The HyperTexts

The Best Vocal Performances of All Time

אר?ת? פר ק???

Aretha Franklin was HOT! And she was even hotter as one of the greatest female singers of all time.

Elvis Presley

Before Elvis, there was nothing. — John Lennon

These are the greatest vocal performances of all time, by the best singers ever, in one fan's opinion. Singers featured here include expected names like Maria Callas, Sam Cooke, Celine Dion, Phil & Don Everly, Enya, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Janis Joplin, Freddie Mercury, Roy Orbison, Luciano Pavarotti, Steve Perry, Prince, Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Frank Sinatra.

But I also have a DARK HORSE section with singers like Jon Bellion, Eva Cassidy, Joe Elliott, Lisa Fischer, David Gates, Daisy Gray, Morten Harket, Bobby Hatfield, Ronnie Hawkins, Julia Ivanova, Wanda Jackson, Amy Lee, Helmut Lotti, Harve Presnell, Ksana Sergienko, Mavis Staples and Vitas.

And there is a talent show section with "out of nowhere" singers like Loren Allred, Susan Boyle, Laura Bretan, Jackie Evancho, Angelina Jordan, Adam Lambert, Paul Potts, Calum Scott, Carly Rose Sonenclar, Harry Styles and Lucy Thomas. If you're a fan of underdogs, please check out TALENT SHOWS: THE TRANSCENDENT AUDITIONS. But however you browse this page, you're almost guaranteed to encounter masterpieces you might otherwise have missed. Let's compare notes (pardon the pun).

Dimash Kudaibergen may not qualify as a dark horse since his latest album went platinum in 37 seconds! According to Google there are 7.53 human beings with vocal cords, but there is only one Dimash. While at times he's too diva-ish for my taste, and his performances sometimes seem to be more about his vocal pyrotechnics than the songs, Dimash really blew me away with his connection to "SOS" and I've been a fan ever since. There's a link to "SOS" with English subtitles in the Dark Horse section. The subtitles help English speakers better understand both the song and Dimash's emotional performance of it. Don't be surprised if you're blinking back tears by the end, along with the transfixed audience. The natural response to Dimash singing "SOS" is to become a puddle of tears, shot through with lightning bolts of awe. It may be the single greatest vocal performance I've witnessed in my lifetime, although I'm struggling with replacing any of my current top ten. (So many great vocals and so few slots, argh!) If such things interest you, in my discussion of Dimash, I explain my theory that the greatest vocal performances go beyond mere singing into the realm of what I call "communion." Moments of communion are rare, but I think they do happenfor instance, when Sam Cooke sings "A Change Is Gonna Come" and I have a spiritual experience every time, or when Art Garfunkel sings "Bridge Over Troubled Water" like a human angel and I'm always torn between feeling comforted and crying.

compiled by Michael R. Burch, a much-published poet and translator who has had his lyrics set to music by 31 composers, in genres from country to swamp rock to opera

The Best Vocal Performances You Probably Never Heard: "Now" by Karen Carpenter, "Spanish Harlem" by Aretha Franklin, "Don't Play That Song No More" by Aretha Franklin, "Blue Moon" and "Fever" by Elvis Presley, "All By Myself" by Eric Carmen (better than the Celine Dion cover, as good as it is), "Go Rest High on That Mountain" by Vince Gill, "Holding Back the Years" by Mick Hucknall of Simply Red, "Take On Me" by Morten Harket of a-ha

My Top Ten Vocal Performances of All Time, with a Few Ties

The Three Tenors (Plcido Domingo, Jos Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti): "Nessun Dorma"
Please don't say you "don't like opera" until you listen to this trio sing!

(10) "Nessun Dorma" by The Three Tenors, also Andrea Bocelli, Franco Corelli, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Mario Lanza, Mario Zhang
(9) "Trouble of the World" by Mahalia Jackson, "At Last" by Etta James, "Spanish Harlem" by Aretha Franklin and "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston
(8) "Blue Moon," "Fever" and "That's Alright Mama" by Elvis Presley (the early Sun/RCA recordings)
(7) "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Art Garfunkel and by Elvis Presley in his gospel-infused 1972 version
(6) "Piece of My Heart," "Down on Me," "Cry Baby," "Summertime," "Mercedes Benz" and "Try" by Janis Joplin
(5) "Love Reign O'er Me" by Roger Daltrey of the Who, Joe Elliott's cover, and "Stairway to Heaven" by Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin
(4) "A Change Is Gonna Come" as performed by Sam Cooke, plus his wonderfully pure and unaffected cover of "Unchained Melody"
(3) "Who Wants to Live Forever," "The Show Must Go On" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Freddie Mercury and Adam Lambert of Queen
(2) "Unchained Melody" by Bobby Hatfield of the Righteous Brothers and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" by Enya
(1) I have a three-way tie for first, between "Without You" as performed by Harry Nilsson in his otherworldly cover of a Badfinger song, "S.O.S." by six-octave man Dimash Kudaibergen, and Vladimir Fyodorovich Vavilov's haunting "Ave Maria" as performed by Latvian soprano Inese Galante in this absolutely stunning performance.

At the 1968 press conference where the just-formed Apple record label was announced, John Lennon called Harry Nilsson his favorite American artist, while Paul McCartney named Nilsson his favorite American "group." McCartney called "Without You" the "killer song of all time." Performances of the songs above appear on this page. I will continue with my Ultra-High Honorable Mentions shortly; all of them are strong contenders for my Top Ten.

My Top Ten Vocalists of All Time

For whatever it's worth, my top ten vocalists of all time are Sam Cooke, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Adam Lambert, Freddie Mercury, George Michael, Steve Perry, Elvis Presley, Prince, Roy Orbison, Axl Rose and Barbara Streisand. Okay, that's really a baker's dozen, but I refuse to give any of them up!

My high honorable mentions are Andrea Bocelli, Bono, Jeff Buckley, Montserrat Caball, Maria Callas, Mariah Carey, Ray Charles, Kelly Clarkson, Dimash, Phil & Don Everly, Lara Fabian, Mick Hucknall of Simply Red, Etta James, Ronnie James Dio, John Farnham, Ella Fitzgerald, Art Garfunkel, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Billie Holliday, Whitney Houston, George Jones, K. D. Lang, Annie Lennox, Luciano Pavarotti, Steve Perry, Robert Plant, Geoff Tate, Lucy Thomas, Tina Turner, Frankie Valli, Ann Wilson, Jackie Wilson and Stevie Wonder.

Tony Bennett said K. D. Lang is one of a select group of singers "blessed with a destiny" along with Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf and Hank Williams Sr. The more eclectic, the merrier, perhaps?

My Best Vocal Performances by K. D. Lang: "Hallelujah," "Crying," "So in Love," "Constant Craving," "Helpless," "Surrender," "The Air That I Breathe," "Blue Velvet" (duet with Tony Bennett)

According to Ranker, which weighs public opinion, the Best Singers of All Time are: Freddie Mercury (#1) followed by Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Luciano Pavarotti, Adele, Celine Dion, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Ella Fitzgerald, Prince, Joan Sutherland, George Michael, David Bowie, Enrico Caruso, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Paul McCartney, Nat King Cole, Leontyne Price, Karen Carpenter and Dolly Parton

Before you say that you "don't like opera" please check out the following opera and operatic vocal performances: "Flower Duet" by Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca, "Time to Say Goodbye" by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, "Nessun Dorma" by Luciano Pavarotti, "Una Furtiva Lagrima" by Luciano Pavarotti, "Voi, che sapete" by Frederica von Stade, "O mio babbino caro" by Maria Callas and Valentina Nafornita, "Habanera" by Anna Caterina Antonacci.

Roger Daltrey of the Who singing "Love Reign O'er Me"
If this doesn't send chills down your spine, you may not be fully alive!

The Best Vocal Performances by Freddie Mercury of Queen: "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Who Wants to Live Forever," "The Show Must Go On," "Killer Queen," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," "Somebody to Love," "Another One Bites the Dust," "We Are the Champions," "Radio Ga Ga," "Bicycle Race"

Freddie Mercury of Queen singing "Bohemian Rhapsody"
A unique song delivered by a one-of-a-kind singer.

My Top Ten Male Vocalists: Freddie Mercury, Elvis Presley, Robert Plant, Al Green, Steve Perry, Little Richard, Prince, Axl Rose, Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke
Honorable Mention: Tony Bennett, Bono, James Brown, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, John Farnham, Art Garfunkel, Marvin Gaye, Vince Gill, Mick Hucknall, Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, John Lennon, Elton John, Tom Jones, Bruno Mars, Paul McCartney, George Michael, Jim Morrison, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Geoff Tate, Frankie Valli, Stevie Wonder

My Top Ten Female Vocalists: Janis Joplin, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Barbara Streisand, Mahalia Jackson, K.D. Lang, Enya, Annie Lennox, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey/Celine Dion (tie)
Honorable Mention: Adele, Christina Aguilera, Beyonc, Karen Carpenter, Cher, Kelly Clarkson, Patsy Cline, Dido, Ella Fitzgerald, Lady Gaga, Judy Garland, Emmylou Harris, Billie Holliday, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, Alison Krauss, Cyndi Lauper, Amy Lee, Leona Lewis, Madonna, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton, Pink, Bonnie Raitt, Rihanna, Linda Ronstadt, Diana Ross, Taylor Swift, Lucy Thomas, Tina Turner

Who were the greatest male and female vocalists of all time? My personal votes go to Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin. To understand why Elvis was such a great vocalist, consider his uncanny, eerie falsetto on "Blue Moon." How many male singers can sing like that? Then check out his tender, sweet tenor on "Crying in the Chapel." But also check out the ultra-low bass G he hits on "He'll Have to Go." Next, listen to the incredibly powerful high notes he hits on "How Great Thou Art" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Then listen to his undervalued masterpieces "If I Can Dream," "What Now My Love" and "It's Now or Never." The latter is wonderfully sweet ... until the power of Elvis's voice kicks in and takes the song to another dimension. Now listen to him growl out "One Night." Finish by listening to his enchanting country-flavored "That's Alright (Mama)" and gospel songs like "Peace in the Valley." Try as I may, I can't think of another male singer who can go from nearly infinite sweetness, to ferocity, to spirituality, to tremendous power the way Elvis could, and did. Granted, at times he could seem like a cheesy lounge act, but with the right song he was untouchable. And he sang many great songs, both originals and covers. As for Janis Joplin, she didn't have Elvis's range, but she was so incredibly good at what she did that it doesn't matter. Singers would do better to take on Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey, than to challenge Janis on songs she now owns forever, like "Piece of My Heart." If anyone is going to challenge Janis Joplin, it may be her exact opposite, Jackie Evancho. While it may be too early to tell, at age ten Jackie Evancho was doing versions of "Ave Maria" and "Pie Jesu" for the ages. If she gets any better, the angelic choirs may have human competition. Here is a link to my discussion of The Best Singers of All Time.

Music Trivia: Woody Guthrie, the great folk singer who wrote "This Land Is Your Land," was once a tenant of the Trumps. Guthrie was not a fan of his racist landlords, and wrote angry songs about Fred Trump, the father of Donald Trump, accusing him of refusing to rent apartments to black Americans!

Mick Hucknall of Simply Red singing "Holding Back the Years"
If you have a functional heart, this song may shatter it!

When Axl Rose was nominated as the greatest singer of all time, due to his near-six-octave range, he replied: "If I had to say who I thought the best singers were, Id say first that I dont know theres a definitive answer as in my opinion its subjective, and second that my focus is primarily rock singers. That said, I enjoy Freddie Mercury, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Dan McCafferty, Janice Joplin, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Roger Daltrey, Don Henley, Jeff Lynne, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Scott, Etta James, Fiona Apple, Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Wonder, James Brown and a ton of others (predominantly 70s rock singers) and would rather hear ANY of them anytime rather than me! Peace! Axl"

Rising rapidly through the ranks of my all-time vocalists is Adam Lambert, for his stellar performances of "Mad World," "Ghost Town," "Whole Lotta Love," "Fever," "For Your Entertainment," "Believe," "Feeling Good," "A Change Is Gonna Come," "Whataya Want From Me," "Feel Something," "Ring of Fire" and Queen classics like "Who Wants to Live Forever" (especially the hyperlinked Isle of Wight performance after the Pulse nightclub massacre). How good is Adam Lambert? Brian May said: "I know for a fact Freddie would look at what Adam is doing and say, 'Wow, how do you do some of that stuff?'" May also said: "The voice is stupendous. There is not another voice like that in this planet." Roger Taylor agreed, saying: "I don't know anyone who could out-sing Adam Lambert." How does Adam Lambert compare with Freddie Mercury? "Freddie would love and hate him, because Adam has a real gift from God," May said. "It's a voice in a billion; nobody has that range, nobody that I've ever worked with, not just the range but the quality throughout the range. I've seen Adam develop just like I watched Freddie develop."

My Best Vocals Ultra-High Honorable Mention: "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak, "Nights in White Satin" by Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, "Take On Me" by Morton Harket of a-ha, "Kissing a Fool" and "One More Try" by George Michael, "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor, "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley and K. D. Lang, "All By Myself" by Eric Carmen and Celine Dion, "Love Hurts" by Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, "What'd I Say" by Ray Charles, "River Deep Mountain High" and "Private Dancer" by Tina Turner, "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder, "He Stopped Loving Her Today" by George Jones, "Mercy Mercy Me" and "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye, "Summertime" and "Cry Me a River" by Ella Fitzgerald, "Winds of March" and "Send Her My Love" by Steve Perry of Journey, "The Thrill is Gone" by B. B. King, "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" by Elton John, "God Only Knows" by Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, "One" by Bono of U2, "Damn You" and "When Doves Cry" by Prince, "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen, "Go Rest High on That Mountain" by Vince Gill, "I'll Be There" and "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson, "Walking on Broken Glass" by Annie Lennox, "Wild Horses" and "Angie" by Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, "Wish You Were Here" by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, "My Immortal" and "Bring Me Back to Life" by Amy Lee of Evanescence, "Yesterday" by Paul McCartney of the Beatles, "Imagine" by John Lennon, "I Wanna Know What Love Is" by Lou Gramm of Foreigner, "Rag Doll" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, "Crazy" by Patsy Cline, "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan, "Oh Very Young" and "Where Do the Children Play" by Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), "Duke of Earl" by Gene Chandler, "Her Town Too" by James Taylor and J. D. Souther, "Solitaire" by Karen Carpenter, "Back to Black" by Amy Winehouse, "With a Little Help from My Friends" by Joe Cocker, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Roberta Flack, "Piece By Piece" by Katie Melua, "Help Me" by Sonny Boy Williamson, "J'ai deux amours" by Josephine Baker, "All I Have to Do Is Dream" by The Everly Brothers, "Opera 2" by Vitas, "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses, "Silent Lucidity" by Geoff Tate of Queensrche, "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, "Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson of the Miracles, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" by Karen Carpenter, "You're the Voice" by John Farnham, "True" by Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet, "Holding Back the Years" and "If You Don't Know Me By Now" by Mick Hucknall of Simply Red

"Smokey Robinson was like God in our eyes."―Paul McCartney

My Best Vocals Honorable Mention (continued): "Roxanne" by Sting of the Police, "Angel Flying too Close to the Ground" by Willie Nelson, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and "Lovesick Blues" by Hank Williams Sr., "Everybody Hurts" by Michael Stipe of REM, "A Pirate Looks at Forty" by Jimmy Buffet, "Shameless" by Garth Brooks, "Lightning Crashes" by Ed Kowalczyk of Live, "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco, "Wake Me Up" by Avicii, "Landslide" by Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, "Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes, "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge, "In Your Eyes" and "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel, "I'm Not in Love" by 10cc, "Gloria" by Laura Brannigan, "These Eyes" by Burton Cummings of the Guess Who, "Danny Boy" and "Scarborough Fair" by Hayley Westenra of Celtic Women, "Wear Your Love Like Heaven" by Donovan, "On My Own" by Michael McDonald and Patti LaBelle, "I Drove All Night" and "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper, "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake, "Whiter Shade of Pale" by Gary Brooker of Procol Harum, "Holy Diver" and "Rainbow in the Dark" by Ronnie James Dio, "The Grand Illusion" by Dennis DeYoung of Styx, "I Walk the Line" and "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash, "Wayfaring Stranger" by Emmylou Harris, "I've Been Loving You Too Long" by Sir Tom Jones, "Redemption Song" and "No Woman No Cry" by Bob Marley of the Wailers, "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars, "Your Song" by Elton John, "People Get Ready" by Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions, "More Than a Feeling" and "Amanda" by Brad Delp of Boston

The Best Vocal Performances in Rock History according to a Rolling Stone reader poll: (#1) "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen with Freddie Mercury on lead vocals and notable falsetto assists from drummer Roger Taylor; (#2) "The Great Gig in the Sky" by Pink Floyd, sung wordlessly by guest vocalist Clare Torry; (#3) "Twist and Shout" by the Beatles with throat-shredding lead vocals by John Lennon; (#4) "Love Reign Oer Me" by the Who with lead vocals by Roger Daltrey; (#5) "River Deep Mountain High" by Tina Turner; (#6) "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin with lead vocals by Robert Plant; (#7) "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones, sung by Mick Jagger with a huge assist from backup singer Merry Clayton; (#8) "Child in Time" by Deep Purple, sung by Ian Gillian; (#9) "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" by Nirvana as sung acoustically by Kurt Cobain during their 1993 "MTV Unplugged" concert (this is an old folk song also called "In the Pines" that Cobain credited to Lead Belly); (#10) "With a Little Help from My Friends" a Beatles cover by Joe Cocker that made everyone forget the original!


Is this the best, most soulful and joyous talent show audition ever, by the ultimate dark horse singer?

Josh Krajcik singing "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"
The joy on Josh Krajcik's face is something to behold, as is his voice.

My "dark horses" or underrated/neglected vocalists are Jonathan Antoine, Gary Barlow, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Julia Bullock, Eric Burdon, Eric Carmen, Benedetta Caretta, Gene Chandler, Dennis DeYoung, David Draiman, Joe Elliott, David Gates, Robin Gibb, Mitch Grassi, Daisy Gray, Bobby Hatfield, Ronnie Hawkins, So Hyang (aka Sohyang), Chris Isaak, Julia Ivanova, Wanda Jackson, Sir Tom Jones, Angelina Jordan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Josh Krajcik, Dimash Kudaibergen, Helmut Lotti, Katie Melua, Ricky Nelson, Harve Presnell, Marty Robbins, Ksana Sergienko, Allie Sherlock, Dusty Springfield, Harry Styles, Jimmy Sweeney, Lucy Thomas, Jerry Vale and Carl Wilson. Also, Ron Argent and Colin Blunstone of the Zombies, early rock pioneers who were so far ahead of their time they still sound current today!

Ronnie Hawkins merits special mention as a "dark horse" for his amazing performances of "Hey Bo Diddley" and other undervalued songs. Hawkins had a pure tenor voice and could hit high notes that remind me of Michael Jackson, only with more power. And I wonder if MJ may have seen Hawkins perform, because Hawkins was doing a very cool moonwalk in the 1960s (except Hawkins called it the "camel walk"). Hawkins also threw in some ultra-high wordless yips that could have impressed and influenced MJ (admittedly pure speculation on my part). Hawkins displayed his vocal chops and range on songs like "Summertime," "Mary Lou," "Susie Q," the eerie "Hey Boba Lou," "Baby Jean" and the ancient folk classic "I Gave My Love a Cherry" (the best vocal performance of the song I have heard). Hawkins was an Arkansas country boy who fronted a black band, back in the days when such things just weren't done in the South. When Hawkins decided to create a new band, he discovered 15-year-old Levon Helm in Turkey Scratch, Arkansas. The Hawks had to wait for Helm to graduate from high school and learn to play the drums before touring! The group moved to Canada in 1958, where Hawkins robbed the cradle again by recruiting 16-year-old Robbie Robertson. The Hawks later added Rich Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson. The whole passel went on to back Bob Dylan as The Band. But when they played with Hawkins, whose nicknames include Mr. Dynamo, Rompin' Ronnie and The Hawk, he was the unquestioned star of the show.

My current favorite "dark horse" is a flame-haired Russian singer, Julia Ivanova, who now lives in Ukraine. Is this the best cover of a Queen song by anyone not named Adam Lambert? You can help the video go viral by liking and sharing it.

Well, I now have two current favorites, since I discovered Daisy Gray, who has a wonderfully warm lower register and the ability to hit ethereal high notes without straining or artificiality. I love her cover of one of my favorite songs, Wicked Game, and as much as I adore the original, I think her cover is better. That is high praise indeed. I also love Daisy Gray's performances of Human and Lovely and Bohemian Rhapsody.

While I have never been a fan of boy bands, including the early Beatles, I have discovered another dark horse in Gary Barlow, the former lead signer and songwriter for Take That. Barlow's vocals on songs like "Back for Good," "Rule the World," "Lie to Me" and "Patience" are remarkable. He has been described as a "baritenor" with four-octave range. But Barlow has written 14 number one songs and has sold more than 50 million records, so perhaps he's too well-known to be a dark horse. If Barlow doesn't qualify, his former bandmate Robbie Williams might. After all, Williams' vocals on songs like "Angels," "Feel," "Millennium," "Supreme" and "Better Man" are outrageously good. But Williams has sold 75 million records, so he may not qualify either! Another dark horse is Harry Styles, a former member of One Direction. His performance of "Sign of the Times" is hard to fault. Ditto for "Story of My Life," "Perfect," "Girl Crush" and "Torn."

Oh crap, I may have to rethink my detestation of boy bands!

Enya herself may not be a dark horse, but her amazing performance of the following song has not received the recognition it deserves ...

Here is Enya singing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"
It's hard to imagine angels singing any better in heaven ...

Billy Joel is obviously not a dark horse, but this song certainly is ...

Billy Joel singing "Until the Night"
This gets my vote as the most undervalued song of all time. Whenever it came on the radio, I would drop whatever I was doing to listen to it.

According to Billy Joel, his top five songs are: "Vienna," "And So It Goes," "You May Be Right," "She's Right on Time" and "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"

Other outstanding Billy Joel vocal performances: "The Downeaster Alexa," "Shout (live at Yankee Stadium with falsetto screaming/yodeling)," "Until the Night," "Captain Jack," "Piano Man," "Goodnight Saigon," "The Stranger," "Leningrad," "New York State of Mind," "Allentown," "The Entertainer," "Innocent Man," "Movin' Out"

Robin Gibb was overshadowed by his brother Barry, but ...

Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees singing "I Started a Joke"
Barry Gibb had the most sex appeal, but Robin Gibb had the most moving voice.

Is Bobby Hatfield the greatest male vocalist whose name has largely been forgotten? His vocals on "Unchained Melody," "Ebb Tide," "For Sentimental Reasons," White Cliffs of Dover," Only You", "My Girl," "Crying in the Chapel" and "Summertime" were beyond marvelous.

Bobby Hatfield of The Righteous Brothers singing "Unchained Melody"
Is this the greatest pop vocal performance of all time? It's certainly one of the very best!

Is this the greatest talent show audition by a dark horse (at the time)?

Adam Lambert singing "Mad World"
This may be one of the strongest statements against bullying ever made, by a gay musical genius who sings from experience.

Another dark horse who may not really qualify is Dimash Kudaibergen, a Kazakh singer who hits interstellar high notes purely and effortlessly on songs like "SOS," "Late Autumn," "Sinful Passion," "Love Is Like a Dream" and "All By Myself." His vocal range is said to be six octaves, from C2 to D8. (That D8 is a whistle note off the standard piano keyboard.) Dimash switches from bass to baritone to tenor to soprano flawlessly, as if he's four singers in one body. His usual method is to start off doing what seems only remotely plausible, before quickly proceeding to the utterly impossible. He seems to always end up singing higher than your favorite female soprano. One vocal coach in a reaction video called him "an alien from the land of perfect vocals." But Dimash may not qualify because how can the best singer on the planet be a dark horse, unless he really is an alien? If you haven't heard Dimash sing "SOS" you haven't fully lived, so here's a link: Dimash SOS. Please be sure to catch the E6 he hits during the run that starts around 3:40. That may be the most beautiful, otherworldly note a human voice has ever produced. I believe angels in heaven must now study that performance before earning their wings.

Other commendable performances of "S.O.S." include the original by Daniel Balavoine and covers by Piet Arion, Laurent Bn, Matthieu Blanchette, Caleb Coles (in English), Giulia Falcone, Normand Groulx, Florian Giustiniani, Gregory Lemarchal, Fanny Mandrea, Marouen, Olympe, Laurent Pagna, Nina Payet, Bruno Pelletier, Slimane, Thierry Vingre, The Voices and Christophe Willem. But no one else hits the crazy E6 that Dimash reaches so beautifully and, seemingly, so effortlessly. He truly seems to come from a different planet.

I think Dimash brings up an interesting question: What makes an all-time great vocal performance? Why is Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" in my top ten, when any number of divas have generated more vocal fireworks? For me, there are three major elements to an all-time great vocal performance: (1) the singing has to be world-class; (2) the song must be a truly great song (Pavarotti's best performance of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" need not apply); and (3) there must be something I call "communion." By "communion" I mean that we are touched and moved by the performance as we might be during a spiritual experience. While Dimash is an amazing singer with that six-octave range of his, I want more than just the interstellar high notes. When I discovered the video of "SOS" with English subtitles and I understood what Dimash was singing about, I had finally found what I was looking for.

Perhaps at the opposite end of the spectrum from Dimash among male singers is Marty Robbins, who had one of the warmest lower registers imaginable and a lovely falsetto that can't be described. Just listen to Devil Woman and you'll see what I mean.

Jimmy Sweeney is a golden-throated dark horse (please pardon the mixed metaphor) who often collaborated with Marty Robbins. Sweeney was one of Elvis Presley's early influences, and Elvis covered Sweeney's biggest hit, "She Wears My Ring." They grew up not far apart Sweeney in Nashville, Elvis just down the road in Memphis. When Elvis was considering his first record to cut in 1954, he listened to a demo of Sweeney singing "Without You" but didn't think he could better the performance and chose to go with "That's All Right" instead. That's quite a compliment, coming from the King! Sweeny performed as Jimmy Sweeney, Jim Sweeney, Jimmy Bell, Jimmy Destry, and with the Five Bars, later renamed Jimmy Sweeney & The Varieteers. The best vocal performances of Jimmy Sweeney include "Without You," "She Wears My Ring," "It's Needless," "I Pray With Every Breath I Take" and "It's Goodbye Again."

Angelina Jordan is a teenage dark horse for her stellar performances of "Born to Die," "Stay," "Valerie," "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "My Way," "Feeling Good," "Summertime," "I Put a Spell on You," "California Dreaming," "Back to Black," "7th Heaven," "Someone Like You," "The Show Must Go On" and "Bohemian Rhapsody." But don't listen to her sing "You Were Always on My Mind" to the grandmother she neglected, or you're guaranteed to fall apart. And don't dare listen to her sing "A Million Years Ago" either. On second thought, don't listen to anything she's sung. We simply aren't ready yet ... and what the hell will we do when she grows up?

Benedetta Caretta is a spectacular new Dark Horse for her performances of "Ave Maria," "Unchained Melody," "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Hallelujah."

Lucy Thomas is an impossibly beautiful and implausibly talented singer. I especially love her renditions of "Somewhere (There's a Place for Us)," "La Vie En Rose," "You Raise Me Up" and "Hallelujah."

Allie Sherlock is an amazing Irish busker who started singing on the streets at age twelve; her best vocals include "Skyfall," "Creep," "Halo," "Wicked Game," "Hallelujah," "Issues," "Back to Black" and really anything she takes a stab at ...

Wanda Jackson is another dark horse vocalist with her electrifying performances of songs like "Hard-Headed Woman," "Silver Threads and Golden Needles," and "Shakin' All Over." Called the "Queen of Rockabilly" or the "First Lady of Rockabilly," she toured with Elvis in the 1950s and briefly dated him. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 as an "early influence." A riveting performer, she claimed to be the first woman to bring glamour to country music. And she took the new music global, touring Japan where she had a number one song with "Fujiyama Mama" and releasing songs she sang in German and Dutch. Some the musicians she worked with were virtually unknown at the time, but became stars, including Buck Owens and Roy Clark. Cyndi Lauper has cited Jackson as a major influence.

Def Leppard lead singer Joe Elliott almost never shows up in discussions of the greatest rock vocalists, but please be sure to check out his laser-sharp, soaring vocals and primal screams on "Love Bites," Photograph," "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and his amazing covers of "Love Reign O'er Me" and "Hi Hi Hi."

Morten Harket of a-ha is a dark horse for his incredible vocals on "Take On Me" and his covers of "Songbird," "Love of My Life" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You."

Another "dark horse" favorite of mine is Helmut Lotti. His cover of "Surrender" is one of the very best male vocals ever, in my opinion. I also recommend his versions of "Danny Boy," "Auld Lang Syne" (the best version I've heard to date), "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," "Ave Maria," "A Whiter Shade of Pale," "Nights in White Satin" and "O Sole Mio."

Eva Cassidy died in obscurity but has been rightfully lauded for her covers of songs like "(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow," "Songbird," "Wade in the Water," "Ain't No Sunshine," "It Doesn't Matter Anymore," "Fields of Gold," "Danny Boy," "Autumn Leaves," "Falling Leaves," "People Get Ready" and "What a Wonderful World."

Ksana Sergienko's covers of "The Show Must Go On," "Love of My Life," "Why" and "My Immortal" are notable for their emotion, power and laser-like accuracy.

Another dark horse is David Draiman of the rock group Disturbed, particularly for his dark, eerie, powerful and very "disturbing" cover of the Simon and Garfunkel classic "The Sound of Silence." Draiman has wonderful warmth, richness, fullness and roundness in his lower register and can hit higher notes with incredible clarity and power, while mixing in vibrato/distortion/rasp effortlessly.

Ricky Nelson had a wonderful baritone that could slip easily into tenor on songs like "Unchained Melody," "You Don't Know Me," "Poor Little Fool," "Travelin' Man," "Hello Mary Lou," "It's Late" and "Garden Party."

Jerry Vale is a dark horse for his wonderfully expressive covers of "You Don't Know Me," "Spanish Eyes," "Al Di La," "Because" and "Innamorata."

David Gates of Bread is a dark horse for his ethereal vocals on songs like "Aubrey," "Clouds," "Diary," "If," "Lost Without Your Love," "Part Time Love" and "Guitar Man."

Cyndi Lauper is an underrated vocalist, perhaps because she's so eclectic. My favorite Cyndi Lauper vocals are "I Drove All Night" and "True Colors," but I think she also stood out on "We Are the World" amid a galaxy of superstars. The "so unusual" girl can belt with the best of them.

Sohyang, who has been called "the Korean Mariah Carey," has done wonderful covers of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "I Have Nothing," "Breathe," "The Prayer," "Alone" and "You Raise Me Up," among others.

Jon Bellion is a dark horse for "Good Things Fall Apart" and "All Time Low."

Lisa Fischer is a dark horse for "Gimme Shelter" (with the Rolling Stones, no less) and "How Can I Feel the Pain?"

Lana Del Rey is a dark horse for "Crashing" and "Young and Beautiful."

Harve Presnell displayed an impressive, powerful baritone on "They Call the Wind Maria" but the song was a bit too MacArthur-Park-ish for my taste. But then I heard him sing the folk classic "Shenandoah" in a higher register, and he blew me away. What a voice! What a vocal performance! Bravo! His performances of "Greensleeves" and "When I Was Young" were also world class.

Morgan James is another dark horse, especially for her soulful covers of "Take Me to Church," "Roxanne" and "Dream On."

Loren Allred is a dark horse for singing "Never Enough" like an angel, and no one knew it was her voice until she appeared on Britain's Got Talent and blew the audience and judges away.

Tony Burrows is a dark horse because he managed to be a one-hit wonder six times! Burrows had his first hit with the 1967 song "Let's Go to San Francisco" with the Flower Pot Men. Burrows sang lead vocals on the 1970 hit "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" by Edison Lighthouse and had other "one hit wonders" on the charts the same year with "My Baby Loves Lovin'" by White Plains, "Gimme Dat Ding" by the Pipkins, and "United We Stand" by the Brotherhood of Man. Burrows later had another "one hit wonder" with "Beach Baby" by The First Class in 1974. Burrows also performed as a session singer on "Levon" and "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John and claims to have sung on 100 different Top 20 songs in the 1970s.

My latest dark horse is Kristoffer Jan Patrik Fogelmark, whose name can apparently be shortened to the more manageable Kris Fogelmark. He's so "dark" that I've only been able to find one of his songs, Love Was My Alibi, on the Internet. But I suspect he has a very bright future.

Singers who fell short despite all the big notes and theatrics: Richard Harris "McArthur Park," Terry Jacks "Seasons in the Sun," Gerard Joling "All By Myself," Gerard Joling "Unchained Melody," Starland Vocal Band "Afternoon Delight," Paul Anka "Having My Baby," Jefferson Starship "We Built This City," Phil Collins "Sussudio," Nickelback "Rockstar," Albert Morris "Feelings," Neil Diamond "Longfellow Serenade," Survivor "Eye of the Tiger," Willie Nelson "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," Peter Cetera "The Glory of Love," Debby Boone "You Light Up My Life"

Art Garfunkel has the voice of a human angel, an ethereal countertenor capable of producing what he calls "tender finesse." As James Taylor explains, "His is a pure and beautiful tenor voice, and there really is no one like him." But there may be one contender for Art Garfunkel's throne: his son, James Garfunkel, a dark horse whose voice is just as sweet and even higher!

Art Garfunkel singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
One of the great voices, emoting on one of the greatest songs ever written. The song has been covered by Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Mary J. Blige, Brian McKnight, John Legend, Roberta Flack, Bon Jovi, Natalie Cole, Clay Aiken, Charlotte Church, David Archuleta, Whitney Houston, Johnny Cash, Fiona Apple, Il Divo, LeAnn Rimes, Leona Lewis, Luther Vandross and Michael W. Smith ... but no one has ever sung the song more tenderly and movingly than Art Garfunkel.

The Best Vocal Performances by Art Garfunkel: "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "My Little Town," "All I Know," "Kathy's Song," "Bright Eyes," "America," "Scarborough Fair/Canticle," "The Boxer," "El Condor Pasa," "Sound of Silence," "Homeward Bound," "Cecilia," "Scissors Cut," "Second Avenue," "Breakaway," "I Only Have Eyes for You"

The Best Vocal Performances of John Farnham: "You're the Voice," "Help," "Summertime," "Who's Been Lovin' You," "Love's in Need of Love Today," "See the Banners Fall," "Please Don't Ask Me," "One," "Black Dog," "You'll Never Walk Alone," "Granada," "Gethsemane," "Cool Change," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Unchained Melody," "Down on the Border," "Age of Reason," "Georgia," "Reminiscing"

Undervalued Treasures (our thanks to Anas Vionet for suggesting the first five songs): "So in Love" by K. D. Lang, "Love is in Town" by Brenda Boykin, "Things We Do" by Nils Krogh feat. Anni Elif, "So What" by Anne Schnell of JoJo Effect, "Frankie" by Club des Belugas feat. Ian MacKenzie, "Yah-Mo Be There" by James Ingram and Michael McDonald, "I'm Through with Love" by Eric Carmen, "Ghosts" by Dan Fogelberg, "Until the Night" by Billy Joel, "The Nightfly" and "Babylon Sisters" by Donald Fagen of Steely Dan, "(I'm Flying in Winchester) Cathedral" by Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, Nash and (sometimes) Young

More Dark Horses: Eric Carmen, for his outstanding performances on songs like "All By Myself," "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again," "I'm Through with Love," "Make Me Lose Control," "I Wanna Hear It from Your Lips," "On Broadway," "Sunrise," "Almost Paradise" (duet with Merry Clayton), "Foolin' Myself," "Change of Heart," "My Girl" and "Hungry Eyes" (which helped revive his career, although it's not as good as a number of songs he wrote himself), plus songs he did as lead singer of the Raspberries such as "Go All the Way," "I Wanna Be with You," "Let's Pretend" and "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)"

Honorable Mention: Jonathan Antoine for "The Prayer" and "Caruso," Eric Burdon of the Animals and War for "House of the Rising Sun" and "Spill the Wine," Robin Gibb for "I Started a Joke" and "Massachusetts," Carl Wilson for "God Only Knows" and "Good Vibrations," Ron Argent and Colin Blunstone of the Zombies for "Time of the Season" and "Tell Her No," Helmut Lotti for his covers of "Surrender" and "Auld Lang Syne," and Julia Ivanova for her cover of Queen's "The Show Must Go On"

My Favorite Dark Horse Vocalists: Eva Cassidy, Bobby Hatfield, Ronnie Hawkins, Julia Ivanova, Wanda Jackson, Dimash Kudaibergen, Amy Lee, Helmut Lotti, Harve Presnell, Ksana Sergienko, Mavis Staples, Vitas

The Transcendent Talent Show Vocalists: Loren Allred, Emanne Beasha, Susan Boyle, Laura Bretan, Jackie Evancho, Alice Fredenham, Sawyer Fredericks, Maelyn Jarmon, Angelina Jordan, Josh Krajcik, Dimash Kudaibergen, Adam Lambert, Stevie McCrorie, Ash Morgan, Paul Potts, Calum Scott, Jordan Smith, Carly Rose Sonenclar


My Best Vocal Performances by Sam Cooke: "A Change Is Gonna Come," "Summertime," "Unchained Melody," "Chain Gang," "Cupid," "Bring it on Home to Me," "You Send Me," "Blue Moon," "Lovable," "Only Sixteen," "Nothing Can Change This Love," "What a Wonderful World," "Twisting the Night Away," "For Sentimental Reasons," "You're Always on My Mind"

Sam Cooke has been called "The Man Who Invented Soul."

My Best Vocal Performances by Elvis Presley: "Blue Moon," "Fever," "An American Trilogy," "Unchained Melody," "Trying to Get to You," "Love Me," "It's Now or Never," "Crying in the Chapel," "In the Garden," "Any Day Now," "Peace in the Valley," "That's Alright (Mama)," "Jailhouse Rock," "If I Can Dream," "You'll Never Walk Alone," "Suspicious Minds," "In the Ghetto" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight" (the last song at his last concert in 1977)

Elvis Presley singing a gospel-influenced version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
Please be sure to read Paul Simon's comments made after he heard Elvis Presley's interpretation of his most famous song!

Elvis Presley performed "Bridge Over Troubled Water" during his triumphant return after a 15-year absence, at New York City's Madison Square Garden in 1972. Having witnessed Elvis's interpretation of his song, Paul Simon said: "That's it, we might as well all give up now." While I actually prefer the softer, sweeter Art Garfunkel version, it's hard to imagine a more impressive vocal performance than Presley's. His lower register is incredibly warm, rich and tender. His power on the high notes is truly stunning, on a par with male opera singers. And he put so much emotion into his gospel-influenced interpretation, without sounding affected. His was a tour de force. No wonder Paul Simon left shaking his head.

Highest and Sweetest Male Voices: "Ooh Baby Baby" and "Tracks of My Tears" by Smokey Robinson of the Miracles, "When You're Only Lonely" and "Her Town Too" by J. D. Souther (the latter a duet with James Taylor), "Bright Eyes" and "My Little Town" by Art Garfunkel, "Foolish Heart" and "Good Morning Girl" by Steve Perry, "Cupid" and "Lovable" by Sam Cooke, "Crying in the Chapel" by Elvis Presley, "Human Nature" by Michael Jackson, "Aubrey" by David Gates and Bread, "Go Rest High on that Mountain" and "Amie" by Vince Gill (the latter with Pure Prairie League), "Love Hurts" by The Everly Brothers, "Mad World" by Adam Lambert, "Without You" by Harry Nilsson, "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake, "Lonely Teardrops" by Jackie Wilson, "Rag Doll" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, "Cream" and "Kiss" by Prince, "Grace" by Jeff Buckley, "Leah," "In Dreams" and "Only the Lonely" by Roy Orbison

The best Steve Perry vocal performances: "Good Morning Girl," "Home at Last," "Winds of March," "Foolish Heart," "Oh Sherrie," "Open Arms," "Send Her My Love," "Who's Crying Now," "Faithfully," "Wheel in the Sky," "Still They Ride," "Separate Ways," "Ask the Lonely"

Steve Perry of Journey singing "Good Morning Girl"
He hits those impossibly high notes so effortlessly and so sweetly.

The Best Vocal performances by Hank Williams Sr.
: I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, Lovesick Blues, Long Gone Lonesome Blues, Lonesome Whistle, Ramblin' Man, Moanin' the Blues, Lost Highway, Jambalaya, I Saw the Light, Move It On Over, Why Don't You Love Me (Like You Used to Do), Cold Cold Heart, I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You), Your Cheatin' Heart, Honky Tonk Blues, Kaw Liga

According to Bruce Springsteen, his top five songs are: "Born to Run," "The Rising," "Thunder Road," "Nebraska" and either "Jungleland" or "Racing in the Street"

Other outstanding Bruce Springsteen vocal performances: "Rosalita," "Sandy," "She's the One," "Badlands," "The River," "Backstreets," "I'm on Fire"

Elton John playing and singing "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding"
Elton said he played this song so ferociously because he imagined playing it at his own funeral.

Music Trivia: Jackie Evancho is the youngest solo artist to go platinum, at the tender age of ten!

The Top Ten Child Singers and Children's Groups: Angelis, Jackie Evancho, Judy Garland, Frankie Lymon, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, Little Stevie Wonder, Lulu, Charlotte Church, Christina Aguilera, Ariana Grande
Honorable Mention: Julie Andrews, Shirley Temple, Lesley Gore, Brenda Lee, Tanya Tucker, Donny and Marie Osmond, Bianca Ryan, LeAnn Rimes, Hanson, Little Stevie Winwood, Charice Pempengco, The Partridge Family, Little Ricky Skaggs

I have reservations about Ariana Grande, who has undeniable talent but sometimes sings high notes so loudly that my ears hurt and I have to tune her down or out. Honestly, at times I'd compare her to a screeching cat. But she's a great singer when she's not screaming. My favorite Ariana Grande vocal performances are the ones with more modulation, like "POV," "Emotions," "I Have Nothing," "Into You,"  "Positions" and "7 Rings."

The children's vocal group Angelis singing "Pie Jesu"
Angelis's voices really are angelic.

My Best Vocal Performances by Little Richard: "Jenny Jenny," "Keep A-Knockin' (But You Can't Come In)," "Long Tall Sally," "Good Golly Miss Molly," "Tutti Frutti," "Lucille," "Rip It Up," "Ready Teddy," "Bama Lama Bama Loo," "The Girl Can't Help It," "Freedom Blues," "Ooh! My Soul," "Slippin' and Slidin' (Peepin' and Hidin')"

My Best Vocal Performances by Aretha Franklin
: "Spanish Harlem," "Don't Play That Song No More," the atmospheric and haunting "Skylark" (a song Johnny Mercer wrote for his lover Judy Garland), "Chain of Fools," "Think," "The Weight," "Respect," "Natural Woman," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Ain't No Way" and the opera staple "Nessun Dorma."

My Best Vocal Performances by Celine Dion:
"All By Myself," "I Drove All Night," "The Power of Love," "To Love You More," "The Prayer" (with Andrea Bocelli), "Because You Loved Me," "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," "I Surrender," "Misled," "When I Fall in Love," "My Heart Will Go On"

My Best Vocal Performances by Karen Carpenter: "Now," "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "Solitaire," "Superstar," "Rainy Days and Mondays," "Close to You," "Yesterday Once More"

My Best Vocal Performances by David Gates of Bread: "Aubrey," "Clouds," "Diary," "If," "Lost Without Your Love," "It Don't Matter to Me," "Everything I Own," "Sweet Surrender," "Make It With You," "Guitar Man," "Baby Im-a Want You"

Picture-Perfect Songs: Gary Barlow of Take That singing "Back for Good" with that lovely little lilt in his voice, Andrea Bocelli singing anything but especially "Time to Say Goodbye" with Sarah Brightman, Jeff Buckley singing "Hallelujah," Eric Burdon of the Animals singing "House of the Rising Sun," Eric Carmen singing "All By Myself," Sam Cooke singing "A Change Is Gonna Come," Roger Daltrey of the Who singing "Love Reign O'er Me," Celine Dion singing "I Drove All Night," Enya singing "O Come O Come Emmanuel," Aretha Franklin singing "Spanish Harlem," Alice Fredenham singing "My Funny Valentine" like a golden-age chanteuse, Inesa Galante singing "Ave Maria," Art Garfunkel singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" like a human angel, Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees singing "I Started a Joke," Goyte and Kimbra singing "Somebody that I Used to Know," Bobby Hatfield of the Righteous Brothers singing "Unchained Melody," Hozier singing "Take Me to Church," Whitney Houston" singing "I Have Nothing," Chris Isaac singing "Wicked Game," Sir Tom Jones belting out "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," Janis Joplin crushing "Piece of My Heart," Dimash Kudaibergen singing "S.O.S." with his incredible six octave range, K. D. Lang singing "Hallelujah," Amy Lee of Evanescence singing "My Immortal" and "Bring Me to Life," John Lennon shredding on "Twist and Shout," Lorde singing "Royals," Chris Martin of Coldplay singing "Fix You," Freddie Mercury of Queen singing "Bohemian Rhapsody," Harry Nilsson singing "Without You," Roy Orbison wailing "Crying," P!nk singing "Try" and "What About Us," Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin singing "Stairway to Heaven," Portugal the Man singing "Feel It Still," Elvis Presley singing "Crying in the Chapel" or anything really, Prince emoting so beautifully on "When Doves Cry," Clare Torry's beyond-words vocals for Pink Floyd on "The Great Gig in the Sky," Tina Turner belting out "River Deep, Mountain High"

Josephine Baker was a great singer please be sure to check out her performance of J'ai deux amours on YouTube. But she was far more than just another voice. Baker was an opera singer, jazz chanteuse, dancer, chorus girl, stripper, actress, civil rights activist ... even a spy for the French resistance during WWII! (She wrote notes in invisible ink on her sheet music then hid them in her underwear. After the war, she was awarded the prestigious Croix de guerre.) Baker's near-nude performance in the revue Un vent de folie caused a sensation in Paris. Ernest Hemingway called her "the most sensational woman anyone ever saw." According to Shirley Bassey, with opera training the petite danseuse sauvage became la grande diva magnifique. Dubbed the "Black Venus" and the "Creole Goddess," Baker was the first African-American to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 silent film Siren of the Tropics. She purchased Marie Antoinette's bed and owned a diamond-collared cheetah. She adopted 12 children of various hues and called them her "Rainbow Tribe." When she encountered racism upon her return to the US, Baker renounced her American citizenship and pledged her loyalty to France, where she was accepted for herself, not rejected for her color. She so alarmed the FBI that they kept a 471-page file on her. Josephine Baker was an amazing woman and a credit to her race the human race.

Doppelgangers and THE VOICE: Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison were born a year apart. They both had light-colored hair they dyed jet black. They signed with the same record label, Sun Records. They had the same first manager, Bob Neal. On their first tours they hit exactly the same cities, according to an Orbison interview, and even had their first "road dates" with the same girl. However, they never performed together because Elvis told Roy: "You're that good that I'll never appear on stage with you!" Later Orbison, working as a "Nashville sound" songwriter, had his first chart-topping hit with "Only the Lonely" after Presley turned it down. When Presley heard the song, he bought a box of copies to pass out to his friends. Rolling Stone said Orbison brought an operatic "splendor" to rock. When Orbison hit the high note at the end of "Running Scared" in his natural voice, the musicians accompanying him were stunned. Fred Foster later recalled: "He did it, and everybody looked around in amazement. Nobody had heard anything like it before." It was as if Enrico Caruso had been reborn as a rocker (indeed, Orbison would be called "the Caruso of rock"). When the Beatles asked Orbison to join them on their 1963 tour of England, fans were enchanted by his voice. At one show he was called back for 14 encores and the Beatles had to physically restrain him from returning for a 15th. "It was pretty hard to keep up with that man," John Lennon remembered. "Orbison had that fantastic voice." Ringo Starr put it more bluntly: "It was terrible, following Roy. He'd slay them and they'd scream for more." (BTW, the Beatles' first single released in the USA, "Please Please Me," was modeled after "Only the Lonely" according to Lennon.) At Orbison's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Bruce Springsteen said: "I wanted a record with words like Bob Dylan that sounded like Phil Spectorbut, most of all, I wanted to sing like Roy Orbison. Now, everyone knows that no one sings like Roy Orbison." U2's Bono agreed, saying: "Everyone curtsies to THE VOICE, as they should." Bob Dylan said Orbison "sounded like he was singing from an Olympian mountaintop. Barry Gibb said the first time he heard "Crying" to him it was "the voice of God" and that he would listen to it over and over. Bob Dylan said Orbison had the voice of a "professional criminal."

The Best Vocal Performances of Roy Orbison: "I Drove All Night," "It's Over," "Leah," "In Dreams," "Crying," "Running Scared," "Only the Lonely," "Danny Boy," "Domino," "Love Hurts," "Blue Angel," "Blue Bayou," "Mean Woman Blues," "Pretty Paper," "Dream Baby," "You Got It," "Pretty Woman," "Life Fades Away," "Ooby Dooby," "Candy Man"

"From 1960 to 1964, Roy Orbison put nine songs in the Billboard Top 10. He was the most popular male singer of the time. Listen to Orbison and you'd hear the swirling string arrangements, the multiple crescendos and, mostly, at the centre of the song, that dramatic bel canto tenor, often expressing a dreamy kind of heartbreak or loneliness." (Orbison's voice was so unusual it remains hard to classify. I have heard him called a baritone, a tenor, and a countertenor.)

Unique & Influential Voices, a Chronology: Jenny Lind (born 1820), The Hutchison Family, Fiddlin' John Carson (1868), Enrico Caruso (1873), Charley Patton (1881), Ma Rainey (1882), John McCormack (1884), Lead Belly (1888), The Carter Family, Mamie Smith (1891), Bessie Smith (1894), Marion Harris (1896), Jimmy Rodgers (1897), Paul Robeson (1898), Louis Armstrong (1901), Son House (1902), Big Bill Broonzy (1903), Bing Crosby (1903), Bob Wills (1905), Josephine Baker (1906), Howlin' Wolf (1910), Robert Johnson (1911), Bill Monroe (1911), Sonny Boy Williamson (1912), Muddy Waters (1913), Billie Holiday (1915), Frank Sinatra (1915), Edith Piaf (1915), Ella Fitzgerald (1917), John Lee Hooker (1917), Vera Lynn (1917), Nat King Cole (1919), Mario Lanza (1921), Judy Garland (1922), Hank Williams Sr. (1923), B.B. King (1925), Chuck Berry (1926), Bo Diddley (1928), Fats Domino (1928), Ray Charles (1930), Sam Cooke (1931), Little Richard (1932), Patsy Cline (1932), Johnny Cash (1932), Loretta Lynn (1932), James Brown (1933), Jackie Wilson (1934), Luciano Pavarotti (1935), Elvis Presley (1935), Roy Orbison (1936), Buddy Guy (1936), Phil & Don Everly, Wanda Jackson (1937), Etta James (1938), Marvin Gaye (1939), Tina Turner (1939), Tom Jones (1940), John Lennon (1940), Bob Dylan (1941), Aaron Neville (1941), Aretha Franklin (1942), Paul McCartney (1942), Janis Joplin (1943), Joe Cocker (1944), Bob Marley (1945), Freddie Mercury (1946), Barry Gibb (1946), David Bowie (1947), Robert Plant (1948), Robin Gibb (1949), Maurice Gibb (1949), Steve Perry (1949), Tom Waits (1949), Cyndi Lauper (1953), Geddy Lee (1953), Billy Idol (1955), Michael Jackson (1958), Prince (1958), Madonna (1958), Axl Rose (1962), Amy Lee (1981), Adam Lambert (1982), Jackie Evancho (2000)

Electric Voices: Roy Orbison piercing the heights on "Leah" and "Crying," K. D. Lang matching Orbison note-for-note on "Crying," Prince waxing erotic on "Cream" and "Kiss," Jackie Wilson singing "Lonely Teardrops" and "Higher and Higher," Celine Dion hitting the ultra-high notes with tremendous accuracy and power on "All By Myself" and "I Surrender," Bono wailing "Pride (In the Name of Love)" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday," Tina Turner belting out "We Don't Need Another Hero," Lou Christie singing "Lightnin' Strikes" and "Two Faces Have I," Frankie Valli engaging his power-packed falsetto on "Walk Like a Man" and "Sherry," Steve Perry singing "Oh Sherrie" and "Foolish Heart," Freddie Mercury not-so-consistently singing "Who Wants to Live Forever" and "The Show Must Go On," Adam Lambert singing the same songs with Queen, Robert Plant singing "Immigrant Song" and "Black Dog," Steven Tyler of Aerosmith singing "Dream On," Axl Rose singing "Sweet Child o' Mine" and "Welcome to the Jungle," Adele singing "Skyfall," Barry Gibb "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever," Robin Gibb singing "I Started a Joke" and "Massachusetts"

Who was the greatest singer of all time, by public acclaim? Jenny Lind, born in 1820, was the first superstar "diva" and she may have been the greatest singer of all time, according to public acclaim. Lind was an opera singer known as the "Swedish Nightingale." She retired  at age 29 for unknown reasons. Such was her reputation that Queen Victoria and the royal family attended her last performance. When Lind toured the US in 1850, a century before the Beatles, her audiences were so huge and so enthusiastic that the American press coined the terms "Lind mania" and "Lindomania" to describe the reaction she received. Her American tour produced around $25 million in "modern money" ― an unheard-of haul in those days ― but Lind donated her share to charities, primarily tuition-free schools. Unfortunately there are no recordings of her voice. Emily Dickinson described Lind's reception by Americans unfamiliar with opera: "Bouquets fell in showers, and the roof was rent with applause―how it thundered outside, and inside with the thunder of God and of men―judge ye which was the loudest; how we all loved Jennie Lind, but not accustomed oft to her manner of singing didnt fancy that so well as we did her." 

But what about the men? Enrico Caruso, born 1873, was a superstar opera singer who had the first record to sell a million copies, Vesti la giubba. But Caruso had a rival. John McCormack, born 1884, was an Irish tenor from a working class family who shattered box office records and was, according to one account, "the best-paid concert singer in history." After watching Caruso perform La Boheme in 1905, McCormack decided to study opera. He was a quick study. In the fall of 1907, at just 23 years old, McCormack became the youngest principal tenor ever to sing at Covent Garden. A biographer later described McCormack as Pavarotti, Madonna and Johnny Carson all rolled up into one! Another compared his charm to JFK's. In 1929, McCormack was paid $500,000 to appear in a stage-Irish film entitled Song O My Heart. So like Elvis Presley he was the "total package." And he lived like a rock star, owning 13 Rolls Royces. He was made a count, trumping Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney. But McCormack remains best known for accessible popular recordings like "It's a Long Way to Tipperary," "Danny Boy" and "Ave Maria."

Hate opera? Me too! Or so I once claimed, never having bothered to listen to the great opera singers. I became interested in opera after discovering amazing voices like Montserrat Caball, Anna Netrebko, Kirsten Flagstad, Tarja Turunen, Kathleen Battle, Rosa Ponselle, Gianna D'angelo, Natalie Dessay, Rene Fleming, Leontyne Price, Joan Sutherland, Richard Tucker, Luciano Pavarotti, Plcido Domingo, Jos Carreras, Joseph Calleja, Francesco Merli, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Aida Garifullina and Jussi Bjrling. Among the singers who may be more "operatic" than "pure opera," I especially like Andrea Bocelli, Hayley Westenra and Sarah Brightman. Three of my more recent favorites are child prodigy Jackie Evancho, the petite queen of the talent shows, Mirusia Louwerse, the "Angel of Australia," and the Canadian "classical crossover" soprano Alessandra Paonessa. It's not all about the high notes; I love Bocelli and Evancho for the warmth of their lower registers. My favorite vocal performances include "La Donna e Mobile" by Enrico Caruso, "Vissi dArte" by Maria Callas, "Panis Angelicus" by Luciano Pavarotti, "Ave Maria" and "Pie Jesu" by Jackie Evancho, "Time to Say Goodbye" by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" by Josh Groban, and "Shenandoah" by Sissel Kyrkjebo.

If you still hate or don't like opera, perhaps check out "Flower Duet" by Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca on YouTube. If that doesn't convince you, there may be something wrong with your ears (or mine).

My Top Ten Contraltos: Marian Anderson, Eula Beal, Toni Braxton, Kathleen Ferrier, Lisa Gerrard, Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson, Etta James, Ewa Podles, Nina Simone, Mavis Staples
Honorable Mention: Fiona Apple, Joan Armatrading, Anita Baker, Clara Butt, Tracy Chapman, Cher, Patsy Cline, Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Cass Elliot, Gloria Estefan, Roberta Flack, Bobbie Gentry, Lauren Hill, Lena Horne, Chrissie Hynde, Grace Jones, Nora Jones, Alicia Keys, Annie Lennox, Reba McEntire, Anne Murray, Jennifer Nettles, Stevie Nicks, Pink, Sade, Shakira, Carly Simon, Nancy Sinatra, Grace Slick, Josh Stone, Tina Turner, Bonnie Tyler, Dionne Warwick, Florence Welch, Mae West, Amy Winehouse

My Top Ten Mezzo-Sopranos: Christina Aguilera, Janet Baker, Cecilia Bartoli, Beyonc, Enya, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin,Whitney Houston, K. D. Lang, Barbara Streisand
Honorable Mention: Adele, Shirley Bassey, Mary J. Blige, Susan Boyle, Shirley Caesar, Karen Carpenter, Miley Cyrus, Joyce DiDonato, Connie Francis, Lady Gaga, Judy Garland, Marilyn Horne, Jennifer Hudson, Katherine Jenkins, Janis Joplin, Amy Lee, Leona Lewis, Julie London, Lorde, Christa Ludwig, Madonna, Sarah McLachlan, Ethel Merman, Bette Midler, Jane Monheit, Felicity Palmer, Edith Piaf, Bonnie Raitt, Rihanna, Sia, Dusty Springfield, Frederica von Stade, Donna Summer, Taylor Swift, Ann Wilson, Tammy Wynette

The Best Vocal Performances by Lara Fabian: "Je Suis Malade," "Je T'Aime," "Sin Ti," "Adagio," "Caruso," "Immortelle," "Broken Vow," "You're Not from Here," "Vision of Love"

Music Trivia: After co-writing "Barcelona" with his vocal parts being baritone, Freddie Mercury persuaded Montserrat Caball to sing the soprano parts by performing them for her, falsetto! They had initially met in Barcelona, Caball's home, in 1987. When Barcelona hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics, she was asked to assist with the Olympic theme song and enlisted Mercury's help. The resulting song was one of the few that Mercury sang in his natural baritone.

Vocal Range

The highest note on a standard piano is C8, so some of these singers have gone off the scale. In classical music the typical bass range is E2-E4; baritone G2-G4; tenor C3-C5; countertenor E3-E5; contralto F3-F5; mezzo-soprano A3-A5; soprano C4-C6. In choral music women are either sopranos or altos. All vocal types can typically hit middle C (C4), which is a low note for a soprano and a high note for a bass. Octaves are numbered C-D-E-F-G-A-B, so B5 is a higher note than G5. A normal human voice can span around two octaves, but these singers have much wider ranges, especially when "whistle notes" are included. Some whistle notes are pleasing, while others just sound weird, so notes in the 7th and 8th octaves may be musically dubious and are thus ignored or discounted by some experts.

Singers with incredible range include "the eight octave woman" Georgia Brown (G2-G10), "the six octave man" Dimash Kudaibergen (C2-D8), Mariah Carey with her five octave range (G#2-G#7), Minnie Riperton (F2-G7), Ariana Grande (D3-E7), Morissette Amon (C3-E7), Christina Aguilera (B2-C#7), Demi Lovato (C#3-C#7), Jill Scott (C3-C7), Prince (E2-B6), Axl Rose (F1-Bb6, which is going from Barry White's lowest note to higher than Beyonc and Celine Dion!), Cyndi Lauper (C3-Bb6), Kate Bush (G#2-G#6), Tina Turner (B2-G6), Janis Joplin (E3-G6), Kelly Clarkson (Eb3-G6), Annie Haslam (E3-G6), Little Richard (E2-F#6), Britney Spears (F#2-F#6), Freddie Mercury (F2-F6), Mitch Grassi (E2-F6), Maria Callas (F3-F6), Cher (C#3-F6), Donna Summer (C3-F6), P!nk (A2-E6), Celine Dion (B2-E6), Chaka Khan (B2-E6), Steven Tyler (D2-E6), Haley Reinhart (D3-E6), James Brown (Eb2-E6), Roger Taylor (E2-E6), Thom Yorke (E2-E6), Jeff Buckley (G2-E6), Beyonc (A2-E6), Miley Cyrus (B2-E6), Amy Lee (C3-E6), Ann Wilson (C3-E6), Rihanna (Bb2-E6), Sarah Brightman (Eb3-E6), Marvin Gaye (D2-Eb6), Stevie Wonder (F2-D#6), Barbara Streisand (B2-D6), Elton John (E2-D6), Bjork (E3-D6), Dolly Parton (E3-D6), Steve Winwood (A2-D6), Sia Furler (D3-D6), Katy Perry (D3-D6), Brendon Urie (D2-D6), Diana Ross (C3-C#6), Michael Jackson (F#2-C#6), Jennifer Hudson (C3-C#6), Jackie Wilson (A2-C6), Whitney Houston (C#3-C6), Rod Stewart (C#3-C6), Charlotte Church (Eb3-C6), Lara Fabian (C3-G#6), Jennifer Lopez (D3-C6), Nick Pitera (C2-C6), Tom Jones (F#1-B5), Norah Jones (A2-B5), Jackie Evancho (F3-B5), Aretha Franklin (G2-B5), Annie Lennox (G2-B5), Alicia Keyes (Bb2-B5), Lady Gaga (Bb2-B5), Adam Lambert (Bb2-B5), Bruce Springsteen (Eb2-B5), Chris Isaak (G1-B5), Paul McCartney (B1-B5), John Lennon (B1-A5), Elvis Presley (B1-A5), Robert Plant (E2-A5), Mick Jagger (E2-A5), Steve Perry (F#2-A5), Bruno Mars (B#2-A5), Enya (Bb2-A5), Barry Gibb (A1-G#5), Frankie Valli (F#2-G#5), David Bowie (G1-G#5), Bono (C#2-G#5), Brian McKnight (D#2-G#5), Carrie Underwood (D3-G#5), Judy Garland (D3-G5), Sam Smith (G#2-G5), Roger Daltrey (B1-G5), Smokey Robinson (C3-G5), Joss Stone (C3-G5), Buddy Holly (D2-G5), Brian Wilson (F2-G5), Robin Gibb (C#2-F#5), Adele (C3-F5), Jordan Smith (D#3-F5), Maurice Gibb (D2-E5), Roy Orbison (E2-E5), Harry Styles (F2-E5), Frank Sinatra (C2-E5), Bob Dylan (C#2-E5), Barry White (F1-Eb5), Johnny Cash (B1-G#4)

Think the Beatles were pretty good? Lennon and McCartney weren't just great songwriters; they both had great range and were nearly perfectly matched!

The lowest musical note according to Guinness is a G-7 (that's negative seven), by Tim Storms. That note is too low for the human ear to hear. Storms also holds the record for the widest vocal range for a male, at ten octaves. The highest musical "whistle" note reached by a male singer is designated D♯8 in note-octave notation; it is three semitones above the highest note on a standard grand piano. It was achieved by Adam Lopez in 2008 and officially witnessed and certified by Guinness. The record for the widest vocal range by a female singer is Georgia Brown with a vocal range of eight octaves, from G2 to G10. The G10 can also not be heard by the human ear.

However, singing is not all about range. Otis Redding is a good example of a singer who didn't hit crazy low notes or crazy high notes. But he's one of the top ten singers of all time, according to Rolling Stone. He sang with great emotion and made us believe everything he sang.

The Best Harmonies of All Time: "Flower Duet" by Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca, "Let It Be Me" and "All I Have to Do Is Dream" by The Everly Brothers, "California Dreaming" by the Mamas and Papas, "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys, "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, "Helplessly Hoping" by Crosby, Stills and Nash, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" by the Bee Gees, "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" by Simon and Garfunkel, "End of the Road" by Boyz 2 Men, "Because" by the Beatles, "Georgy Girl" by the Seekers, "I'm Not in Love" by 10CC, "Lollipop" by the Chordettes, "Walk Away Renee" by the Four Tops, "More Than Words" by Extreme, "Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac, "No Excuses" by Alice in Chains

The Best Vocal Performances by Geoff Tate of Queensrche: Silent Lucidity, Take Hold of the Flame, Roads to Madness, Before the Storm, Eyes of a Stranger, Suite Sister Mary, Queen of the Reich, Empire, Jet City Woman

The Best Vocal Performances by Otis Redding: "I've Been Loving You Too Long," "These Arms of Mine," "Try a Little Tenderness," "Hard to Handle," "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay"

My Best Bass Singers: Paul Robeson, Louis Armstrong, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Ike Turner, Nick Massi of the Four Seasons, Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers, Isaac "Dickie" Freeman of the Fairfield Four, Billy Idol, Avi Kaplan of Pentatonix, Tim Faust of Home Free, Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys esp. on "Elvira," Bowser of Sha-Na-Na, Johnny Cash, Barry White, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Isaac Hayes, J. D. Sumner (a backup singer for Elvis Presley), Brad Roberts of the Crash Test Dummies, Larry Graham of Sly & the Family Stone (he played bass and sang bass), Thurl Ravenscroft esp. on "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and "Asleep in the Deep."

The Best Vocal Performances by Prince: "Damn You," "The Beautiful Ones," "When Doves Cry," Nothing Compares 2 U," "Little Red Corvette," "Thunder," "Kiss," "Purple Rain," "Cream," "Insatiable," "Controversy," "Adore," "Raspberry Beret," "1999" 

The Best Vocal Performances by Janis Joplin: "Piece of My Heart," "Down on Me," "Cry Baby," "Mercedes Benz," "Summertime" (with Jimi Hendrix), "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)," "Me and Bobby McGee," "Ball and Chain," "Kozmic Blues," "Move Over" (a song she wrote herself), "Maybe," "Work Me Lord"

My Best Vocal Groups: ABBA, Andrews Sisters, Angelis, Beach Boys, Bee Gees, Boyz II Men, Byrds, Carter Family, Commodores, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Drifters, Eagles, Fisk Jubilee Singers, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Gatlin Brothers, Home Free esp. "Man of Constant Sorrow," Il Divo, Ink Spots, Isley Brothers, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Neville Brothers, Orioles, Pentatonix, Platters, Pointer Sisters, Sly & the Family Stone, Smoky Robinson and the Miracles, Statler Brothers, Supremes, Temptations, Three Tenors, Vienna Boys' Choir, Vogues

My Purest Vocals of All Time
: "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak, "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor, "Only Time" by Enya, "Kathy's Song" by Simon and Garfunkel, "Good Morning Girl" by Steve Perry of Journey, "Mad World" by Adam Lambert, "God Only Knows" by Carl Wilson and the Beach Boys, "Holding Back the Years" by Mick Hucknall of Simply Red, "Kissing a Fool" by George Michael, "All By Myself" by Celine Dion, "Mercy Mercy Me" and "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye, "When Doves Cry" by Prince, "Go Rest High on that Mountain" by Vince Gill, "I'll Be There" by Michael Jackson, "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan, "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper, "Oh Very Young" and "Where Do the Children Play" by Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam)

Currently Rising
: Recent vocals that threaten to become performances for the ages include "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars, "Thank You" and "White Flag" by Dido, "Try" and "What About Us" by P!nk, "Sign of the Times" by Harry Styles, "Titanium" and "Chandelier" by Sia, "Stay With Me" and "I'm Not the Only One" by Sam Smith, "Say You Won't Let Go" by James Arthur, "Royals" by Lorde, "Mercy" by Shawn Mendes, "Rolling in the Deep" and "Hello" by Adele, "Scars to Your Beautiful" by Alessia Cara, "Take Me to Church" by Hozier, "Somebody that I Used to Know" by Goyte, "Halo" by Beyonc, "Ex's and Oh's" by Elle King, "See You Again" by Charlie Puth, "Shut Up and Dance with Me" by Walk the Moon, "Believer" by Imagine Dragons, "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd, "Happy" by Pharrell Williams, "We Found Love" by Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris, "Love the Way You Lie" by Eminem feat. Rihanna, "Stan" by Eminem feat. Dido, "She Will Be Loved" by Adam Levine and Maroon 5, "Feel It Still" by Portugal. The Man, "Havana" by Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug

My Best Vocal Performances by Ella Fitzgerald: "Cry Me a River," "Summertime" (esp. her stunning duet with Louis Armstrong), "Misty," "Mack the Knife," "How High the Moon," "Airmail Special," "A-Tisket-A-Tasket"

My Best Vocal Performances by Etta James: "At Last," "I'd Rather Go Blind," "All I Could Do Was Cry," "Spoonful," "Tell Mama," "I've Been Loving You Too Long," "There's Something on Your Mind" (duet with B. B. King), "Almost Persuaded," "Stormy Weather," "Steal Away," "Purple Rain"

My Best Vocal Performances by Nina Simone: "Feeling Good," "I Put a Spell on You," "Mr. Bojangles," "Sinnerman," "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "Summertime," "I Loves You Porgy," "Four Women," "Mississippi Goddam," "I Shall Be Released," "Baltimore"

My Best Vocal Performances by Billie Holiday: "Solitude," "All of Me," "Strange Fruit," "Summertime," "God Bless the Child," "Blue Moon," "Them There Eyes," "Lover Man," "I'll Be Seeing You," "The Very Thought of You," "He's Funny That Way," "Long Gone Blues," "I Cried for You," "Easy Livin'," "You're My Thrill," "When You're Smiling," "I'm a Fool to Want You"

My Best Vocal Performances by Marvin Gaye: "Distant Lover," "Inner City Blues," "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology Song)," "What's Going On," "Trouble Man," "Ain't That Peculiar," "I Heard it through the Grapevine," "Abraham Martin and John," "Lets Get It On," "You Are Everything" (duet with Diana Ross), "Sexual Healing"

My Best Vocal Performances by Chris Isaak: "Wicked Game," "(Please) Let Me Down Easy," "Somebody's Crying," "Blue Hotel," "Baby Did a Bad Thing," "Lie to Me," "Blue Moon"

My Best Vocal Performances by Tina Turner: "River Deep, Mountain High," "Private Dancer," "Proud Mary," "I Can't Stand the Rain," "We Don't Need Another Hero," "Nutbush City Limits," "Simply the Best"

My Best Vocal Performances by Christina Aguilera: "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," "Beautiful," "Genie in a Bottle," "Hurt," "Lady Marmalade," "Ain't No Other Man," "Dirrty," "You Lost Me," "Fighter," "Candyman," "Moves Like Jagger" (with Adam Levine and Maroon 5), "What a Girl Wants," "Say Something"

My Best Vocal Performances by Bob Marley: "Redemption Song," "No Woman, No Cry," "I Shot the Sherriff," "Three Little Birds," "One Love," "Is This Love," "Stir It Up," "Turn Your Lights Down Low," "Jammin'"

My Best Vocal Performances by Claude Jeter (tenor/falsetto) and Louis Johnson (baritone) of the gospel group the Swan Silvertones: "Oh Mary Don't You Weep," "Only Believe," "Love Lifted Me," "Amazing Grace"

Claude Jeter, the lead singer and founder of the Swan Silvertones, is credited for influencing the singing styles of Sam Cooke, Al Green, Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, Clyde McPhatter and Eddie Kendricks. Jeter pioneered falsetto singing in African American music and has been called the father of falsetto. His strong falsetto leads backed by three-part harmonies were adapted by Doo-wop and R&B groups.

Music Trivia: "Mary Don't You Weep" by the Swan Silvertones is the song that inspired Paul Simon to write "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and that song inspired "Let It Be" by the Beatles.

Alphabetic List of Famous Vocalists: Christina Aguilera, Fiona Apple, Chuck Berry, Beyonce, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Mary J. Blige, Bono, David Bowie, Garth Brooks, James Brown, Jeff Buckley, Eric Burdon, Mariah Carey, Eric Carmen, Karen Carpenter, Johnny Cash, Roseanne Cash, Ray Charles, Patsy Cline, Kurt Cobain, Nat King Cole, Judy Collins, Sam Cooke, Franco Corelli, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Roger Daltrey, Celine Dion, Enya, Don Everly, Phil Everly, Ella Fitzgerald, John Fogerty, Aretha Franklin, Art Garfunkel, Marvin Gaye, Andy Gibb, Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb, Al Green, George Harrison, Donny Hathaway, Billie Holiday, Buddy Holly, Whitney Houston, Chris Isaak, Mahalia Jackson, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Etta James, Jewel, Elton John, George Jones, Norah Jones, Janis Joplin, Jon Bon Jovi, R. Kelly, B. B. King, Gladys Knight, Alison Krauss, Adam Lambert, K. D. Lang, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, John Lennon, Adam Levine, Loretta Lynn, Bob Marley, Bruno Mars, Curtis Mayfield, Maxwell, Paul McCartney, Meatloaf, Freddie Mercury, George Michael, Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, Harry Nilsson, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Steve Perry, Tom Petty, Robert Plant, Elvis Presley, Prince, Bonnie Raitt, Otis Redding, Little Richard, Smokey Robinson, Paul Rogers, Linda Ronstadt, Axl Rose, Seal, Paul Simon, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Bessie Smith, Patti Smith, Dusty Springfield, Bruce Springsteen, Mavis Staples, Ringo Starr, Gwen Stefani, Rod Stewart, Joss Stone, Sly Stone, George Strait, Barbara Streisand, Justin Timberlake, Randy Travis, Tina Turner, Steven Tyler, Usher, Luther Vandross, Sarah Vaughan, Eddie Vedder, Tom Waits, Muddy Waters, Hank Williams Sr., Brian Wilson, Jackie Wilson, Amy Winehouse, Steve Winwood, Howlin' Wolf, Stevie Wonder, Thom Yorke, Neil Young

Music Trivia Question: Which famous singer-songwriter associated with Woodstock did not attend?
Answer: Joni Mitchell, who wrote the hit song "Woodstock" but did not attend the event due to appearing on The Dick Cavett Show.

Opera and Popera: Josephine Baker, Kathleen Battle, Jussi Bjrling, Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman, Montserrat Caball, Maria Callas, Joseph Calleja, Jos Carreras, Enrico Caruso, Gianna D'angelo, Natalie Dessay, Giuseppe DiStefano, Plcido Domingo, Jackie Evancho, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Kirsten Flagstad, Rene Fleming, Josh Groban, Dimash Kudaibergen, Sissel Kyrkjebo, Mario Lanza, Jenny Lind, Mirusia Louwerse, Francesco Merli, Anna Netrebko, Alessandra Paonessa, Luciano Pavarotti, Rosa Ponselle, Leontyne Price, Joan Sutherland, Richard Tucker, Tarja Turunen, Hayley Westenra, Mario Zhang

Which Musical Artists are Most Popular with Buyers? According to Wikipedia, based on total unit sales, the most popular artists of all time are (#1) Beatles (~600 million units), (#2) Elvis Presley (~600 million), (#3) Michael Jackson (~350 million), (#4) Madonna (~300 million), (#5) Elton John (~300 million), (#6) Led Zeppelin (~300 million), (#7) Pink Floyd (~250 million), (#8) Rihanna (~230 million), with seven ties at (#9) Rolling Stones, Queen, AC/DC, ABBA, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion. Based on album sales (certified units sold), we can add Garth Brooks, Eagles, Billy Joel, George Strait, Barbara Streisand, Steven Tyler and Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, James Hetfield and Metallica, David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar and Van Halen, Bono and U2, Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, Neil Diamond, Steve Perry and Journey, Shania Twain, Kenny G, Kenny Rogers, Alabama, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Axl Rose and Guns N' Roses, Eminem, Alan Jackson, Carlos Santana, Taylor Swift, Reba McEntire, Eric Clapton, Chicago, Simon and Garfunkel, Rod Stewart, Foreigner, Tim McGraw, Backstreet Boys, Prince and the Revolution, Tupac Shakur, Bob Dylan, Def Leppard, Britney Spears, Bon Jovi, Phil Collins and Genesis.

What does the buying public say?
Here are the singers with the most number one singles on the charts: Beatles (20), Elvis Presley (18), Mariah Carey (18), Rihanna (14), Michael Jackson (13), Supremes (12), Madonna (12), Whitney Houston (11), Stevie Wonder (10), Janet Jackson (10)

Music Trivia: Not only could the Beatles and Luciano Pavarotti not read music, but Leo Fender couldn't play the guitar!

Look, I'm surprised as anyone that Tom Jones is on my list! I had long thought of him as a cheesy lounge act with some sort of strange appeal for middle-aged women having something to do with tight pants and hairy chests that I prefer not to think about. But with the right song in his hands, the man can sing with incredible power at the top of his impressive range. And he is extremely passionate and believable. So I was wrong.

The Best Vocals of Sir Tom Jones: "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "I've Been Loving You Too Long," "I Who Have Nothing," "Delilah," "Mama Told Me Not to Come," "Danny Boy," "This Time," "Till," "Without Love," "Tower of Song," "Kiss" with the Art of Noise, "It's Not Unusual," "She's a Lady," "The Green, Green Grass of Home"

The Best Vocals of Ray Charles: "What'd I Say," "Hit the Road Jack," "Georgia on My Mind"

The Best Vocals of Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin: "Black Dog," "Immigrant Song," "Stairway to Heaven," "Ramble On," "Whole Lotta Love," "Sea of Love"

The Best Vocals of Ann Wilson of Heart: "Barracuda," "Dog and Butterfly," "Dreamboat Annie," "Crazy on You," "Never," "Alone," "These Dreams," "Magic Man," "What About Love"

The Best Vocals of Al Green: "(I'm So) Tired of Being Alone," "Let's Stay Together," "Love and Happiness," "Call Me"

The Best Vocals of Chris Cornell of Soundgarden: "Spoonman," "Black Hole Sun," "Nothing Compares 2 U"

The Best Vocals of Sting of The Police: "Roxanne," "Every Breath You Take," "Fields of Gold," "Desert Rose," "Message in a Bottle"

The Best Vocals of Jim Morrison of the Doors: "Riders on the Storm," "Light My Fire," "Break On Through (to the Other Side)"

The Best Vocals of Kurt Cobain of Nirvana: "Lithium," "All Apologies," "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "In the Pines," "Come as You Are," "Immigrant Song"

The Best Vocals by Stevie Wonder: "Sir Duke," "Overjoyed," "Isn't She Lovely"

The Best Vocals of George Jones: "He Stopped Loving Her Today," "She Thnks I Still Care," "(We're Not) The Jet Set"

The Best Vocals of Dusty Springfield: "Spooky," "I Only Want to Be With You," "Son of a Preacher Man"

The Best Vocals of David Bowie: "Fame," "Space Oddity," "Young Americans," "China Girl"

The Best Vocals of Van Morrison: "Tupelo Honey," "Brown Eyed Girl," "Moondance"

The Best Vocals of James Brown: "This is a Man's World," "I Feel Good"

The Best Vocals of Howlin' Wolf: "Smoke Stack lightning," "Back Door Man," "I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)"

The Best Vocals of Bob Dylan: "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," "Sweetheart Like You," "Jokerman," "Queen Jane"

The Best Vocals of Bon Scott of AC/DC: "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," "Highway to Hell," "T.N.T"

The Best Vocals of Brian Johnson of AC/DC: "Highway to Hell," "Back in Black," "You Shook Me All Night Long"

The Best Vocals of Paul Rodgers of Free, The Firm and Bad Company: "All Right Now," "Simple Man," "Seagull"

The Best Vocals of Maynard James Keenan of Tool: "Sober," "Pushit"

The Best Vocals of Layne Staley of Alice in Chains: "Man in the Box," "Rooster"

My 2019 Best Vocal Performances: "Shallow (A Star is Born)" by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, "Dance Monkey" by Tones and I, "Torn" by Ava Max, "Too Good at Goodbyes" by Sam Smith, "Dancing with a Stranger" by Sam Smith and Normani, "How Do You Sleep" by Sam Smith, "Bad Guy" by Billie Eilish, "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake, "Treat You Better" by Shawn Mendes, "Adore You" by Harry Styles, "Cruel Summer" by Taylor Swift, "Truth Hurts" by Lizzo, "Cellophane" by FKA twigs, "Old Town Rod" by Lil Nas X feat. Billy Cyrus, "NASA" by Ariana Grande, "Sunflower" by Post Malone and Swae Lee

My 2018 Best Vocal Performances:
"Feel It Still" by Portugal. The Man, "Havana" by Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug, "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran with Beyonc, "Meant to Be" by Bebe Rexha feat. Florida Georgia Line, "Say Something" by Justin Timberlake feat. Chris Stapleton, "In My Blood" by Shawn Mendes, "God's Plan" by Drake, "Finesse" by Bruno Mars, "Bad at Love" by Halsey, "Rockstar" by Post Malone, "One Kiss" by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa, "These Days" by Rudimental feat. Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen, "River" by Eminem feat. Ed Sheeran, "Breathe" by Jax Jones feat. Ina Wroldsen

My 2017 Best Vocal Performances
: "Sign of the Times" by Harry Styles, "What About Us" by P!nk, "Too Good at Goodbyes" by Sam Smith, "If We Were Vampires" by Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, "Turn Out the Lights" by Julien Baker, "Dusk Till Dawn" by ZAYN feat. Sia, "Second One to Know" and "Broken Halos" by Chris Stapleton, "Havana" by Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug, "The Cure" by Lady Gaga, "Stay" by Zedd and Alessia Cara, "24K Magic" and "That's What I Like" by Bruno Mars, "Bad Liar" and "It Ain't Me" by Selena Gomez, "I Feel It Coming" by The Weeknd, "Green Light" by Lorde, "Water Under the Bridge" by Adele, "Believer" and "Thunder" by Imagine Dragons, "The Fighter" by Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood, "(You Just Want) Attention" by Charlie Puth, "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back" by Shawn Mendes, "New Rules" by Dua Lipa, "Love on the Brain" by Rihanna, "Slide" by Calvin Harris, "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee feat. Justin Bieber, "Closer" by The Chainsmokers and Halsey, "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran, "Say You Won't Let Go" by James Arthur, "Issues" by Julia Michaels, "2U" by David Guetta feat. Justin Bieber, "Praying" by Kesha, "Don't Kill My Vibe" by Sigrid, "Gorgeous" by Taylor Swift, "Cut to the Feeling" by Carly Rae Jepsen

My 2016 Best Vocal Performances: "Scars to Your Beautiful" by Alessia Cara, "Cheap Thrills" by Sia and Sean Paul, "Can't Stop the Feeling!" by Justin Timberlake, "Send My Love" and "Hello" by Adele, "Treat You Better" and "Stitches" by Shawn Mendes, "One Call Away" by Charlie Puth

My 2015 Best Vocal Performances: "Take Me to Church" by Hozier, "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon, "I'm Not the Only One" by Sam Smith, "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, "Hello" by Adele, "Tennessee Whiskey" by Chris Stapleton, "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, "I Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd, "Hotline Bling" by Drake, "What Do You Mean" and "Sorry" by Justin Bieber, "High By the Beach" by Lana Del Rey, "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran, "All About That Bass" and "Lips Are Movin'" by Meghan Trainor, "Style" by Taylor Swift, "Trap Queen" by Fetty Wap, "Alright" by Kendrick Lamar

My 2014 Best Vocal Performances: "Chandelier" by Sia, "All of Me" by John Legend, "Stay With Me" and "Latch" by Sam Smith, "Royals" and "Team" by Lorde, "Happy" by Pharrell Williams, "Say Something" by A Great Big World feat. Christina Aguilera, "Story of My Life" by One Direction, "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift, "Let Her Go" by Passenger, "Dark Horse" by Katy Perry, "Counting Stars" by OneRepublic

My 2013 Best Vocal Performances: "Stay" and "Diamonds" by Rihanna, "Just Give Me a Reason" by P!nk, "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars, "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys feat. Nicki Minaj, "Ho Hey" by the Lumineers, "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rogers, "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons, "Summertime Sadness" and "Young and Beautiful" by Lana Del Rey, "I Knew You Were Trouble" by Taylor Swift, "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus, "Wake Me Up" by Avicii, "Roar" by Katy Perry, "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake, "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke

My 2012 Best Vocal Performances: "Somebody that I Used to Know" by Goyte and Kimbra, "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons, "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson, "We Are Young" by Fun feat. Janelle Monae, "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen, "Wild Ones" by Flo Rida feat. Sia

My 2011 Best Vocal Performances: "Someone Like You" by Adele, "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele, "Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele, "Grenade" by Bruno Mars, "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga, "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera, "We Found Love" by Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris, "Price Tag" by Jessie J feat. Bob

My 2010 Best Vocal Performances: "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele, "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum, "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga, "Love the Way You Lie" by Rihanna and Eminem, "Forget You" by CeeLo Green, "Dancing on My Own" by Robyn, "California Gurls" by Kay Perry and Snoop Dogg, "Tik Tok" by Kesha


My  Talent Show Top Ten Auditions of All Time, Expanded to a Top 25
by Michael R. Burch

(#25) Julia Ivanova ("The Show Must Go On")
(#24) Sophie May Williams ("Time After Time")
(#23) Chevel Shepherd ("Little White Church" and "Blue")
(#22) Susan Boyle ("I Dreamed a Dream")
(#21) Jennifer Hudson ("Circle of Life")
(#20) Jordin Sparks ("With a Broken Wing" and "I Who Have Nothing")
(#19) Josh Daniel ("Jealous")
(#18) Janet Devlin ("Your Song")
(#17) Haley Reinhart ("House of the Rising Sun" and "Bennie and the Jets")
(#16) Conor Scott ("Starry Eyed")
(#15) Leanne Jarvis ("Stay With Me Baby")br> (#14) Angelina Jordan ("Bohemian Rhapsody")
(#13) Mitchell Brunings ("Redemption Song")
(#12) Jackie vancho and Laura Bretan ("O Mio Babbino Caro")
(#11) Jordan Smith ("Chandelier")
(#10) Ash Morgan ("Never Tear Us Apart") and
(#9) Stevie McCrorie ("All I Want")
(#8) Calum Scott("Dancing on My Own")
(#7) Alice Fredenham ("My Funny Valentine")
(#6) Carly Rose Sonenclar ("Feeling Good")
(#5) Sawyer Fredericks ("Man of Constant Sorrow")
(#4) Brian Justin Crum ("Creep") and Loren Allred ("Never Enough")
(#3) Adam Lambert ("Mad World")
(#2) Josh Krajcik ("The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face") is joy personified
(#1) Dimash Kudaibergen ("S.O.S.") is otherworldly

High Honorable Mention: Aaliyah ("My Funny Valentine"), Fantasia Barrino, Chris Daughtry, Lee Glasson ("Can't Get You Out of My Head"), Courtney Hadwin ("Hard to Handle"), Charly Luske ("It's a Man's Man's Man's World"), Chris Mann, Katharine McPhee, Kellie Pickler, Dawn Richard, Lucy Thomas ("Memory")

Talent show contestants who went on to become popular singers: Sam Harris ("Over the Rainbow" on Star Search 1984 made him was the first talent show superstar), Emma Stone (In Search of the Partridge Family 2004), Tiffany (Star Search 1985), Miranda Lambert (Nashville Star 2003), amila Cabello (X-Factor USA 2012), Leona Lewis (X-Factor UK 2006), Nicole Scherzinger (Popstars 2011), LeAnn Rimes (Star Search 1991), Carrie Underwood (American Idol 2005),  Harry Styles (X-Factor UK 2010-2011 with One Direction), Jennifer Hudson (American Idol 2004), Alanis Morissette (Star Search 1988), Christina Aguilera (Star Search 1990), Justin Timberlake (Star Search 1992), Britney Spears (Star Search 1992), Kelly Clarkson (American Idol 2002), Usher (Star Search 1993), Beyonce (Star Search 1993 with the group Girls Tyme, later Destiny's Child)

Better than the Original?

Ella Henderson ("Believe" by Cher)
Christina Grimmie ("Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus)
Janet Devlin ("Your Song" by Elton John)
Haley Reinhart ("Bennie and the Jets" by Elton John)
Jennifer Hudson ("Circle of Life" by Elton John)
Josh Daniel ("Jealous" by Labrinth)
Natasha Stuart ("I Was Here" by Beyonce)
Terrence Cunningham ("My Girl" by the Temptations)
Katharine McPhee ("Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" by KT Tunstall)
Leanne Jarvis ("Stay With Me Baby" by Lorraine Ellison)
Bo Bruce ("Running Up the Hill" by Kate Bush)
Jolan ("Wishing Well" by Terence Trent D'Arby)
Calum Scott ("Dancing on My Own" by Robyn)
Mikayla Jade ("Dancing on My Own" by Robyn)
Adam Lambert ("Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf)
Adam Lambert ("Mad World" by Tears for Fears and Gary Jules)

Talent Show Superstars: What the Hell Did We Just Hear?

Sawyer Fredericks' performance of "Man of Constant Sorrow" had Christina Aguilera repeatedly asking "What?" as if she had never heard singing before.
Jordan Smith's performance of "Chandelier" had Gwen Stefani asking "What?" and kicking her leg high overhead in sheer amazement.
Carly Rose Sonenclar's performance of "Feeling Good" not only had L. A. Reid asking "What?" but whoopin' and hollerin' like a junior varsity cheerleader.
It's a good thing Stevie McCrorie is a fireman because he had judge Rita Ora melting her panties with his incandescent "All I Want."
Jamie "Afro" Archer belting out "Sex on Fire" and getting Simon Cowell to lip-synch while the crowd went wild and sang along.
Courtney Hadwin, a seemingly timid pixie, turning into a combination of Janis Joplin and James Brown in a mercurial millisecond.
Laura Bretan had the judges of Romania's Got Talent prostrating themselves at her feet; she proceeded to win, then later wowed on AGT.
Ash Morgan's performance of "Never Tear Us Apart" induced a rare condition scientifically known as "Judge Worship."
Alice Fredenham's performance of "My Funny Valentine" mesmerized four judges, inducing "Goddess Worship" even from Simon Cowell.
Harrison Craig's performance of "Broken Vow" had Seal looking both awed and mesmerized.
David Dam had all four judges dancing on stage with his sexy performance of "Let's Get It On."
Matthias Nebel's insane shredding on "Bed of Roses" turned two judges into Gumby-like wallowers at his feet.
Aida Nikolaychuk was stopped by the judges of The X-Factor Ukraine because her voice was so perfect they thought she was lip-synching!
When elfin Janet Devlin sang "Your Song" in a voice barely above a breathless whisper, human hearts melted all over the world.
Brynn Cartelli won season 14 of The Voice USA at age 14 and wrote her hit song "Walk My Way" during the show!
When ten-year-old Jackie Evancho sang like a human angel on AGT, I am convinced the whole world entered a state of shock and has never recovered.

What Were The Judges and/or Producers Thinking? The Worst Talent Show Snubs!

(#10) Only a last second chair turn for Sophie May Williams, really? FOOLS!!! (Sorry, Sir Tom, but really.)
(#10) Ditto for Jermain Jackman. On the same season. And he won!
(#9) Alex and Sierra were rejected by American Idol, but won the X-Factor, go figure!
(#8) Amber Riley (aka Mercedes Jones) didn't make it through the American Idol prelims, but she became a Glee diva.
(#7) Simon Cowell called Tori Kelly's voice "annoying." She has since been nominated for a Grammy and has opened for Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran.
(#6) Colbie Caillat auditioned for American Idol twice, and never made it through the prelims. But several Idol-ators have covered her hit song "Bubbly."
(#5) Christina Grimmie finished third on The Voice, but put out five albums and more than 20 singles before dying tragically at age 22.
(#5) Katharine McPhee finished second on American Idol, but has since released five albums and ten singles.
(#4) Jennifer Hudson finished seventh on American Idol, but won an Academy Award for Dreamgirls and one of her albums was nominated for four Grammys.
(#3) Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum auditioned for American Idol twice, and never even made it through the preliminary rounds. She now has five Grammys.
(#2) Jackie Evancho second? How many millions of singles and albums will she sell before her career is over? And she was turned down the first two times she auditioned!
(#1) Adam Lambert second, really? And yet he's now the lead singer for Queen? Freddie Mercury must be rolling over in his grave ... laughing his head off!
(#1) It defies explanation that Julia Ivanova didn't win The Voice Ukraine; like Lambert she could headline for Queen.

Honorable Mention: Haley Reinhart, Billy Gilman, Frenchie Davis, Joshua Ledet, Tori Kelly, Colton Swon of the Swon Brothers, Mickey Guyton, Luke Edgemon, Robyn Troup, Mary Lambert, Naya Rivera, Alan Ritchson

The Top 40 Most Moving, Unexpected and Eye-Opening Vocal Performances Captured During Talent Show Auditions

I have a number of ties for the #10 spot, so this has become more like a Top 50.

(#40) Bars and Melody (Leondre "Bars" Devries and Charlie "Melody" Lenehan) rapping and singing "Hopeful" on Britain's Got Talent (209 million views)
(#39) Mennel Ibtissem singing an angelic bilingual version of "Hallelujah" on The Voice France, only to be banned for supporting Palestine and wearing a headscarf!
(#38) Mikayla Jade singing "Dancing on My Own" on The Voice Australia
(#37) Choi Sung-bong, a homeless boy, singing "Nella Fantasia" on Korea's Got Talent and reducing the judges to tears (174 million views)
(#36) Chloe Kohanski singing "The Chain," "Landslide," "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "I Want to Know What Love Is" on The Voice USA
(#35) Lucie Jones, from a tiny Welsh village, tackling an international monster by singing "I Will Always Love You" on Britain's Got Talent, and slaying it
(#34) Sam Harris, a talent show pioneer, singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on Star Search in 1984
(#33) James Arthur singing and rapping his cover of Tulisa's "(Forgive Us, We're) Young" emotively on X Factor UK (60 million views)
(#32) Michael Grimm singing "You Don't Know Me" and "I'd Rather Go Blind" on America's Got Talent
(#31) Bella Ferraro singing "Skinny Love" on X Factor UK
(#30) Alex & Sierra singing "Toxic" on X Factor USA with real sexual chemistry (52 million views)
(#29) Jacob Maxwell singing "Delicate" on The Voice USA
(#28) Charlotte and Jonathan singing "The Prayer" on Britain's Got Talent (122 million views); also "Caruso" (16 million views but even better)
(#27) Paul Potts singing "Nessun Dorma" on Britain's Got Talent (181 million views)
(#26) Clay Aiken singing "Solitaire," "Unchained Melody" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" on American Idol
(#25) Emily West singing "Nights in White Satin," "Chandelier," "Sea of Love" and "Fallen" on America's Got Talent
(#24) Joshua Ledet singing "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" on American Idol
(#23) Karise Eden singing "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" on The Voice UK and getting four immediate chair turns
(#22) Katherine McPhee singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" on American Idol
(#21) Brynn Cartelli, age 14, singing "Skyfall," "Walk My Way" and "Beneath Your Beautiful" on The Voice USA
(#20) Billy Gilman, a former child star, singing "Crying," "Anyway" and "I Surrender" on The Voice USA
(#19) Fantasia Barrino singing "Summertime" on American Idol
(#18) Leona Lewis singing "Summertime," "Without You," "I Have Nothing," "Over the Rainbow," "All By Myself," "I'll Be There" on X Factor UK
(#17) Maelyn Jarmon singing "Stay," "Fields of Gold," "Falling Water" and "The Scientist" on The Voice USA
(#16) Chynna Taylor singing "Shallow" on The Voice Australia
(#15) Andrew Johnston, a thirteen-year-old victim of bullying, singing "Pie Jesu" in an impossibly high, sweet register on Britain's Got Talent
(#14) Christina Grimmie singing "Wrecking Ball" on The Voice USA
(#13) Lee Glasson singing "Can't Get You Out of My Head" on The Voice UK
(#12) Charly Luske singing "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" on The Voice Holland, with four instant chair turns
(#11) Michael Ketterer singing "You Don't Know What It's Like (To Love Somebody)" on America's Got Talent
(#11) Natasha Stuart stunningly fierce singing "I Was Here" on The Voice UK
(#11) Jolan singing "Wishing Well" and "Purple Rain" on The Voice UK

(#10) Julia Ivanova belting out "The Show Must Go On" on The Voice Ukraine
(#10) Jordin Sparks singing "(With) A Broken Wing" and "I Who Have Nothing" on American Idol
(#10) Sophie May Williams singing "Time After Time" like a human angel on The Voice UK
(#10) Chevel Shepherd singing "Little White Church," "Blue," "Grandpa" and "Space Cowboy" on The Voice USA
(#10) Susan Boyle singing "I Dreamed a Dream" on Britain's Got Talent, converting rolling eyeballs into receptacles of awe (240 million views!)
(#10) Jennifer Hudson singing "Circle of Life" and "I Who Have Nothing" on American Idol
(#10) Josh Daniel singing a heartrending versions of "Jealous" on X Factor UK (54 million views)
(#10) Elfin and adorable Janet Devlin singing "Your Song" in a lovely breathless voice on X Factor UK
(#10) Haley Reinhart singing "Bennie and the Jets," "I Who Have Nothing" and "House of the Rising Sun" on American Idol
(#10) Conor Scott singing "Starry Eyed" on The Voice UK
(#10) Leanne Jarvis singing "Stay With Me Baby" on The Voice UK

(#10) Angelina Jordan singing a breathy, bluesy version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" on AGT Champions
(#10) Mitchell Brunings singing "Redemption Song" on The Voice Holland (58 million views)
(#10) Laura Bretan singing "Pie Jesu," "O Mio Babbino Caro," "Nessun Dorma" and "The Prayer" on American's Got Talent
(#10) Jackie Evancho's debut at age ten, singing "O Mio Babbino Caro," "Ave Maria" and "Pie Jesu" like an angel on AGT (22 million views)
(#10) Jordan Smith creating gender confusion with "Chandelier" on The Voice USA (53 million views)
(#10) Ash Morgan singing "Never Tear Us Apart" with rare power and soul on The Voice UK
(#9) Stevie McCrorie singing "All I Want" on The Voice UK
(#8) Calum Scott singing "Dancing on My Own" so evocatively on Britain's Got Talent (262 million views)
(#7) Alice Fredenham singing "My Funny Valentine" like a golden-age chanteuse on Britain's Got Talent (63 million views)
(#6) Carly Rose Sonenclar singing "Feeling Good" like an old soul on X Factor USA (46 million views)
(#5) Sawyer Fredericks singing "I am a Man of Constant Sorrow" on The Voice USA and shocking the judges into instantaneous chair turns
(#4) Brian Justin Crum singing "Creep" on AGT  and Loren Allred singing "Never Enough" on BGT
(#3) Adam Lambert singing "Mad World," "A Change Is Gonna Come," "Satisfaction" and "Whole Lotta Love" on American Idol
(#2) Josh Krajcik singing "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" poolside for X Factor USA judges Nicole Scherzinger and Enrique Iglesias
(#1) Dimash Kudaibergen impersonating an extraterrestrial angel on "S.O.S."

Most Touching: Kechi Okwuchi, one of only two survivors of a Nigerian plane crash, singing "Thinking Out Loud" on America's Got Talent

Heaven on Earth: When Terrence Cunningham sang "My Girl" on The Voice USA, Alicia Keys said it was as if Divinity had entered the room!

Fastest 4-Chair Turns: Adriana Bessogonov, Mitchell Brunings, Jesse Campbell, Glenn Claes, Terrence Cunningham, Karise Eden, Wim van Gennip, Cleo Higgins, Judith Hill, Mennel Ibtissem, Siki Jo-An, Sophia Kruithof, Jennie Lena, Damien Lawson, Charly Luske, Khalea Lynee, Alisan Porter, Anthony Riley, Joniver Robles, David Rodriguez, Ahla Sawt, Matthew Schuler, Francisco Sequeira, Sarah Simmons, Maxim Subachev, Julia van der Toorn, Mateusz Ziłko

4-Chair Turns where at least one judge had a temporary brain freeze: Menno Aben, Andi & Alex, Johnny Bliss, Jesse Campbell, India Carney, Tessanne Chin, Javier Colon, Stefano Corona, Fernando Daniel, James Dupre, Sawyer Fredericks, Wim van Gennip, Lee Glasson, Christina Grimmie, Matt Henry, Cleo Higgins, Maelyn Jarmon, Juliusz Kamil, Vince Kidd, Anette Kolkova, Damien Lawson, Khalea Lynee, We McDonald, Cedric Neal, Matthias Nebel, DeAndre Nico, Valerie Ponzio, Cassadee Pope, Alisan Porter, Ben Saunders, Jordan Smith, Chris Weaver

Really, Judges? Really? You had to think forever about Tessanne Chin, Javier Colon, Sawyer Fredericks, Christina Grimmie, Cassadee Pope, freakin' Jordan Smith?

And what about these singers who had to be saved by the bell? Really? What were you thinking, or not thinking, about Carter Lloyd Horne, Jermain Jackman, Wannes Lacroix, Mike Parker, Lisa Ramey, Jazmin Varlet, Jake Wells and (really! REALLY?) Sophie May Williams?

10-Second Chair Turns: Monique Abbadie, Ivonne Acero, Barbara and Carla, Brooke Adee, Addison Agen, Anthony Alexander, Donna Allen, Anita Antoinette, Katie Basden, Adriana Bessogonov, Johnny Bliss, Javier Colon, Travis Cormier, Terrence Cunningham, Christian Cuevas, Christiana Danielle, Joshua Davis, Dawn & Hawkes, Dwight Dissels, Mitchel Emms, Jorge Eduardo, Travis Ewing, David Faulkner, Dia Frampton, Morgan Frazier, Hannah Goebel, Holly Henry, Matt Henry, Nathan Hermida, Cleo Higgins, Molly Hocking, Siahna Im, Jai, Jchosen, Brian Johnson, Casi Joy, Sophia Kruithof, Rayshun LaMarr, Ellie Lawrence, Emily Keener, Bria Kelly, Michael Lynch, Khalea Lynee, Joelle Moses, Nolan Neal, Peyton Parker, Jesse Pitts, Mike Schiavo, Natalia Sikora, Brooke Simpson, Halle Tomlinson, Autumn Turner, Adam Wakefield, Karli Webster, Cody Wickline, Natalie Yacovazzi, Sammie Zanona

Best One-Chair Turns: Chris Blue (won The Voice USA), Jake Hoot (won The Voice USA), Wannes Lacroix (finished second on The Voice Australia), Ruti Olajugbagbe (won the Voice UK), Sophie May Williams

Absolute Show Stoppers:  Loren Allred, Jamie "Afro" Archer, Kelly Clarkson, David Dam, Alice Fredenham, Danyl Johnson, Julia Ivanova, Adam Lambert, Sean Miley Moore, Carrie Underwood

Most Charismatic: Jamie "Afro" Archer, Chris Blue, Sierra Deaton, Angelica Hale, Heavenly Joy Jerkins, Danyl Johnson, Adam Lambert, Panda Ross

Mysteriously Underrated and Still Unknown: Savannah Berry, Julia Ivanova

Fiercest: Cody Frost, Natasha Stuart, Ada Vox

Most Laid Back: Judah Kelly

Most Energy: Chris Blue, Bumbly, Aydan Calafiore, Danyl Johnson, Evvie McKinney, Simon Morin, Conor Scott, Uche

Old School/Old Souls: Jamie Bruce, Sundance Head, Khalea Lynee, Celia Pavey, Daniel Shaw

Turn-Around Shockers (Guys Who Sound Like Girls): Billy Gilman, Jay Miah, Ferry de Ruiter, Jordan Smith, Jack Vidgen

Men Hitting the High Notes: Chris Blue, Brian Justin Crum, Andrew De Leon, Jahmene Douglas, Billy Gilman, Lee Glasson, Todd Michael Hall, Sam Harris, Jolan, Adam Lambert, Jay Miah, Stevie McCrorie, Travis Pratt, Greg Pritchard, Ragsy, Calum Scott, Kevin Simm, Liam Tamne, Kris Thomas

Girls and Women Hitting the High Notes with Accuracy and Power: Connie Talbot (age 6), Jackie Evancho (10), Emanne Beasha (10), Laura Bretan (13), Kat Hammock (18), Nadezhda Aleksandrova, Loren Allred, Anne-Sophie, Enrika Derza, Kimberly Fransens, Synne Helland, Leanne Jarvis, Novi Manado, Bella Paige, Celia Pavey, Kim Sheehy, Brooke Simpson, Chynna Taylor, Ashley Williams

Men Hitting the Low Notes (So Rare!): Jonathan Allen, Filippo Cantele, Alexander Eder, Willie Jones, Scotty McCreery, Josiah Siska

Women Hitting the Low Notes (Even Rarer): Leanne Mitchell, Alicja Szemplińska

Confusingly Androgynous: James Byron, Джулианна Стрейнджлав, Vince Kidd, Ada Vox

Best Falsettos: Brandon Diaz, Jolan, Adam Lambert, Liam Tamne

Ethereal Voices: Savannah Berry, Bo Bruce, Janet Devlin, Bronwen Lewis, Anna McLuckie, Melanie Martinez, Celia Pavey, Harriet Whitehead

Best Harmonies: Swon Brothers, Hello Sunday, O'G3NE

Most Original: Courtney Hadwin, Cody Frost, Sawyer Fredericks, Nadeem Leigh, Max Milner, Conor Scott, Alicja Szemplińska

Most Adorable: Janet Devlin, Sierra Deaton, Jackie Evancho, Kat Hammock, Jaclyn Lovey, Melanie Martinez, Layla Spring, Chevel Shepherd, Lucy Sugerman, Lucy Thomas

Charmers: Janet Devlin, Melanie Martinez, Aleksandar Mileusnic, Chevel Shepherd

Best Chemistry: Alex & Sierra, Katy Perry & Trevor Holmes, Katy Perry & Jonny Brenns, Katy Perry & Benjamin Glaze, Katy Perry & Cade Foehner

Sexiest: Sierra Deaton, Danyl Johnson, Haley Reinhart, Alice Fredenham, Julia Ivanova, Joseph Whelan, Cade Foehner, Katharine McPhee, Michelle Sussett, Beatrice Verzier, Camryn Jordans, Sarah Cassidy

Most Seductive: Cat Cavelli, Alice Fredenham, Camryn Jordans, Katharine McPhee, Aleksandar Mileusnic, Whitney Reign, Haley Reinhart

Insanely Beautiful Stunners: Sarah Cassidy, Mennel Ibtissem, Gabriella Laberge, Lou Mai, Katharine McPhee, Hanna Rohkohl, Sophie May Williams

Most Attitude: Cody Frost, Cher Lloyd, Jurnee, Ada Vox, Sandy Redd, Evvie McKinney, Natasha Stuart, Whitney Reign, Uche

Best Growls and Screams: Nicole Bernegger, Elise Evans, Katie Kadan, Ash Morgan, Matthias Nebel, Karis Thomas

Insane Shredders: Matthias Nebel, Mo Adeniran

Best Hair: Tyke James, Sandy Redd, Cade Foehner, Linda Antonia Heue, Julia Ivanova, Sanjaya Malakar, Adam Lambert, Jason Castro, Cassadee Pope, Evvie McKinney, Zhavia Ward, Harriet Whitehead,

Quirkiest: Alejandro Aranda, Andrea Begley, Cody Frost, Eddie Island, Tyke James, Siki Jo-An, Adam Lambert, Melanie Martinez, Jai McConnell, Anna McLuckie, Catie Turner

Chatterboxes: Kelly Clarkson, Catie Turner

Old Souls: Evelyn Cormier, Alice Fredenham, Ella Henderson, Lauren Jauregui, Michael Ketterer, Sophia Kruithof, Tina Kuznetsova, Rachael Leahcar, Carly Rose Sonenclar, Sophie May Williams, Mike Yung

Unexpected Soul: Brandie Love, James Kenny, Taylor Hicks, David Fenley, Michael Collings, Owen Campbell, David Dam, Isaac Waddington, Stacey Solomon

Best Torch Singers and Throwbacks: Alice Fredenham, Haley Reinhart, Noah Mac, Emily West, Harrison Craig, Evelyn Cormier, Sarah Cassidy

Retro Rockers: Laine Hardy, Todd Michael Hall

Crooners: Bojan Aleksovski, Harrison Craig, Riley Elmore, Daniel Joyner, Markos, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.

Chanteuses: Sarah Cassidy, Lauren Diaz, Alice Fredenham, Ella Henderson, Rachael Leahcar, Amy Vachal, Sophie May Williams

Smoothest: Aleksandar Mileusnic, Kris Thomas, Evelyn Cormier, Jej Vinson, Judah Kelly, Swon Brothers

Best Instrumentalists: Alejandro Aranda, Ricky Duran, Sarah Grace, Cade Foehner, Sundance Head

Most Inspirational: Kechi Okwuchi, Emmanuel Kelly, Calysta Bevier (ovarian cancer survivor), Rion Page, Susan Boyle, Angelica Hale, Kodi Lee, Natasha Stuart

Most Expressive: James Arthur, Josh Daniel, Janet Devlin, Synne Helland, Kathleen Jenkins, Kodi Lee, Daryl Markham, Karl Michael

Most Emotive: James Arthur, Calysta Bevier, Josh Daniel, Daniel Shaw

Most Tear-Worthy: James Arthur, Josh Daniel, Lusine Kocharyan, Christian Burrows, Monica Michael, Jake Quickenden, Daryl Markham, Christopher Maloney, Jillian Jensen, Anette Kolkova

Artists in Tears: Marybeth Byrd, Louisa Johnson, Maddison McNamara, Sean Miley Moore

Simon Cowell in Tears and Unable to Speak: Josh Daniel ("Jealous")

Other Judges in Tears: Shanaya Atkinson-Jones ("Say Something"), Christian Burrows (original song), Grace Davies (original song), Michael Ketterer, Lillie McCloud ("Alabaster Box"), Marc McMullan, Monica Michael (original song), Sean Miley Moore ("The Show Must Go On"), Jade Richards ("Someone Like You"), Kim Sheehy, Alex & Sierra ("Gravity"), Caitlyn Vanbeck ("Piece By Piece"), Stephanie Woods

Best Back-Stories: Calysta Bevier, Peter Donegan, Michael Ketterer, Choi Sung-Bong, Kechi Okwuchi

Best Popera Singers: Jackie Evancho, Jonathan Antoine, Susan Boyle, Laura Bretan, Harrison Craig

Best Opera Singers: Jonathan Allen, Barbara and Carla, Leah Barniville, Emanne Beasha, Neal E. Boyd, Laura Bretan, Ben Clark, Jenna Dearness-Dark, Jackie Evancho, Lucy O'Byrne, Paul Potts

Most Unique Voices: Conor Scott, Cher Lloyd, Sawyer Fredericks, Terrence Cunningham, Anton Belyaev, Michael Ketterer, Tyke James, Janet Devlin, Melanie Martinez, Andrea Begley

Smoky Dark Tones: Cat Cavelli, Gavin Edwards

Best Whitney Houston Impersonation: Kennedy Holmes, Ashley Williams, Jack Vidgen (age 14), Laura Kamhuber (The Voice Kids, age 13, with a teddy bear in her pocket!), Johnny Blows, Jessica Sanchez, Von Smith, Sarah Ikumu

Most Powerful Voices: Melanie Amaro, Jonathan Antoine, Samantha Atkinson, Neal E. Boyd, Susan Boyle, Sami Brookes, Jamie Bruce, Wade Cota, Brian Justin Crum, Matt Henry, Sarah Ikumu, Kyla Jade, Nathan James, Kymberli Joye, Katie Kadan, Lem Knights, Leanne Mitchell, Ash Morgan, Paul Potts, Victoria Pesterean, La'Porsha Renae, Chiara Ruggeri, Panda Ross, MaKenzie Thomas, Ada Vox, Marlin Williford

Biggest Surprises: Jamie Archer, Courtney Hadwin, Susan Boyle, Kathleen Jenkins, Charlotte and Jonathan, W McDonald, Sundance Head, Andrea Begley, Mano Raduly Botond (looks like a leprechaun, sings like a giant), Magnus Bokn, Gary Barker, Anna Clendenning (overcame a severe anxiety disorder), Willie Jones (a hip young black man singing old school country with a super-deep voice), Mandy Harvey (went completely deaf and now feels the music through her feet singing barefoot), Ada Vox (who tried out for American Idol 13 times before emerging as a frontrunner in 2018)

Most Eye-Rolling: Susan Boyle, Charlotte and Jonathan

Best Comeback: Lynnea Moorer (the "Comeback Kid"), Billy Gilman (a child country star, after his voice changed he came back as a pop singer covering songs by Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Roy Orbison, Queen and Frank Sinatra), Natasha Stuart (came back from cancer to steal the show)

Rockers: Crystal Bowersox, David Cook, Chris Daughtry, Lee DeWyze, Cade Foehner, Courtney Hadwin, Todd Michael Hall, Julia Ivanova, Nathan James, Caleb Johnson, Jesse Kramer, Adam Lambert, Max Milner, Joseph Whelan

Hunky Emoters: Mitchel Emms, Jake Hoot, Willie Jones, Tim Karkowski, Clint Posselt, Mike Ward

Big Voices in Small Packages: J Marie Cooper

Potential Teen Idols: Aydan Calafiore, Josh Richards

Rappers: Menn on Poinnt, Bars & Melody, Zipparah Tafari, Chris Rene, Astro, Max Milner, James Arthur, Patrick Jorgensen

Country Staples: Sawyer Fredericks, Craig Wayne Boyd, Scott McCreery, Lauren Alaina, Sundance Head, Lauren Duski, Adam Wakefield, Emily Ann Roberts, Swon Brothers, Spensha Baker, Caleb Lee Hutchison, Kirk Jay

Overcoming Self-Confidence Issues: Kyla Jade, Courtney Hadwin, Molly Hocking

Best Yodelers: Rachel Messer

Best Impressions: Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. (Frank Sinatra)

Refreshingly Honest: Matt Cardle ("I'm a bit of a bum.")

Best Duos: Dawn & Hawkes, Hello Sunday, Swon Brothers, Brothers Walker, Alex & Sierra, Andi & Alex, Alaska & Madi, Whitney & Shannon, The Morgan Twins

Best Duets and Other Collaborations: Hello Sunday singing "This is Me," Evelyn Cormier and Chris Isaak singing "Wicked Game," Haley Reinhart and Kory Wheeler belting out "Bennie and the Jets," Alejandro Aranda and Ben Harper singing "There Will Be a Light," Alex & Sierra sexualizing "Toxic," Charlotte and Jonathan singing "The Prayer" and "Caruso," Dimitrius Graham and Lukas Graham singing "Love Someone," Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon and Cynthia Erivo performing "Time After Time," Dawn & Hawkes performing "I've Just Seen a Face," Aydan Calafiore and Madi Krstevski singing "Uptown Funk"

Best Groups: One Direction, Fifth Harmony, Forte, Collabro, Triple Threat, Trill, In The Stairwell, Luminites, The Band of Voices, Musicality, Good Girl, Aknu, A.K.A. Jam, Glamour, Brothers 3, Little Mix, Beatz, O'G3NE, Wade Cota & lovelytheband performing "Broken"

Best Choirs: Welsh Choir Cr Glanaethwy, Voices of Hope, Revelation Avenue, Angel City Chorale, Hummingsong Choir, Presentation School Choir, One Voice Children's Choir, Missing People Choir, The 100 Voices of Gospel, Only Boys Alloud

Big Voices in Small Packages: Jackie Evancho (10, America's Got Talent second place; she had an album published by David Foster at age 9), Amira Willighagen (she won Holland's Got Talent singing opera at age 9), Emanne Beasha (age 10), Rion Paige (13), Angelica Hale (AGT runner-up at age 9), Angelina Jordan Astar (she won Norway's Got Talent at age 8), Anna Graceman (11), Courtney Hadwin (13), Rachel Crow (13), Charlotte Summers (13), Shaquilla (8), Arielle Baril (12)

Talented Beyond Their Years: Connie Talbot (6, Britain's Got Talent second place with 154 million views; she had an album at age 12), Christina Aguilera (Star Search winner, age 8), Aaliyah (Star Search, age 10), Emanne Beasha (age 10), Bianca Ryan (11, America's Got Talent winner), Asada Jezile (11, Britain's Got Talent), Grace VanderWaal (12, AGT), Andrew Johnston (13, Britain's Got Talent third place), Courtney Hadwin (13), Jeffrey Li (13, AGT), Charlotte Summers (13), Brynn Cartelli (the youngest Voice USA winner at age 14, she co-wrote "Walk My Way" with Julia Michaels), Jack Vidgen (14, Australia's Got Talent winner), Lucy Thomas (14, The Voice Kids UK), Sawyer Fredericks (15, Voice USA winner), Mara Justine (15, American Idol), Joana Martinez (15, Voice USA top eight), Alyssa Raghu (15, American Idol), Danielle Bradberry (16, Voice USA winner), Janet Devlin (16, X Factor UK fifth place), Lauren Jauregui (16, X Factor US), Louisa Johnson (17, X Factor UK winner), W McDonald (17, Voice USA third place), Britton Buchanan (17, Voice USA second place), Noah Mac (17, Voice USA fifth place)

Other Talent Show Stars for the Ages: Clay Aiken (American Idol runner-up), David Archuleta (Star Search winning junior vocalist, age 12, then American Idol runner-up at age 16), Backstreet Boys (Star Search), Fantasia Barrino (American Idol winner), Beyonc (Star Search, age 12), Susan Boyle (BGT runner-up, age 48), Laura Bretan (age 13), Kelly Clarkson (American Idol's first winner), Destiny's Child (Star Search), Chris Daughtry (American Idol), Jackie Evancho (AGT runner-up, age 10), Girls Aloud (Popstars: the Rivals), James Graham (The Four winner), Fifth Harmony (X Factor US, created by the judges), Sam Harris (Star Search), Jennifer Hudson (American Idol), Alan Jackson (You Can Be a Star), Carly Rae Jepsen (Canadian Idol), Adam Lambert (American Idol runner-up and Queen frontman), Miranda Lambert (Nashville Star finalist), Leona Lewis (X Factor UK winner), Jeffrey Li (AGT, age 13), Katherine McPhee (American Idol runner-up), Little Mix (X Factor UK winners, created by the judges), Alanis Morissette (Star Search, age 14), Natalie Okri (BGT, age 10, 114 million views), One Direction (X Factor UK finalists, created by the judges), Pentatonix (The Sing-Off winners), Kellie Pickler (American Idol), Pittbull (Star Search), Alisan Porter (after wowing Star Search at age 5, she went on to win The Voice USA as an adult), Otis Redding (he won 15 talent shows before landing a record deal), LeAnn Rimes (Star Search), Sawyer Brown (Star Search), Nicole Scherzinger (Popstars), Jessica Simpson (Star Search), Jordin Sparks (American Idol winner, age 17), Britney Spears (Star Search, age 11), Justin Timberlake (Star Search, age 11), Carrie Underwood (American Idol winner, with 65 million records sold), Usher (Star Search, age 13), Zhavia Ward (The Four, age 16), Trisha Yearwood (You Can Be a Star)

Best Singer-Songwriters: Chris Rene ("Young Homie"), Ella Shaw ("Summertime"), Ella Henderson ("Missed"), Brandyn Burnette ("Lost"), Maddie Poppe ("Don't Ever Let Your Children Grow Up"), Leondre "Bars" Devries ("Hopeful"), Lucy Spraggan ("Tea and Toast"), Ryan O'Shaugnessy ("No Name"), Chase Goehring ("Hurt"), Henry Gallagher (age 12, no less), Grace VanderWaal (12), Brynn Cartelli (14)

Talent Show High Honorable Mentions: Melanie Amaro singing "Listen" on X Factor USA, David Archuleta singing "Imagine" on American Idol, Alexandra Burke singing "Hallelujah" on X-Factor UK, Matt Cardle singing ("I'm No Good") on BGT, Jason Castro singing "Hallelujah" on American Idol, Tessanne Chin singing "Try" on The Voice USA, Kelly Clarkson singing "Respect" on American Idol, David Cook singing "Billie Jean" on American Idol, Chris Daughtry singing "Hemorrhage" on American Idol, Candice Glover singing "Lovesong" on American Idol, James Graham singing "Hello" on The Four: Battle for Stardom, Kat Hammock singing "Danny Boy" on The Voice USA, Jennifer Hudson singing "The Circle of Life" on American Idol, David Jackson singing "All I Want" on The Voice UK, Caleb Johnson singing "Dream On" on American Idol, Jaclyn Lovey singing "Put Your Records On" on The Voice USA, Max Milner singing and rapping "Lose Yours/Come Together" on The Voice UK, Rion Page singing "Blown Away" on X Factor USA (47 million views), Cassadee Pope singing "Torn" on The Voice USA, Anthony Riley singing "I Feel Good" on the Voice USA, Reagan Strange singing "You Say" on The Voice USA, Pia Toscano singing "I'll Stand By You" on American Idol, Carrie Underwood singing "Alone" on American Idol, Наргиз Закирова (Nargiz Zakirova) singing "Still Loving You" on The Voice Russia, Mateusz Ziłko singing "When a man loves a woman" on The Voice of Poland

More Talent Show Honorable Mentions: Menno Aben, Kris Allen, Jordan Anthony, Joseph Apostol, Lina Arndt, Shanaya Atkinson-Jones, Celia Babini, Lauren Bannon, Mahalia Barnes, Tom Barnwell, Hannah Barrett, Michelle Barrett, Savannah Berry, Dima Bilan, Will Breman, Christian Burrows, Marybeth Byrd, James Byron, Brittany Cairns, Juan Carlos Cano, Mairead Conlon, J Marie Cooper, Travis Cormier, Harrison Craig, Callum Crowley, Adam Cunningham, David Dam, Christiana Danielle, Dao, Grace Davies, Jenna Dearness-Dark, Dwight Dissels, Peter Donegan, Ricky Duran, Gavin Edwards, Mitchel Emms, Camila Gallardo, Wim van Gennip, Carlos Guevara, Trent Harmon, Synne Helland, Sarah Ikumu, Andrew Jannakos, Jamie Johnson, Jessica Hammond, Cassius Henry, Iesher Haughton, Cleo Higgins, Myracle Holloway, Mikayla Jade, Jai, Melissa Janssen, Louisa Johnson, Vicky Jones, Tim Karkowski, Judah Kelly, Sophia Kruithof, Andreas Kmmert, Tor Kvammen, Rachael Leahcar, Jennie Lena, Bronwen Lewis, Meghan Linsey, Malle, Noah Mac, Christopher Maloney, Adam Martin, Anna McLuckie, Olly Murs, Rachael O'Connor, Jamie Lovatt, Joana Martinez, Lillie McCloud, W McDonald, Maddison McNamara, Leah McFall, Jay Miah, Monica Michael, Caitlin Michele, Leanne Mitchell, Joelle Moses, Camilla Musso, DeAndre Nico, Dorota Osińska, Michela Pace, Madilyn Paige, Celia Pavey, Sam Perry, Jade Mayjean Peters, Taylor Phelan, Rachel Potter, John Pritchard, Shane Q, Radha, Chelsea Redfern, Jade Richards, Jackie Sannia, Abi Sampa, Ben Saunders, Chris Schumert, Laverne Scott-Roberts, Francisco Sequeira, Daniel Shaw, Kim Sheehy, Rose Short, Natalia Sikora, Kevin Simm, Sarah Simmons, Aeron Smith, Jordan Smith, Shawn Sounds, Lucy Spraggan, Jessica Steele, Richard Stirton, Kevin Storm, Maxim Subachev, Hannah Symons, Liam Tamne, Jesse Teinaki, Shem Thomas, Tayla Thomas, Heshima Thompson, Caitlyn Vanbeck, Panos Vitzileos, Mike Ward, Toni Warne, Stephanie Webber, Lascel Wood, Stephanie Woods, Jake Worthington, Sophie Zingt

The Best Vocal Performances by Kelly Clarkson: Already Gone, Since U Been Gone, Miss Independent, Piece By Piece, Because of You, Breakaway, Cryin', Creep, Sober, Shallow, Stronger, You Don't Know Me (with John Legend), Up to the Mountain, Underneath the Tree

Superstars Who Didn't Win: Dimash, Jackie Evancho, Adam Lambert

Saved By the Bell Last-Second Turns: James Byron, Carter Lloyd Horne, Jermain Jackman, Vicky Jones, Mia Pfirrman (four chair turns in the last few seconds), Jazmin Varlet, Sophie May Williams

Inexplicable Non-Turns and Worst Judge Decisions: Jake Daulby, Luna Envy, Polina Gagarina, Lachlan Gergaghty, Ciara Harvie, Kateřina Kolčavov, Bronwen Lewis, Maddie Poppe (no chair turns on The Voice USA, but later won American Idol), Magorzata Usciowska

AGT Champions Season One Finalists and Honorable Mentions

(*) = Finalist but the numeric rankings are mine

(12*) Christina Ramos hitting insanely high notes on "Call Me" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" but screechy for me
(11) Prince Poppycock "opera-ting" on Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory" but just okay for me
(10) Brian Justin Crum singing "Never Enough" with laser-like precision, but perhaps not the best song choice
(9) Courtney Hadwin belting out "Pretty Little Thing" (an original song) and making it work
(8*) Angelica Hale winning Howie Mandel's golden buzzer with "Fight Song" then killing "Impossible"
(7) Sal Valentinetti melting butter and Heidi Klum's heart with "Mack the Knife"
(6) Bianca Ryan making a stunning comeback from three surgeries with "Say Something"
(5*) Kechi Okwuchi winning Simon Cowell's golden buzzer with "You Are The Reason"
(4*) Susan Boyle winning Mel B's golden buzzer with "Wild Horses" then belting out "I Dreamed a Dream"
(3*) Paul Potts mesmerizing with world-class performances of "Caruso" and "Nessun Dorma"
(2) Jackie Evancho slaying "Music of the Night" but somehow not making the finals?
(1*) Darci Lynne Farmer, an amazing child ventriloquist, singing opera like an angel without moving her lips! She wins a close contest with extra points for degree of difficulty, and for being funny, captivating and utterly charming.

Any of my top six acts would have been worthy winners of the overall AGT Champions contest. It says something about the quality of the performers above that half the finalists were singers. I thought Christian Ramos was a stretch as a finalist, especially because Jackie Evancho and Sons of Serendip were much better, in my opinion. Some of my lower-ranked acts were obviously very talented but seemed to be trying too hard and/or selected songs that didn't fully connect with me. Previous AGT contestants I would have included myself are Alice Fredenham, Laura Bretan, Jonathan Antoine, Andrew Johnston, Calum Scott, Emily West, Michael Grimm and Lucie Jones.

AGT Champions Season Two: Angelina Jordan (1*), Michael Grimm (2), Marcelito Pomoy(3), Mike Yung, Luke Islam, Connie Talbot, Jack Vidgen, Eddie Williams, Hans(*), Bars and Melody, Puddles

Voice 2020 USA Top 12: Thunderstorm Artis, Mandi Castillo, Cedrice, Megan Danielle, Toneisha Harris, Zan Fiskum, Micah Iverson, Allegra Miles, Joanna Serenko, Todd Tilghman, Camm Wess, Michael Williams

Talent Contest Trivia: In addition to winning the Voice 2016, Sundance Head also made the top eight men on American Idol (sixth season). Give the man a gold star for versatility, as he competed with songs as diverse as "Jeremy," "Nights in White Satin," "Stormy Monday," "At Last," "Me and Jesus" and "Mustang Sally." 

Tributes and Memorials

Little Richard, the flamboyant alter ego of Richard Wayne Penniman, passed away on May 9, 2020. Little Richard was one of the most original and influential vocalists of all time. He has been called without exaggeration "The Originator" and "The Architect" of Rock 'n' Roll. The Beatles opened for Little Richard in 1962, and it was he who taught them those high-pitched yips, yelps and falsetto screams. "For me the first wild, high voice I ever heard was Little Richard," Paul McCartney said during a 2013 interview. "It's all from gospel and it was just amazing." Jimi Hendrix once said, "I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice." Little Richard coyly admitted that Elvis was the King of Rock 'n' Roll, then added, "But I am the Queen!" He allegedly told John Waters, "I believe I was the founder of gay." And he was a man far ahead of his time since he was singing about "good booty" in the mid 1950s. His "Tutti Frutti" had to be toned down in order to receive radio time. Penniman's nicknames included, of course, Little Richard, but also Sizzlin' Hot Bacon from Macon, The Bronze Liberace, War Hawk, The Original Georgia Peach, and The Innovator. He was also called The Emancipator because Little Richard did for black musicians what Jackie Robinson did for black athletes.

Aretha Franklin passed away on August 16, 2018. Dubbed the "Queen of Soul" and "Lady Soul," she was Billboard's top female artist, with 112 charted singles and 20 number one R&B singles. She also won 18 Grammys and was the first woman elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Aretha joined a gospel music tour with her father at age 12 and recorded her first album at age 14. In 1958 she met Sam Cooke and decided to join him in crossing over to secular music. When her cover of Otis Redding's "Respect" hit number one on the mainstream charts in 1967, the Queen of Gospel, Soul and R&B had also become the Queen of Pop. Perhaps more importantly, she had become an emphatic voice for equality, justice and female empowerment. Unfortunately, this queenly woman who demanded and earned R-E-S-P-E-C-T in capital letters received none from an American president. After Aretha's death, Trump tweeted that he had "employed" the great artist "on numerous occasions," making her sound like the hired help on his cotton plantation. But we all know better.

Leonard Cohen is gone at age 82. Cohen inspired great vocalists with songs like "Hallelujah" (covered by Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, K. D. Lang, Celine Dion, Michael McDonald, Michael Bolton, Bon Jovi, Bono, Susan Boyle, John Cale, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, LeAnne Rimes, Justin Timberlake, Pentatonix and Il Divo), "Suzanne" (covered by Judy Collins, Neil Diamond, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, Fairport Convention, Peter Gabriel and Nick Cave) and "Bird on a Wire" (covered by Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Jennifer Warnes, Joe Cocker, The Neville Brothers and Katey Sagal).

Leon Russell passed away at age 74. Russell is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who started out as session player in the 1950's. In the early 1960's he played clubs in the Los Angeles area with David Gates of Bread fame. Russell played on dozens of hit records, including "Monster Mash," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Help Me Rhonda," "This Diamond Ring (Doesn't Shine for me Anymore)" and "Danke Schoen" by Wayne Newton. In 1969 Russell formed Shelter Records and went solo with songs like "Tightrope," "Lady Blue," "Bluebird," "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms," "Watching the River Flow," "Dixie Lullaby," "This Masquerade" (covered by George Benson) and "Superstar" (covered by the Carpenters).

Glen Campbell played guitar with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Elvis Presley, from the Monkees to Cream. Alice Cooper called him one of the five best guitar players in the world, rock or country, and said that Eddie Van Halen once sought him out for guitar lessons. Campbell played bass and sang falsetto harmonies with the Beach Boys, filling in for Brian Wilson from 1964-1965, and was asked to become a member of the group. He played some mean bagpipes on "Mull of Kintyre" and yodeled on "Lovesick Blues." He co-starred in True Grit with John Wayne and sang the movie's title song. In 1967 he won an unprecedented four Grammies in the country and pop categories. As a singer he had a golden voice and perfect pitch. His best vocal performances include: "You'll Never Walk Alone," "Lovesick Blues," "Lightning in a Bottle," "It's Only Make Believe," "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston," "Gentle on My Mind," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Turn Around Look at Me," "Rhinestone Cowboy," "Southern Nights," "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" (a song about his struggles with Alzheimer's Disease) and "Where Shadows Never Fall."

Walter Becker of Steely Dan fame died Sunday, September 3, 2017 at age 67. When I think of Steely Dan, the word that comes to mind is "smooth." Also "ironic," since Steely Dan is probably the only band named after a giant pneumatic dildo! Walter Becker's best vocal performances with his longtime partner Donald Fagen include "Deacon Blues," "Babylon Sisters," "Gaslighting Abbie," "FM (No Static At All)," "Hey Nineteen," "Reelin' in the Years," "Do It Again," "Josie," "Aja," "Black Cow," "The Fez," "Rikki Don't Loose That Number" and "Peg"

Graham Nash, a member of the Hollies and later Crosby Stills & Nash [& sometimes Young], was initially attracted to music by Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings." The iconic vocalist called the instrumental an "incredibly emotional piece of music." But when Nash and his musical partner Allan Clarke started the Hollies, their primary inspirations were the pure harmonies of The Everly Brothers. "Who the [expletive] would've NOT been a fan of the Everly Brothers?" Nash asked in an interview, still a fan at age 75. Who indeed? Graham Nash is not a fan of Donald Trump; he says Trump has encouraged the KKK, neo-Nazis and other "crazies." Nash says it's his job to tell the truth, to reflect "the times in which we live," and to spread "more love, more peace, more creation, every day." That, he says, is what he wants for the remainder of his life. The best vocal performances of Graham Nash include lead vocals and/or harmonies on the haunting "(I'm Flying in Winchester) Cathedral," "Teach Your Children," "Our House," "Suite Judy Blue Eyes," "Wooden Ships," "Just a Song Before I Go," "Dj Vu," "Love is the Reason," "Simple Man," "Southern Cross," "Ohio," "Woodstock," "Wasted on the Way" and old Hollies classics like "Carrie Anne" and "Bus Stop."

Peter Tork of the Monkees passed away on February 21, 2019 at age 77. Tork provided lead vocals on a number of Monkees songs, notably "For Pete's Sake" (which he co-wrote), "Wasn't Born to Follow," "Come On In," "Words," "Do Not Ask for Love" (the 2006 remastered version), the lovely and mellow "Shades of Gray," and "Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again?" Tork also provided backup vocals on Monkees hits like "I'm a Believer," "Daydream Believer," "Valleri" and "Last Train to Clarksville." Once called the "Prefab Four" because the group was "pre-fabricated" for TV, the group had legitimate musical chops. In 1967 the Monkees sold 35 million albums, twice as many as the Beatles and Rolling Stones combined.

Michael McDonald played keyboards and sang lead and backing vocals with Steely Dan before joining the Doobie Brothers in 1976. While with the Doobies, McDonald was the lead vocalist on "What a Fool Believes," "Minute By Minute," "Takin' It to the Streets," "It Keeps You Runnin'," "Real Love," "One Step Closer" and other songs. After leaving the group in 1982, he went on to record eight solo albums and some of the best duets of all time, including "On My Own" with Patti LaBelle, "Ever Changing Times" with Aretha Franklin, "Yah-Mo Be There" with James Ingram, and "This Is It" with Kenny Loggins. McDonald's solo hits include "I Keep Forgettin'," "You Belong to Me" (a song he wrote with Carly Simon) and "Sweet Freedom."

John Prine died from COVID-19 complications on April 7, 2020 after contracting the coronavirus at age 73. Prine was living proof that great vocal performances don't have to be about hitting high and golden notes. Prine's voice might be described as "whisky and gravel." The best vocal performances of John Prine include the eerie "Lake Marie," "Hello in There," "Sam Stone," "The Frying Pan," "Dear Abby" and appropriately "Angel from Montgomery," "Paradise" and "When I Get to Heaven."

Related Pages

The Best Vocal Performances of All Time: Expanded List
Timeline of Popular Vocalists
Crucial Moments in Music History: A Musical Chronology/Timeline
The Ultimate 2017 Solar Eclipse Playlist/Songlist in the Proper Order, No Less!

More Related Pages: The Best Singers of All Time, The Best Singer-Songwriters, The Best Female Singer/Songwriters, The Best Songs of All Time, The Best Sad Songs, The Best Protest Songs and Poems, The Best Love Songs, Rock Jukebox: the Poetry of Rock, The Best Vocal Performances of All Time, The Worst Song Lyrics Ever, The Most Overrated Songs of All Time, The Best Rock Lyrics, The Best Female Poets, The Best Sappho Translations, The Best Metaphors and Similes, The Best Lines from Songs and Poems

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