Outrage flooded Twitter over the weekend as Rolling Stone revealed their Top 200 Greatest Singers of All Time. Celine Dion was not on the list and Twitter users were not having it.
I reviewed the list, and there are a few things to keep in mind. Rolling Stone is not THE authority on music. Neither are the Grammys, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, NME, or any other music “authority”. The list reflects the opinions and tastes of those that made it – Rolling Stone.
Before I get into the rant, let me explain my philosophy on music and art – it’s up to the receiver. There are musicians and bands I cannot stand, rather than say I hate them, or they shouldn’t be allowed to make records, I consider the artist I don’t care for may be someone else’s favorite. They may inspire someone else down the line and something a future artist culls from the artist with output I despise may make something I think is brilliant. Even more important, that future artist may exist in the realm of music solely because of inspiration from the artist I don’t care for. I am always cautious to say an artist deserves to fall from popularity. With that disclaimer in place, I have some issues with this “list”.
All awards shows are bogus, and this is not unlike an awards show. It reflects the opinions and personal tastes of those that made it. It is whether the listener thinks the artist is deserving of their attention. That is the true award for an artist. And there are plenty out there that do not care whether you like them or not. They’re doing what they love.
On with the rant.
There are some cultural and diversity picks on the list that may or may not deserve to be there, the scope isn’t clearly defined. Rolling Stone is virtue signaling and dare I say, attempting to be “woke” by deliberately choosing singers the authors probably didn’t know crap about a month ago. There are also some singers on the list that are deceased, and their position is in tribute more than their talent (Kurt Cobain shouldn’t have charted at 36). Additionally, the music content was judged more than the singer’s actual singing ability (again, Kurt Cobain shouldn’t have charted so high).
Leaving Celine Dion off the list is clearly a snub. Additional snubs (in my opinion, again, there is not a single music authority):
Michael McDonald – sang with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, unmistakable voice, excellent singer.
Donald Fagen – speaking of Steely Dan, another singer that you instantly recognize and sings with expert delivery.
Andrea Bocelli – incredible tenor, right up there with Pavorotti (who didn’t make the list either).
Also, Joey Ramone, Harry Nilsson, Robin Zander, Annie Lennox, Carole King, Todd Rundgren – and Meat Loaf for crying out loud. Who made this list?
Most of these are all still alive, and with the exception of Bocelli being blind, do not tick any diversity boxes. And I am considering Bocelli isn’t “rock and roll”, but neither is Dolly Parton. Although, the scope is cast as “From Sinatra to SZA, from R&B to salsa to alt-rock“, you left out classical, RS. Boo.
Mistakes on this list (in my opinion):
Deborah Harry (168) charting below the likes of Bjork and many others, simply too low on the list.
Great Rob Halford (129) made it, where is Bruce Dickinson?
Bob Seger at 181. Really? Amazing voice draws you right into the song. Way too low, especially when you consider those above him on the list.
Lana Del Rey (175) – completely manufactured BS, her daddy bought her way into music. Not a fan. Can sing better than many of the bad choices that shouldn’t be in the list, but she’s no Celine Dion.
Bono (140) – clearly chosen for the impact of the music he created rather than his voice.
Bryan Ferry (150) – Oh, come on. He deserves much higher than that. Shame on you RS.
Neil Young (133) – again, pointing to the output rather than the voice. Neil Young has a truly heinous voice in my opinion and his songs are better served sung by other people (I’m sure this will ilicit some hateful comments). Oh and Bob Dylan (15) too. Where’s Tom Petty?
Courtney Love (130) – no. Just no. Add her, you have to add Wendy O. Williams from The Plasmatics. At 129 no less, because she was infinitely better than Courtney Love.
Karen Carpenter (123) and Donna Summer (122) – should be in the double-digit range, not triple. Evidence a portion of this list was put together largely by millennials that asked their parents for input.
Chrissie Hynde (114) unique voice, beautiful alto range. Charted far too low on this list.
The Weeknd (110) Overrated. This guy is ahead of Deborah Harry and Bryan Ferry? Ahead of Karen Carpenter? Insane.
This is becoming tedious. The atrocities on the list are too numerous to recount in detail. So lets look at the top 10:
Al Green (10) – okay, cool. Otis Redding (9) – nah, not this high. One song. Beyonce (8) charted too high. Just like Mariah Carey (5), both are too high on the list. Haven’t we reached the point where we thaw Mariah Carey out every Christmas and that is the only thing we need to hear from her? Freddie Mercury (14) should be top 10. The rest are legit in the Top 10.
Oh I must go out of my way to say that Ariana Grande (43) is extremely overrated. There is what should cause a Tweetstorm – Ariana Grande coming in at 43 – the definition of ridiculous.
Flame away – but remember what I said. Every artist is someone’s favorite – and the evolution of music is complex and they may inspire someone to make something that becomes someone else’s favorite.
I don’t think you can easily list the Top 200 Greatest Singers of All Time any more than you can capture lightning in a bottle.