. Though they might not hold a place at the top ten of singers all-time, their influence is high, and they are HUGE fan-favourites, constantly winning over audiences wherever they play.
In interviews, Little Richard has no difficulty in expressing his own accomplishments. He has suggested on numerous occasions that he 'started it all' and called himself the 'architect' of Rock n' Roll and the 'originator' Of course it's partially true; Little Richard was one of many Americans who helped create and develop Rock and Roll in the middle fifties. Unfortunately, he, like most of the Black Americans who invented Rock and Roll, was outshined or perhaps out-promoted by people like Elvis, Buddy Holly and a handful of other white rock stars, some of whom were clearly singing songs written by black contemporaries or even old blues musicians. Some of these songs were original songs written in the 'Rock n' Roll' style, and some were outright rip-offs. A certain white male singer (Pat Boone) was responsible for a less than accurate version of Little Richard's own song 'Tutti Frutti'.
Elvis and The Beatles may have topped the charts during the 50s and 60s, but it was Little Richard's vocal style that is most iconic of Rock 'n' Roll for more than two decades. He not only gave birth to rock n' roll, but also to the style of rock singing that would be picked up and re-learned and re-invented by many rock singers.
Paul Rodgers sang for a band called Free, then joined Bad Company in the seventies and probably was one of the iconic vocal sounds of rock and roll for about a decade and a half. During those years, Paul Rodgers, Free & Bad Company put out numerous songs that you have probably heard of and sang along to at some point in your life likely in the shower or alone in the car.
And this is where the problem lies: If Paul Rodgers is underrated at all, it's probably because his voice is much closer to the natural vocal range of the average male rock fan. In truth, his voice sounds so natural and aggressive that many men think they can sing along with his songs and sound just like him, but turn off the supporting soundtrack or try a Karaoke version of one of Paul's more famous songs and suddenly you find yourself a bit flabbergasted at the amount of control and nuance that is required to actually sing the song right.
Perhaps he was outshined in the 1970s, but years later, after a few reunions of Bad Company and some impressive gigs singing Queen songs in front of Brian May and Roger Taylor, Paul Rodgers is probably more recognized and respected for his own way of singing and is starting to chart higher and higher on people's all-time lists of great rock singers. Paul has also proved, much like Pavarotti and others that if you take care of your voice, your best years are actually ahead of you, even in your fifties and sixties.
There is no question why Paul Di'Anno may be underrated. Except for Iron Maiden fans, he has been largely overshadowed by his replacement in Iron Maiden, while his solo career and band Battlezone could not match such success. And certainly Iron Maiden may have developed a seperate and distinct style with their new and current lead vocalist, but after leaving Iron Maiden in 1981, and throughout the decade, it always seemed there were many more rock and metal singers that sounded, or tried to sound, more like Paul Di'Anno than the other guy. In fact, it might be said that if Iron Maiden hadn't changed lead singers, they would've been on track to sounding much more like the big four thrash-metal bands that came later from the U.S. Unfortunately, Di'Anno may have also inadvertently given rise to the more grunting and growling 'cookie monster' type of vocals of death metal in the nineties, partially due to damaging his voice with cigarettes and alcohol. Di'Anno is currently considering/re-considering retirement due to a severe knee injury.
Her first endeavours in music were under the one name 'Alanis' and included a somewhat cheesy, but catchy commercial/pop single callled 'Too Hot', but when Alanis grew up a few years and became Alanis Morisette and decided to make the much more emotionally-charged album Jagged Little Pill, she suddenly changed the way that women sang.
From song to song, track to track, her vocals went from raspy to weak, powerful to lilted, sometimes quavering at little emotional intervals, other times slipping into falsetto vocals in the middle of a lyric, even coughing in the middle of a song. Basically, she sounded a little weird because she broke all the rules of what was perceived as what a female singer should sound like. At the same time, in the mid-nineties, all this music coming from her seemed absolutely rock n' roll, as loud and boisterous as anything her grunge-rock peers were doing yet unmistakably feminine in both tone and taste.
If Alanis Morisette is underrated, it's most likely because she doesn't fit the image of other 'diva' type singers, nor has she aspired to do so. However, she has not only changed the image of a female singer, but also the subject matter of a rock song. Her music and lyrics spoke to the the loser rather than the winner, the jilted lover, the too trusting person that had been burned, the person that tried and failed. Fifteen and twenty years later, these seem like perfectly normal subjects for a song, but at the time seemed the main point of criticism against an entire generations music. It's this blog's point of view that Alanis Morisette will, in future, likely be viewed as more of a breakthrough type of singer like Janis Joplin, changing what women could and should sing about as well as how they should sound.
Old-style singing meets new-style when you hear Beth Gibbons sing for the band Portishead. In the height of the Grunge rock era popularity, Portishead released Dummy, an entire album of mostly melancholy, moody music at a relatively slow tempo. The vocal-style, however, was brought by Beth Gibbons who sounded like she was constantly switching between the voice of a modern-style soft control of vocal power to the jazz-era style of singing temptress that sounds a little like Billie Holiday. Switching between these two voices is a characteristic carried on throughout this album and later Portishead releases and, in live performances, Beth Gibbons has managed to perform these subtle changes remarkably well, winning over audiences to Portishead everywhere they play.
If Beth Gibbons is underrated, there's one obvious reason and that's the fact that she doesn't wear the attention-attraction clothing of a diva singer. Instead of flashy gowns and sexy dress, Gibbons mostly performs in clothing that's similar to the sweater and jeans of her Grunge-rocker colleagues. In fact, most of Portishead is similarly devoid of flashy dress, and even when they have a string-ensemble backing up the band, most of the of orchestra is in casual attire as well.
Puddles: (Michael Geier) From what a person can glean from interviews and videos posted on YouTube, Michael Geier is not a newcomer to music, but a veteran who has toured with rock bands, performed in musicals and burlesque shows, and even does a very good Elvis 'impersonation' despite being about a foot taller than the real Elvis Presley. Most recently, however, Michael Geier has taken on the 'persona' of a sad clown named 'Puddles' who sings with a powerful voice and range that would seem uncharacteristic of such a shy clown. Normally, a person might view one or two videos of this sad-clown act and smirk and maybe share it with your friends, but it seems that enough people have alread done that. So much so that one of Michael Geier's videos, a cover of Lorde's Royals has a whopping ten million views and is gaining new viewers all the time. Most recently, he's gone on a tour of Australia. Perhaps 'Puddles' time has come.
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