Underrated Musicians- Vocalist’s Edition

Singers/vocalists are often centre of attention when it comes to a song. They are the frontmen/frontwomen of a band but there are also some whose singing talent goes under the radar a lot of the time. Here are 15 vocalists/singers who I consider to be underrated.

* Disclaimer, again this is solely my opinion and anyone who is well-known for their singing ability is left off the list.

15. Fran Healy (Travis)

I argue that Scottish post-Britpop band Travis are a pretty underrated band on the whole. In particular, on albums such as The Man Who, The Invisible Band and Ode to J. Smith. Healy’s mellow tenor vocals match well with Travis’ more emotional/sadder songs such as “Turn”, “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?” and “Sing”, which aren’t the easiest songs to sing. 

14. Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine)

My mum LOVES Florence and the Machine, hence why I know more about their work, a mezzo-soprano, and has a voice ranging three octaves. Though she might be popular than the Machine, I feel her voice isn’t really isn’t talked about as much now then say 2009-2010. She his a has clear, wide range as well as heard in “You Got The Love”, “Shake It Up” and “Spectrum”. 

13. Paul Draper (Mansun)

A more obscure choice,

Who? You might be wondering. Paul Draper was the lead singer of the Britpop band Mansun in the 1990’s. Draper’s voice I consider to be unique compared to other Britpop singers. I almost felt his singing style was more suited to Broadway as he does sound like a Broadway singer. The band Mansun have since disappeared off the face of the earth now but they will always have songs like “Wide Open Space”, “I Can Only Disappoint You” and “The Soundtrack 4 2 Lovers” in which Draper’s vibrato soars through each of those songs.

12. Julian Casablancas (The Strokes)

Another singer with a range of just over three octaves. Casablancas manages to channel the high falsetto parts really well in songs like “Under The Cover of Darkness” and the newer track “Oblivious” as well as really going for it and making his vocals sound really raspy on tracks like “Last Nite”, “Take It Or Leave It” and “Macchu Picchu”. 

11. Steve Hogarth (The Europeans/Marillion)

Marillion are one of few bands I’ve followed so closely that had a singer change. Hogarth joined Marillion in 1989 and has outstayed previous singer Derek Dick or as he’s better known as “Fish” by 22 years and counting! Whilst the band adopted a slightly different sound with Hogarth, having released a lot more emotion-driven songs and despite the band’s relationship with the media, I feel it’s paid off as Hogarth puts so much emotion into Marillion’s tracks, examples include “Season’s End”, “Dry Land”, “Afraid of Sunlight” and “80 Days”. 

10. Christine McVie (Fleetwood Mac)

I feel Christine McVie got rather overshadowed by Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham in the pop era of Fleetwood Mac. However that didn’t stop McVie singing the lead in a lot of Fleetwood Mac’s well-known such as “Songbird”, “You Make Loving Fun” and “Everywhere”. For me, Fleetwood Mac had the perfect vocal tag team with Nicks (soprano), McVie (alto) and Buckingham (tenor) as well as the rhythm section of John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums). It’s a shame the relationship between the band was so dysfunctional. 

9. Amy Lee (Evanescence) 

Also known by her married name Amy Hartzler is the lead vocalist of Evanescence. A band I’m not too big on personally, the one song that obviously springs to mind is of course “Bring Me To Life” but other songs in which her vocals are really strong include “Going Under” and “My Immortal”. A mezzo-soprano, I feel she’s both underrated in terms of both rock voice and female voice categories.

8. Jon Anderson (Yes/Jon & Vangelis/Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe)

Not sure if Anderson is really underrated or not, but when you’re in a band with Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Bill Bruford and Rick Wakeman, even for a short time, you can sometimes be led astray to how the frontman in Yes really is. Anderson doesn’t really play instruments in the studio, playing the odd acoustic guitar part or percussion live but it shouldn’t really matter as the guy has one of the best countertenor voices in rock history. It works effectively well in slower sections of Yes songs in “Wonderous Stories”, “And You And I” and “I’ve Seen All Good People”, the “Your Move” section. I’ve never heard anyone that’s got a voice like him. 

7. Chad Kroeger (Nickelback)

Chad Kroeger’s ballsy, gritty vocals along with the heavy guitar riffs and pounding drums make Nickelback for me. Chad Kroeger gets a lot of stick in the press but I think that’s just result of internet bandwagon jumping but despite all of this Kroeger still has a truly amazing voice, he puts so much emotion into his singing both in the studio and live, particularly in ballads such as “Savin’ Me”, “Far Away”, “Lullaby” and “Home”. 

6. Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol)

Gary Lightbody might not be up there with the best in popular music but certain songs of Snow Patrol’s make him a spot on this list. He has a pretty wide range as well from “Run” where he sings very low on the verses to “Open Your Eyes” where he belts the chorus. Other Lightbody performances that stand out include “If There’s A Rocket Tie Me To It”, “An Olive Grove Facing The Sea” (re-recorded version) and as a featured artist on Taylor Swift’s “The Last Time”. 

5. Ian Gillan (Deep Purple/Black Sabbath)

Not really big on Deep Purple personally but Gillan has a truly powerful voice which suits the hard rock genre. Fans of Black Sabbath were division when Gillan joined Black Sabbath as he had a completely vocal style to that of Ozzy Osborne and didn’t stay in the band for long. Another singer on this list with over three octaves. He also sings in Jesus Christ Superstar as well and his performance in “Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say) is ranked up there with some of his best vocal performances of all time. 

4. John Mayer (solo/John Mayer Trio)

We all know that John Mayer is a brilliant guitarist but I feel as singer/vocalist he’s underrated. He’s got quite the bluesy voice to match his style of music but some of JM’s more acoustic performances such as his acoustic versions of “Neon” and his cover “Free Fallin’”, his vocals send shivers down my spine. All of this makes me argue that John Mayer is as good a singer as he is a guitarist.

3. Chester Bennington R.I.P. (Linkin Park/Stone Temple Pilots)

Chester Bennington had a truly under appreciated singing voice in my opinion. From angry, emotional “In The End” to screamed vocals in “Blackout” to “One More Light” one of the few songs that bring tears to my eyes, Bennington was a truly versatile vocalist. He could sing soft and then sing raspy, influenced by Stone Temple Pilots, a band Chester would later join for a couple of years, it’s a shame his mental health and depression got too much for him and he committed suicide at all too young age of 41. His voice will be missed. 

2. KT Tunstall (solo)

Another Scot on the list, KT Tunstall is well known for her live performances where she uses a loop pedal (you know, that thing that Ed Sheeran, well KT used it before Ed did!) though I do feel she may have influenced him. Combining that is her contralto vocal range makes a unique performer. First came to attention with “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”. It’s also her slower songs as well such as “Other Side of the World” and “Another Place To Fall” where she makes her voice raspier, that make her place on this list as well. 

Before I unveil the top pick here are some honourable mentions-

  • Izzy Bizu (solo)
  • Tom Chaplin (Keane)
  • Caleb Followill (Kings of Leon)
  • Rob Swire (Pendulum)
  • Roddy Woomble (Idlewild)

Now time for the top pick!!!

  1. Matt Bellamy (Muse)

A second entry for Matt Bellamy, like I said in the guitarist edition, the guy just oozes talent. Not only is he an amazing guitarist/pianist but you can never write off his vocals. He sings with such emotion influenced by Jeff Buckley, some of his most popular vocal techniques including melismatic phrasing and falsetto range. I only really know one song where he doesn’t use it as much and that’s “Supermassive Black Hole”. Bellamy is a legend.

That about wraps up this blog. So did you agree with this list? Is there anyone I should’ve put in here? Make sure to leave a comment and if you’ve enjoyed this blog give it a like, give it a share and stay tuned for more soon!

 

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