Top 10 Female Singers

Who are the best female singers from any genre? Ultimate Guitar readers have voted: here are the results.

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Who are the best female singers in the world? That's what we asked Ultimate Guitar readers this week, getting them to pick from any genre they like. The resulting list is pretty darn solid, though there's a surprise at the end which we didn't expect. Do the results live up to your expectations? Let us know what you think in the comments. Enjoy!

10. PJ Harvey

One of Britain's pluckiest exports is the only musician to win the prestigious Mercury prize twice, first for "Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea" in 2000 and "Let England Shake" in 2011. Her choruses are always fantastic.

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9. Bjork

This icelandic pop diva proved her talent to either singing or songwriting. You're gonna argue? Let's have her 1993's "Debut" album - the great example of her extraordinary talent and musical weight. Which keeps increasing with albums such "Medulla" and "Biophillia."

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8. Nina Simone

Simone was closely associated with the American civil rights movement and fused gospel music with pop and classical music. Need to say more? Maybe ... but let's avoid it. Enjoy the music instead.

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7. Tarja Turunen

This Finnish singer-songwriter started out as a classically trained singer, but moved on to front symphonic metal bands Nightwish and helped to found the Opera Metal genre. Tough woman, really. And - for sure - once you've heard her voice you'll never forget it.

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6. Norah Jones

Norah emerged as one of the world's biggest jazz's biggest acts when her debut album "Come Away With Me" landed in 2002. It's no surprise that music is in her genes; her dad is renown sitar player Ravi Shankar. And his girl has amazing voice.

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5. Amy Lee

Amy is best known as the front woman and co-founder of Evanescence, but has collaborated with the likes of Korn and Seether to Icelandic pop queen Bjork and film score veteran Danny Elfman. Why she? Because of her vocals, of course!

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4. Dolores O'Riordan (The Cranberries)

Dolores' beautiful voice is always tinted with her Irish roots, and helped make the Cranberries one of the biggest mainstream rock bands in the world until they took a long hiatus in 2003. She currently tours as a solo artist. Which is really great, 'cause it's really bad when singers like her disappear from the stage.

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3. Janis Joplin

Joplin was a stunning talent of the 1960s, with a performance style putting other blues musicians to shame. It was a real tragedy when she was discovered dead in a hotel room after having an overdose. But her voice, her music and her singing are still here.

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2. Ann Wilson (Heart)

Heart's lead singer has easily earned her place among to top female singers in history. You wouldn't have guessed it back in her youth when a teenage Wilson was shy because of a stutter. Music brought out the best of her, and she still rocks on today.

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1. Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac)

Stevie Nicks has got to be one of the best singers around, regardless of gender or genre. She's won a stunning eight Grammy awards as a solo musician, and five more with Fleetwood Mac, so it's no wonder Dave Grohl invited her to relive her days of recording at Sound City Studios for his documentary and tour last year.

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And let's talk about pranks?

  • Of course, it's Rebecca Black. Young pop star almost topped the list. we could do it ... but this would be too rough. So let's move to another one
  • Here's Motley Crue's Vince Neil. Really guys? Vince? Are you serious? Oh, you're dead serious. But c'mon, there's also got to be Dee Snider and Justin Bieber here!
  • And here's Dee Snider, Twisted Sister's frontman, the man who is included in every female list here! Good tradition, let's keep it up! But ... if he's here ... does it mean that ...
  • Yep. Here he is. Justin Bieber! The one and only, Canadian pop star. Expected? Yes. But ... hey? Biebs' still not the absolute winner, which is ... guess who?
  • "Your mum," of course! What do you think of the results? Let us know your personal top three in the comments.

  • 165 comments sorted by best / new / date

      BjarnedeGraaf
      My mom had great vocal technique when she was mad at me, I'll have you know.
      RedLabelRecords
      Agreed. Your mom sure does have a talented throat.
      Lifesign
      Why ISN'T your mom on this list? She blows me aw... my mind when she sings.
      Lifesign
      In hindsight, I should never try making a your mom joke. Especially after two other people tried.
      Josh100_3
      I'm not usually one to post a "but why isn't...included!?" but no Debbie Harry (Blondie) is an absolute crime.
      repoTHEemo
      So glad Delores O'Riordan is on this list. I personally would've rated her higher, but overall I'm glad she gets recognition.
      Rimfrost
      Not sure i see the greatness in Amy Lees voice, i think she's a fairly bland vocalist. But i have a very strong distaste of Evanescense so i might be biased. I would have included Karin Dreijer of The Knife/Fever Ray, Amanda Palmer of Dresden Dolls and Emily Haines from Metric. But pleased to see Bjork and Pj Harvey on there.
      mop10893
      She also doesn't sing properly. She has no breath support so she runs out of air quickly and can't sing live because she's running around. Good voice, horrible technique that really limits what she can do.
      Luke-LikeICare
      Sad to see Lzzy Hale not on the list. Such a strong voice.
      TheHydra
      Solid list, though I think Tarja Turunen and Nightwish in general are overrated.
      BjarnedeGraaf
      I missed Sharon den Adel from Within Temptation. She has the same skill that Bruce Dickinson has... the thing where she can sing without a mic from across a football field and you'd still hear her like she's next to you.
      WholeLottaIzzy
      Eva Cassidy needed to be on that list. She could out-sing anyone on that list. Voice of an angel.
      mr_bellows
      WLI...thank you...just took a listen to Eva Cassidy on YT. Simply put....magic...what a voice. Thank you for the heads up.
      Krieger91
      Was thinking the same thing. She's definitely my favourite female singer in the metal genre. Glad to see Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks there, though my personal preference would be them switched around :p
      m4ss3 m/
      The **** is wrong with people? Tarja is technically probably the most capable singer on the list.
      metaldalz
      Simone Simons and Sharon Den Adel are waaaaay better singers than Tarja IMO...
      Raven_Flight
      Have you heard Simone live, or are you saying that based on the records only? She's been singing awfully these recent years, you can see that on the new DVD.
      damillion
      Simone Simons over Tarja Turunen, Sharon den Adel and Floor Jansen any day of the week in my opinion. Also, Amy Lee is quite overrated as well. But to each their own, I guess.
      betojmd
      nice to see Norah Jones on this list
      mop10893
      Floor Jansen yes. But it's female SINGERS. Not vocalists. Angela is great, but she doesn't actually sing.
      ecpete86
      grace slick should definetly be on there beautiful voice and terrific song writer
      Stephen Vaughn
      AMY LEE? I can't…I don't even…Carly Simon, Merry Clayton, Dana Fuchs, Lzzy Hale, Aretha Mother****ing Franklin? Just to name a few women who blow Amy Lee out of the damn water.
      ca6jo11
      Yes, Amy Lee is the first one I'd throw away from that list! Maybe in Top500 she'd make it.
      wylde1994
      also don't forget Stevie Nicks is one hell of a song writer as well...glad she got no. 1
      qOcOP
      Amy Lee? Really? i know this is a "guitar" site and "metal" but c mon. no adele? have u heard her live? No Sarah Brightman? No Prime Whitney Houston? this is just the tip of the iceberg, there are so many others. this gotta be the worst list UG has ever put out
      metaldalz
      IMO... 1.- Janice Joplin 2.- Aretha Franklin 3.- Simone Simons 4.- Sharon den Adele 5.- Stevie Nicks
      kratos379
      Maybe not necessarily on the same level as some of these singers, but I do like Amy Winehouse, Florence Welch, and Sara Barielles. I am surprised that Arethra Franklin isn't on this list though. I'd have thought that she was at least top five.
      Zanary
      The top 2 are great choices, but in the wrong order. Ann is the most talented singer in rock, running away. Also, it's a crime that Johnette Napolitano from Concrete Blonde didn't make the list.
      ca6jo11
      This list is so wrong. A few good singers there in the list. It's really hard to make a "good" list as there are a lot of variations here. Tarja is great but she's different than the others. Singers who deserv to be on this list are: Tina Turner, Grace Slick, Debbie Harry, Annie Lennox, Alanis Morissette & Pat Benatar!!
      ibanez124
      I love the comments that say "What about "insert obscure name here"?" cause they are shocked they didn't make the list
      CJD7382
      This is a bullshit list, seriously the ****in nu-metal european UG fans need to be omitted on these lists from now on. I've never publicly complained about a UG list before but this is garbage. Where is patti smith? Aretha franklin? Grace slick? The list goes on and on. Very very poor on everyone's part here.
      HDI
      Amy Lee made the list and Hayley Williams did not. BULL SHIT.
      suggitt
      I would have liked to have seen Imelda May, Christina Scabbia, Debbie Harry and maybe Anette Olzon on this list but I'm still happy with the overall idea of the list and most of the names on here =)
      Rex Inclitus
      Everyone in the music industry knows that D Harry had an extremely limited vocal range and caused nightmares with techs live. When she played in TO in 1979 with the Cars, she couldn't even be heard past the middle rows because her voice was so weak and it was a very small venue for an act like Blondie and the Cars. Do not compare singing in the studio with singing live onstage.
      jalen.lee.75
      Carrie Brownstein and Chelsea Wolfe are also really good front-women who greatly represent opposite sides of the spectrum.
      SleepFan
      Chelsea is actually my favorite, but I doubt she would have enough fans to vote for her right now.
      bubbavega
      What about Aretha Franklin or Amy Winehouse? I can list about 5 others who should be on this list!!!!