11 Unmatched Male Vocalists

Popular music has seen exploration into countless genres and human emotions, with some of the most heartfelt explorations coming when the intensity of the lyrics and instruments are matched by earnest exhales of air. Whether they convey a sense of fleeting joy, or a more raspy frustration, these are ten male singers that were or are masters of their voice.

11. Jónsi Birgisson

Icelandic band Sigur Ros has become internationally acclaimed for their ambient, post-rock sound, which they create using a wide range of instruments in addition to frontman Jónsi Birgisson’s high-pitched voice. Jónsi often sings in Icelandic, or a made up language which they have dubbed ‘hopelandic,’ using his voice purely as an instrument to convey emotion rather than an instrument to produce words to convey emotion.

10. Anthony Green

Circa Survive frontman Anthony Green’s high vocal register has always worked exceedingly well with the band’s unique style of experimental rock. He has mastered a range from quiet whispers to throat-scratching screams throughout his time in multiple bands, including Saosin and The Sound of Animals Fighting, as well as his solo career.

9. Josh Groban

Groban’s deep voice can handle just about any emotional ballad that comes his way, and usually in a way that is not painstakingly cheesy. His voice is versatile and almost always flawless during performances, which makes him successful in stirring up images and emotions from the songs he performs.

8. Jacob Bannon

Converge‘s Jacob Bannon similarly uses his voice as an instrument, but in a much more animalistic and angry manner. The frontman of the hardcore punk band delivers harsh screams over brutal riffs and technical drumming, and does so in a way that further expresses the feelings of pain and anguish that the band portrays. The result is rehabilitating, cacophonous art that connects on a deeper level, especially as you read the poetic lyrics that are usually indiscernible in the songs.

7., 6. Paul McCartney and John Lennon

Paul McCartney, and John Lennon. One of the Beatles deserves a spot on this list, and it is impossible to choose. Let’s be honest, both singers showed their chops during their times with the band, but some of the best moments came when the vocalists shared those beautiful harmonies.

5. Kurt Cobain

Nirvana‘s Kurt Cobain is best remembered for his raspy and authentic delivery of poppy melodies, especially when letting his voice break up for moments of gritty excellence. His worn-down passion for life shines through these absurd, manic hollers no matter what Nirvana album you pick up. Some of the best, or perhaps the most isolated, examples of Cobain’s youthful and frustrated vocals come during their Unplugged in New York session, especially in their cover of Meat Puppets’ “Lake of Fire.”

4. Robert Plant

Robert Plant‘s legendary status as the frontman of Led Zeppelin surpasses him. In delivering spine-chilling howls of pleasure and desire over slick riffs, the band achieved status as one of the best rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time. More recently, Robert Plant has been aided by The Sensational Space Shifters to create Lullaby and The Ceaseless Roar, which showcases a more subtle power.

3. Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke’s hits like “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “Wonderful World” became classics due to his smooth portrayal of emotions and the ability to put societal problems on a personal level. His effortless exclamations of soul inspired countless singers, many of which follow on this list.

2. James Brown

James Brown is one of the most influential American singers of all time. His emphatic voice and unpredictable behavior shaped funk, soul, and just about every genre that emerged after that. His voice and songs are playful, proactive, and just as stirring as the parties which they tend to be the soundtrack for. Check out a speedy performance of two of his hits below.

1. Michael Jackson

The King of Pop obviously deserves recognition as one of the best male vocalists of all time. The king of pop hits all kind of crazy notes with a sense of invigoration that can make anyone get up and on the dance floor. He undeniably changed popular music as a form of entertainment with his dance moves and theatrics, and his impressive vocal work started at the age of 11.

Photo of Anthony Green, performing at City Hall, Philadelphia in 2011, by Jay Breslin.

1 Comment

  1. Lauren S

    May 26, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    Awesome choices on this list, I would add my one of my personal favorites Myles Kennedy too (:

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