i love lists. you know, kind of like i love lamp. but in this case, lists…
so, when i stumbled across rolling stone’s 100 greatest singers of all time
, i was, needless to say, very intrigued and thoroughly enjoyed perusing said list. as with any list, there are plenty of points of agreement and plenty of points of “what??!!” basically, rolling stone—instead of just making a list of the prettiest or purest voices—combined the “goodness” of their voice with the character of their voice (hence selections such as tom waits and bob dylan). i think that was a good direction to go.
with that said, here’s some of the highlights (and lowlights).
1. aretha franklin at #1. you know, i can live with this. i wouldn’t have chosen her, but it’s hard to argue that choice.
2. ray charles at #2. i love ray charles just like the next person, but #2? i don’t know about that.
3. michael jackson all the way down at #25?? come on. seriously? i would put him, at the very least, in the top 5. not only the greatest entertainer of all time, but definitely one of the greatest voices.
4. roy orbison at #13? there’s no way he’s making my top 100, so 13??
5. prince #30? whitney houston #34? come on, bump these guys up.
6. george freaking jones in the top 100? i would be mad if he was in the top 200.
alright, there’s that. you can check out the entire list here
a couple years ago, i made my own list of top voices in music on my old blog. i put 22 (why 22? your guess is as good as mine), but i’ll just repost the top 10 here. (each person has the song that best shows their voice in italics.)
10. chris thile (solo, nickel creek)
: heart in a cage
from how to grow a woman from the ground
. his voice is mesmerizingly soothing but equally energetic and fun.
9. ray lamontagne: burn from trouble. the grit of his voice is contrasted with the soothing quality of his songs.
8. paul meany (earthsuit, mute math): typical from mute math. paul meany wouldn’t win a singing competition, but it fits perfectly with the style of mute math’s music.
7. christy nockels (solo, watermark): holy roar from the purest place. she has one of the most pure voices on this whole list. there is something spiritual about just her voice.
6. fiona apple: not about love from extraordinary machine. there’s something raw and truthful about fiona apple’s voice.
5. liam and/or noel gallagher (oasis): fade in-out (liam), the importance of being idle (noel) from be here now (liam), don’t believe the truth (noel). many people hate oasis. personally, they’re one of my favorite bands of all time. that isn’t, though, why they’re on this list. no one sounds like liam, but i actually personally prefer noel’s voice.
4. michael jackson: man in the mirror from bad. pound for pound, there’s no one better. unbelievable then. unbelievable now.
3. chris cornell (solo, soundgarden, audioslave): the day i tried to live from superunknown. his gritty scream is beautiful and convincing.
2. elvis presley: if i can dream from 1968 comeback special. it’s elvis. do i have to make a comment?
1. kevin max (solo, dc talk): irish hymn from between the fence and the universe. there is something hauntingly beautiful and honest about his voice. it is operatic, while being pop. it is classic, while being rock.
alright, there you have it. what do you think?