The musical concept of harmony was discussed (quite well) in an article I read a few days ago by James Reed in the Boston Globe.
In summary, Reed posits that harmony, "the intermingling of multiple voices" was a pop music staple in the past, but that in large measure, singers go it alone in pop music today. There was a time when the biggest radio-friendly hits were sung by bands who sang in harmony, and most top-40 hits were by those bands; more recent hits are likely to be about one singer's voice or the song's rhythm -- just think about or look at the songs that chart, and the use of harmony is non-existent.
Harmony has not completely left the stage, mind you, it just doesn't reside at the top of the charts, which is fine for many of us, because we don't listen to Billboard pop music. Yet ... the harmonies you hear just aren't what they used to be. Or are they?
Older examples: the Everly Brothers, the Beach Boys, the Mamas & the Papas, the Supremes (and many Motown groups), the Beatles, Sonny and Cher, and of course, CSN&Y, and then, the legendary duo that epitomized the use of harmony, Simon and Garfunkel. Sigh.
Newer examples are found in: the Milk Carton Kids (and it pains me to say this, but putting them in the same sentence with Simon & Garfunkel overstates their talent); the Chapin Sisters, Fleet Foxes, First Aid Kit, the Secret Sisters, the Jayhawks and many, many more.
However, most people sing along with songs in unison; they don't harmonize the way they did in the past. ".. in a group, there's a real community feeling when you sing with other people like that, " said Kris Adams, of Berklee College of Music. "It's healing. I think the human voice is something people connect with, more than with instrumental music." I've just scratched the surface here, please be aware.
Any thoughts? Feel free to post some examples of your favorite songs that feature harmony in all its glory.