goes into the making of a hit song? It’s a combination of a great melody, memorable lyrics, a cool groove and, sometimes, even a sound effect. Music producers have a long history of dipping into the world of sound effects to enhance their productions and when done right it becomes impossible to imagine the song without the effect.
Here are ten great examples of hit songs that feature sound effects in the mix.


Thriller – Michael Jackson

Producer: Quincy Jones
Sound Effects: Assorted horror ambience effects

The sounds of a door creaking, deliberate footsteps, a slow rising wind, the ominous clap of thunder, and a howling wolf set the spooky stage for what would go on to become one of the most iconic songs (and music videos) of all time. The soundscape of the intro leads into the musical arrangement with the sound of a star falling through the sky–a sound effect created on the ARP 2600 synth by composer Anthony Marinelli. Once the song is underway, sound effects appear throughout the track to illustrate lyrics (door slam), or add atmosphere (coyotes barking), culminating in the supremely creepy villainous laugh of horror movie actor Vincent Price. 

Money – Pink Floyd

Producers: Pink Floyd
Sound Effects: Coins, cash register, paper tearing

In British prog rock band Pink Floyd’s 1973 hit song, their money does jiggle-jiggle for a sound effects-heavy intro created by splicing together recordings of coins on a string, the sound of tearing paper and the ringing of a cash register. The sounds are hard panned to make full use of the stereo field and are performed in a rhythmic loop that continues as the bass and drums kick in, fading out gently under the electric guitar before the vocals begin. The loop returns later in the song and fits the beat perfectly as just another percussive element in the arrangement.

9 to 5 – Dolly Parton

Producer: Gregg Perry
Sound Effect: Typewriter

Dolly is a legend for a million different reasons and employing sound effects in her music is just one of them. This classic hit from the movie of the same name starts out with a jaunty piano riff followed by the tapping of typewriter keys to provide the percussion. When the vocals kick in, the accent at the end of a phrase is delivered by the ding of a typewriter bell that signals that the typist is reaching the end of a line. So simple but so effective.

bury a friend – Billie Eilish

Producer: Finneas O’Connell
Sound Effects: Dental drill, breaking glass, staple gun

This 2019 hit set the ball rolling for what would become a phenomenally successful debut by 17-year-old Billie Eilish with her brother Finneas O’Connell on production duties. The song features a sound effect that Eilish herself recorded while at the dentist’s office. While having her Invisalign removed, Eilish pulled out her phone and recorded the drill which she later presented to O’Connell who worked it into the song. Other sound effects that illustrate the lyrics include breaking glass and the sound of a staple gun. Eilish and O’Connell are fans of using sound effects in their work–their other big hit bad guy features the distinctive pedestrian crossing sound from Australia that O’Connell recorded and modified to use as a percussive element in the production.

Champagne Supernova – Oasis

Producers: Owen Morris and Noel Gallagher
Sound Effect: Waves

The song opens with a close-up recording of gently lapping waves which plays over a meditative guitar riff and fades out around the 25 second mark, just before the vocal kicks in. Over the years, people have interpreted this song in many different ways, bringing their own meaning to the lyrics and what the song means to them. What is a Champagne Supernova? Why does it begin with the sound of water? That’s up to the listener to decide and millions of listeners have decided that it is a song they absolutely love. With a run-time of 7 minutes and 29 seconds, it’s worth putting on those headphones and going along with the flow.

(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding

Producer: Steve Cropper
Sound Effects: Waves, seagulls

Singer Otis Redding was staying on a houseboat in California when he began writing the first draft of this song. He finished it with co-writer and producer Steve Cropper and mentioned to him the sounds of the waves and seagulls that he had heard while writing the song. Soon after he recorded the vocals, Redding sadly passed away. Cropper finished the song and worked the sounds of ocean life that he and Redding had talked about into the mix. The sound of the waves features prominently throughout the song, but listen for the seagulls that appear around the 1 minute 50 second mark.

Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car – Billy Ocean

Producer: Robert John “Mutt” Lange
Sound Effects: Car ignition, Engine revving

It was the ‘80s: people were in the mood to dance, and nothing was so cheesy that it was off limits. This song was a #1 hit for singer Billy Ocean and producer Mutt Lange kicks things off with the sounds of a key being turned in the ignition in the left channel, an engine being revved in the right channel before the revving engine plays in stereo and we’re ready to go.

Rhythm Of The Rain – The Cascades

Producer: Barry De Vorzon
Sound Effects: Thunder, rain

It’s literally in the title so it makes sense to start the song with some rain sounds–a clap of thunder and the rhythm of the falling rain which fades away as the vocal begins. The downpour continues in the lyrics until the thunder and rain sound effects return one more time to close out the song.

Yellow Submarine – The Beatles

Producer: George Martin
Sound Effects: Water, lively party crowd, machinery, naval commands, whooshes

The Beatles dedicated an entire recording session to adding sound effects to this song. The band and producer George Martin enlisted crew, friends, and family to participate and props such as bells, glasses, chains, coins, and a water-filled bathtub were used to create the soundscape of life on a submarine as laid out in the song.

Time – Pink Floyd

Producer: Pink Floyd
Sound Effects: Ticking clocks, chimes, alarms

We’ll end with one more track by Pink Floyd because they really, really loved using sound effects in their songs. The intro to this 1974 hit features several ticking clocks and ringing alarms, which were recorded by their engineer Alan Parsons in an antiques store as a test for a quadraphonic sound system. When the band heard the recording they thought it was perfect for their song and included it in the finished track.

Final Takeaways

Musicians and producers can expand their creativity by adding sound effects to their toolkits. A well-placed effect elevates a song and adds that extra element of curiosity that is vital to keep the listener engaged and enthusiastic about your music. Get started with world-class, royalty free sound effects from our libraries that feature recordings by industry-leading sound artists.





Sonal D'Silva is a freelance sound editor and designer with a decade of experience working with music, dialogue and sound design elements for video projects. She also composes and produces music and is an alumnus of the Berlinale Talent program and the Red Bull Music Academy.


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