Singers who can't really sing but are awesome

Glieden

Electromatic
Dec 31, 2014
7
Minnesota
Someone raised the issue about Mick Jagger and whether he was a good "singer". Mick is a legend. And really, he only sings some of the time, and, if you objectively judge his singing....well, it is unique. And this got me to thinking, who else is in this category of non-singer singer? Name your favorite candidates.

Who do I think CAN sing? Vince Gill, KD Lang, Maria Carey, Adele, Emmy Lou, Dolly, Steve Wariner, Whitney, Aretha, Robert Plant, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Paul McCartney, Alison Krause, etc, etc.

I leave you with this story: a reporter asked Mark Knopfler how he developed such a unique style of singing. Mark replied, "Well, I can't sing. I just get up there and mumble," he said. "But I'm glad people like it. I'll keep fooling them as long as I can." mmmmmmmm.....precisely my point. And yet I love Mark Knopfler's singing, but I understand his point.

Here is my offensive list: criteria? (how would they do in a church choir?)

Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, Madonna, Joe Cocker, Tom Waits, Janice Joplin,

Just remember: The Traveling Wilburys have multiple members in both categories.

no name-calling or throw-downs. just a friendly game of, "YOU, are out of the choir".
 

Runamok

Country Gent
I wouldn't want to hear Tom Waits sing any Simon & Garfunkel song but Tom Waits' voice is essential for everything he does as it magnifies the meaning/plot/story the lyrics. I'm a big fan and of course a huge fan of Tom Hammond Jr. and was thought it was brilliant to learn that Tom Waits wrote most, if not all, the songs on Hammond's 2001 album "Wicked Grin".

I guess Tom Hammond Jr. is another to add in the mix. Both Hammond and Waits really use their voice to not just communicate the lyrics but also lift and shape the character of the song. Awesome stuff.
Re: TOM Hammond.
Uh. Joke or typo, Reggie? Were you high-sticking? :confused:

There is poetry in the growl.
It makes his voice sound gin-soaked & road-weary, imparts drama into his spoken word lyrics.

imo, Waits early stuff in the 1970’s didn’t have the resonance & sounded a tiny bit affected, though more melodic. Going to that growl presentation as his norm, while a little much occasionally, pushing his voice forward a little hard — made it his “comfortable” voice for all the practice. Call it “compression.”

If I could hit that register, I would not hesitate.

fwiw The PBS show is exquisite as a performance.
 
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Runamok

Country Gent
tom Waits can sing but it is certainly not to everyone's taste. I personally don't care for Neil Young's singing but he can sing. Mick Jagger is not a great voice but is a good singer as well. He does with a limited instrument of limited range.

Now someone who had great range in his prime was John Hiatt. A unique voice but with great range and emotion. He doesn't have what he used to have but he is getting up there where so many people struggle with their voices at his age. Another good singer but without a great voice was John Prine. Unique voice suited to his songs perfectly. Not a great vocal range though.
Someone with a great unique voice and considerable range is Dwight Yoakam. some definite unique vocal mannerisms but he can really do a lot with his voice.
Thumbs up on Hiatt. His voice feels like rain.
(In stark contrast to my voice, which scares dogs & small children). :(
 
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OzzPocket

Synchromatic
Aug 11, 2020
647
NYS
I was thinking about this "old" thread this morning....I didn't respond when it was really making the rounds......but, a singer, who, in my opinion doesn't have a "real" singers voice, but whose voice I absolutely love and can't get enough of, when I hear him.....is C.F. Turner from BTO....When I hear songs like "Let it Ride" or "Roll on Down The Highway"....he absolutely gets me ready to rock...lol...but it's not a "pretty" voice.
 
Jun 23, 2022
2
toronto
I completely agree with the statement that some modern artists do not know how to sing at all. I think they don't need it because every successful artist of this kind has their unique style with which they perform and record songs. This style attracts listeners, even if it cannot be called singing from the point of view of music theory. It is quite difficult to sing correctly; it implies a very large number of things that you have to control in your body. On the musicaroo.com website, you can read about it; there are many useful articles on this topic. The main idea is that now the public needs personalities and not just good performers of poems to music.
 

Henry

I Bleed Orange
Apr 9, 2014
18,988
Petaluma
The RHCP guy except I don't think he's awesome.
Bob Dylan is often lumped into the "can't sing" category, but I have my doubts. I probably heard "Lay Lady Lay" hundreds of times before I knew it was Bob Dylan. I was gobsmacked when I learned that it was him. Not that it's an example of vocal virtuosity, but not knowing it was Dylan, if you asked me if it was a good singer, I'd have said sure, he's okay. I think Dylan can sing with a decent conventional voice, but simply chooses to go in a different direction.
I think this applies to a lot of people. What we hear is not necessarily the extent of someone's ability. Somr artists just don't want to sound like a conventional singer.
 

schwarzerHund

Gretschie
Jan 1, 2022
173
Isla de Encanta
in my early years it took me a while to 'like' Robert Plant's voice: nasally, thin...don't get me wrong- HUGE Zeppelin fan to this day- but I wouldn't say he was a 'great' singer...certainly soulful, expressive, love him- but...well...you get it...(loved the quirky, beautiful stuff with Allison Krause)
 

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
18,323
lafayette in
If you're going to review a musician you might want to do the bare minimum concerning who they are famous for playing with!!!! BUFFALO SPRINGFIED, for god's sake.
The amount of talent that came out of that band was amazing. Worked CSN years ago. Steve Stills got a standing ovation for hitting a high note.
Leonard Cohen. Justin Beiber and most pop artists that use AutoTune
Cohen can't sing, but what he says fills volumes. Bieber and all others that need autotune should be banned. Autotune is the vocal equivalent of steroids in sports.
Now someone who had great range in his prime was John Hiatt. A unique voice but with great range and emotion. He doesn't have what he used to have but he is getting up there where so many people struggle with their voices at his age. Another good singer but without a great voice was John Prine. Unique voice suited to his songs perfectly. Not a great vocal range though.
I'm a huge Hiatt fan. He can't sing all that well, but knows how to use what he's got. Knopfler fits into that boat as well, as does Clapton.

Those that can?
Hands down, Linda Ronstadt in her prime. No autotune, usually no monitors. She could sing anything and everything, and sound like an angel.

Odd---no one's mentioned Paul Rogers. Perfect voice for rock and roll.
 

Ktone

Electromatic
Oct 31, 2021
91
SE PA USA
Ringo Starr Can can carry a tune but you knew it wasn’t John, Paul, or George singing. The songs he sings are limited range songs because that’s his niche. Or he relies on backup singers (as many other vocalists do). But, he’s an excellent entertainer so that’s why I included him.
 
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Duo Slinger

Country Gent
Sep 11, 2020
1,215
California, USA
The amount of talent that came out of that band was amazing. Worked CSN years ago. Steve Stills got a standing ovation for hitting a high note.

Cohen can't sing, but what he says fills volumes. Bieber and all others that need autotune should be banned. Autotune is the vocal equivalent of steroids in sports.

I'm a huge Hiatt fan. He can't sing all that well, but knows how to use what he's got. Knopfler fits into that boat as well, as does Clapton.

Those that can?
Hands down, Linda Ronstadt in her prime. No autotune, usually no monitors. She could sing anything and everything, and sound like an angel.

Odd---no one's mentioned Paul Rogers. Perfect voice for rock and roll.
Justin Bieber should be banned for being Justin Bieber.

That is all.
 

Chet Harrison

Gretschie
Apr 27, 2020
274
USA
Richard Thompson. Great guy but his singing actually detracts from the music. I hate to say it, because I know he’s really worked at it.

Another character guy is Leo Kottke. His voice is nice and rich but not a lot of range or versatility. He’s very self-deprecating about it though, which is refreshing.
 


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