My 13 Favorite Singers

I figured it was time to lighten things up again, and what better way than one of my “favorites” posts, right? This time around, I’ve selected my favorite 13 singers. This is different than the post I did on the top 100 singers because that was just my commentary on the top 10 singers, which were actually performers, of someone else’s. As far as music is concerned, I also did classical music, and a couple of the folks who I used to help highlight some of those pieces are featured here as well.

The problem with doing a list like this is that you’re really limited by who you know and whom you’ve heard of. At least I’ve mixed genres, but there’s a lot of people I left off this list because, well, these types of posts are kind of time consuming to put together. It’s also hard to find something good for all of them, because I wanted them in the video. Some of the most popular folks have most of their videos with the embed turned off, so I had to search around to find what I’m able to show here. A couple of times I just couldn’t use the song I wanted to use to highlight the person either; so be it. Still, I’d listen to any one of these folks sing names from a phone book, I love their voices so much.

Remember, if you want to purchase something for one of these singers, just click on their name. Love to hear your comments on this list, and of course list your favorite singers, and I highlight singers, not performers. That’s for another time, I figure. And here we go:

13. Paul Robeson – This guy never got the credit he deserved for all the talent he possessed, including his singing. Back in the day, he was labeled a Communist, and that was pretty much that as far as a real career goes. But there was no one else who ever had this deep and powerful a voice.

12. Christina Aguilera – Say what you will with some of her personas, when she wants to sing, this girl can “saaang”, as we like to say. As tiny as she is, you just don’t expect this kind of voice coming out of her, with such power and authority, and she’s had this voice since she was 10.

11. Celine Dion – People love to make a parody out of Celine Dion, but no one can take away her voice from her. One of the most popular songs in history is from the movie Titanic; this here is one of my favorites instead.

10. Barbra Streisand – Younger people might not know just how big a deal Barbra Streisand was at one time. She commanded movies, the stage, and records all at once. There wasn’t any style of music this lady couldn’t sing, and to me it’s a tribute to her that she’s behind the people I have on this list because she easily could have been in my top 5.

9. Luciano Pavarotti – Come on, there was no way I could leave Luciano off this list after having him sing one of my favorite classical music pieces. Talk about a powerful voice, and when he was in better shape than his later years, it looked effortless, like in this video from I Pagliacci.

8. Sarah Brightman – The original Cristine from Phantom of the Opera, some people thought she only got the part because she was married to Andrew Lloyd Webber at the time. That is, until they heard her sing. What a sweet voice, and she can do so many things with it.

7. Josh Groban – Some people can’t believe I like this guy because his music is, well, not all that strong. Who cares when he can sing like he can. I think his voice and his music are just perfect together, and he sings so many uplifting songs like this one.

6. Paul Carrack – This one will be a total surprise to many people, who might not know who he is. There are 3 great songs by groups that had him come in and sing the song. Those songs are How Long by Ace, Tempted by Squeeze, and Living Years by Mike & the Mechanics. What a classic voice; he had to be on this list.

5. Kathleen Battle – If you remember the classical music post, you’ll remember how I said I wanted to marry this one when I was younger. Just an amazing voice, and not bad to look at, and she can hit high notes like very others.

4. Kiri Te Kanawa – Kiri goes the other way. She’s got a powerful also voice that grabs your soul and makes you want to follow her around. She was actually my real introduction into opera singers, as I just wasn’t paying attention to Beverly Sills voice when she was on the Muppet Show; hey, I was in college!

3. Sam Cooke – Man, we lost him way too early. What a voice, and unfortunately, what a terrible video to use to highlight it. But, as I said, I wanted you to see him live. His voice was just so smooth and soulful, even if he was singing a fast song. No, this one’s not fast; but I love it.

2. Mariah Carey – Of course my top two are easy for anyone who knows me. I once told my wife that Mariah is the only woman I’d leave her for, and even then she’d have to sing two songs for me first. This is one of them; I’m not telling you what the other one is. lol

1. Michael Jackson – This one was easy for you to guess, coming from me. Man, I miss him so much, and I hate that anything new that comes out won’t be followed with a new video. I loved lots of songs that he did; this one was probably his most powerful overall.

Michael Jackson Thriller Clock

Michael Jackson Thriller Clock

Price – $43.46


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Top 100 Singers Of All Time

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Something a little different today, although it’s online, so to speak, so it fits the model. Rolling Stone Magazine put together a listing of what they say are the 100 Greatest Singers In History. I’ve got to tell you, I love stuff like this because it invokes pretty good memories, great discussions, and of course we all get to have our favorites and those that we don’t like. Being a former professional musician (I got paid for it, therefore I was a professional), I’d like to think that I have at least some basic knowledge on the subject.

Just to get this out of the way, though, we’re talking about rock musicians. No operatic folks are on the list, which is a shame because if one can’t get Andrea Bocelli or Sarah Brightman in a list then it’s not quite accurate. Also, any list that has Mariah Carey all the way down at #79 tells me that the list is not only not about singers, but that it’s more a list of performers who impress people who like rock than an article about true singers. And come on; no Celine Dion, no Whitney Houston, no Donna Summer,… ugh!

Obviously, I’ve already given some early commentary on this list. But let’s look at the top ten only; if you want to jump right to the entire list, you can use this link to get there.

Going in reverse order, #10 is James Brown. Most people only know the James Brown of Eddie Murphy fame, but when he started out, James Brown had a very melodic voice. Later on he decided to give that up for more histrionics, but no matter. You can’t have a discussion about vocalists in history without James Brown. This isn’t a bad pick.

At #9 on the list we have Stevie Wonder. I wrote in a review last year that Stevie Wonder is the number one pop music genius of all time, and he’s still influencing musicians of today, so there’s no gripe about this pick either.

At #8 is Otis Redding, and if I have a gripe about this pick, it’s that I just don’t see him being in the top ten. His untimely death has probably added way more credence to his importance, but when it comes to singers, there’s so many more who were not only more important, but better singers.

At #7 is Bob Dylan; here’s the big pick that lets us know it’s more about legacy than actual vocal talent. I say this while being a big time Dylan fan. Bob Dylan couldn’t sing his way past the first round of American Idol, let alone be considered a legitimate singer on any list. However, his body of work was remarkable, and he came alone at just the right time to touch upon the psyche of America. His lyrics impressed me so much that I bought his book of lyrics some years ago, just to study the composition structure of them. Top ten in importance, yes; top ten singers, no way.

At #6 is Marvin Gaye, and this is a great pick for the top ten. There were few other natural singers who could compete with Marvin Gaye, and he knew it. Marvin Gaye was so good that he’s the only performer in Motown history who didn’t have to go through “performance school”; of course, it didn’t hurt that he was married to Berry Gordy’s sister either. Still, Marvin Gaye could have made a nun give up her virginity, there was so much sex in his smooth sound. No gripes here.

At #5 is John Lennon, and once again, I have to put him on the list with Dylan; important for the times, but not all that great a singer. His range was limited, and, well, truthfully, I think he had more of an emotive voice with no real range. I can’t think of anyone else who could have brought the kind of power he did to a song like “Imagine”, but he was a great performer, and an even better man, than he was a singer.

At #4 is Sam Cooke, and I’ll say right now that the only gripe I might have here is that I could see him being at #2, except he left this world way too soon. Sam Cooke was smooth, he had range, and, well, he was just likable as a singer and as a man. Well, except for the woman who ended up killing him, I suppose, but even there,… well, we’ll probably never know the real story. Sam Cooke could make you feel good; he could make you cry; he could pretty much do anything he wanted to do with his voice, which is what makes me so impressed with him. It was his voice and one of his songs I thought about the night Barack Obama was elected president, and what it meant to me. Great pick!

At #3 is Elvis Presley, and there’s just no way anyone can gripe about this pick across the board. Elvis was the man, plain and simple, and if he’d known how to take care of himself, he’d probably still be the man right now in his 70’s. Elvis could sing, he had presence, he touched people, and mixed in the middle of a lot of fluff were some pretty good songs. Let’s face a fact here; without Elvis being exactly what he was, a big, good looking country white kid that loved to sing what at the time was termed “race music” and doing those “heinously sexy moves”, we’d have been stuck with Pat Boone’s generic style for the rest of our lives, black music might never have had the opportunity to become as prominent as it has, and music in general would have stagnated. Yes, I think he was that important.

At #2 is Ray Charles, and I love Ray Charles. Though I might not have put him at #2, he’d have definitely been in the top ten. Ray Charles did stuff with music that no one else dared to do, which makes him important, and he did it because of the music, not for any other reason. Ray Charles did jazz, and always considered himself a jazz musician. But he also did rock, pop, gospel, country, and classical, and went to the top in every single genre. Ray Charles also touched people, but oddly enough, according to his own autobiography, he never really understood why, except for the soul of the music. And man, there’s no one who could have taken that soul away. Ray Charles was truly the king of soul.

At #1 is the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin. If you’re not old enough to remember the true power of Aretha Franklin singing almost anything then I feel sorry for you. Aretha Franklin was raw power and emotion; when she went soft, you held onto your own hands because you knew the explosion of emotion was coming. The daughter of a preacher who cut her chops in church, she has earned 21 Grammy awards, was the first female inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and has the best selling gospel album in history, Amazing Grace. All that, and she’s still prominent today, singing at the inauguration of President Barack Obama just a week and a half ago. No problems with the queen being at number one.

And there you go. As I said, something different to talk about, but hey, it’s the day before the Super Bowl, so let’s have some fun here. Now, if I went through the entire top 100, there’s a lot of artists I’d throw out and replace with someone else. But for now, enjoy what’s there, and offer your own opinions; should be fun.

The Essential Barack Obama: The Grammy Award-Winning Recordings

The Essential Barack Obama: The Grammy Award-Winning Recordings








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