20 Greatest Male Vocalists (6-10)

In recent years, I've spent much times reading about music and its history. That's why now I come up with this list of 20 greatest male vocalists in the music recording era. Perhaps some people will argue with me over this list, especially since I made it in the form of charts, but I guess it will open doors of lots of new discussion. I, myself, am not a musician or singer of any sort, but truly I am a music lovers. I have set some criteria in judging who should be put into the list:
  • Vocal ability. A good singer is a singer with a technically good vocal. The greatest singers must be the singers with above average vocal ability.
  • Star quality. You cannot be a greatest singer if you are not a star by yourself. You must have the ability that will make people worship you.
  • Legacy. It's about influence, baby. You are measured by the influence you give to other singers.
  • Fame. Even if you have the greatest vocal of all, it would be useless if nobody knows you.
Without further ado, let's start the countdown:
10. Paul McCartney (born 1942)
Nickname: The most commercially successful rock star to date
Genre: Rock / Pop
Most Memorable Recording: "Yesterday"
Followers: Drug Rug, The Mellowmen, Ernie Halter, Tobias Fröberg, Keith Varon, Aerovons, Argument, Florapop, Heaven's Burning, John Cunningham, Virgineers, Scott McClintock, Ray Paul, We All Together, Allen Clapp, Ray Roche, Tom Petersson, Orange Cake Mix, Paul Bevoir, S.O.L., Push Kings, Brendan Benson, Papas Fritas, Willie Wisely, Gary Frenay, Ron Sexsmith, Ben Shepherd, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Jeff Murphy, Geddy Lee, Tom Kealey, Byron House, Les Claypool, Geezer Butler, Duncan Browne, Javelin Boot, Robin Zander, Billy Sheehan, Joey Molland, R. Stevie Moore, Emitt Rhodes, Chris Rainbow, Brian Protheroe, Pilot, Curtiss Maldoon, Van Duren, David Dundas, Blue, Barnaby Bye, Brent Bourgeois, Three Dog Night, Squeeze, Prefab Sprout, Billy Joel, Jellyfish, Michael Jackson, Nick Heyward, Cheap Trick, Eric Carmen, Bourgeois Tagg, Badfinger
Paul McCartney will forever live in the shadow of the Beatles -- every rock band lives in their shadow -- but he has still managed to amass a solid body of work over the years. His 1970 self-titled debut has all the scrappy charm he originally envisioned for Let it Be, and the frothy masterpiece Band on the Run is the mirror image of Lennon's confessional masterpiece Plastic Ono Band; both are definitive '70s albums. McCartney's solo work displays strong melodies and craftsmanship, but most of his lyrics can't match the sharp point of view he had on "Eleanor Rigby" or "Lady Madonna." During the '80s, his music started to sound too saccharine and bloated. He bounced back with Flowers in the Dirt, a strong collaboration with Elvis Costello, before re-exploring stripped-down rock and a respectable -- but ultimately pointless -- classical excursion. In 1999, McCartney recorded Run Devil Run, a joyous celebration of the early American rock 'n' roll that inspired him to pick up a guitar in the first place. Like Brian Wilson, who created brilliant "vapid surf music" with the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney has a pure pop genius -- he just makes complexity look so simple.
Nick Dedina
9. Little Richard (born 1932)
Nickname: The inventor of rock and roll
Genre: Rock and Roll
Most Memorable Recording: "Tutti Frutti"
Followers: John Mars, Nick Curran, Backbeat Band, Kid Thomas, Troy Shondell, Corey Glover, Marc Bolan, Lazy Cowgirls, Barry Goldberg, Jayne County & the Electric Chairs, Don Covay, Herman Brood, Billy Harper, Larry Williams, T. Rex, Sylvester, Doug Sahm, Mitch Ryder, Otis Redding, Queen, Freddie Mercury, Paul McCartney, MC5, Living Colour, The Flamin' Groovies, Esquerita, Bob Dylan, The Blasters, The Big Bopper, The Beatles, Katie Webster, Casey Jones, Eddy Clearwater
One of the original rock & roll greats, Little Richard merged the fire of gospel with New Orleans R&B, pounding the piano and wailing with gleeful abandon. While numerous other R&B greats of the early '50s had been moving in a similar direction, none of them matched the sheer electricity of Richard's vocals. With his bullet-speed deliveries, ecstatic trills, and the overjoyed force of personality in his singing, he was crucial in upping the voltage from high-powered R&B into the similar, yet different, guise of rock & roll. Although he was only a hitmaker for a couple of years or so, his influence upon both the soul and British Invasion stars of the 1960s was vast, and his early hits remain core classics of the rock repertoire.
Richie Unterberger
8. Sam Cooke (born 1931-1964)
Nickname: -
Genre: Soul / Rhythm and Blues
Most Memorable Recording: "A Change is Gonna Come"
Followers: Ryan Shaw, Heartland, Midwest City, Aaradhna, Slackstring, Willie Hightower, Lyfe Jennings, Aloe Blacc, Daniel Lemma, Jaheim, Governor, Rome, James Hunter, The Rance Allen Group, Eric Gadd, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Nash, Vince Montana, J.J. Malone, Rudy Love, Michael Henderson, John Ellison, Terence Trent D'Arby, Albert Washington, Howlin' Wilf, Baby Huey, Roy Hytower & Motif, Marilyn Scott, Spiritualized, Leon Haywood, Rick Danko, Dee Clark, Cornell Campbell, Buster Benton, Bobby Womack, Luther Vandross, Johnnie Taylor, Rod Stewart, The Staple Singers, Otis Redding, Lou Rawls, Steve Perry, The Neville Brothers, Aaron Neville, Ben E. King, The Jive Five, Walter Jackson, Freddie Jackson, Chuck Jackson, Jimmy Hughes, Herman's Hermits, Donny Hathaway, Al Green, Johnny Gill, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Bobby Day, Rita Coolidge, Arthur Conley, Gene Chandler, James Carr, James Brown, William Bell, Babyface, The Animals, Arthur Alexander, Rance Allen, Katie Webster, Little Johnny Taylor, Frankie Lee, The Holmes Brothers, Z.Z. Hill, Ted Hawkins
Sam Cooke was the most important soul singer in history -- he was also the inventor of soul music, and its most popular and beloved performer in both the black and white communities. Equally important, he was among the first modern black performers and composers to attend to the business side of the music business, and founded both a record label and a publishing company as an extension of his careers as a singer and composer. Yet, those business interests didn't prevent him from being engaged in topical issues, including the struggle over civil rights, the pitch and intensity of which followed an arc that paralleled Cooke's emergence as a star -- his own career bridged gaps between black and white audiences that few had tried to surmount, much less succeeded at doing, and also between generations; where Chuck Berry or Little Richard brought black and white teenagers together, James Brown sold records to white teenagers and black listeners of all ages, and Muddy Waters got young white folkies and older black transplants from the South onto the same page, Cooke appealed to all of the above, and the parents of those white teenagers as well -- yet he never lost his credibility with his core black audience.
Bruce Eder
7. James Brown (1933-2006)
Nickname: The Godfather of Soul
Genre: R&B / Funk / Soul / Rock
Most Memorable Recording: "I Got You (I Feel Good)"
Followers: J.J. Grey, Prakash John, The Aggrolites, Max Mutzke, Toni Tornado, Diplomatics, Quantic Soul Orchestra, The Shreep, Westbound Train, Kokolo, Carleen & the Groovers, Ferroblues, Earthtone III, Cee Knowledge, Roosevelt Nettles, Breakestra, Aristocrats, Dirty Walt & The Columbus Sanitation, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, Swampadelica, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, Moon Boot Lover, African Music Machine, The Mighty Imperials, The BellRays, Slum Village, The Neptunes, The Wha?, Kool DJ Herc, T-Mix, Kleeer, Little Royal, Ron Baker, Galactic, Peter Stone Brown, Trenchmouth, James Hunter, Guaco, The Delta 72, The Make-Up, Ectomorph, Jackie Shane, The Undertakers, Suga Free, T.J. Kirk, Karl Denson, Tim Duffy, Bobby Sichran, Earl Young, Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart, Vernon Reid, Organized Noize, Vince Montana, Anthony Kiedis, Charlie Hunter, Norman Harris, Corey Glover, De La Soul, Terence Trent D'Arby, Gary "Mudbone" Cooper, Steve Conn, George Clinton, Eric B. & Rakim, Afrika Bambaataa, Freekbass, Wayne Kramer, Jimmy Castor, Baby Huey, Mellow Fellows, Acosta/Russell, Xavier, Hamilton Bohannon, Charles Wright, Khalèd, Walter "Junie" Morrison, Domenic Troiano, Mandala, Eddie Hazel, The Fatback Band, Dyke & the Blazers, Con Funk Shun, Brick, Archie Bell, ESG, Full Force, The Brand New Heavies, Pleasure, Defunkt, Jan Hammer, Richie Beirach, The Who, Talking Heads, Slave, Doug Sahm, Mitch Ryder, Prince, Parliament, The Ohio Players, Mother's Finest, Maze, Living Colour, L.T.D., Kool & the Gang, Rick James, Michael Jackson, The Jackson 5, The Isley Brothers, The Gap Band, Funkadelic, The Fantastic Four, Electric Flag, Earth, Wind & Fire, Morris Day, Joe Cocker, James Carr, Big Audio Dynamite, Aerosmith, Junior Wells, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Public Enemy, Paris, Kool Moe Dee, Kid 'N Play, Jungle Brothers, MC Hammer, EPMD, Digital Underground, Def Jef, Beastie Boys, Rob Base
"Soul Brother Number One," "the Godfather of Soul," "the Hardest Working Man in Show Business," "Mr. Dynamite" -- those are mighty titles, but no one can question that James Brown earned them more than any other performer. Other singers were more popular, others were equally skilled, but few other African-American musicians were so influential over the course of popular music. And no other musician, pop or otherwise, put on a more exciting, exhilarating stage show: Brown's performances were marvels of athletic stamina and split-second timing.

Through the gospel-impassioned fury of his vocals and the complex polyrhythms of his beats, Brown was a crucial midwife in not just one, but two revolutions in black American music. He was one of the figures most responsible for turning R&B into soul and he was, most would agree, the figure most responsible for turning soul music into the funk of the late '60s and early '70s. After the mid-'70s, he did little more than tread water artistically; his financial and drug problems eventually got him a controversial prison sentence. Yet in a sense, his music is now more influential than ever, as his voice and rhythms have been sampled on innumerable hip-hop recordings, and critics have belatedly hailed his innovations as among the most important in all of rock or soul.
Richie Unterberger
6. Michael Jackson (born 1958)
Nickname: The king of pop
Genre: Pop / Rock / Dance / R&B
Most Memorable Recording: "Beat It"
Followers: (S)he, Corbin Bleu, Sterling Simms, Mic Little, Amine, Toby Love, Under the Influence of Giants, Chelo, Mario Vazquez, Tigercity, Ne-Yo, Chris Brown, Suburban Legends, Slackstring, Kalimba, Lemar, Kevin Lyttle, Fefe Dobson, Souljahz, Maroon 5, Rubyblue, Soluna, Christina Milian, Cilvaringz, Llama, Amanda, Sandy & Júnior, T.O.K., Richard Lugo, Jyve V, Uri Geller, Sammie, Justin Timberlake, Profyle, Pharrell Williams, Skank, Ray J, Laura Miller, Teddy Riley, P.M. Dawn, Kevin Michael, Marques Houston, El DeBarge, Terence Trent D'Arby, Al B. Sure!, Usher, Bobby Brown, SWV, Charles & Eddie, Marlon Jackson, Jermaine Stewart, LaToya Jackson, Bunny DeBarge, Tevin Campbell, Bardeux, Rockwell, Roachford, Chico DeBarge, DeBarge, Eddie Murphy, MC Hammer
What more is there to say about the Almighty Gloved One? He's been through as many image permutations as Madonna, suffered much more media backlash, and survived both. Once a young, fresh-voiced star of family Motown outfit the Jackson Five, Michael forged a solo career for himself that blew the world -- and all previous pop stars -- away. With an ingenious blend of rock guitar riffs, funky Motown authenticity and viral dance beats, Jackson didn't just transform the face of pop music -- he literally overtook it and didn't relinquish control for years. Jackson's high, featherweight voice is a trademark in the industry, and it bites or purrs, depending on how he feels.
Kali Holloway
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