The rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen vocalists that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. And in no particular order. Tag fifteen friends, and me, because I’m interested in seeing what singers my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note — in the ‘tag’ line.
Here are mine:
1 Polly Harvey
This sprung immediately to mind because I just (finally!) bought Let England Shake, but I forever associate PJ Harvey with Good Fortune, probably her most well-known song.
2 David Gilmour & 3 Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
Pink Floyd’s longest-serving singers each brought a unique sound to the band, and I loved each equally.
4 David Bowie
Don’t need to say a great deal on this one. There’s only one Bowie.
5 Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails, How To Destroy Angels)
While not a technically accomplished singer, Trent’s got a pretty distinctive voice and it’s one I’ve always enjoyed hearing.
6 Kate Bush
If someone mentions female vocalists, she’ll probably be somewhere in your top ten. Discovered by Dave Gilmour, she was completely original and not really comparable to anyone else.
7 Annie Lennox (Eurythmics)
Although I probably more associate that very well-known introduction with the Utah Saints sample, this is the sort of song that makes little girls want to take up singing.
8 Ofra Haza
Im Nin’alu was a worldwide hit and topped the charts in a number of countries. It only reached number 15 in the UK and US, but has been frequently sampled and remixed. Here is the original version from 1978. It’s the song for which Ofra Haza is best known, other than her vocal for the Sisters of Mercy’s Temple of Love, which reached number two in the UK in 1992.
9 Elvis Presley
I’ve never been one of those people who worships Elvis, but his voice really was exceptional and so is this song.
10 Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Creatures)
Siouxsie has another of those immediately recogniseable voices that influenced countless subsequent vocalists. This Sparks song is a great vehicle for her talents.
11 JG Thirlwell (Foetus, Steroid Maximus, Manorexia, Wiseblood)
Described by close pal Michael Gira (Swans) as being like “a cross between Tom Jones and Atilla the Hun”, here the Venture Bros composer shows off his distinctive Elvis-gargling-gravel vocals in this splendid fan-made video, which features dancing/swordfighting skeletons. It’s an absolutely fantastic song with great vocals and a great video. I just watched it three times in a row. If you don’t watch any other clip, watch this.
12 Aretha Franklin
This favourite of Idol contestants the world over is really what you think of when you think of “great singing”.
13 Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr Bungle)
I just really love his voice. It’s got a lot of range and power and a very distinctive tone, and he can sing in a variety of styles. This is one of Patton’s first songs with Faith No More, and the video is apparently some sort of spoof of bands like Guns ‘n’ Roses.
14 Diana Ross
I still have a lot of the old Motown records I listened to as a child, and it just doesn’t get old.
15 Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin)
Another fairly predictable entry, and again it’s not someone I spend a huge amount of time listening to – but again one of the first names that spring to mind if I think of really distinctive singers whose voices I love. I really don’t know why I’m not a complete rabid fan, listening to this, because the music is just absolutely astonishing. It’s probably just a matter of only having a finite amount of time and money to buy records.