Top 10 Non-Rock/Metal Songwriters

Turns out UG gives plenty of love outside the rock realm.

Top 10 Non-Rock/Metal Songwriters
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So for this week's Wednesday Question, we asked you guys to step outside of the rock realm and name the greatest non-rock/metal songwriter of all time.

The suggestions kept flowing in, resulting in massive praises of classical, jazz, pop, and avant-garde music. We should note that a vast array of classical composers, including Chopin, Beethoven and Mozart, as well as film music composer Hans Zimmer, scored solid amounts of votes, but were encompassed with a single classical figure. Anyhow, the list awaits below, check it out.

10. Nick Cave

Kicking off the list, Nick Cave is one of the most versatile artists out there. Ranging from the Birthday Party, the Bad Seeds, all the way to solo work and Grinderman, Nick is also active in the film music domain, as well as writing, acting and screenwriting.

9. Louis Armstrong

Arguably the greatest jazz musician of all time, late great Louis Armstrong made a stunningly great impact on the global music scene, as both a trumpet player and a vocalist.

8. Bjorn Ulveus and Benny Anderson (ABBA)

Switching to the pop domain, ABBA's songwriting duo got plenty of love from UG, and with all the hit singles out there still reigning the music scene, it's hard not to give these guys massive props. They do receive hate as "mellow pop crap" on the side, but that's just how it goes.

7. Paul Simon

72-year-old Paul Simon began his musical career way back in 1957, making a permanent impact on the global scene ever since. Writing nearly all of Simon & Garfunkel songs, including such hit singles as "The Sound of Silence", "Mrs. Robinson", and "Bridge Over Troubled Water," he secured himself a spot among the songwriting greats.

6. Frank Zappa

You could definitely argue that Frank Zappa is first and foremost a rock musician, but his domains equally include jazz and experimental, so we'll include Uncle Frank on this one after all, because giving this guy some extra love is never a bad choice. With over 60 studio efforts, he's one of the most prolific artists of all time.

5. Bob Dylan

Reaching the ultimate greats, Bob Dylan cracks the list in two. Widely known as one of the greatest songwriters ever, not much needs to be said about Mr. Dylan.

4. Tom Waits

The growly-voiced Tom Waits easily ranks up as one of the most distinguishable singers of the music world, as well as one of the most brilliant authors. You guys recognized that, placing Mr. Waits at No. 4.

3. Johnny Cash

Another late titan, Johnny Cash, gets to crack the Top 3. Apart from the unique performance style and the ability to give songs an entirely different moniker, Cash is also known as a top-notch songwriter.

2. Elton John

Sir Elton Hercules John is up next, with over 300 million albums sold to date, including seven consecutive No. 1 US albums. For 31 consecutive years (1970–2000) he had at least one song in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

1. Johann Sebastian Bach

Going way, way back, Bach tops this week's list. For many, Bach was the one who created music, and his impact will stand strong for an eternity.

180 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    metallideth88
    "We should note that a vast array of classical composers, including Chopin, Beethoven and Mozart, as well as film music composer Hans Zimmer, scored solid amounts of votes, but were encompassed with a single classical figure" Why would UG do such a thing? It would be like saying all Metal is the same
    Floyd Phoenix
    I for one was looking foward to a list of mostly classical musicians, thought it would be interesting. For reference, based on the most-upvoted comments that suggested them, I think the list should read this: 10: Benny and Bjorn (ABBA) 9: Paul Simon 8: Tchaikovsky 7: Frank Zappa 6: Bob Dylan tied with Tom Waits 5: Weird Al Yankovic (4): Hodor 4: Johnny Cash 3: Elton John 2: Beethoven 1: Bach Feel free to correct any mistakes if you spot them.
    JelloCrust
    Also, Elton John is definitely rock, Bob Dylan does Rock now (and is also almost as big as a thief as Zepplin). . . and this is subjective, but Sun Ra is the greatest jazz musician of all time.
    Yabba Who
    Why did they not include Weird Al? Oh ya, he does comedy music, so he can't EVER be taken seriously as a musician.
    Epi g-310
    I think it's because his popular stuff was written by other people, he just wrote the parody lyrics. Meaning he didn't write the whole song, thus precluding his eligibility as a "songwriter." He does write some original stuff, but it's mostly style parodies anyhow, so the musical elements aren't really original either.
    CelestialGuitar
    In no universe is Weird Al better than Tchaikovsky or Benny and Bjorn. Schoenberg and Boublil should be up there, as should Puccini, I don't agree with Jazz being anywhere near these lists, though, as it's mainly improvising around one theme anyway.
    Floyd Phoenix
    Schoenberg is a horrible composer, a pretentious d-bag who thought his atonal crap was 'art' that others were too stupid to understand... And jazz has so many sub-genres that I think at least one musician in them could easily fit in, like Joplin or similar...
    mattjamesrenn
    I like that a tonal crap, it's really eerie, like an old slow burner horror movie. I'm glad it exists.
    JAHellraiser
    I'm surprised so many people nominated and voted for various classical composers considering this is the same site where people bitch when there's article about something that isn't guitar related.
    brad777no
    They could have at least included a composer from each period instead of generalizing it to classical composers. Bach for the Baroque Era, Mozart for the Classical Era, and Chopin for the Romantic Era. (not to say those were the best of each period but you get the idea)
    xmdsx2
    Nay, Tárrega for the Romantic Era! And Barrios beats the hell out of any one of the guys on this list, save Bach, obviously.
    Epi g-310
    I get the impression the UG staff probably doesn't have a lot of knowledge of music before the 20th century.
    tennesseehild
    I really would have loved to see Prince and Michael Jackson on this list, then again I don't know if they wrote their music or not and am being lazy by not looking it up.
    Reevo
    Wheres Kerry when we need him >.>
    Shaggy91
    right where we need him, in school until 5. I bet he's a Grammar teacher in real life, but is a were-troll and transforms into kerry when he hits a keyboard
    BENDO789
    Can I be the dick who points out none of them are actually songwriters, songs by their definition have lyrics. Therefore even though UG is ignorant by saying they're all the same, none of them actually qualify for this list as they're composers not songwriters.
    Jazz1992
    This. Putting Bach and Zimmer in the same slot is like doing the same with, say, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden.
    FallenAsh
    The classical composers should have had their own separate poll. Songwriting is one particular type of composition, of which the classical repertoire has VERY little of. A concerto or a symphony may be an excellent piece of music but, it NOT the same thing as a "song".
    jsome4203
    Because of the nature of the list, I'm surprised no one seems to be able to grasp how impossible it is to make a top ten like this. While these are all great artists this list's order is wrong and missing artists
    Shametome
    It's pretty difficult to make just a top ten list for every other music genre other than rock/metal, but you did good UG.
    seance
    I don't know...was Louis Armstrong a songwriter? I thought he was mostly just a musician that played songs written by other people.
    jsome4203
    I agree with the first half of your sentence, it would work better if they chose a specific genre rather than all other genres
    UncleBluck
    WTF is a Nick Cave?
    michaelaurand
    A "Nick Cave" is an incredibly talented singer and songwriter known for his experimental, versatile music, his often very dark lyrical subjects, and his distinctive baritone voice.
    SkylerB7
    I could be wrong but I believe that Nick Cave is an old, old wooden ship that was used during the civil war era
    rabidgoon
    2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 10 are all rock musicians. This list is absolutely moronic, especially the fact that all classical composers were lumped under Bach. Completely stupid. UG has amazingly reached an even greater low.
    Velcro Man
    "For many, Bach was the one who created music" This is the absolute STUPIDEST comment I've ever ****ing read from one of these shittily written articles. What the **** does that even mean? Are you trying to tell me people believe he created music? Obviously not a single person believes that. He was a seminal figure of baroque music, but no one believes that there wasn't music or even classical music before Bach.
    legendaryjj10
    So much wrong by that statement by UG. He is seen as perfecting the Baroque style, not creating it. He was one of the last Baroque composers before the Classical era began. His work was considered so great at the time that it is now seen as influencing the transition from Baroque to Classical, as other composers felt inadequate compared to his work. Still, that only demonstrates that there was a WHOLE era of Baroque composers before him. Also, Baroque music is not the origins of music. It's not even the beginning of Western Classical music. It's predecessors include Renaissance and Medieval music, but goes back so far we have no idea the actual roots of music. Music has been evident in every observed human culture on earth. To say that Bach created music is like saying the Beatles created music. COMPLETELY WRONG!
    ripper992
    Sorry, but you kinda sound like an *******...
    Velcro Man
    I sound like an ******* for knowing Bach didn't "create music"? Sorry if not lying offends you, I guess lol
    jrodgers
    He is right though. You are a complete f***ING moron if you think music was invented less than 300 years ago, and if you did you wouldnt even be on this website in the first place. This is just amateurish, careless writing by UG.