Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dudes Who Can Rock

So, I was watching the American Idol contestants as they murdered some classic songs, and it made me long to hear some good singing. It drove me away from the TV and towards my music collection. Thus, the inspiration for this post. Without further ado, here are D's top 10 best male rock singers. I think they represent a wide range of rock and roll styles and subgenres and are also very representative of my music collection.

1. Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog, solo)
Chris Cornell has the perfect rock voice. He can make rock screaming sound wonderful. He has the control to sing a ballad and then drop right into a rocking grunge sound, then hold out a long power note. Most of all, he makes it look effortless, and he puts power and emotion behind every word.
Listen to: Outshined, Like A Stone or Can't Change Me

2. Bono (U2)
What can you say about Bono? He has an amazing range and his voice is crisp and true to every note. I thought Bono had a good voice...then I saw him in concert and was blown away. He doesn't just have a good voice, he has an amazing voice. This choice falls more into the pop/rock category.
Listen to: With or Without You

3. Geoff Tate (Queensryche, pre-1997)
Geoff is the lead singer of my favorite progressive rock band. It used to be my all-time favorite band until they wussed out, lost their lead guitarist, lost their creative drive and Geoff let himself go (thus my "pre-1997" disclaimer). But I digress. Let's focus on the good days. He had amazing control and range. Again, I thought Geoff had a great voice...then I saw him in concert... All I can say is "wow." I wish he and the band were still this good.
Listen to: Take Hold of the Flame or Eyes of a Stranger

As an aside, "Eyes of a Stranger" is from one of the coolest rock operas ever - Operation: Mindcrime. I highly recommend it.

4. David Bowie (solo)
Ziggy Stardust. The Thin White Duke. The Goblin King. Whatever you want to call him, David Bowie has a very distinctive, expressive voice. This one is hard to I'll just suggest you listen for yourself.
Listen to: Space Oddity or Let's Dance

5. Sting (The Police, solo)
As a couple of the contestants on American Idol can now attest to, Sting's songs sound deceptively simple to sing. Not so. He has complicated arrangements, but that's not just it, he actually has the vocal range and control to pull them off. He sounded pitch perfect when we saw him in concert. He put on a wonderful show.
Listen to: Roxanne or If I Ever Lose My Faith In You

6. Elvis Costello (& the Attractions, & the Imposters, solo)
This one might surprise you, but I suggest you take a closer listen. Elvis has some pipes! And I know I'm probably boring you by saying this yet again, but when we saw him live in concert, it only confirmed his amazing vocal abilities. At one point, he stepped away from the mic and sang acappella. You could hear him clearly all the way to the back of the theater. Amazing.
Listen to: She or Pump It Up

7. Roy Orbison (Traveling Wilburys, solo)
Here's a classic. The minute you hear his falsetto (or, rather, his amazingly natural high tenor) it is immediately identifiable. Show respect to one of the greats of rock and roll history.
Listen to: Cryin'

8. Justin Furstenfeld (Blue October)
The lead singer of Blue October has a voice that will haunt you. You can feel the emotional pain that tinges every note. The band members all have a diverse range of musical influences, so within one CD you can have a heartbreakingly honest ballad, a catchy pop song and a heavy metal rocker. Justin's voice is up to the challenge. I especially love the songs where his voice plays off the violin. And I dare repeating myself again, by saying his talent isn't just studio magic, when we saw him live, his voice was just as clear and powerful.
Listen to: Come in Closer (you'll have to scroll down the page and select it - or watch anything on this page - it's all good!)

9. Freddie Mercury (Queen)
I will admit upfront that Queen songs are hit and miss with me. I either love them or dislike them. However, there is no disputing Freddie Mercury's voice.
Listen to: Bohemian Rhapsody or Who Wants to Live Forever

10. Layne Staley (Alice In Chains)
When someone mentions the grunge movement, I think of the sound of Layne Staley's voice. He has that rough-edged, rock/blues grungy sound to his voice, yet retains control and power.
Listen to: Would or Rooster

Honorable Mention: Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle)
Listen to: Judith

Mind you, I did not intend for this to be the list to end all lists. These are just the singers that I never get tired of listening to. Leave me a comment and let me know who I missed, or which ones you disagree with. (There are two glaring omissions that I know the Ape will immediately call me out on.)


The Trousered Ape said...

Just to add a few off the top of my head...

1. Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree)
2. Neal Morse (Spock's Beard, solo)
3. James LaBrie (Dream Theater)
4. Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity)
5. Sebastian Bach (Skid Row)


I'm sure I'll have more later

D.L. White said...

Trousered Ape - you didn't mention the two that I thought you would...I'm surprised!

Here's one that I forgot I was going to give an "honorable mention" to: Michael Hutchence (INXS)

The Trousered Ape said...

A few I fogot:

1. Gary Cherone (Extreme, Van Halen, solo)
2. John Lennon (Beatles, Plastic Ono Band, solo)
3. Paul McCartney (Beatles, Wings, solo)

D.L. White said...

There they are! Lennon and McCartney! :P

D.L. White said...

Here's another one I just thought of - Adam Levine (Maroon 5).

Laura said...

Hmm... You didn't leave much else out there. D, I'm surprised I like so many of the same artists you do.

My bro was a HUGE Queensryche fan when he was in high school. I can remember waking up to Sweet Sister Mary or Master of Puppets by Metallica. Ugh... he played them way too loud for any early morning wake up!

One other name I would like to add to this list of excellent singers is Roland Orzabal from Tears for Fears. Wonderful rich quality that is easily one of the most recognizable voices in 80's and 90's pop music.

I reserve the right to add to the list at will.

D.L. White said...

I love it! How interesting to discover more things we have in common! :) Good suggestion about the Tears for Fears lead singer.

Btw - thought you'd appreciate this little story. When Shawn and I pulled up the video for Space Oddity we just started laughing - FOTC has ruined it for us! lol

Anonymous said...

Kudos for recognizing Justin Furstenfeld..awesome talent there.

monkeyboticus said...

Alright, I can no longer remain silent... Your top 10 are good choices, not sure about the Blue October guy being top 10.

I'm going to add Don Dokken (Dokken), Ronnie James Dio (Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio)and Bruce Dickinson (Samson, Iron Maiden) to the list as well. From the "metal" end of things anyway. I'd also like to give a nod to Steve Perry (Journey), Ian Gillan (Deep Purple), Steve Walsh (Kansas) and Lou Gramm (Foreigner). Oooo ooo Mikael Akerfeld (Opeth) when he's not torturing us with his death metal growl.

That's all I have for now. I like every singer mentioned on the post so far. I'll probably add more later. Like Ian Thornley (Big Wreck, Thornley). He sounds a lot like Mr. Cornell. BTW, I liked Smirkster's (A.K.A. David Cook) version of Chris Cornell's version of Billie Jean on American Idol.

Nick Fletcher said...

Furstenfeld is the most talented, underrated musician in America. I've met him twice when I was going to school in San Marcos and his humility and dedication is unbelievable. On one hand, I want the world to recognize his talent, and on the other, I want to keep seeing Blue with 1500 other people in a crowded bar.

The Trousered Ape said...

Oh - I got another one...

David 'Z-man' Zachgo (Ancient Wing, Rabid Bananas, and various other outings...)

He was pretty good back in the day. :)

D.L. White said...

Thanks for chiming in Monkey. I was curious to see what choices you would come up with. Not convinced about Justin Furstenfeld, though, huh? That page I linked to for Blue October - click on the video for "James" or "Somebody" if you want to see what his heavy rock voice sounds like.

We liked David Cook singing Chris Cornell's version of Billie Jean too. It was one of the few times I actually looked up from my laptop to watch the show.

Nick - thanks for adding to the discussion. That is so cool that you've met Justin. In the interviews I've read, I've been really impressed by his honesty, transparency and his approach to fame and to his art. I have virtually worn out all my Blue October CDs... Love that band.

D.L. White said...

Well...Ape...I wasn't going to go there, because I didn't want to embarrass anyone, but since you started it...

My favorite male rock lead singer is YOU!!! :D

Anonymous said...

Justin Furstenfeld is the most amazing singer since Jim Morrison...his lyrics are so poetic, and yes, his voice is 'haunting'

The live DVD is incredible, and his voice sounds the exact same in person!

I don't have to pretend he's amazing, I know he is!

Some to add:

Jim Morrison
John Hiatt
Jeff Buckley
Johnny Lang
Ryan Star (rock star supernova)

There's something in these J names....interesting....

Anonymous said...

This is Monkeyboticus. Google keeps telling me that my password is incorrect. I believe it is google who is mistaken about a great many things.

I just heard Z-man singing this evening. Still has some power and range, but his control is a little off. Kinda pitchy, dawg.

I like all the J names. I think Mr. David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) needs to added to the list as well. Um, yeah, also Doug Pinnick (King's X, Poundhound, Supershine).

Lenny Kravitz - No need to explain.
Andy Sturmer (Jellyfish)
Brad Delp (Boston, RTZ)

To the guy who put in Ryan Star, you should check out Neal Morse.

Anonymous said...

that was a pretty incredible list, all great choices, hard to make a short list tho...
im sooo for the blue nod, they absolutely are amazing, completely enthralling live too.

Anonymous said...

Aaron Lewis from Staind has some pipes on him as well.

D.L. White said...

Thanks to everyone for all the great additions to the list! This discussion has made me want to dig back through my music collection and listen to some of these fellas that I haven't played in a while - or check out the ones I've never heard of before.

Also - how suprising that, for a while there, this turned into a Blue October love-fest. Gotta love it! I can't wait until their next album!

astraughnomer said...

great post, great list!! oh yeah, chris cornell is one of my favorites. i love what david cook did last week (he was great this week too...he has a fabulous voice). and bono is awesome. i like Layne Staley too.

...speaking of chris cornell and temple of the dog...i have to admit (though it may make me unpopular, hehe) that i do also love eddie vedder. there. i said it. :)

D.L. White said...

Well...Chris Cornell totally outsings Eddie Vedder in Temple of the Dog. But I like Eddie Vedder. He also has one of those voices that is instantly recognizable and there's really no one else like him. He can rock it. To this day, I hear anything off the "Ten" album and it takes me instantly back to my college dorm room... :) I swear every single room was blaring that album for a year.

raven said...

I have to agree with you on a really well done list.

1. Sting: Because his voice has a speical quality to it and the POLICE is my all time favorite band.

2. Freddy: Oh my gosh, the best falsetto I have ever heard. I miss his voice. Imagine if he had not died so early. I love his entire band and all their movie sound track work and Brian May's guitar.

3. Bono: Yeah, he is just amazing. I have yet to hear him in concert, but I am sure he would be incredible like you say.

4. David Bowie: He is just cool.

5. Queensryche: (hope I spelled that right) The lead singer's voice is very unique and amazing, it still haunts me sometimes.

6. Journey: I think the lead singer should be on this list, Steve Perry. His voice was fantastic in his prime.