The Greatest Singer of All time:

Joe Strummer

New User
Wow, best of all time? Eesh... that is very difficult. It really depends on the genre. On the women's side, for me, it is a tie between Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick. There is nobody close regardless of genre on the women's side, IMHO.

On the men's side... it's way more difficult for me. In rock, my top two would be Rob Halford and Freddie Mercury. In R&B/Soul, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and Ray Charles. In pop, Michael Jackson and George Michael. Unlike the women, I just can't pick an outright winner for the men.
Absolutely, Ann Wilson is phenomenal! Only 1 woman in my opinion is her equal and that's Chrissy Hynde:
 
For pure notes, I really enjoy Sissel

Wiki says she is one of the top crossover sopranos in the world and I have never heard of her before. Granted it's not my preferred genre but I know about Sarah Brightman or Katherine Jenkins and Sissel seems to be a good deal better than either. It's so strange how some great singers who have sold tons of albums are still under the radar. I had never heard of Linda Eder until about a year back and turns out she is quite well known in Broadway/theater circles.

 
Highly subjective, but in my opinion George Michael had the best male vocal ever, very soothing, very moving, has range, can do falsetto, has power, very pleasant to listen to. The man can cover anything and do it just as good, if not better than the original as well. Singing live was easy for him, not many people sound just as good live as they do on the record.
When it comes to the rougher side of things, I love what Layne Staley did with Alice in Chains. Peak power, you can hear the anger and pain in the voice, perfect for rock/grunge music. Robert Plant is another that I like a lot.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Again, I wasn't writing him off or dismissing him but there happen to be singers working IN rock/pop music who have a large following, who have pushed their voice harder and who still fared better live. Dio if anything sang even more aggressively than Freddie and his voice was in fine fettle all the way into his 60s. If I am not mistaken, Freddie struggled with nodules for many years and the AIDS layoff helped him in the sense he was finally able to stay away from touring, his voice healed and he gave one of his best ever performances on Show Must Go On. How I wish he could have had the chance to render it live. My objection is only with the way the OP is framed. And as for your last sentence, well, if the topic is framed as best ENTERTAINER in music, then I would put Freddie right up there behind only maybe Michael Jackson. So it's not that I do not recognise his stage presence but if it says singing, I am going to give maximum emphasis to the singing part of it.

By the way, it's not like Whitney/Mariah/Celine are the epitome of perfection in pop either and they all had flaws in their technique which caught up with them at different stages in their career. So again, what they brought to the table in terms of the 'entertainment' quotient mattered a lot more. In the case of Celine Dion, certainly singing on the Titanic soundtrack must have helped. I suppose you could say I have a problem with unsustainable technique being advertised to the masses post which you see all these young aspirants trying to sing like Whitney on reality TV shows and which will only wreck their voice down the line. It's such a pity that Adele had to stop performing but she was using way too much chest so it's not altogether a surprise. Of course, I don't blame Celine/Whitney/Mariah for bringing their shtick and trying to get the most out of it. The belt obsession has gone so far that even a trained Broadway singer like Idina Menzel has to do it and then when she can't hit those notes live (nobody can scream out an unsupported fifth octave note over and over), has to transpose the songs down.
First off my bad for such a late reply. Meant to get back to you earlier but then forgot about this thread after a while.

I think we're on different wavelengths in this discussion of the greatest singers. To me that term implies something more than hitting the right notes when called for. I'm not sure how familiar you're with Billie Holiday, but she never had a big voice even in her prime, nor was she ever a technical wizard on par with Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan. Where she truly reigned supreme was in her matchless gift for imbuing each and every word and note with her soul (for lack of a better word) that made her listeners feel like she had nothing left to bare. For that reason alone the likes of Whitney, Mariah, Celine and Adele can't even begin to compare to her despite their superior vocal prowess, and not even an indisputable goddess like Ella or Aretha is her equal, because singing for Billie was more than a calling - it was her lifeblood, the one thing that kept her alive even when her tragic private life had hit rock bottom.

Obviously Freddie wasn't a transcendent genius comparable to some of these names, but to me the kind of "stage presence" as we saw in his famous Live Aid performance transcends mere entertainment. Feel free to correct me but Dio despite his bigger pipes never commanded his audience like that, and you'll be hard-pressed to name another who did, because Freddie's was such a rare gift. You mentioned MJ as his only possible superior in that respect and indeed Mike's stupendous talent is another good example. When you saw the Moonwalker about to don his trademark fedora for "Billie Jean" you sat up and watched, because you knew you were about to witness a show like no other. It wasn't a life-changing experience, no, but you could say it was life-affirming to see such a perfect mix of song, dance and showmanship. (And I really emphasize the "song." Try listening only to the famous bass line of "Billie Jean" if you haven't already - it wasn't until I did that I realized what an extraordinary record it is.)

OTOH a better voice doesn't necessarily equal superior artistry. You might recall Madonna's singing improved by leaps and bounds when she prepared for her role of Eva Peron in Evita, and that carried over to her justly acclaimed (if overrated) Ray of Light which followed. But while she was singing better than ever before there was a certain distance to her songs on what was an undoubtedly serious album, as if she was trying to channel her newfound religion (I'm guessing you remember her whole kabbalah nonsense phase) through her new "serious" voice. Compare that to what was deemed her first serious album, Like a Prayer, which was full of fiery passion, irreverent piety and plain joie de vivre. Sure, her voice was still amateurish compared to its post-Evita cousin, but if you ask me her "singing" on the title track and "Express Yourself" dwarfs any of her trained vocalizing on Ray of Light. If that doesn't make her younger self the better singer then why are we focusing on these names in the first place, when there are literally thousands of less famous performers across the the globe who can fulfill the same duties of vocalizing to more exacting standards?

Hopefully you see now where I'm coming from. I don't wanna get too sidetracked here as we're supposed to be judging singing after all, but when we're talking about the greatest singers I need more than a little evidence of said transcendence on their part beyond having a great set of pipes which don't interest me as much. The latter while impressive are a dime a dozen and should in the end serve as a complement to the expressive powers of an artist, provided that he/she's an artist in the first place.

BTW even the best-trained singers can damage their voice and be forced to cut down on their activities if they're not careful. You may know this already but it's been said that Callas' voice underwent an earlier decline than most because she took on too many heavy roles at the beginning of her career.

I get that from my father sometimes, in fact often, and I will tell him he is not listening to the chords. But it's kinda tough to get Indians out of their melody hardwiring. I was exposed to the work of the composer Ilayaraja in my teens and he combined Indian melody with Western harmony (yes!) so brilliantly that I started accepting harmony also in my 'hardwiring' and it was that which triggered a curiosity about Western music within me.
Yes, one's background certainly has much to do with how you digest any subjective experience. As you may recall from that other thread I still watch the MLB postseason at least in part because baseball is the sport I grew up watching and playing more than any other. I do think I'd still be a baseball fan without such firsthand experience (I actually like that it's slow and thus offers respite from the breakneck pace of modern life), but probably a very casual one at best.

And one's politics/worldview has a significant impact on your artistic choices, too. I've never cared much for authority and in fact if pressed to name one thing I hate most about (East) Asian culture I'd say its often blind respect for the elders that the youngsters are expected to have. So naturally I've always been a voracious consumer of cultures of all nationalities and backgrounds, and any time I encounter something new I generally see that as a good thing. Those with stronger inclinations for structure and discipline, OTOH, probably aren't as tolerant of arts and cultures alien to them. Not saying your father falls under the latter category, of course. :D
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Ha ha, that clip was amazing. For sure I would have assumed the singer to be a mezzo/soprano had I not seen the video. Very intricate singing, must listen to more baroque.
Baroque opera can indeed be murderously difficult for the singers. Some of Handel and Vivaldi makes the famous roles of Mozart and Verdi look like a walk in the park, which speaks volumes about the otherworldly vocal acrobatics of the original castrati. Must've been quite an experience to hear those masculine-looking female characters (as you may know female roles were sung by males back then) toss off those streams of sky-high notes like they were brushing their teeth, though we should all be glad that society no longer condones unspeakable barbarism just to replicate it.

And such horrendous difficulty is probably the main reason why most of the Baroque masters' operas remain relatively obscure today, which is a shame as some of them - Handel's especially - are worthy of canonical status alongside the likes of Don Giovanni, Carmen, La traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor and Tosca. In fact my all-time favorite vocal composition of any kind, by anyone, happens to be the mighty aria "Scherza infida" from Handel's Ariodante, here sung again by Jaroussky (yes it's the best performance I've heard):


Pay close attention to how he embellishes the closing "per tua colpa ora men vo" for maximum effect. I've yet to see this opera live (believe there was a rare production at the Kennedy Center last year but the admission was so goddamn high!), let alone a performance this sublime. Suffice it to say it's near the top of my bucket list. :cool:

But Baroque music doesn't have to be all superhuman pyrotechnics or stately grandeur. You may wanna check this out:


More like early Baroque and mostly obscure, but it's glorious. I especially liked the third number "Queste pungenti spine" by Benedetto Ferrari.

If you dig the jazzy arrangement of Monteverdi's "Ohimè, ch’io cado" I highly recommend the same gang's Monteverdi album (obviously check your country's own Amazon/fill-in-the-blank listing). Like the concert the whole album is somewhat poppified, but this is crossover at its best, and if there's a more drop-dead gorgeous version of the famous duet "Pur ti miro" from L'incoronazione di Poppea (whose text and/or music BTW might have been composed/contributed by the aforementioned Ferrari) than Jaroussky and Núria Rial's, I've yet to hear it.

Speaking of which....

Wiki says she is one of the top crossover sopranos in the world and I have never heard of her before. Granted it's not my preferred genre but I know about Sarah Brightman or Katherine Jenkins and Sissel seems to be a good deal better than either. It's so strange how some great singers who have sold tons of albums are still under the radar. I had never heard of Linda Eder until about a year back and turns out she is quite well known in Broadway/theater circles.

On the other side of the crossover coin are the likes of Brightman and Sissel. Just the latter's selection alone (ALW's hackneyed-as-hell "Pie Jesu") should give anyone pause, but what really galls about these classically trained singers is that by hawking this schlock they know they're appealing to the lowest common denominator - unlike say Whitney who at least believed in her own - but they try to cover it up with their admittedly polished vocals which do sound awfully impressive to casual listeners. :mad: Yet more reason why we should look beyond technique while discussing any great singer worth his or her salt.

And that concludes the latest NonP dissertation. :cool:
 
First off my bad for such a late reply. Meant to get back to you earlier but then forgot about this thread after a while.

I think we're on different wavelengths in this discussion of the greatest singers. To me that term implies something more than hitting the right notes when called for. I'm not sure how familiar you're with Billie Holiday, but she never had a big voice even in her prime, nor was she ever a technical wizard on par with Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan. Where she truly reigned supreme was in her matchless gift for imbuing each and every word and note with her soul (for lack of a better word) that made her listeners feel like she had nothing left to bare. For that reason alone the likes of Whitney, Mariah, Celine and Adele can't even begin to compare to her despite their superior vocal prowess, and not even an indisputable goddess like Ella or Aretha is her equal, because singing for Billie was more than a calling - it was her lifeblood, the one thing that kept her alive even when her tragic private life had hit rock bottom.

Obviously Freddie wasn't a transcendent genius comparable to some of these names, but to me the kind of "stage presence" as we saw in his famous Live Aid performance transcends mere entertainment. Feel free to correct me but Dio despite his bigger pipes never commanded his audience like that, and you'll be hard-pressed to name another who did, because Freddie's was such a rare gift. You mentioned MJ as his only possible superior in that respect and indeed Mike's stupendous talent is another good example. When you saw the Moonwalker about to don his trademark fedora for "Billie Jean" you sat up and watched, because you knew you were about to witness a show like no other. It wasn't a life-changing experience, no, but you could say it was life-affirming to see such a perfect mix of song, dance and showmanship. (And I really emphasize the "song." Try listening only to the famous bass line of "Billie Jean" if you haven't already - it wasn't until I did that I realized what an extraordinary record it is.)

OTOH a better voice doesn't necessarily equal superior artistry. You might recall Madonna's singing improved by leaps and bounds when she prepared for her role of Eva Peron in Evita, and that carried over to her justly acclaimed (if overrated) Ray of Light which followed. But while she was singing better than ever before there was a certain distance to her songs on what was an undoubtedly serious album, as if she was trying to channel her newfound religion (I'm guessing you remember her whole kabbalah nonsense phase) through her new "serious" voice. Compare that to what was deemed her first serious album, Like a Prayer, which was full of fiery passion, irreverent piety and plain joie de vivre. Sure, her voice was still amateurish compared to its post-Evita cousin, but if you ask me her "singing" on the title track and "Express Yourself" dwarfs any of her trained vocalizing on Ray of Light. If that doesn't make her younger self the better singer then why are we focusing on these names in the first place, when there are literally thousands of less famous performers across the the globe who can fulfill the same duties of vocalizing to more exacting standards?

Hopefully you see now where I'm coming from. I don't wanna get too sidetracked here as we're supposed to be judging singing after all, but when we're talking about the greatest singers I need more than a little evidence of said transcendence on their part beyond having a great set of pipes which don't interest me as much. The latter while impressive are a dime a dozen and should in the end serve as a complement to the expressive powers of an artist, provided that he/she's an artist in the first place.

BTW even the best-trained singers can damage their voice and be forced to cut down on their activities if they're not careful. You may know this already but it's been said that Callas' voice underwent an earlier decline than most because she took on too many heavy roles at the beginning of her career.



Yes, one's background certainly has much to do with how you digest any subjective experience. As you may recall from that other thread I still watch the MLB postseason at least in part because baseball is the sport I grew up watching and playing more than any other. I do think I'd still be a baseball fan without such firsthand experience (I actually like that it's slow and thus offers respite from the breakneck pace of modern life), but probably a very casual one at best.

And one's politics/worldview has a significant impact on your artistic choices, too. I've never cared much for authority and in fact if pressed to name one thing I hate most about (East) Asian culture I'd say its often blind respect for the elders that the youngsters are expected to have. So naturally I've always been a voracious consumer of cultures of all nationalities and backgrounds, and any time I encounter something new I generally see that as a good thing. Those with stronger inclinations for structure and discipline, OTOH, probably aren't as tolerant of arts and cultures alien to them. Not saying your father falls under the latter category, of course. :D
Actually I am not saying at all that it's just about hitting the right notes. I am just saying I refuse to elevate strange presence as the be-all and end-all. There are singers who can sing beautifully (I mean, with soul) and who are not as adept at commanding a stage. That's fine by me. What the largest common denominator wants is not my concern. I am very suspicious about judging the quality of a performance by the audience's reaction to it. I have watched Iron Maiden live and the crowd screamed when Adrian Smith played the guitar solo of Benjamin Breeg. Was that lick so special? Nope. Just that THEY were emotionally attached to it. But I have heard Steve Hackett play much more beautiful guitar just standing quietly with no rockstar airs whatsoever.
 
Baroque opera can indeed be murderously difficult for the singers. Some of Handel and Vivaldi makes the famous roles of Mozart and Verdi look like a walk in the park, which speaks volumes about the otherworldly vocal acrobatics of the original castrati. Must've been quite an experience to hear those masculine-looking female characters (as you may know female roles were sung by males back then) toss off those streams of sky-high notes like they were brushing their teeth, though we should all be glad that society no longer condones unspeakable barbarism just to replicate it.

And such horrendous difficulty is probably the main reason why most of the Baroque masters' operas remain relatively obscure today, which is a shame as some of them - Handel's especially - are worthy of canonical status alongside the likes of Don Giovanni, Carmen, La traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor and Tosca. In fact my all-time favorite vocal composition of any kind, by anyone, happens to be the mighty aria "Scherza infida" from Handel's Ariodante, here sung again by Jaroussky (yes it's the best performance I've heard):


Pay close attention to how he embellishes the closing "per tua colpa ora men vo" for maximum effect. I've yet to see this opera live (believe there was a rare production at the Kennedy Center last year but the admission was so goddamn high!), let alone a performance this sublime. Suffice it to say it's near the top of my bucket list. :cool:

But Baroque music doesn't have to be all superhuman pyrotechnics or stately grandeur. You may wanna check this out:


More like early Baroque and mostly obscure, but it's glorious. I especially liked the third number "Queste pungenti spine" by Benedetto Ferrari.

If you dig the jazzy arrangement of Monteverdi's "Ohimè, ch’io cado" I highly recommend the same gang's Monteverdi album (obviously check your country's own Amazon/fill-in-the-blank listing). Like the concert the whole album is somewhat poppified, but this is crossover at its best, and if there's a more drop-dead gorgeous version of the famous duet "Pur ti miro" from L'incoronazione di Poppea (whose text and/or music BTW might have been composed/contributed by the aforementioned Ferrari) than Jaroussky and Núria Rial's, I've yet to hear it.

Speaking of which....



On the other side of the crossover coin are the likes of Brightman and Sissel. Just the latter's selection alone (ALW's hackneyed-as-hell "Pie Jesu") should give anyone pause, but what really galls about these classically trained singers is that by hawking this schlock they know they're appealing to the lowest common denominator - unlike say Whitney who at least believed in her own - but they try to cover it up with their admittedly polished vocals which do sound awfully impressive to casual listeners. :mad: Yet more reason why we should look beyond technique while discussing any great singer worth his or her salt.

And that concludes the latest NonP dissertation. :cool:

That's some dissertation indeed! :D Will take my time to digest and appreciate all the music you have linked in there.

Just a small point about crossover classical. While it's not my cuppa, if it helps a large audience appreciate classical compositions, I suppose it's not a bad thing (PROVIDED people DON'T think Brightman is a better opera singer than Sutherland or Caballe but there's no accounting for stupidity). My view is the Three Tenors did a lot of damage by performing football stadiums with mic. They legitimised performing 'opera' with a mic. They did say that they weren't calling it opera but a non classical audience wouldn't know the difference anyway. Now I know some large venues like Met have been using hidden mics for a long time but even so there's something sacrosanct about singing without a mic and being able to project voice such that the last row can hear. What crossover has 'achieved' is to make opera a sound rather than an approach to singing. I personally do not dig operatic vocals per se and rendered in a half baked manner by the likes of Brightman is even further from anything I'd like. I'd rather listen to Annie Haslam singing classical arias set to the lyrics of the late Betty Thatcher in her own style without trying to imitate an opera-like sound. Unpretentious and sincere.
 

johnwah

Rookie
charice pempengco... sheer power and tone.......

.... but then she decided she wanted to be a boy... tragic... voice career over...

9:32 for the mic drop...
 

Incognito

Legend
charice pempengco... sheer power and tone.......

.... but then she decided she wanted to be a boy... tragic... voice career over...

9:32 for the mic drop...

Wow great pipes. I thought I recognized her voice. She’s that little girl from Glee. She lost lost her voice though and from what I’ve researched about her, she decided to become a man and started taking hormones. She sounds like a man now. What a waste of talent.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Every tool is a weapon… If you hold it right. ~Ani DiFranco


Singer/songwriter, Patty Larkin. Deep/interesting voice.



Tori is not in the same league as Kate Bush in my opinion ;)
Found Kate’s eclectic brand of music to be surreal & quite entertaining. Quite the extended-range soprano voice as well.

Dunno ‘bout this league stuff. But, if we’re gonna go there, I’d put Tori in a league of her own. Employed quite unusual breathing/phrasing with her classically-trained mezzo-soprano voice and piano playing. Alt rock with strong influences of classical, classic rock, hard rock and other genres.
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
@Joe Strummer
Came across a rather ambitious cover of Barracuda by young German drummer/studio musician, Sina, and friends/colleagues. Vocalist’s intonation is a tad off in a coupla spots but, overall, does quite an outstanding rendering of the song. Was amazed to read that this Aussie vocalist, Viktoria K, was only 12 yrs old when this cover was done.

 
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marc45

G.O.A.T.
This guy, from the first time I heard him when we were both teens, is my favorite rock vocalist. And he's still going strong as he approaches 70 this May: This vid is from a year ago.

we always talk about teen slam winners, what he did on Gimme Some Lovin' as a teen was like winning one
 

marc45

G.O.A.T.
kind of funny with almost three full pages, and numerous rock singers mentioned, not one from the usual #1 choice as top rock band...and you have two to choose from..3?..4 good ones

seriously, and my definition of singing is pretty elastic, not just hitting high notes

Lennon

McCartney

Harrison

Daltrey

Jagger

Ray Davies

Elvis

Dylan

Fogerty

Seger

Prince

Stevie Nicks

Christine McVie

Annie Lennox

Tina Turner

Chrissie Hynde

no right answer

throw in the Beach Boys as contender for top vocal group

soul singers lacking too
 

marc45

G.O.A.T.
Wow, best of all time? Eesh... that is very difficult. It really depends on the genre. On the women's side, for me, it is a tie between Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick. There is nobody close regardless of genre on the women's side, IMHO.

On the men's side... it's way more difficult for me. In rock, my top two would be Rob Halford and Freddie Mercury. In R&B/Soul, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and Ray Charles. In pop, Michael Jackson and George Michael. Unlike the women, I just can't pick an outright winner for the men.
admire Whitney but love Dionne...and just love her songs better..I've never heard anybody have a voice like Dionne's, not even sure how to describe it...I like how she had some grit in there with her beautiful tone
 
I'm 60, so I grew up on Rock. I like Harry Nillsen really well. A new guy I heard do a remake of Simon & Garfunkel's Sound of Silence, name David Draiman of Disturbed, really has a powerful voice. I also like Ray Charles. And, over the past few years, Justin Timberlake has shown that he is so versatile he can sing about any genre. So, although he may not be my absolute favorite, Timberlake is probably the most talented.
 

Karma Tennis

Hall of Fame
Agnetha Faltskog!

Just listen to her vocal range and diction on "Dancing Queen". She is Mariah, Karen Carpenter, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion all rolled in to one.
 

fireandwind

Hall of Fame
Wow great pipes. I thought I recognized her voice. She’s that little girl from Glee. She lost lost her voice though and from what I’ve researched about her, she decided to become a man and started taking hormones. She sounds like a man now. What a waste of talent.
what ? :eek: It must be a joke. If that is true, she must be poisoned by someone.

Edit: I researched and found out it was true and shocking. That make me very sad. truly wasting super talent. She could have become next Whitney with that voice.
 
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Agnetha Faltskog!

Just listen to her vocal range and diction on "Dancing Queen". She is Mariah, Karen Carpenter, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion all rolled in to one.
I give Karen and Celine up to a point (and none of these other singers could match Karen's phrasing),but where do you hear Mariah or Whitney in Agnetha's singing?
 

onehandbh

Legend
Freddie wasn't very consistent live. He was kinda like Cornell: God like in the studio and a trifle underwhelming live.
I never got a chance to see Freddie live, but I did see Cornell during his peak years in a medium-sized venue. Pre Autotune. He was impressive to me. Nailed almost every note. So much power and emotion flowing through him and the audience felt it. It was electric. Fierce.

On the other hand, you have someone like Dio who could nail his tenor C all the way into his 60s, show after show. It depends what you give more weight to: studio or live. I tend to look at a singer's performance live.
I also saw Dio in concert when he was younger. Great voice, but IMO, Cornell was better live.
 

onehandbh

Legend
I cannot pick one singer as the greatest.

There are so many types of singers, music, etc.
I like many kinds of music and singers and there does not exist for me a single singer that can nail every genre and better (IMO) than everyone else.

The singers I like bring some unique, personal quality to their songs that somehow both fits the song tells a story/communicates something to the listener/audience.
 

onehandbh

Legend
Nobody worth taking seriously names Freddie the greatest singer ever in any context, so I took all the criticism as a given. I just wanted to point out that dismissing him or any other popular singer for his technical flaws misses the whole point of why we listen to rock & roll in the first place. In a pure technical contest even the likes of Whitney, Mariah and Celine would be no match against top-drawer voice majors at conservatories worldwide. Ditto vs. the best jazz singers in improvisation and phrasing. Rather we listen to guys and gals like Freddie because, for lack of better terms, their "normal" voice generally ensures that we can relate to them better, and gifted performers also have this stage presence that can heighten the effect. The latter is where Freddie really excelled, arguably over all other frontmen in rock history (loosely speaking) as the world witnessed in his justly celebrated Live Aid performance.
I sort of see it the same way, but I think it comes down to personal preference. For some they value the stage performance as much or more than the vocal quality or song interpretation. For others, it may be all about the vocal quality.

For myself, I tend to like singers/bands that can interpret and give some meaning to the song and use their voice & instruments to communicate this to and connect with the audience/listener. Of course having good singing technique (and a good voice) can only help.

For example, I think Josh Groban has a great voice, but for the most part his songs don't do much for me. Compare Groban and John Owen-Jones' versions of "Bring Him Home" from Les Miz. From the first word uttered, Owen-Jones' version is better to me.

Now this doesn't necessarily mean (to me at least), that the singer themself is more emotional. And it isn't about just how loud somewhat can belt out a song. Every song has different requirements and at different moments. And then there is all the individual interpretations and styles that a singer can bring to the song, and ultimately, for me it is the impact on the listener and whether they were able to communicate what the song is about.

I haven't seen as many singers live in recent years, but I feel privileged to have seen many great singers and bands live in concert before autotune became popular.

When it comes to rock singers that I've seen, Chris Cornell might be my favorite.

Of the rock bands I've seen in concert, these singers each impressed me a lot in some way:
Layne Staley (Alice in Chains)
Klaus Meine (Scorpions)
Ronnie James Dio (Dio)

Saw Natalie Merchant's haunting performance of "Dust Bowl" many years ago and it still sticks in my mind.

David Bowie. You can't say he has the greatest vocals of all time, but something about him.

She is not in a band, but Judi Dench's performance of "Send in the Clowns" from Sondheim's play "A Little Night Music" is arguably one of the greatest performances of that song. You can't say she has the greatest voice of anyone that has ever done that role, but she is such a good actress and the work she put in for that role and song interpretation just blows it out of the water.
 
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