Who are the five worst singers of pop music in the second half of the 20th century?

I was listening t a little Leon Russell.

Great writer and musician producer. But the voice is truly painful.

This is not to pile on anyone. Everyone has his own special gift.

To me Neil Young and Bob Dylan are two of the greatest singers ever.

So who are the worst/most painful singers supporting possibly great, but at least passable, professional grade material? I came up with four and I’m still agnostic about the last slot.

Leon Russell : This is the tip top of painful singing

Kris Kristofferson - There is not no great moment of him singing. In his career. Literally.

Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker - This act is so dense with bad singing it can get hilarious. Man, neither one of them should have been the singer.

This is almost impossible to answer with any consensus. One man’s Dylan is another man’s Freddie Mercury.

FTR, to me, Leon Russell has always had a warm, soulful, and truthful voice. I have no problem with his music. Sorry I never went to see him live.

“Painful” singers to me are the ones who go for gymnastics: Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, etc. They may have talented, full voices, but I cannot stand it for more than 5 seconds.


Nick Cave.

Ok, so who are the other four?

  1. Neil Young
    2, Neil Young
  2. Neil Young
  3. Neil Young
  4. Aaron Neville (Sliding around on a single note is not good singing)

Alejandro Sanz
Enrique Iglesias

Leonard Cohen. Utterly brilliant lyricist, but his voice went from “unusual” to “painful” as he aged.

Leonard Cohen’s voice stopped me from getting into his music for a while.

Herb Alpert’s “This Guy’s in Love with You” was number one for four weeks. In 1968.

That makes him a professional-grade singer of pop music.

I’d rather listen to anyone anybody here has mentioned than hear his voice.

OK, I’ll go along with Aaron Neville and Tiny Tim. Good lord, Tiny Tim. . .wait, does he meet the OP’s conditions? I think he’d be more of a cover/novelty act.

To the OP: [ul]
[li]Liking Dylan and Neil Young, but HATING Leon Russell. . .wow.[/li]
[li] Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker. . .who now? (off to YouTube!) Holy shit, that’s pretty damn bad! I have a feeling we could make a top-500 list off of country music alone. Performers could be on the eccentric side in the earlier days.[/li][/ul]

I may have to back OP’s nomination of Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker, even though I’d never heard of them before. Assuming they meet the OP’s qualifications, which I have no idea if they do.

I can’t really think of any others I truly hate, though I’m sure this thread will provide material a-plenty.

I love Neil Young’s vocals. Dylan’s too.

But I cannot listen to any number of current pop singers, male and female, who think think the goal is to sing the loudest and hold the note the longest. It is increasingly noticeable on any of the singing competition programs.

I call it the Big Finish Phenomenon. You can see the performer mustering their lung power for the Big Finish. And the audience cheers as though cancer was being cured on that stage.


Bob Dylan
Neil Young
Bruce Springsteen
Tom Petty
Keith Richards

Do you mean stuff that was passable when they were actually singing? Einar from the Sugarcubes is so bad that I won’t link to him, because I don’t think that the stuff with his singing is passable. But Bjork is one of the most talented singers alive, so when he wasn’t singing, the group was at least passable and possibly great in some of their material.

Billy Corgan has got to get a mention in here somewhere.

Elvis Presley
Paul McCartney
John Lennon
Mick Jagger
Roger Daltrey
Ray Davies
The singing guy from Led Zeppelin
The singing guy from the Eagles

…only kidding; picking the MOST popular.

I love the first five. But I can’t stand Zep or the Eagles.

I always found Melanie charming, until she started singing.

Liz Phair may be a very perceptive observer WRT male/female relationships, but that does not mean she can sing, because she can’t.

Madonna can’t sing either.

Dick Dale is pretty awful. (Though possibly not Pop Music.)

You old misirlouable fuck!

Sylvia wrote “You were on my mind” and Ian wrote 'Four strong winds." They had many LPs as a duo on vanguard and had a roots rock group called great speckled bird.

Yes Leon is horrible. And Neil and Bob are great.