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Which vocalists do you instantly recognise because they just sound like no-one else in the world? People who's voices give you that shivery feeling (you know the one) when you suddenly hear them on the radio. It's more noticeable if you're not expecting to hear them, rather than playing their CDs of your own accord.

I've come up with a few of my favourites singers, who I happen to think sound have a TOTALLY unique and original style...

1. Tom Waits (absolutely unmistakable)
2. Stevie Wonder (much-imitated but no one gets close - not even the guy from Jamiroquai)
3. John Lennon
4. Joni Mitchell (particularly late-period)
5. Bob Dylan
6. Elton John
7. Michael Stipe
8. Van Morrison
9. Barry Gibb
10. James Taylor (not changed much in 30 years)

Any other suggestions?
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posted by anselm
5. Bob Dylan
i love this man, for being one of the greatest songwriters to have ever graced the earth, but he has to have the worst voice Frowner ever!
it is sooo bad!

distinctive voices IMHO:
Smiler eddie vedder
Smiler nick drake
Smiler macy gray
Smiler joan armatrading (love that woman)
Smiler tanita tikaram
Smiler stina nordenstam

thats all i can think of @ the mo
posted by anselm
5. Bob Dylan

i love this man, for being one of the greatest songwriters to have ever graced the earth, but he has to have the worst voice ever!
it is sooo bad!
Just a reminder: it's the most distinctive vocalists I'm focussing on, not the BEST. I'm not a particularly big fan of Dylan's but he definitely is very distinct, with a few stylish vocal tricks, twists and turns of phrase which no-one else possesses.

There's been some great suggestions posted here so far, some people I've forgotten about but would definitely cite as totally unique: Elvis Costello, Eddie Vedder (who I can't stand incidentally!), Stevie Nicks, Roddy Frame.

There's also been a few names suggested who I'd strongly disagree with, like Neil Tennant (sounds too much like Al Stewart), Jeff Lynne (spent most of his time trying to copy Beatles harmonies Mad )

Cinnamon : what an incredible name you mentioned that I totally missed Red Face - the late Nick Drake. A fabulous writer and guitarist, not to mention inimitable vocalist. I thought I was his only fan!! [Sorry for the shameless plug]

Lots of fascinating and controversial opinions so far....keep them coming Smiler
Fergal Sharkey (Undertones and solo fame in the late 70's early 80's)
Nils Lofgren
Tim Finn
Nik Kershaw
Elton John
John Lennon
Paul McCartney
Donald Fagen (Steely Dan)
Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin)
Bob Dylan
Bruce Springsteen
Paul Buchanan (The Blue Nile)
Paddy McAloon (Prefab Sprout)

have to disagree with however said Roddy Frame tho'; he sounds just like Midge Ure, Justin Currie and loads of other Glasgow area vocalists (and I like all three singers I've mentioned) I guess I get some flack from any Glasgow-based frenz!
Bob, I don't know Justin Currie, but I can't hear the similarity between Roddy and Midge. I wasn't huge on Ultravox, though.

Anselm, I don't think you can copy harmonies, they just exist as a fact of nature, but you could try to copy melodies. (My Sweet Lord/He's So Fine) I don't think Jeff Lynne was trying to copy the Beatles in that respect. He was (or perhaps still is) a musical genius in his own way, and a fan of the Beatles, or at the very least of George Martin, but as this discussion is about his voice, I have to say it gave me that "feeling" when I was an adolescent.

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