Greatest Singers of All Time
The NME recently held a poll of readers to establish the best singers of all time. Now, this is an entirely subjective poll, because let’s face it, for every grannie who likes the silky tones of Kamahl, there’s another person who likes the Cookie Monster growl of Megadeth. As such, any list if going to be far from comprehensive, but we’ve collected the NME’s results here to countdown the top 20 with us. What do you think? Who else would you include in it? Do you think the fact that there are only two women in it makes it completely unrepresentative?
20. Tina Turner Whether it’s the sheer power of her vocals sending shivers down your spine during ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ or her lungs giving the slick production of 80s power hits like ‘Simply The Best’ in the 1980s, there’s no denying that she’s a brilliant singer.
19. Marvin Gaye The super sexy and seductive sounds of Gaye’s smooth voice has been the soundtrack to countless seductions all over the world.
18. Steven Tyler With lips as big as the Aerosmith front man’s, you’d expect that he’d have a pretty powerful screech.
17. Mick Jagger Perhaps not technically a great singer, Jagger’s rubbery stylings oozed sex appeal and most importantly attitude.
16. Kurt Cobain Ranging from a deep baritone to a tortured yelp, Cobain’s vocal stylings would have got him kicked out of a school choir but fronting the seminal Nirvana it just seemed perfect.
15. Elton John A distinctive deep and resonant voice, John’s honeyed rock vocals were capable of going from the croon of ‘Your Song’ to the Jerry Lee Lewis channelling ‘Crocodile Rock’.
14. Jim Morrison The Lizard King’s sexy vocals topped off his sex god looks, with the proof of his talents shown by the fact that in death the lame horse flogging of the Doors of the 21st Century, they can’t settle on a permanent lead singer.
13. Bob Marley The rasta vocals exuded the essence of da ganja, mon; but also showed a deep tenderness when reflecting in the likes of ‘No Woman, No Cry’.
12. Ray Charles An instantly recognisable voice, Charles’ vocals carried even deeper weight as they were the way he expressed himself without sight.
11. Matt Bellamy What Muse’s pint sized front man lacks in stature, he sure makes up for in his operatic falsetto capabilities.
10. Aretha Franklin The Queen of Soul’s voice at full throttle is possibly one of the modern wonders of the world.
9. Stevie Wonder One of the sweetest soul and funk voices of all time, Wonder’s voice was his greatest outlet to the world.
8. Paul McCartney We’ll forgive him letting his wife sing in Wings, because who could argue with the first lines of ‘Hey Jude’ or ‘Live And Let Die’. Hell, we’ll even let him get away with ‘Mull of Kintyre’.
7. Robert Plant One of the greatest shrieks of all time, once Plant got warmed up it really did seem he was channelling the flying Valkyries of German myth.
6. David Bowie A chameleon on both looks and voice, Bowie was capable of stretching from a croon to a screech that sounded like molten steel being stretched.
5. John Lennon The shouts and poppy tempos of early Beatles numbers were replaced by a far more mature middle aged croon, but no matter the period, Lennon’s voice remains one of the defining sounds of the 20th century.
4. Axl Rose Mad, bad and paranoid, in his heyday, Rose could go from a guttural growl to a pitch perfect sound akin to a cat being strangled.
3. Elvis Presley The super smooth sexy vocals of The King were have been rarely equalled – in his lifetimes or since his death.
2. Freddie Mercury One of the most flexible voices in rock n’ roll, Mercury thought nothing of reaching notes at operatic highs while bounding around the stage like a ballet dancer.
1. Michael Jackson Forgetting his bizarre lifestyle choices and controversial death, Michael Jackson still had a voice that started out with the adorable squeak of ‘ABC’ in the Jackson 5, and moved through to the sexy clipped vocals of ‘Thriller’ and Billie Jean’.
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