Damson's Top 10 Voices in music
We're sure this one is bound to ruffle a few feathers... The centre point of almost any live act is its singer, and there have been some RIDICULOUSLY good singers over the years. We could have done a top 50 in all honesty, so with apologies to fans of the lives of Marvin Gaye, Whitney Houston, Robert Plant, Chris Cornell and many more. Here are Damson HQ's top 10 voices in music history...
10) Al Green
It's hard to argue that Al Green shouldn't have followed his dreams of becoming a Preacher, but it is a shame that it has caused him to turn away from Music. One of the sweetest, richest voices you are ever likely to hear. Considering the Gospel undertones in his music, especially in the 1970's, it's no surprise he chose to join the church. It's difficult to find a voice that gives you "the feels" as much as Reverand Al Green's does. You never know, somewhere down the line he may find his way back to music, but don't hold your breath.
KEY TRACKS: Let's Stay Together, Love & Happiness, Tired Of Being Alone
Chances are almost everyone will have heard Sigur Ros, you just may not have realised it. They have made a living by creating epic, beautiful, atmospheric soundscapes, and in Jonsi they have a singer somewhere between Bjork and Sade. His voice is so textured and rich, it is another instrument amongst a band of outrageously talented multi-instrumentalists. Jonsi sings in a mixture of Icelandic, English, and an invented language called Hopelandic. If that sounds bonkers, it is. His voice is powerful and soaring, but never overpowering. Sigur Ros are without a doubt one of the finest live acts to have ever been. If you ever get a chance to see them, and by extension the incredible Jonsi, you HAVE to do it.
KEY TRACKS: Popplagio, Hoppipolla, Festival
8) Amy Winehouse
If you ever watch "Amy", the documentary telling the tragic tale of Amy Winehouse's early life, rise to fame and subsequent death, you will see that she had more control over her voice at 12 years old than most people do in their whole career. The fact that she died so young was of no surprise to anyone, sadly. There were very public issues with mental health and addiction, and it seemed like fame, fortune and the knack for attracting the wrong type of people ate her alive. In hindsight, maybe she really should have gone to rehab. It seems crazy that all we were left with only 2 full-length albums and a handful of outtakes.
KEY TRACKS: Rehab, Back to Black, Valerie
7) Axl Rose
There aren't many voices in Rock, or music in general, more instantly recognisable than Axl Rose. Whatever criticisms there are of his character, personality and professionalism (and there are plenty), you can't deny that he is a hell of a singer. Mixing it up between aggressive, brute force and beautifully stripped back subtle melodies (often in the same song), Axl has inspired so many rock singers over the years. It would be a thankless task to ever try and imitate him. Tracks like Welcome to the Jungle and Sweet Child o' Mine still sound as mega today as they did when they were first released.
KEY TRACKS: Sweet Child o' Mine, November Rain, Don't Cry.
6) Aretha Frankin
The Original Diva, and the Queen Of Soul. Even in the more tender moments, Aretha delivers every tone with the utmost confidence. Originally starting singing as a gospel singer in her Fathers Church, she kept that intensity throughout her career. Even after 60 years in the music business, she still remains as unique as ever. Diva's come, Diva's go, but she remains unmatched. As we once read somewhere, "Aretha can do everything, and no one can do what Aretha does". Plus, she was in "The Blues Brothers". If that doesn't earn you cool points then nothing will. A true icon.
KEY TRACKS: Think, Respect, Son Of A Preacher Man.
5) Jeff Buckley
One album. One. Studio. Album. What a waste! Jeff's voice was something else. His range and control were second to none, and the fact that he was so willing and brave enough to experiment with his voice meant that no live performance was ever the same, yet each one was still fantastic. Listen to "Live at Sin-é" if you don't believe us. Mind-blowing. Jeff is probably best known for his haunting version of "Hallelujah", but there was so, so much more to him. If you're not too familiar with him, don't let just one studio album put you off, there's plenty more to digest. Do yourself a favour and get lost in his back catalogue. Like many others on this list, its a shame we'll never get any new music, and an even bigger shame that we never got to know just how amazing he could have become.
KEY TRACKS: Grace, Mojo Pin, Lover You Should've Come Over
The fact that Prince has had that many names and acronyms throughout his career isn't any big surprise, considering his voice seemed to have multiple personalities. A truly fearless performer, his singing style perfectly swung between, Funk, Rock, Soul, Pop and Disco. When Prince passed away the world lost one of the last great musical geniuses. He could pretty much play any instrument, and his voice was merely just another instrument that he mastered. If you don't believe us on just how good his voice was, search for footage of his "Piano & Microphone" tour. Incredible.
KEY TRACKS: Purple Rain, Let's Go Crazy, Diamonds & Pearls
3) Michael Jackson
As a performer, MJ was almost untouchable. His dance moves are legendary. There are many arguments that could be made for the reasons behind his undying legend, but it really starts and ends with his voice. Whether that is is as a 12 years old fronting The Jackson 5, or the Thriller/Bad era megastar he became, his voice was often imitated, but never duplicated. Was he perfect as a human being? Probably not (you're free to make up your own mind about that), but that shouldn't take away from the extraordinary number of hits he had, and also the everlasting influence he has had on popular culture and music.
KEY TRACKS: Man In the Mirror, Bad, Earth Song
2) Otis Redding
Considering the world lost Otis Redding at the tender age of 26, he made an incredible impact. There aren't many voices that can instantly make the hairs on your arms stand up, such is the emotion he put into his music. While he is still revered as one of the all-time greats, sadly we will never know if he could have reached the megastar levels that his peers such as James Brown and Aretha Franklin reached. What is bizarre, is that the track he was the most famous for "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of A Bay" wasn't even released while he was still alive. There isn't a recording out there where Otis doesn't give himself over entirely to the emotion. Not only an otherworldly singer, he was also a genius of songwriting, song arrangement and production. Honestly, what is it with Musicians and fatal plane crashes...
KEY TRACKS: Try A Little Tenderness, (Sittin' On) The Dock Of A Bay, Mr Pitiful
1) Freddie Mercury
The greatest singer of all time? Probably. The greatest Frontman of all time? Undoubtedly. He had it all, the moves, the charisma, and then THAT voice. It has long been rumoured that his vocal range spanned four octaves, and while this was never proved to be correct, you still can't help but be overawed when listening to pretty much ANY queen track at just how incredible his voice sounded. What is astonishing is that even in the years leading up to his death when he was quite clearly, and publicly, very ill he still sounded amazing. His work ethic never waned. "The show must go on", remember?? If you really needed any proof of his prowess as a singer and a frontman, watch Queens set from Live Aid in 1985. An absolute masterclass in crowd control and voice acrobatics There will never be another Freddie Mercury. And that's just the way we like it.
KEY TRACKS: Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio GaGa, Who Want's To Live Forever