Top 10 Best Singers Of All Time

UG readers voted for the greatest voices in music history - here's the results. Did your favorite make it to the top 10?

Top 10 Best Singers Of All Time
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We all know how important musicians are to a band, but the secret to true greatness is coupling that with a timeless voice. History has treated us to hundreds of worthy entrants to this list, but on Wednesday you voted for your favorite singers so we could find out once and for all who the best singers of all time are. The result is a fantastic top 10, but you might be shocked at who missed out. Bruce Dickinson was only one spot away at number 11, and renown voices from Thom Yorke, Matt Bellamy and Serj Tankian also came pretty close. And Jeff Buckley only made it to number 20 - shocking! The pranksters were out in force as usual, nominating the likes of Rick Astley, William Shatner and "the drunk guy who sung 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in the back of a cop car". Too bad they didn't get more votes! As usual, thanks for voting. Here's your official top 10 best singers.

10. Ronnie James Dio (Dio, Black Sabbath)

A metal God to many, but Ronnie died in 2010 from stomach cancer. His influential career saw him front Elf, Rainbow and Black Sabbath, but his best known song "Holy Diver" came from his solo project Dio.

9. Maynard James Keenan (Tool)

Keenan fronts progressive metallers Tool (where's that new album we were promised this year?), and has appeared on albums from Deftones and Rage Against The Machine. His style is tender and precise, but as the compilation video here proves, he's got an almighty roar on him too.

8. Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam)

What would Pearl Jam be without Eddie's awesomely powerful vocals? This video shows a track from his solo ukelele album so you can hear his voice in all its isolated glory.

7. Jim Morrison (The Doors)

An early member of the so-called '27 club', Jim died in 1971. His growling Stooges-esque vocals was a huge influence on British indie rock, with dozens of copycat artists still breaking into the UK charts decades after his death.

6. James Brown

You've got to envy the funk genre. Brown is one of the most rocking dudes in history, with an energy that would put many younger acts to shame. It might be down to certain "extra-curricular" substances, but his voice and ability to work up the crowd make him a deserving entrant to your top 10 this week.

5. Layne Staley (Alice In Chains)

Staley helped define the grunge sound of the early 90s, but drug addiction led to his premature death in 2002.

4. Rob Halford (Judas Priest)

There's power metal screams, and then there's Rob Halford exhaling a simple breath. With one of the most impressive vocal ranges in metal, Rob's voice will echo on for decades.

3. Chris Cornell (Soundgarden)

Let's ignore the Timbaland-produced solo album from a few years back, and focus on his contributions to the Soundgarden discography. It was a pleasure to see their return and new album this year, of course.

2. Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin)

Enough of the grunge artists, let's pay tribute to a classic rock legend. Often emulated but never bettered, Plant showed the world what a real rock singer was all about: power, presence and sex appeal.

1. Freddie Mercury (Queen)

A deserving winner. Freddie fronted one of the greatest stadium rock bands ever, and has the voice to match it. This famous video from Wembley shows him challenge the audience of thousands with a call-and-reply game. Freddie wins, of course.
Thanks for voting for your favorite singers of all time. This is the final top 10 of the year, but make sure you vote in the UG awards posts over the coming weeks. Did your favorite singer miss out? Who would you add? Let us know in the comments.

491 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    -Retro-
    Freddy Mercury deserves that #1 spot.
    N-D
    There are another great vocalists (in my subjective opinion), which I like and who weren't included in the list: Mike Patton Serj Tankian Thom Yorke Matthew Bellamy Janis Joplin Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan) Bjork Chino Moreno And of course, it is very subjective - but I really like voice of Kurt Cobain - not in terms of technical skills, but emotionally. + Another vocalists, who are not among my favourites, but they are obviously great: Bruce Dickinson King Diamond Jeff Buckley Geddy Lee Bon Scott Ville Vallo Frank Sinatra Michael Jackson
    IDREWTHIS!
    gotta agree with Kurt Cobain.
    funkymonk04
    Kurt was good. But lets not let his death exaggerate his vocals.
    Nero Galon
    People say that about him but I really do think he was great for what he was and not just what he stood for. MTV Unplugged should be enough evidence.
    rockerwannabe
    Cobain = 0 talent
    RATMfan420
    You got to wonder how he was so succesfull with "no talent". Obviously, you dont like the guy, but it shows your sheer stupidity to say he has no talent. Do I like John Denver? No. Do I like Cradle of Filth? Of course not. But they're talented musicians, of course.
    veseljko
    And since when is success measure for talent, especially in showbiz (bieber, britney, psy, rihanna ...). Don't jump to conclusion that someone is stupid just because they don't share your opinion.
    risewtf2
    kurt was a massively more talented songwriter than he was vocalist, but yet his vocals definitely helped define Nirvana. So his vocals would be remembered for the character, not for the actual capabilities
    Sloan7
    People may say and "dislike" as they will, but Kurt was awesome because just about every had that catchy melody and because he has a pretty signature voice and songwriting process. Fantastic examples are "Dumb", "Polly", "Drain You", etc.... even "Sappy" was friggin' awesome.
    haseebjawed
    The awesomeness and talent of Kurt Cobain is evident by the above posts! Controversy loved him. He definitely was talented, no doubt. but kill me if you think he wasn't unique. try covering any of his songs, and you'll see what I mean.
    dewitt
    It's really hard to sing a Nirvana song without trying to do a Kurt Cobain impression. That says something about his uniqueness. Hell, it's hard to sing a song he covered without trying to do an impression of him.
    Mouloudo
    Layne staley had almost the same voice but with much more technic and power
    BuriedAlive7x
    Chino Moreno is amazing!!
    Alex_WK
    Completely obsessed with deftones at the moment. New album is amazing, I must have listened to it about 100 times already
    whywefight
    The UG list is great, but I'd honestly rather have the list N-D gave, with a few exceptions.
    N-D
    Of course, my list is very subjective, but really thank you) By the way, Freddie, James, Jim and Maynard are also among my favorite singers, but they were already listed in UG's top)
    Mouloudo
    I'm pretty glad that, although he appears on the article " avatar", Bono is not on the list haha
    -Annihilation-
    Your list is great. It's nice to see Valo on a list. Most people would just say no to him being a good vocalist.
    pillarocka
    I know right I love HIM and Ville deserves more attention for his vocal abilities than what they actually get.
    N-D
    Thank you! Actually I'm not a fan of HIM, but Ville is great and unique vocalist - without any doubts)
    pillarocka
    Ville Valo yes, he deserves more attention than what he actually does recieve.
    TheHonestLiar
    Bravo for mentioning Mike Patton first. He obviously puts all the singers on shame.
    N-D
    I really think Mike is just amazing vocalist - and talented (and very productive ) vocalist.
    rockfreak611
    I absolutely agree with Freddie as #1 and Plant+James Brown, and maybe Cornell and Morrison on the list, but seriously UG?! Everyone basically voted for their favorite metal/grunge singer for the most part! Where's: -ANY of the Beatles (especially McCartney and Lennon). I shouldn't even have to say that! -Stevie Wonder -Thom Yorke -ANY of the highly acclaimed soul singers (Aretha Franklin, Etta James) -Elvis Presley (who influenced half of the people on the list, ESPECIALLY Vedder) -Bowie, Janis Joplin, etc.... It just goes on and on... List should be renamed to Top 10 Metal Singers With Special Guests Freddie Mercury and James Brown.
    DisarmGoliath
    The fact that you think everyone on the list, excluding Freddie Mercury and James Brown, are metal singers say an awful lot about the level of thought behind your opinion.
    rockfreak611
    Well let's look at the list, shall we? Dio, Tool, Priest,and Soundgarden are all metal in some shape or form, I think that's pretty obvious. Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains are grunge (and I guess Soundgarden too), and I addressed this in my second sentence. Zeppelin are widely regarded as metal or metal pioneers (whether you agree with it or not). The majority of this list is metal/grunge, which completely omits all the highly acclaimed singers from numerous other genres of music that have much more validity to "Best Singer of All Time" than the majority of the people on this list. Looking at all of the comments on Wednesday's question, it seemed to me that everyone was just picking their favorite metal singer and not considering some of the other singing greats that I listed above. That was the purpose of my comment. Honestly, I'm quite disappointed in this site that a moderator would insult me in such an immature manner.
    Skuzzmo
    Its a bit of fun matey....I'm sorry your fave singers didn't make the list but that's the way it goes sometimes. But don't be mad at who did make the top ten cos it's all subjective anyway and in the grand scheme of things it means nothing.....this time next week no one will give a shit.
    rockfreak611
    This isn't about me being upset that my favorite singers didn't get chosen (in fact, the ones aren't listed aren't my favorites!). I'm more just disappointed in the lack of versatility in this list. I tried to make a tongue-in-cheek comment on this, but I guess most people don't get the sarcastic remark I made at the end. I'm not an idiot, I know that not everyone on this list is metal.
    Skuzzmo
    Good. I am happy you're not an idiot. If you went to a music site that was populated by people who enjoyed opera and asked "what are the top 10 best singers" you would get a list that was predominately opera and classical singers. If you went to a site populated by people who enjoyed folk and asked the same question you would get a list of mainly folk singers...and so on for every genre of music, be it blues,rap, R and B or whatever.... This site quite obviously has a large part of its community into rock and metal, so the "winners" list comes as no surprise.... to me at least.
    dewitt
    Right, but if you look at the tab trends, this site is every bit as much into pop music as they are hard rock/metal. Those users just don't tend to make much noise in the comment section of the news articles.
    Skuzzmo
    Why is that? Why does this large group of Pop lovers remain silent then?
    Tarsplitter
    Because they don't bother to make an account? They just wanna learn Wonderwall and get chicks.
    latinromans
    sorry about the obvious first comment riding but most of the singers people are bringing up (such as thom york, matt bellamy, serj tankien, and bruce dickinson) are actually in the top 20, does everyone just not read the first few paraghraphs or do people just not care?
    mat hazelwood
    the terrible things i would do to see maynard's dance in person again....get this new album out!!