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The best singers of all time: the updated 2023 rankings

In 2008, 'Rolling Stone' compiled a list of the 100 best singers of all time.

This ranking was compiled 15 years ago by 180 people, including several musicians (e.g. Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Justin Timberlake, George Michael, Keith Richards), journalists and music experts.

On 1 January 2023, however, 'Rolling Stone' published an update of the ranking that revolutionised the list, especially with regard to the Top Ten. As the well-known US magazine was keen to point out, this ranking does not only take into account technical and vocal abilities (it is not a list of the best voices of all time), but also the originality of the vocal timbre, the record catalogue, the writing ability and the musical legacy of the singers in question. Here are the top 20 positions.

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The 20 best singers ever according to "Rolling Stone"
In 2008, 'Rolling Stone' compiled a list of the 100 best singers of all time. This ranking was compiled by 180 people, including journalists, experts and musicians (e.g. Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Justin Timberlake, George Michael, Keith Richards). On 1 January 2023, however, 'Rolling Stone' published an update of the ranking, which was revolutionised, especially with regard to the Top 10. As the well-known US magazine was keen to point out, this ranking does not only take into account technical and vocal abilities (it is not a list of the best voices of all time), but also the originality of the vocal timbre, the record catalogue, the writing ability and the musical legacy of the singers in question. Here are the top 20 positions.
Jim Britt, Wikimedia
20. Marvin Gaye
Opening the Top 20 is Marvin Gaye, one of the leading artists of Soul and R&B music. Even today, his songs are still popular with young people, despite the fact that Gaye has been dead for almost 40 years.
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19. Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra needs no introduction: an artistic icon of the 20th century, not only in terms of music. "Indeed, 'The Voice' has distinguished himself for his immense musical output (166 albums released, 59 of them studio albums), but also for his ability to entertain audiences. Among other things, Sinatra received three Academy Awards (Honorary Oscar in 1946, Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1954, Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1971).
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18. Celia Cruz
Celia Cruz was one of the most internationally successful Latin American singers in history. During her long career, the singer received many awards and accolades, including 3 Grammy Awards and 4 Latin Grammy Awards.
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17. Elvis Presley
The King of Rock and Roll, a unique character who has inspired generations and generations, writing music history in the United States and around the world, drops from third to seventeenth position. Besides performing hundreds of concerts, Elvis released 61 albums, 23 of which were studio albums.
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16. Prince
Not only a great guitarist: Prince is also in the Top 20 in the list of the best singers of all time. Prince was a multifaceted and unique artist, capable of entertaining audiences like few in the world. During his career, the Minneapolis singer also won an Oscar for best soundtrack in 1985.
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15. Bob Dylan
He is not one of the best voices on the music scene but, as 'Rolling Stone' explained, this ranking takes into account both the flaws that contribute to a unique vocal timbre and the musical legacy of the singer in question. And there are many awards that Bob Dylan has received in his very long career: among them, the Oscar for Best Song in 2001, the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 and also the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.
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14. Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury will surely be remembered forever for his vocal talent, but also for his exuberant personality, on stage and beyond. This is why he is regarded as one of the best frontmen of all time, still able to influence new generations who were not fortunate enough to see him perform live.
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13. Patsy Cline
A country icon who died at a very young age (she was 30) in a plane crash while at the peak of her career, Patsy Cline has nevertheless remained in music history thanks to her rich and expressive vocal timbre. The singer was a source of inspiration for many country artists and was the first artist to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973.
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12. John Lennon
A memorable career both with The Beatles and in partnership with Yoko Ono, but also as a solo artist. John Lennon remains unforgettable as a singer, but also as a poet and artist. In 1971, Lennon received an Oscar for the best soundtrack with the other Beatles for the film 'Let It Be'.
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11. Little Richard
'The Architect of Rock and Roll': Richard exerted a huge influence on 20th century music and culture. In particular, Little Richard is considered one of the first rockers in history, with his flamboyant and flamboyant yet elegant look. His music had a fundamental impact on genres such as soul and funk and also contributed to the development of rock and rap.
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10. Al Green
38 albums released in total for Al Green, who reached the peak of popularity in the first half of the 1970s. During his career, the singer devoted himself passionately to both rhythm & blues and gospel, becoming one of the leading figures in this genre.
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9. Otis Redding
Called the King of Soul, Otis Redding had a very short career, cut short by an untimely death: the musician died in a plane crash at the age of 26. The singer's fame came especially after his death, when the famous song '(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay' was released.
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8. Beyoncé
Enter the Top 10 Beyoncé, the musical star of the new millennium. An incredible career, full of successes in every respect. But the Texan singer's talent has also been certified by many awards: she has received 32 Grammy Awards, more than any other artist in history, having overtaken conductor Georg Solti this year, at 31 Grammys.
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7. Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder has been instrumental in the evolution of soul and R&B, mixing these genres with pop, jazz and reggae sounds. The Michigan-born musician has received many awards: 25 Grammy Awards and even the Academy Award for Best Song in 1985 for 'I Just Called to Say I Love You', a song that was part of the feature film 'The Woman in Red'.
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6. Ray Charles
In the course of his extraordinary career, Ray Charles won 13 Grammy Awards and devoted himself entirely to show business. For example, in 1980, 'The Genius' appeared in the famous film 'The Blues Brothers'. Charles was highly regarded by Frank Sinatra, who described his colleague as the only true musical genius.
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5. Mariah Carey
Also entering the Top 10 is an artist with an incredible vocal range like Mariah Carey, who reached the quota of 200 million albums sold during her career. Mariah's most successful period was undoubtedly the 1990s: in that decade, she was the best-selling singer ever, even recording 467 weeks on the Billboard 100, surpassing the likes of Madonna in those ten years.
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4. Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday was a leading exponent of jazz and blues music, a precocious talent who, however, had to deal with the hostility of racism and several problems with alcohol and drug addiction. Despite this, the singer became an icon for the rights of African-Americans: her song 'Strange Fruit' was in fact the protest anthem to demand civil rights.
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3. Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke has dedicated his short career to music, but also to entrepreneurship, having founded a record company and a publishing house. In addition, the singer also took an active part in the American Civil Rights Movement, virtuously using his celebrity to raise awareness of civil rights.
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2. Whitney Houston
A superbly talented performer, an incredible vocal range and a strong personality: all this was Whitney Houston, whose songs for years dominated the international charts, including, of course, the US Billboard 100, where she placed seven consecutive singles at number one, beating the Bee Gees' record of six.
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1. Aretha Franklin
The first position in the ranking of the best singers of all time remains unchanged: at the top, we still find Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul, capable of transforming any song she sings into something magical. Her voice was officially declared a 'Wonder of Nature' by the State of Michigan. In addition, Lady Soul also won 21 Grammy Awards, which from 1958 to 1975 were called 'The Aretha Awards', given the incredible amount of prizes she won.
actors singers and writers
26/05/2024
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