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5 Greatest Singing Voices Of All Time

Everyone has their favorite singer, their favorite band, and their favorite type of music, and they are ALL DIFFERENT – such is the nature of the beast. We can argue day and night about who is right and who is wrong, but the truth is simply this: we all are. Choosing favorites in the music world is as subjective an activity as there ever was… generally speaking.

However, the following list of the 5 best voices of all time is absolutely indisputable. Nothing you can say can alter the fact that these five men and women have voices that defy logic, that contradict the basic principles of human physiology, and that are somehow able to lift us out of our bodies and up to enormous heights that are sometimes dark and sorrowful and other times brilliant and joyous.

They are the best at what they do, not by virtue of training or money, but because they were given the divine gift of a direct connection between their raw souls and their mouths.

5. Freddie Mercury

The Queen front-man with the enormous mouth (Gotye would be jealous) and the bushy stache had the voice of an angel–and that’s not like how you describe your precious-but-really-quite-terrible niece’s singing voice, but rather that of an ACTUAL ANGEL. Mercury can transport you to dizzying heights with the sometimes graceful, sometimes jarring rise and fall of his vocals, taking you beyond the limits of your expectation and into a brand new world of sound that you never knew existed.

References: “Under Pressure” (Hot Space), “Bohemian Rhapsody” (A Night at the Opera), “I Want to Break Free” (The Works)

4. Janis Joplin

A member of Club 27, Janis Joplin never had the opportunity to take us through enough years of vocal change, musical growth, and personal evolution. She, like Jeff Buckley and way too many more, met her end far too soon. But she left behind a legacy startling in both its brevity and massive scope. Like some others on this list, Joplin had a voice that was nothing if not purely honest. She would tell you truths with the timbre, volume, pitch, and growl of her vocals.

Oftentimes, those truths would be difficult to hear, because they spoke of broken promises, deep-seeded dreams that were destined for doom, or love that could never be grasped with both hands. But there was joy, too. Oh, was there joy. Joy and love and the attainment–if ever so briefly–of the top rung of life’s ladder.

References: “Piece of My Heart”, “Me and Bobby McGee”, “Down on Me (Live)” (Janis Joplin’s Greatest Hits).

3. Thom Yorke

I am not convinced now, nor ever will be–no matter how many bios or certificates of identification may be thrust in front of my nose–that Thom Yorke is actually a member of the human race. The Radiohead vocalist is, I’m fairly certain, an extra-terrestrial.

How else could he have such a strange, unnerving, beautiful, honest, contemptuous, heavenly, alien voice? How else could he help craft musical tracks from an odd assortment of memories and sound that catapult the listener through a darkling warp tunnel of one-part exploration and two-parts ecstasy? How else could he think that that’s really how you spell Tom and really how you spell York?

How else? He’s an alien. He’s an alien with a voice to kill and die for.

References: “Karma Police” (OK Computer), “Fake Plastic Trees” (The Bends), “Creep” (Pablo Honey)

2. Jeff Tweedy

It’s no secret that the Wilco front-man has had a long history of illness and addiction. It’s no secret that the band has gone through more personnel changes than the Starbucks down the street. It’s no secret that Jeff Tweedy is a seemingly restless musician obsessed with experimentation in his music, taking his band from alternative country to atonal rock to folksy balladry to suicidal pop. In fact, nothing about Jeff Tweedy is a secret.

And do you know why? Because he confesses every sin, every wish, every hope, every thought, and every idea with the lyrics that pass though his oft-stubbly face. You could call his voice whiskey-soaked or cigarette-stained, but the more honest description is probably life-worn. He’s willing to share his very soul with you if you’re willing to listen. Are you?

References: “Sunken Treasure” (Being There), “Hate it Here” (Sky Blue Sky), “Ashes of American Flags” (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot)

1. Jeff Buckley

Perhaps the only man who might have outranked Freddie Mercury in the status of “Actual Angel” is Mr. Jeff Buckley, and not much of Buckley’s music is available because he didn’t live long enough to make more than one studio album.

Sadly drowning in the Wolf River of Memphis during the recording of his second album, all we are left with is his one masterpiece (Grace) and a series of incredible live, demo, and experimental tracks that were taped/filmed during the span of his all too brief career. But together, they tell a tale of a singer who had a voice unlike any that has ever existed.

With a range of several octaves, a gravity that shifts instantly between weightless and inescapable, and an urgency to his ferocious talent that always seemed to be fighting against an unknowable end that would arrive only too soon, Jeff Buckley was and is a legend for the ages with his angel’s (or perhaps it’s a god’s) voice.

References: “Hallelujah”, “Last Goodbye”, “Lover, You Should Have Come Over” (Grace)

this list is missing chris cornell tbh

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