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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

    Freddy Mercury deserves that #1 spot.
    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
    Chino Moreno is amazing!!
    Completely obsessed with deftones at the moment. New album is amazing, I must have listened to it about 100 times already
    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.
    I know right I love HIM and Ville deserves more attention for his vocal abilities than what they actually get.
    Thank you! Actually I'm not a fan of HIM, but Ville is great and unique vocalist - without any doubts)
    Ville Valo yes, he deserves more attention than what he actually does recieve.
    The UG list is great, but I'd honestly rather have the list N-D gave, with a few exceptions.
    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)
    I'm pretty glad that, although he appears on the article " avatar", Bono is not on the list haha
    gotta agree with Kurt Cobain.
    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.
    Cobain = 0 talent
    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.
    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.
    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
    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.
    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.
    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.
    Layne staley had almost the same voice but with much more technic and power
    Bravo for mentioning Mike Patton first. He obviously puts all the singers on shame.
    I really think Mike is just amazing vocalist - and talented (and very productive ) vocalist.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    Why is that? Why does this large group of Pop lovers remain silent then?
    Because they don't bother to make an account? They just wanna learn Wonderwall and get chicks.
    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!!
    No Bruce Dickinson? Freddie at #1 is spot on, though.
    No disrespect to anyone on this list, but I have a hard time believing Bruce Dickinson got fewer votes than some of the guys on here. Aside from that omission I am pretty satisfied with the list.
    I mean there are WAY too many amazing singers for everyone to agree on this list. You could even argue that there are more amazing singers than there are great guitarists. People like Brad Delp, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, and Frank Sinatra (if we're talking about best singers of all time without a genre)of course need to be considered. I'm sure if you told Rob Halford that he was voted a better singer than Frank Sinatra he would laugh in your face. Overall though, I can't say there is one bad singer on this list. Best Singers' of all time though? If there wasn't a controversy, UG wouldn't post it
    and Sinatra would kick Halfords ass too lol
    Sinatra would be one of the last people I would want to see in a dark alley. Sure, many musicians were affiliated with gangs (ex. Rolling Stones and Hells Angels) but Sinatra was in the mob. Dont mess with the mob.
    Still no James LaBrie... glad to see Chris Cornell so high though
    Same here. Chris is is a great and unique singer. Awesome to see that he was voted up to the #3 spot.
    I reckon I know why. LaBrie may be technically brilliant (the amount of power he can put into any note he sings is ridiculous), but he's very much a marmite singer. People either really like him or they REALLY hate him. I'm in the former, but I'll admit that he's not perfect.
    james labire?.....HES F***ING TERRIBLE!
    Not really, he had a period of a few years where he was pretty awful. But before that (ie Awake to Train of Thought) and after (A Dramatic Turn onwards) he is pretty damn amazing.
    And you base that on what? Put up a recording of you singing, then we can talk.
    just cause i cant sing doesnt make him good
    Say what you want, it doesn't put you in a position to fling crap at him either, just because his singing doesn't satisfy your ideals.
    Aretha Franklin?
    Oh, yes, I forgot about her - of course, great vocal range!
    The lady who sang Pink Floyd's Great Gig In The Sky is also a worthy person of being on this list.
    Solid list. All very distinct voices. Although, Morrison was a no-talent ass clown. Great poet, awful singer.
    Well Jim's not really a no-talent ass clown if you admit he's a great poet. Sure he didn't have the range or tone that other great singers had, but he definitely did well with his baritone vocals, and he's still an amazing poet and lyricist. He also influenced a pretty large quantity of musicians since he pretty much coined the term "rock star". I don't see why you're bitter.
    He was a crooner, and one hell of one at that. The emotion in his screams is second to none
    46 and 2
    Surprised but happy to see Maynard up there. Possibly the most subtle voice on this list.
    Id personally have Cedric from The Mars Volta up on the list, but hey, it's all opinion, and like Queen or not, Freddie Mercury is undeniably one of the greatest frontmen/singers ever, his range and passion and charisma were just huge
    No bad singers on this list, but I'm hugely disappointed that not enough people voted for legends like Bruce Dicki nson, Ian Gillan, James LaBrie and Russell Allen. Freddie definitely deserved to be on there (and even more to get the #1), so did #2-4 and Dio, but like most other UG lists like this, it could have been much better.
    This list is an insult. There have been so many singers with amazing voice, technique and style out there, and these are the best?
    I think Axl Rose should've been in there..... and what about Jon Bon Jovi?!?!??! He had such a powerful voice... and David Lee Roth, that guy can really sing.
    I thought dio would have been at #2
    He definitely should have been higher than last.
    Technically he wasn't last. He was last of the top ten, but as said in the article, some good singers didn't even make it to the top 20...
    Addison Lea
    While I wholeheartedly agree with Freddie being #1, Dio's placement on the list profoundly disturbs me - especially considering some of the people above him.
    NO MATTHEW BELLAMY?!?!?!?!?!
    wtf is so good about him hes the most over rated singer in the most over rated band in existence. Hes good but hes not even close to being in this conversation
    yeah i mean to me way better than mercury.mercury always sang with exact same voice.mathey always experimented with voice high pitched and awsome screams.freddie sang the same as mathey in the last two album witch are medicore
    You just said Matthew Bellamy is a better singer than Freddie Mercury? If Matthew Bellamy ever read this he might hunt you down himself. It's not even close, dude
    Mercury always sang with the same voice? Are you serious dude? Time to go listen to some back catalogues I think.
    Scrolled down looking for Patton... sorry, this list is invalid. Nah, it's not bad, but more people should be aware of what that guy can do. Anything, that is.
    Mike's more song-oriented side (only one of many many others):
    This is not song-oriented.
    I totally agree. Patton's talents are not only present in the Rock and Metal genres but he is highly successful in other forms as well. I mean how many Rock vocalists do people know who also sing Opera and take part in Experimental projects? I guess like the stuff you posted below with John Zorn.
    Decent List, I actually agree with most of the list, but don't agree with Vedder being in the top 10 when you could have had an innumerable amount of other folks there. I think, while Bruce Dickinson is great and one of my personal favourites (easily #2 after Dio), he really should have been in there based on his technical ability and showmanship. James Brown made it on vocals and performance, whereas Bruce has the same thing going for him... Kinda hard to agree with his exclusion when James Brown is up there.
    Private Eye
    I would have liked to see Brandon Boyd up there somewhere. Other than that a strong list and Freddie absolutely deserves the top spot.
    I would have added Bruce Dickenson cause im a maiden fan, and i mention fank sinatra (not sure if that will earn me hate buuuut i had to throw him in there) buut anyways aside from complaining i think this is a great list
    Freddie Mercury will always be the greatest singer to have ever graced this planet.
    One of the best lists I've seen so far on UG, obviously with the amount of talent out there some peoples favourites won't have made it but that's natural with any top 10.
    really? eddie vedder? cmon. how bout myles kennedy and brent smith? powerful voices that make their bands famous.
    *Top 10 Greatest Rock Singers of All Time ...should be the title. And I'm a little surprised that there aren't any women in the list, but that's to be expected with a primarily male audience, here. I'm extremely glad to see certain names withheld from this list (Serj, Cobain) since we're talking about overall singing ability. I'd really like to see what UG could come up with if it had a wider variety of musical fans.