Which singer has the best voice

The soul of Aretha Franklin. The variety of Freddie Mercury. Kurt Cobain's grudge: The voice is the engine of pop music. Not only because it tells us something, conveys a message; but above all because it conveys feelings in a way that no instrument can. The 100 singers on this list can do it best - we think.

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Texts: André Boße (ab), Davide Bortot (db), Oliver Götz (ogö), Steffen Greiner (sg), Jördis Hagemeier (jh), Albert Koch (ko), Julia Lorenz (jl), Jochen Overbeck (jov), Stephan Rehm Rozanes (srr), Frank Sawatzki (fs), Annett Scheffel (as), Chris Weiß (cw), Sabine Winkler (sw)

>>> The complete list with places 1 to 100 can be found in our picture gallery above. The top 10, including a portrait, here:

1. Freddie Mercury

The lasting effectiveness of Farrokh Bulsara's mostly tenor voice can best be determined in a fraction of a minute after his premature death: At the tribute concert in his honor on April 20, 1992, the almost equally gifted George Michael interrupted his emotional version of “Somebody To Love ”, gives the microphone to the fans at the end of the break: 72,000 visitors are sure to sing the long, last“ love ”to him. Michael later described the song as the most difficult he had ever to sing and the moment as the most overwhelming of his career.

Mercury himself once said of his three octave voice that it feeds on the energy of the audience: “The better you are, the better I am”, an upward spiral. His favorite singer Robert Plant, one of the numerous guest stars on the day, noticed that many of the songs performed had to be transposed into other keys in advance, as hardly anyone could take Mercury's place. Although Mercury himself always emphasized that she was a musical whore who made music like disposable razors, disposable pop, Queen are still one of the most popular bands in the world 27 years after their end.

The greatest rock'n'roll vocal virtuoso of all time

Most recently her GREATEST HITS, published in 1981, was in the top 40 of the UK charts, in its 815th week. The group owes this record success primarily to Mercury's voice. In 2016, a team of researchers investigated their magic and came to the conclusion that Mercury's singing activated the so-called undertones, which sound an octave below the actual note and are caused by throat singing. The study also proved that Mercury's vocal cords produced significantly more vibrations per second than usual at 7.04 Hz. So so!

Blessed by nature, his multifacetedness nevertheless set him apart from all other singing talents. Roger Daltrey called him the greatest rock'n'roll vocal virtuoso of all time: "He could change his style from line to line." Mercury is convincing in metal, in 50s rock, in funk, in falsetto disco, in music Hall, in a musical, in the opera. His voice carried him as a wide-legged macho rocker, as an over-the-top bon vivant, as an eternally searching lover, as king of the world and despite all despair dignified beyond its end, true to the “Innuendo” line of songs “You can be anything you want to be , just turn yourself into anything you think that you could ever be ". As a singer, Freddie Mercury was everything that anyone else would have liked to be. srr

  • The moment: The "Alternative Version" of "It's Late", which was released with last year's deluxe re-release of NEWS OF THE WORLD: After a short, casual singing, Mercury kindles a vocal storm that tears you out of all context.

2. Aretha Franklin

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There are sentences that say themselves when your name is Aretha Franklin. Sentences like: “Being a singer is a natural talent.” It was probably like this with her: a gift from some god or cosmic being. The tremendous power of her voice has earned her the indisputable title of "Queen Of Soul". That power - it's not just the volume. This is also the squeaky-clean technique with which she can shoot up from a dark murmur into the thin air of a vibrating falsetto. The subtleties in intonation. And above all this self-assurance that is in every tone: in the swagger of "Respect" as well as in the tender romance of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman".

Without them, there would be no Whitney Houston and no Alicia Keys. The way in which she seemed to turn her soul outward, into the reverberation of her voice, tells of a great, unifying female superpower. It does something to a woman (maybe also to a man) when Aretha chants in the chorus of “Think”: “Freedom, oh freedom, give yourself freedom!” A power that is transmitted to us like a ray of energy. as

  • The moment: "Respect": The heated furor in her breaking voice when she spells - "R-E-S-P-" - arrives at the second E - "Eee-C-T".

3. Michael Jackson

Which artist can claim to have invented their own and at the same time peculiar signature sound solely with their voice? Instead of answering this question with a disappointingly slight result, it is worthwhile to elicit an enthusiastic "Ouh!" From your own throat right away. Michael Jackson even tweaks his crotch in a publicly effective and stimulating way. Hell yeah, that's how you write pop history!

It is not for nothing that this man is called King, his rulership virtues are put to the test early on: When disco was born in the 70s, Michael had to measure himself against the successes of other mad artists of the legendary Motown label. Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye: outstanding singers - that was noted nerdy in the American soul-pop canon of the 70s even before his world career.

Michael Jackson still overshadows the success of his colleagues. By nature, he seems to have what is desperately searched for decades later in casting shows: a complete package. His superhuman dance skills have been causing open mouths not only since the game changer video for “Thriller” - but they never want to hide the talented, passionate singer he was.

His career began powerfully in the 60s and 70s with afro and sequined bell-bottoms in soul and disco. He invented the R’n’B of the 80s, and in the 90s he finally fills the big stadiums with epoch-making world-do-gooding pop and a tender angelic voice - it is later unjustifiably denounced by critics as a soulless pop product. Allegations of child abuse, babies irresponsibly held out of hotel room windows, pill addiction: no matter how gloomy some of the fragile, contradicting Michael’s life chapters may be, in the end, even posthumously, his musical work was never discredited. century

  • The moment: The particularly long and passionate "Ooouuhhh!" In second 15 of "Don’t Stop’ Til You Get Enough "- how he feels!

4. Al Green

Al Green was the last old school soul star. His music was initially a decal of Sam Cooke and Co., but in the 1970s it became softer, more tender - and thus more precisely suited to his voice. He laid the foundation for what was later called Modern Soul.

Where soul had to be sung powerfully in the 60s, at least intensely, it was with Green: everything was easy, preferably longer than usual in the head voice. With this he set impulses - for disco, Prince, but also for contemporary soul singers like D’Angelo, who covered Greene's “I'm Glad You're Mine” well. jov

  • The moment: those totally unexpected screams in “Take Me To The River”.

5. Bjork

You will hardly find a live video in which she hits every note exactly. It can croak, stumble on the peaks, tip over, sometimes a few notes crumble away in the lower verse, it breathes sharply and with the next loud bark it risks that the following note will die out.

Björk was never the kind of kid who practiced beautifully. Hearing the ex-hippie girl, the ex-punk, the pop avant-garde singing is always a borderline experience because she doesn't know a song that doesn't push her to her limits. The routine hides from her in an underwater volcano. ogö

  • The moment: “Vökuró”, live only with harpsichord and choir in Langholtskirkja in Reykjavík (2008; easy to find on YouTube): an Icelandic folk song understands the whole world.

6. Nina Simone

Not only did Nina Simone have one of the unmistakable voices of jazz, she also used her instrument in such a way that she never adapted to a musical style. A song by Nina Simone is always a song by Nina Simone, only then is it jazz, rhythm & blues, gospel or soul.

In the 1960s, she became one of the first pop music civil rights activists: Lamentations in the depths of her baritone. In her further life, however, Nina Simone turns out to be her greatest enemy. On stage as in life, she is too erratic and confrontational. Until her death in 2003, however, she always remained black and proud, herself. cw

  • The moment: At the end of “Before Sunset”, Julie Delpy puts on “Just In Time” by Nina Simone after a long night of talking. After that everything is fine.

7. Kate Bush

"Wuthering Heights", the first self-written song with which a singer was ever at number one in the UK charts, is a miracle: How could Kate Bush write such a complex song at the age of 18 (well, she liked the Hook before in Barry Heard Manilow's “Mandy”)?

Above all: How could she have such an idiosyncratic style of singing so early? It seemed as if the ghosts of centuries passed through Bush's lips, all at the same time! These breaks with listening habits impressed Johnny Rotten so much that he wrote a song for Bush that she thankfully declined, "Bird In Hand". srr

  • The moment: The outro of “Wuthering Heights”, in which Bush's vocal melody dissolves into strings and a guitar solo, as if it were rising into the sky.

8. Otis Redding

He only had a few years to squeeze the force of a lifetime into the soundtracks of a handful of studio albums before he died in a plane crash at the age of 26. His singing - it wasn't just a beautiful voice. These were pure, hot melted feelings.

There is something vulnerable in his rough and at the same time raspy voice that hits you without any reason: Something that can turn you back into a thin-skinned, emotional teenager when listening to “These Arms Of Mine”. With any other singer, this standing blues ballad would have been sappy. With him it is a sublime classic. as

  • The moment: the breathless finale of “Try A Little Tenderness”.

9. Frank Sinatra

One, whose first studio album is called THE VOICE OF FRANK SINATRA, should also deliver. Indeed, Frank Sinatra fulfilled the title of the record released in 1946; Oh, more than that: He did not invent the crooner genre, but shaped its operating principle: Sinatra had a great voice, but he always included a certain understatement in his singing.

Even in “My Way”, where he stands in front of the final curtain of his life, he doesn't use his voice to the full. He sings modestly of his “Regrets”, his voice always in step with the strings. Like a racing cyclist who only rides at 80 percent of his strength and therefore reaches the finish line relaxed, ready for a drink. jov

  • The moment: In “Fly Me To The Moon” his voice swells up and down like a wind instrument.

10. Stevie Wonder

Right through the 1970s, Stevie Wonder tore up new horizons (not only) for soul, funk and R’n’B - musically, also in terms of content. But in fact, his vocal performances from the 60s, highlighted in the Motown sound, are almost more familiar to us. With his artistic freedom, his voice also unfolded.

You can hear him experiment with them on albums like SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE or TALKING BOOK, he makes them ring, fly, presses, punches, transfers techniques from jazz and gospel. But no matter what color, and that is the real wonder-wonder, in the end it can never express anything other than zest for life. ogö

  • The moment: Here it is punchy as seldom, lead and backing vocals fuel each other - they both come from Stevie: “Living For The City” (1973).

>>> The other places 11 to 100 can be found in our picture gallery (above).

You can find the entire list in its full print and an introductory text on the psychology behind the voices in the 05/2018 edition of Musikexpress.

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