Rolling Stone magazine has just released another whopper of an issue. The 100 Greatest Singers Of All Time lines the cover this month. RS is famous for their lists. I'm pretty sure they've used this gimmick over 50 times just to stay afloat for the last 10 years. All of the nerdy, hipster Pitchfork critics have deemed RS irrelevant for quite some time now. All of those non-players cum wallflowers cum critics that hide behind their spectacles and hatred for melody..and SINGERS who actually sing. Anyway, I love lists and I'm a singer so I will let you find the entire list yourself(Google) and you can play along with me as I playfully dissect this with some hit points of my own.
The voters were an ok mix of old people who write, old people who play and young people who wish they could do both as good as those old folks. James Hetfield, Patrick Stump(Fall Out Boy), Merle Haggard,Jackson Browne, Jim James(My Morning Jacket) all voted.
They have Aretha at #1. No argument there..she can sing rock, gospel, pop, blues, R and B, and opera like no other and despite her insane daily caloric overdose, is still doing it. Kudos to the queen.
Ray Charles is #2. OK the guys a legend, but I just don't see him at #2. I see Elvis at #2(not #3).Elvis could knock any genre out of the park. Even with peanut putter and banana stuck to the roof of his mouth, he sounds better than Ray Charles. lets leave Ray Charles in the top 30 somewhere so anyone over age 50 doesn't bitch and moan.
Onward...Sam Cooke is #4(awesome voice,yes) but higher than Marvin Gaye at #6? No way. A bullet cut both of their lives short...but Marvin influenced millions in his short life, Sam Cooke influenced hundreds of thousands.
John Lennon is # 5 and Bob Dylan is #7. Two of the greatest SONGWRITERS of all time. Lennon wasn't even the best singer in the Beatles in my opinion(I'm a George guy)...and Paul (#11) was more versatile and had a more impressive range than John.
But BOB DYLAN...in the top 10!!?? Cmon now..he has the most parodied voice of any musician ever.Tom Petty made a whole career out of it. Sure it changed over time from marbles meets protest to cigarettes meets sandpaper..but its not even top 100 worthy.
Robert Plant is in the top 20 at #15, so I can rest easy, but then they have Mick Jagger(#16) trumping FREDDY MERCURY at# 18. This is blasphemy. Mick Jagger is a showman, one of a kind voice,yes. But not anywhere near the sheer power,control, grace and flawlessness of Fred Mercury.(and all done with a horrible overbite!) Fred should be in the top 10 and its obvious that the geezer vote took over portions of this list with his placement behind Dylan and Jagger. Raise your Canes!
Another strange pick is Bob Marley at #19. That's right. Just behind Mr. Mercury. Bob Marley wasn't really a singer. he kind of shouted his way through storytelling in a ganja scorched rasp..(the I Threes did the singing)...but I guess RS has to smack us with a token reggae guy..although Toots from the Maytals is at # 71.
I think Janis Joplin at #28 and Tina Turner at #17 should switch places,so sue me.There will never be another Janis. Put the right wig on Beyonce and some fool will start calling her the next Tina. Again...there will never be another Janis.
Why is Whitney Houston(#34) above Joni Mitchell? Both of them have smoked their vocal nodes down to charred black lifeless nubs..but Joni has such more character than that gospel on PCP vox of Ms. Houston. BORING.
In the "switch places,for god's sakes" department part two...how about doing the right thing RS voters and switch Elton John(#38) with David Bowie(#23). Elton John between Honky Chateau and Captain Fantastic was the best singer on the planet..and had it not been for all of that cabana boy blow, he still would be. Bowie was a chameleon, yes, but I could easily find his voice underneath the glitter.Not really pipes you would consider top 25 worthy.
Now for some surprising commentary on three of my favorite musicians...Kurt Cobain(#45), Lou Reed (#62) and Iggy Pop(#75) belong NOWHERE on this list. All geniuses...but Lou Reed never really "sang" anything more than halfway, Kurt's vocal claim to fame was screaming in tune and Iggy was...just Iggy.
I mean... Thom Yorke at #66 is behind Lou Reed. Thom Yorke...the most incredible vocalist to come out of England in the last 20 years is behind Lou Reed? And Axl Rose(#64)?? go away for 13 more years...,BJORK!!!(#60).....please, no more praise for Bjork...window companies have made millions of of her wretched warbling....Thom Yorke is behind Christina Aguilera(#58)as well. Must be the BOOBAGE. Nice rack, but it don't make her pipes sweeter than Thom's.
How can Brian Wilson(#52)be on the list and not his brother Carl(who sang beautifully on so many BB songs)...Good Vibrations, anyone? Do any of the voters know Brian wrote the songs and Carl and Mike Love sung them?!!!
How can Art Garfunkel be on the list(#86) and no Paul Simon? I know their voices are very different(one's an angel with an afro, one had a toupee until Edie Brickel made him take it off..has nothing to do with their voices, but I thought it was funny) but just take a listen to anything off Bookends or Still Crazy After All These Years, RS and think again about Paul's omission.
Great to see a bunch of Steves make the cut Stevie Nicks(#98) Steve Perry(#76) and Steven Tyler(#99) although they all should have been higher....How can Bjork be 38 spots ahead of Stevie Nicks?????
Metal was almost completely disregarded.....no Dio, Halford or Dickinson. Horns DOWN, gentlemen. As was grunge...no Staley, Vedder or Cornell... As was punk(except for Iggy)...Johnny Rotten, Joey Ramone are no shows but Mariah Carey gets her wackjob ass and over- emoting on there(#79) and same to you Mary J. Blige at #100.
I'm also wondering why Allison Krauss didn't make the list. I came late to the Allison Krauss party but her 30 plus Grammys and one of the most beautiful voices of all time(such control,such purity)should have put her in the top 30 at LEAST. And while were on the ladies.Yay to Bonnie Raitt(#50).But no Emmylou Harris? Joan Baez? Margo Timmins(Cowboy Junkies)....but Patti Smith makes it as a VOCALIST?
I'm glad Paul Rodgers wasn't overlooked(#55)....but he's alone in the British power blues/rock singer category...Steve Marriott is sorely missed and ALWAYS passed over. And what about Brian Ferry??? Who could leave him off of any list of vocalists? Listen to the first three Roxy Music albums....nobody sounded like him then, nobody has since.
So its a hit and miss list for me...but isn't every list? That's why they print them...to create buzz and controversy.I checked this morning with a Google search on this subject and there must have been a thousand blogs talking about it. So I'm 1001. Thats ok with me...I'll be here tomorrow bitching about Beyonce again.
Here's My top 15 (heavy on the rock tip) and where they were on RS' list.
1) Freddy Mercury (#18)
2) Robert Plant (#15)
3) Thom Yorke (#66)
4) Brad Delp goose egg
5) Chris Cornell goose egg
6) Steve Marriott goose egg
7) Ronnie James Dio goose egg
8) Paul Rodgers (#55)
9) Jeff Buckley (#39)
10)Layne Staley goose egg
11) Joni Mitchell (#42)
12) Sly Stone (#78)
13) Brian Ferry goose egg
14) Elton John (#38)
15) George Harrison goose egg