25. Katy Perry
Katy Perry is known for her colorful outfits, catchy anthems, and bubbly personality. She’s a very likable person from an objective standpoint. As a singer, we have some questions. There are moments where her voice sounds immensely flat — particularly during live performances. Additionally, Perry simply doesn’t offer the range that many of her peers showcase. A bubble gum radio singer, sure. But someone who can captivate an entire audience with a vocal performance? Not so much.
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24. Ozzy Osbourne
“SHARRRROOOOONNNN!” When most people think of Ozzy Osbourne, a few things come to mind. His ‘unique’ fashion sense, being a groundbreaking lead in one of the original reality television shows, screaming for his wife in a language most can’t understand, and of course his ‘colorful’ on-stage performances. But will anyone ever call him an excellent vocal talent? I’m sure some do — but most probably wouldn’t hold him in a similar light to Mariah Carey or Freddie Mercury.
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23. Camila Cabello
Camila Cabello is a polarizing figure for many music fans out there. Some contest that she’s the next big star within the pop music scene. Others view her music as overly generic. You know — the type of tunes which are average, and usually packaged behind a charismatic good looking artist. Some tend to really like Cabello’s music. She certainly has a proud fan base. However, the opposite end of the spectrum seems to find it below par when compared to others in the genre (such as Shakira and Kali Uchis).
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22. Axl Rose
Guns N’ Roses is a rock band. They’re known for their performances on stage as it pertains to instrumentals and the ability to entertain. As such, no one will ever confuse Axl Rose with Freddie Mercury or Steve Perry. His voice just isn’t very strong. There’s really no other way to put it. Rose benefits greatly from having such an iconic band gloss over his vocals with a transcendent rock sound.
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21. Dave Matthews
There’s an on-going joke about Dave Matthews which has seemingly been around for decades. His fan base are loyalists to the point where he’s treated like a proverbial deity. The man can simply do no wrong! He’s viewed through the lens as being the perfect musician — from his lyrical construction to the improvisation he often attempts during live shows. Here’s the problem…if one (relatively minor) ‘grouping’ of people considers you to be the best of all-time — when most everyone else is readily accepting of you as a decent-to-good artist — maybe there’s a layer of ‘overrated’ going on here.
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20. Lou Reed
Lou Reed is certainly an acquired taste. His music can be described as monotonous and rather drab. There are times in which Reed basically reads poetry rather than tapping into any sense of a vocal arrangement. We get the fact that Reed has his own niche fan base which utterly loves him. Regardless, as a commercial singer with playability, Reed simply doesn’t have the type of music you’ll bump in your car over and over again.
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19. Liam Gallagher
Enough with the feuding, already! Oasis is a fantastic band — created by brothers Gallagher (Liam, Noel). In the years since the band broke up, both have been on the rocks with one another for whatever reason. Frontman Liam often gets the headlines for being the face of the group. While there’s no doubt he offers some real talent, there are other peers within the same timeframe who are simply better singers. Plus, we’re a bit put off by his pretentiousness and general sour attitude.
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18. Britney Spears
Britney Spears will forever be a pop icon. No one can take that away from her. She’s cultivated more than a handful of bangers — and these anthems continue to be popular for anyone in their 30’s and early 40’s. Still, if we’re judging her as an artist compared to some of her peers, Spears is overrated. Her vocal talents aren’t all that strong, and the discography she’s created doesn’t hold up from a length standpoint compared to others who’ve continued working/putting out music over the last 20 years.
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17. Adam Levine
Maroon 5 took the world by storm when their debut album Songs About Jane was released in 2002. Sexy frontman Adam Levine helped propel the group to the top of the charts. The band even won a few Grammy awards in the process. But over time, I’ve come to realize that listening to Adam’s voice is like having the movie Groundhog Day on repeat. I’m no singing coach, but I know a mediocre singer when I hear one. Adam’s voice basically remains the same on each and every track. It’s a bit nasally, and gets incredibly irritating after a couple songs. It’s really hard to believe his voice hasn’t matured or developed much in the past decade or so. Yikes.
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‘RiRi’ is a dynamite performer. She brings high levels of sexuality to her songs and concerts — though it’s done in a very classy way. This can be seen in the colorful music video for her song ‘Rude Boy’. While Rihanna does have a rather lovely voice, we must compare it to the other heavyweights in the field. The likes of Alicia Keys, Ariana Grande, Beyonce, and Mariah Carey have far better voices. This doesn’t mean Rihanna doesn’t have vocal talent. However, can we really put her up among the very best when placed side-by-side next to these giants?
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15. Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne sold 16 million copies of her debut album Let Go back in 2002. Since then, fans have realized the Canadian singer/songwriter is a pretty terrible singer. Her voice has improved from her “Sk8er Boi” days, but there’s nothing that will change the fact that Avril got lucky with a gimmick. As one of the leaders in the female pop-punk era of the early-2000s, Avril had a good thing going for a few years. These days, music fans are tired of her shaky vocals and her off-key performances. Her 2013 self-titled album sold only 650,000 copies worldwide — a stark contrast to the millions of albums sold in her heyday.
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We hear you, fans! U2 puts on a great show. Well…they used to. Yes, Bono is such a positive influence for change in the world. We love the story of old school chums becoming one of the world’s biggest and most successful rock bands. But Bono as a front man? He’s a little bit like a movie starring Kevin Costner. Yep, Kevin has knocked a few out of the park, but sometimes you really feel like he’s phoning it in. The same thing can be said for Bono. Here’s an example: Remember when Bono had his bicycling accident a couple years ago? One of the gigs he was forced to cancel was an appearance on The Tonight Show. Instead, Jimmy and The Roots laid down some U2. Dare we say it, Jimmy was comparable to the real deal.
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13. Selena Gomez
Many of Selena Gomez’s albums have reached the #1 spot in the United States. However, what causes fans to run out and buy her albums/pay hundreds of dollars to see her perform? We’re not quite sure. It’s definitely not her vocals, because her singing voice leaves much to be desired. She’s basically the product of some crafty producers who have catapulted the careers of many subpar Disney stars (like Britney Spears and Hilary Duff). No matter how hard she tries, the “Come & Get It” singer always sounds just a tad-off key. (We still love her, though.)
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12. Sid Vicious
Let’s break it down: Vicious couldn’t play bass, he couldn’t sing, he was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, and he was so messed up most the time, he would wear swastika t-shirts as some sort of punk rock statement. For some reason, legions of fans have glorified and deified this man into some Godfather of the Punk Movement. All the while, greats like Iggy Pop, Joe Strummer, and Joey Ramone — though they get their dues — are nowhere near the legend that Sid is. The most he ever contributed to music was an attitude.
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11. Janet Jackson
How is it possible for a mediocre singer to sell over 100 million albums worldwide? Well, just ask Janet Jackson. Riding off her last name, and with some help from her father Joseph, Janet became an R&B princess when her self-titled debut album was released in 1982. To this day, she has a cult-like following. There are legions of fans that dance around and sing to each and every tune — no matter how mundane Janet’s vocals are. Her singing voice is almost like a whisper, though her catchy songs have cemented Jackson as one of the greatest R&B singers of our time.
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10. Kurt Cobain
The golden boy of grunge music, the late Kurt Cobain really had a captivating hold over those who were enthralled by the genre of music which made him famous. Cobain was a very smart individual. He gave a platform to those who felt voiceless — particularly the angsty youth of a new generation. We won’t ding him on creative approach, but we will when it came to his vocals. Cobain has a very distinct voice, almost sounding like a high baritone. It also at times sounded simply whiny and a bit too raspy.
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9. Miley Cyrus
How should we view Miley Cyrus? As an actress? A performer? An entertainer? Or, solely as a singer? If we’re talking about strictly performance-based work, she’s quite talented. Few child actors sustained the success Cyrus did. The ability to then transition to the world of music is no small feat. While she did come in like a wrecking ball into the industry, we wouldn’t exactly call Cyrus an elite vocalist. Instead, let’s just call her a multi-faceted entertainer.
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8. Chris Martin
Coldplay gets a lot of flack for being somewhat corny. Much of their sound is influenced by prolific U.K.-based rock bands coming before them (such as U2, The Smiths, and Oasis). Lead singer Chris Martin’s voice is nothing more than ordinary. He’s adequate at what he does — though in no way does he have the range nor depth that Bono, Morrissey, or the Gallagher brothers have. While Coldplay’s songs can be both inspirational and entertaining, Martin’s voice leaves you wanting more.
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7. Bob Dylan
Just because you’re unique, doesn’t mean you’re an exceptional vocalist. Bob Dylan’s talents must be separated accordingly. As a writer/creator of prose, he’s excellent. Many across multiple generations look to Dylan as a poetic genius. However, others see him as a vapid individual with empty vocals and brazenly boring performances. There are folk singers…and then there’s Dylan in virtually his own category. He’s one of those guys where you either love him or you hate him.
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6. Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift is the biggest pop star of this era, and there are plenty of reasons why. She has a pretty face, an awkward personality that ordinary girls can relate to, and she makes wholesome, meaningful music. While she does get credit for writing good music, it should only be limited to when she wrote country music. Even though Taylor’s career in the Pop music industry is booming, the quality of her music isn’t. Most female stars aim to shed and stray far from their good girl image. Taylor did it pretty well, but she seemed to have lost her vocal edge in the process. If she wasn’t a Grammy-award winning artist with a huge fan base, her fans may have noticed. Despite this, it seems like they won’t be catching on anytime soon.
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5. Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran blew up over the last few years. While he has a decent voice, it’s far from the legendary status many are already putting on him. Sheeran’s popularity stems from the fact that he’s a pop star despite looking like an ordinary guy with a plethora of absolutely atrocious tattoos. This sort of built-in likability has lit his proverbial persona on fire. Sheeran has some vocal ability, but let’s not kid ourselves here. He’s far from being someone you’ll look back on as a ‘voice’ of the decade.
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Madonna is someone who built a gigantic profile based upon fashion sense and perception rather than vocal ability. A highly gifted individual who has immense success as both an actor and a fashion icon, she did enjoy a ridiculously lucrative career as a performer. We have to ask the question: Do her fans love Madonna for her music — or rather for her as a person? We’re opting to go for the latter, as her voice simply isn’t up to snuff compared to other peers in the industry.
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3. Justin Bieber
The “What Do You Mean?” singer was every girl’s crush in 2012. However, time flies fast. Not only does he have a smaller fan base, his rude behavior and inability to sing live has put him at the bottom of the popularity charts. Although there’s no doubt that originally, as a young aspiring artist, Bieber could sing and had a passion for music. But now, his nonchalant attitude towards fans and disappointing performances has left his fans wondering if he even cares anymore. His live performances are average at best, and he himself admitted that he doesn’t know the lyrics to his biggest hit “Despacito.”
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2. Jennifer Lopez
There are plenty of reasons to love Jennifer Lopez. She’s a tremendous actress, a wonderful mother, a terrific philanthropist, and a role model to millions of young people across the world. However, we must admit…her ability to sing is very pedestrian. We love “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” and “Jenny From The Block” just as much as the next person. But that doesn’t mean her voice is on par with the likes of Selena, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, or others from her initial generation.
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1. Jim Morrison
This is a tough one. Morrison oozed charisma, and really did have the look of what a true ‘frontman’ would look like for any rock band. Women wanted to be with him, and men wanted to be him. As a sheer vocalist…he left a lot to be desired. Morrison’s voice was never all that strong, and there were times where his lyrics were both nonsensical and somewhat difficult to even understand. The Doors will forever have fandom attached to its brand. With that said, there are others from this era who were far stronger performers than Morrison.
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