Negative Creep wrote:
Is 'vanilla' your way of saying "white"?
Hah, no, it's just very by the book, standard arrangement - take away the vocal and it'll put you to sleep.
Negative Creep wrote:
On a different note, I have to raise an eyebrow at Otis down at #24. I know you're basing this list more on the technical aspect, but Redding is still considered by many to be THE soul vocalist of all time that simply defines/transcends his genre.
I'm really not even THAT big of a fan (I much prefer guys like Jackie and Sam), but Redding's status as a definitive soul vocalist is colossal.
I might also argue for James Brown to be raised, but that's a tough one. Maybe if originality and 'importance' were considered, I'd say he should be much higher.
I've always said the problem with ranking vocalists is there are two totally different definitions of greatness, one purely objective, which I leaned towards because taste doesn't enter into it, and Jackie Wilson, Roy Hamilton, Tony Williams, etc. do great in that. The other though is subjective, where we try and reach a consensus on things like conveying emotion and appraise their style. I agree Redding is widely believed to be the ultimate soul singer in that regard, but the problem with that is it's largely taste based, even if most people here share that taste.
A good rule of thumb to see the difference between the two forms of evaluating (objective/subjective) is to find a song done by the artist in question, maybe a remake of a popular song not quite suited for their style, and hear them do that if possible and then compare it to someone else who's considered to have a superior voice. For me that'd be something like "Tennessee Waltz" or "The Glory Of Love" by Redding. Both interesting performances, not without their quirky charm, but then listen to them by singers with better pure vocal skill, Sam Cooke on "Tennessee Waltz" and Rudy West of the Five Keys on "Glory Of Love", it's clear Otis wasn't able to match them objectively and he, more than anyone, KNEW that and you'll notice he pretty much poured on those tics and quirks, the overly long pauses repeating of syllables, throughout both songs to try and compensate.
Now that being said, the question most people would ask is, do you want a straightforward pure reading of a song with every note perfect, or do you want the singer to inject their personality into it, and most would pick the latter. However the problem with that in making an objective list is simple - the people who would pick the second option would also all have different singers they'd choose to bring their own unique style to those songs, and that means there can never be a consensus because it's reduced to the subjective tastes of each listener.
Otis gets credit for all of his quirks and his impact and influence, as far as it goes, but he was outclassed by a lot of singers in terms of just pure vocal ability, hitting notes strongly and clearly with good tone and resonance. That's what makes the vocalist rankings the hardest to get right on the site, because people LIKE certain voices and styles and nothing technical is going to change those tastes, but it's also never going to result in a consensus as to which of those voices and styles are the "greatest", so you gotta try and favor the objective standards if possible, even though it means a lot of legendary singers seem shortchanged by it.