The Vocal Ranges of Famous Singers

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The one where Axl commented

Following the success of the History of Rock, we had to come up with our next idea for Concert Hotels.

We’d been ideating for a while, but weren’t really getting anywhere. So I started thinking about the History of Rock and whether we could build on it.

Although the rock graphic showed WHAT genres were born WHEN, it didn’t really say WHY they were born. So I wondered if there was an opportunity to do something there.

I had a chat with my colleague, Phil, to see if we could pull something out of this…

Me: What if we could show WHY the different genres of music were born? You could show the arrival of the electric guitar, the synthesiser, etc.

Phil: Or what if you took one song and changed it through the different genres? Start with the blues, add drums and make it rock, add some wah-wah guitar and make it funk rock.

Me: I saw this thing once called the Bonhamizer that took modern pop songs and added John Bonham (from Led Zeppelin) on drums.

Phil: What if you could make your own super group? You could have Mick Jagger on vocals, Eric Clapton on guitar, John Bonham on drums.

Me: I wonder if that’s possible. What would we need? I guess we’d need vocal and instrumental solos for the different artists. And then we’d need to get them all into the same key.

I went back to my desk to do some exploring. I pulled up Google and started typing ‘Jimmy Page vocal…’ to look for ‘Jimmy Page vocal solo’.

But while I was typing, Google suggested ‘Jimmy Page vocal… range’.

I was curious, so I clicked on it to see what came up.

I landed on a site called the Range Place, a forum where music fans collected data on the highest and lowest notes different singers hit in their recording careers. I was intrigued.

I wanted to see how these vocal ranges compared. I did a quick search to see if anyone had done so. It turned out they hadn’t. I messaged Phil to see what he thought of the idea, and he came marching over to my desk – “Yes!”

We were onto something.

Shortly after we launched the piece, the Daily Mail came out with this headline:

AXL ROSE revealed as ‘greatest singer of all time’ in study

Ermmm… that’s not exactly what we were saying….

No complaints from us though – this somewhat dubious title provoked a backlash from other publications, giving us our second wave of coverage, including this cracker of a headline:

Axl Rose Has Not Been Declared the ‘World’s Greatest’ Singer, Contrary to Popular Stupidity

Another site then did some digging of their own to reveal Mike Patton from Faith No More actually had a wider vocal range, leading to the third wave of coverage:

Turns out Mike Patton, and not Axl Rose, is the greatest singer of all time

By this time, the piece had received over 2 million visits and 100,000 social shares in a matter of days. Eventually due to all the fuss, Axl Rose himself came out and made a public statement:

Axl Rose Response to List Calling Him ‘World’s Greatest Singer’

Here’s what Axl had to say…

Big thanks to all the fans and media for the props reacting to the top vocalists article.

From what I could tell, the original article was for the most part only talking about the professionally recorded vocal range of the singers they compared calling the entire group “The World’s Greatest Singers.” It’s very flattering and humbling to be included in such an illustrious ensemble.

If I had to say who I thought the best singers were, I’d say first that I don’t know there’s a definitive answer as in my opinion it’s 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 70’s rock singers) and would rather hear ANY of them anytime rather than me!


Axl Rose

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