Why do we have multiple vocalists? Any ideas?
Are they there to detract from the person fronting? No. They remain the focal point.
Are they there to detract from the melody? No. That’s the main thing.
So why are they there?
They are there to make the lead vocalists sound good and fresh once our ears grow tired of their voice (which happens no matter how good they sound). So we probably don’t want any backing vocalists until that happens. We may not need to hear backing vocalists on the first verse at all. When they do join in, they shouldn’t sing a harmony unless the melody for that part has already been established.
One alternative is to start by singing unison for a while, and then give the lead plenty of chance to shine once again on their own before coming back in. But only do harmonies once the melody is well established!
Now a choir is a true gift! That being said, we probably don’t need to hear a choir sing the same thing on all four verses of a song. Once we’ve heard something once, we’re good. So why not pull out on the first two verses and come in with ooooohs or in unison on the third, and then bring full volume and harmonies on the fourth? Or just punctuate a song with several well chosen phrases? Or make a grand entrance when we loop the chorus after the bridge and the band drops down to just kick on 2 & 4… and then sing it out in full voice with the band. In my mind, that’s what the gates of heaven opening sounds like!
The possibilities are endless with a choir, but because they are such a big instrument, it’s so easy to just let them fill all the space, all the time, and quite honestly, even a choir can get boring.
Arranging vocals is a full time job. Much intentionality is required to do it right, and keep everyone sounding their best.