Friday, August 11, 2006

Best Lead Singers in Rock History

The question of the week. Who rocked hardest? There have been a lot of great frontmen in rock from the eccentric (David Lee Roth) to the angry (Kurt Cobain) to the legends (Robert Plant.) But who's the best? Rank them. Here's my short list to get us started.

David Lee Roth
Kurt Cobain
Robert Plant
Roger Daltry
Steven Tyler
Sammy Hagar
Scott Weiland
Layne Staley
Ronnie Van Zant
Ozzie Osbourne
Jim Morrisson
Brian Wilson
Chris Cornell
Eddie Vedder


BRATCH said...

This is a tough question. I don't think I can choose a favorite.

I dig DLR, Daltry, Hagar and Plant. Tyler gets on my nerves a little, but Weiland is getting up there now as far as "currently rockin'" frontmen.

Ozzy's cool, but to be honest, having seen several Ozzy concert videos and other things, he's not really the show. Although I do love the line, "Let me see your hands."

Kobain shouldn't even be on the list and I'm insulted that Brian Wilson is on the list. However, one of the funniest things I've ever heard was when Brian Wilson introduced himself to some kids back stage one night and they were his own kids whom he didn't recognize.

Travis said...

You can't say Brian Wilson doesn't belong on this list. Brian Wilson, while not a "rocker" was a major, major influence in rock history. Ranks up there with the Beatles.

Cobain too. Now I'm not a huge Nirvana fan, but Cobain was influential and a big name front man.

My top five, in no particular order, are:
Layne Staley
Roger Daltry
Robert Plant
Chris Cornell
Scott Weiland

With honorable mention going to DLR, Hagar, and Jason Lee in Almost Famous

BRATCH said...

If you are going to get into influencing music and stuff like that, then let's iron out the rules.

What I'm looking for is, can they wail and would I like to pay to see them in concert.

In fact, I forgot about some guys. Kid Rock is a solid front man. Puts on a heckuva show as does Hetfield for Metallica. Mick too.

Piccu and I practically toured with Kid Rock for a while simply because his shows were cheap and they rocked out.

Cort said...

Say what you will about Cobain, but rock is divided into three epochs: pre-Beatles, Beatles-Nirvana, and post-Nirvana.

I'm not saying Nirvana was as good as the Beatles, but they completely changed popular music in a way that practically no other bands have before or since. Cobain killed hairband dominance. He toppled Michael Jackson from the top of the charts. He wrote abstract lyrics about biology and smashed bands who wrote about their prodigious male anatomy. He became a hero by being an anti-hero.

Sadly, he also possessed ab incredibly warped sense of reality, was a junkie, and was selfish. Too bad his flaws were deadly ones.

This is a good list overall. I think I'd add Michael Stipe of REM just because of their longevity and influence.

Off this list, I'd go with Daltry, Plant, Cornell, Cobain, Vedder,
and Ronnie Van Zandt (for purely nostalgic reasons and for my dad).

Travis said...

Kid Rock is out because of longevity. He was a blip on the radar compared to these other guys.

Hetfield I'll give you. In fact, that's a good, good pick.

Cort, thanks for aptly defending the Cobain inclusion.

BRATCH said...

People can say what you will about Cobain, but it doesn't really score many points for me. I'll acknowledge the fact that he and Nirvana influenced music heavily, but you can't convince me that it was for the better.

Grunge was just punk at half tempo in my opinion. I've always maintained that people can say what they will about hair metal and the pop metal that Nirvana killed, but those hair metal guys were seriously well trained musicians. Nirvana basically killed the guitar heroes.

And if I were Dave Grohl I would have been tearing my hair out having to play that stuff. You see the music he plays now and how much fun he has and how he's one of the best rock drummers on the planet, it must have been excruciating.

Nirvana's only influence with me is that they brought flannel back to the forefront of modern fashion. I like flannel in the winter. LOL

Piccu said...

I find it hard to believe that Mick Jagger can't make a list. When I think frontmen, I think of four guys, THE guys, if you will.

Mick Jagger for the obvious reasons, including just being so damn cool and even at the age of 93 years old he is still hopping from supermodel to supermodel.

Robert Plant is an obvious choice. He is a golden god. Not only that, but you can hear throughout rock history since Led Zep, how many singers imitated him because he was the prototype heavy rock singer.

Roger Daltry is on my list if for no other reason than the greatest scream in rock 'n' roll history in Won't Get Fooled Again.

And my fourth is David Lee Roth, he brought so much more to the "lead singer" position than just singing. He brought martial arts and gymnastics and is wasn't weird as you would expect, it was the coolest.

I am not sure there has been a lead singer since DLR that could be on this list. Cobain gets credit, but when I think lead singers I don't automatically think of Mr. Cobain.

I don't really have a top five, I think those four are enough, but there are some others that could make this list.

Ozzy was not only part of the first metal band, but his solo stuff is amazing also. Something DLR only half pulled off. When you hear Ozzy, you know it is him.

As for the best going right now, I love Chris Cornell's voice. He can sing and scream and sound great doing both. That is a hard thing to pull off, just ask Jill Gioia.

Travis said...

Yikes. If you don't think bands like STP, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and the Smashing Pumpkins were a positive change from Poison, Warrant, Whitesnake, Motley Crue and Guns N' Roses then we'll just agree to disagree.

Travis said...

Completely forgot Jagger. Oversight isn't the same thing as slight.

Piccu said...

Those you mentioned, with the exception of the Smashing Pumpkins, were positive changes from Warrant and Poison and the like, but I just don't see Weiland, Vedder, and Corgan in the same league as Jagger, Plant, and Daltry.

As for the Crue and G'N'R, I don't put them with Warrant and Poison. Axl killed G'N'R, not Nirvana. And the Crue are just sentimental favs. What can I say, hair metal was my era of discovery when it came to rock. As chessy as it is, it holds a special place in my heart.

I would like to mention that all of us forgot about Axl W. Rose who was a great lead singer. He had a great voice that could be picked out by a 2 year old at that time.

We also seemed to have "slighted" Bon Scott and Brian Johnson. Two great lead singers that fronted the same band. That is a rare feat.

I think Bon Scott is the better of the two because he was what lead singers were about, sex, drugs(alcohol) and rock 'n' roll. Plus he died young and stupidly, history never forgets those that do.

Travis said...

I agree, Axl killed Guns N Roses, not Nirvana. In fact, if not for Axl, I'd probably own a few GNR albums. But I just couldn't stand the guy.

But saying that Nirvana and the like killed guitar gods is insane to me. Was the guitar played in any of those bands better than, say, Alice in Chains? Or Soundgarden?

What grunge killed was big hair and high pitched lead singers. (with apologies to Chris Cornell who could raise the hairs on a dead dog.)

I'm thankful for grunge.

Piccu said...

I never said they killed guitar bands, Warrant and Poison are not guitar bands to me. Guitar bands are still around, but hair isn't. I can live without hair, but I need guitars.

I have always thought of Alice in Chains as more of a metal act than a grunge band. They just happened to come out of Seattle, but they sound completely different from Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Soundgarden.

We are also forgetting about Bono. He may be the coolest human walking the earth right now. I remember when they played SNL and the whole cast was standing on stage watching them. Bono went over to Amy Pohler and either kissed her or just sang right to her and she lost it. She was hysterical and crying. I have never seen anything like that since Michael Jackson was an entertainer and not a pedophile.

Travis said...

That comment was addressed to bratch, not you. He said Nirvana killed guitar heroes, which I wholeheartedly disagree with.

Yes, I left off Bono. You know, my list is assembled in like 2 minutes each week. It's supposed to get us started. It's not comprehensive.

AIC didn't really sound like metal bands either though. With their harmonies that takes them out of metal status pretty much right there. No matter what you called it, that was some rocking stuff.

BRATCH said...

STP, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam were only grunge bands because they looked the part and were relevant during the musical dark ages that Nirvana brought with them. Alice in Chains was labeled as a grunge band, but I don't consider them grunge because Nirvana was the poster child for grunge and all of those other bands were light years ahead of Nirvana musically.

All of those bands were and are rock bands. They put together solid music and not just drab depressing lyrics with a simple fuzzy guitar.

I know everyone calls them "grunge" bands, but don't think that they rode in on Nirvana's coat tails. If you see any of Alice in Chains' old, old videos, you'll notice that they were pretty much a metal band in leather and spandex.

And by the way, if you think that Nirvana was better than Motley Crue and GnR, I think you are nuts.

Like I just told our intern here at the office, Nirvana, much like when Republicans get into office, killed all of the fun.

I know I'm in the minority, but no one can convince me that anything that Nirvana did was worth listening to and that their influence on music was a good one.

Travis said...

So then by your definition, Nirvana was grunge. No one else was. Nirvana stinks, and since they are the sole representative of grunge, grunge stinks.

Here's an example of why you're wrong:

Pearl Jam might have been more talented musicians than Nirvana, but their music fit the grunge mold too. The lyrics were full of angst and their sound wasn't clean and overproduced.

You're letting your personal feelings about Nirvana's music influence your judgment.

All that "fun" that Nirvana killed wasn't that fun. Music was anything but timeless, it became a parody of itself. I won't argue that Nirvana was better than GNR because GNR was very successful for pretty long period of time. But Motley Crue? Sorry. Nirvana was better.