Aaron Paul won an Emmy last night for Breaking Bad, so it should now only be a matter of not much time before Weird makes it into theatres.
1. Freddie Mercury
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Another One Bites the Dust”
2. Robert Plant
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Immigrant Song”
3. Roger Daltrey
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (featuring the most iconic rock ‘n’ roll scream of all time)
4. Ann Wilson
Song That Really Shows Off Her Chops: “Crazy on You”
5. Paul McCartney
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Hey Jude”
6. Geddy Lee
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Closer to the Heart”
7. Jon Anderson
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “I’ve Seen All Good People”
8. Jim Morrisson
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Break on Through (to the Other Side)”
9. Pat Benatar
Song That Really Shows Off Her Chops: “Heartbreaker”
10. Paul Rodgers
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “All Right Now”
11. Brad Delp
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Peace of Mind”
12. Grace Slick
Song That Really Shows Off Her Chops: “White Rabbit”
13. Greg Lake
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Lucky Man”
14. David Bowie
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Fame”
15. Steven Tyler
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Dream On”
16. Bruce Springsteen
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Spirit in the Night”
17. Janis Joplin
Song That Really Shows Off Here Chops: “Piece of My Heart”
18. Tom Petty
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Refugee”
19. John Fogerty
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Born on the Bayou”
20. Steve Perry
Song That Really Shows Off His Chops: “Don’t Stop Believing” (But if you can’t stand the cheese, go with “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’”)
It should not be construed that anyone I have excluded does not deserve to be mentioned among great classic rock singers. The nature of keeping a list to a certain number means that some deserving people will be left out. With that in mind, here are some
Lou Gramm, Bon Scott/Brian Johnson, Van Morrisson, Justin Heyward, The Guy from Scorpions
102.9 WMGK, Philadelphia’s classic rock station, recently unveiled its list of the twenty greatest classic rock singers of all time. The list was determined by the votes of MGK’s At-Work Network members. I am a member of the At-Work Network, but I did not pay close attention to the voting deadline. So I forgot to vote. But I still have some thoughts on the selections!
1. Freddie Mercury
The At-Work Network got this one right. With a voice that would have been equally at home in opera, Freddie transcended the arena of rock vocals while simultaneously being firmly planted in it.
2. Paul McCartney
Sir Paul is the epitome of the pop-rock vocalist. His voice is pretty enough to be accessible in the pop world, but there is also an edge to it that makes him deserving of a spot on this list.
3. Robert Plant
The banshee wail of Robert Plant is what many rock singers aspire to, and rightfully so. But he is also versatile such that his vocal oeuvre shows off Zeppelin’s blues roots and his own folk-style tendencies.
4. Bruce Springsteen
The gravelly character of Bruce’s voice appears to be a matter of choice (much more so than in the cases of Petty or Dylan). One gets the sense that his voice could be cleaner, but he made the right choice to fit his music.
5. Roger Daltrey
He employs a scream that can melt your face just as much as any Pete Townshend guitar solo.
6. Paul Rodgers
A surprisingly (though not undeservedly) high showing from Rodgers, considering that a cynical viewpoint could view him as a poor man’s Daltrey. But he does distinguish himself, particularly with his knack for solidly controlled trilling. The only entrant in this list to have fronted two successful bands (Free and Bad Company).
7. Billy Joel
With music that is too piano-driven to completely belong in the rest of the classic rock world, Billy is too much of a pop vocalist to belong on this list.
8. John Lennon
John would definitely jump in to lend his chops for the Beatles, but he hardly accomplished enough to be considered one of the top ten vocalists of all time.
9. Jim Morrison
Apparently a lounge-style singing voice has its place in the rock world. Who knew? Well, when that voice is as ferocious as Morrison’s, the notion no longer sounds that crazy.
10. Mick Jagger
Mick is the vocalist on this list who most gets away with not having that much natural talent. His showman style allowed him to get away with many of his shortcomings. While his singing was not often technically impressive, it was always interesting.
11. Elton John
Of the two classic rock piano men, Elton is the more interesting of the two (and more often rock-driven) but he also is too much of a pop vocalist to belong on this list.
12. Justin Heyward
The most surprising entrant, the Moody Blues’ Justin Heyward made it in as a write-in vote. The soaring beauty of his voice is undeniable, but is it rocking enough?
13. Steve Perry
Perry’s skill as a vocalist is undeniable, but it is too often employed for what veers into thick ’80s cheese. Thankfully, there are enough times when he gets plenty intense on tracks such as “Any Way You Want It.”
14. Brad Delp
Listen to any Boston song and try to find some way to pick apart Delp’s voice. It is so technically perfect, so clean.
15. Steven Tyler
Silly Aerosmith (“Love in an Elevator,” “Dude Looks Like a Lady”) may obscure Steven Tyler’s talent, but he can pull off screeching, rich high notes, and scat just as well.
16. Don Henley
Don Henley? Really? His work with the Eagles is so boring. Well, okay, “One of These Nights” isn’t too bad.
17. David Bowie
He may be best known for his wild outfits and his general strangeness, but he should also be known for being the most versatile vocalist in classic rock. He can sing about Ziggy and hold his own against Bing.
18. Ann Wilson
If there had to be only one woman on this list (and there should have been more than one), then it had to be Ann Wilson. The closest anyone has ever been to a female Robert Plant, Annie Wilson’s overpowering vocals should have driven her higher on this list.
19. Phil Collins
Phil holds the distinction of being the only drummer on this list. He was always a serviceable vocalist with Genesis and then on his own, but he never established himself as an all-time great until his work for Disney’s Tarzan (which isn’t exactly rock).
20. Bob Seger
There is a certain weariness to Bob Seger’s voice that lent an appreciable depth to his hits, but it is not spectacular enough to earn him a spot on this list.
And here are the most egregious exclusions:
Jon Anderson does not sing falsetto. His natural singing and speaking voice is above the tenor range. Also, his normal speaking voice sounds like Grover the Muppet.
She can hold a blistering high note long enough to break plenty of hearts on her own.
There is an all-out quality to Janis Joplin’s voice. She gives her entire heart and soul to every syllable.
He might sound quite similar to Roger Daltrey, but that is not a bad voice to sound similar to. And Daltrey never sang about a gypsy queen in a glaze of Vaseline.
Geddy Lee’s idiosyncratic high tenor may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there can be no denying the difficulty in pulling off a voice as absurd as his.
It took more than just the presence of a female rock singer to make it known that women could rock; it also took someone with the power of Grace Slick to show that the ladies could not only exist, but thrive alongside the boys.
And tomorrow, my list of the top 20.
I have noticed a trend over the last several years in which just about every film that features a female character with magical powers uses the song “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” either in the trailer or the film proper (or possibly both). It has been in the trailers for both Nanny McPhee and Nanny McPhee Returns (just where is she returning from anyway?) and the credits for Bewitched (and possibly at some earlier point in Bewitched – I haven’t seen the whole movie, just the credits). This list I just came up with does not look too long, actually … can anyone else think of any others? I feel like there must have been more, or maybe it just started feeling that way when the Police made their third appearance. The second time was already overkill, so the third time would then naturally give one a sense of ubiquity. Anyway, are all the little things that Nicole Kidman and Emma Thompson just as magical as everything else they do? Has this crutch of a song given us the wrong impression, or is there no magical deed too small for magical folk, just as there is no evil deed too small for evil folk?