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Rolling Stone (Spain) best of 2008 and The Best 100 Singers Ever

Published in RS 111 (January 2009), but this time the Spanish Rolling Stone didn’t publish a ranked order. They said “en RS queremos acabar con la dictadura de los premios” (“in RS we want to end with the awards dictatorship”), really funny because in the same number they reproduced the umpteenth US-RS list, this time the 100 best singers of all time (that I reproduce too). But first the albums of 2008. They published 20 international albums and 19 Spanish not ranked but subdivided in “sections”.

INTERNATIONAL ALBUMS OF 2008:

Album of the year:
- AC/DC “Black Ice” (not really specified as album of the year but much more emphasized than the rest of the albums, so it’s reasonable to give it more weight).
El sindicato metálico (the metal syndicate):
- GUNS N’ ROSES “Chinese Democracy”
- METALLICA “Death Magnetic”
- JUDAS PRIEST “Nostradamus”
¿La oposición, en crisis? (the opposition in crisis?):
- COLDPLAY “Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends”
- R.E.M. “Accelerate”
- THE CURE “4:13 Dream”
Gloriosos veteranos (glorious veterans):
- PAUL WELLER “22 Dreams”
- AL GREEN “Lay It Down”
- NEIL DIAMOND “Home Before Dark”
Apuestas contracorriente (bets against the current):
- BON IVER “For Emma, Forever Ago”
- MY MORNING JACKET “Evil Urges”
- TV ON THE RADIO “Dear Science”
La redacción elige… (the favourite album of every critic):
- KEANE “Perfect Symmetry”
- JD SOUTHER “If the World Was You”
- ELI ‘PAPERBOY’ REED & THE TRUE LOVES “Roll With You”
- PORTISHEAD “Third”
- CUT COPY “In Ghost Colours”
- THE FELICE BROTHERS “The Felice Brothers”
Revelation of the year:
- FLEET FOXES “Fleet Foxes”


LOS MEJORES DISCOS NACIONALES DE 2008:

Album of the year:
- ENRIQUE BUNBURY “Hellville de Luxe” (same comment as the AC/DC album)
Masculino singular (masculine singular):
- LOQUILLO “Balmoral”
- MIGUEL RÍOS “Solo o en compañía de otros”
- MANOLO GARCÍA “Saldremos a la lluvia”
Terapia de grupo (group therapy)
- EXTREMODURO “La ley innata”
- SR. CHINARRO “Ronroneando”
- AMARAL “Gato negro. Dragón rojo”
Flamenco y más… (flamenco and more…
- DIEGO ‘EL CIGALA’ “Dos lágrimas”
- ENRIUE MORENTE “Pablo de Málaga”
- BUIKA “Niña de fuego”
República independiente de… (independent republic of…
- RUSSIAN RED “I Love Your Glasses”
- THE NEW RAEMON “A propósito de Garfunkel”
- VETUSTA MORLA “Pequeño salto mortal”
La redacción elige… (the favourite album of every critic):
- MIGUEL BOSÉ “Bosegrafía”
- REVÓLVER “21 gramos”
- LORI MEYERS “Cronolánea”
- NACHO VEGAS “El manifiesto desastre”
- KLAUS & KINSKI “Tu hoguera está ardiendo”
- JOSÉ IGNACIO LAPIDO “Cartografía”

THE 100 BEST SINGERS OF ALL TIME according to Rolling Stone

THE 100 BEST SINGERS OF ALL TIME
1. ARETHA FRANKLIN
2. RAY CHARLES
3. ELVIS PRESLEY
4. SAM COOKE
5. JOHN LENNON
6. MARVIN GAYE
7. BOB DYLAN
8. OTIS REDDING
9. STEVIE WONDER
10. JAMES BROWN
11. PAUL McCARTNEY
12. LITTLE RICHARD
13. ROY ORBISON
14. AL GREEN
15. ROBERT PLANT
16. MICK JAGGER
17. TINA TURNER
18. FREDDIE MERCURY
19. BOB MARLEY
20. SMOKEY ROBINSON
21. JOHNNY CASH
22. ETTA JAMES
23. DAVID BOWIE
24. VAN MORRISON
25. MICHAEL JACKSON
26. JACKIE WILSON
27. HANK WILLIAMS
28. JANIS JOPLIN
29. NINA SIMONE
30. PRINCE
31. HOWLIN’ WOLF
32. BONO
33. STEVE WINWOOD
34. WHITNEY HOUSTON
35. DUSTY SPRINGFIELD
36. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
37. NEIL YOUNG
38. ELTON JOHN
39. JEFF BUCKLEY
40. CURTIS MAYFIELD
41. CHUCK BERRY
42. JONI MITCHELL
43. GEORGE JONES
44. BOBBY ‘BLUE’ BLAND
45. KURT COBAIN
46. PATSY CLINE
47. JIM MORRISON
48. BUDDY HOLLY
49. DONNY HATHAWAY
50. BONNIE RAITT
51. GLADYS KNIGHT
52. BRIAN WILSON
53. MUDDY WATERS
54. LUTHER VANDROSS
55. PAUL RODGERS
56. MAVIS STAPLES
57. ERIC BURDON
58. CHRISTINA AGUILERA
59. ROD STEWART
60. BJÖRK
61. ROGER DALTREY
62. LOU REED
63. DION
64. AXL ROSE
65. DAVID RUFFIN
66. THOM YORKE
67. JERRY LEE LEWIS
68. WILSON PICKETT
69. RONNIE SPECTOR
70. GREGG ALLMAN
71. TOOTS HIBBERT
72. JOHN FOGERTY
73. DOLLY PARTON
74. JAMES TAYLOR
75. IGGY POP
76. STEVE PERRY
77. MERLE HAGGARD
78. SLY STONE
79. MARIAH CAREY
80. FRANKIE VALLI
81. JOHN LEE HOOKER
82. TOM WAITS
83. PATTI SMITH
84. DARLENE LOVE
85. SAM MOORE
86. ART GARFUNKEL
87. DON HENLEY
88. WILLIE NELSON
89. SOLOMON BURKE
90. THE EVERLY BROTHERS
91. LEVON HELM
92. MORRISSEY
93. ANNIE LENNOX
94. KAREN CARPENTER
95. PATTI LABELLE
96. BB KING
97. JOE COCKER
98. STEVIE NICKS
99. STEVEN TYLER
100. MARY J BLIGE

Well, another stupid Rolling Stone list. It seems that they never get tired of throwing to us one silly list after another. But this time they have surpassed themselves in my opinion. Of course some of the choices are correct (that’s the least they can do) but there are so many injustices that I felt the imperious need of express my thoughts about that:
- First of all, I agree that the singers coming from the blues tradition, being black or white-that-sings-like-the-black-ones, must be recognised as one of the most important singers ever. But we are talking about 60/100, I mean, almost 2/3 of the list!! So, wasn’t there an inverse bias about black artists? Are they really the only good singers? Are the music tradition based on the blues and its pentatonic scale the only one that matters?
- And that bias could have been more important if they had included jazz singers. But that’s not a relief, in fact that’s one of the main faults of the list. If you name the list “The 100 Best Singers of All Time” you MUST include artist pre-Elvis. A list of best singers without Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland or Ella Fitzgerald got no sense to me. But, you know, according to Rolling Stone music begins with Elvis (and ends with U2, but that’s another question).
- The other music tradition well-represented on the list is the country music and the “soft and sweet” singers evolving from that (20/100 of the list). The rest of the list (only 20/100!!) can be divided between “soft and sweet” singers coming from British pop (10/100 of the list) and only 10/100 of “against the current” singers.
- But, even inside the small group of idiosyncratic singers, I must dissent. Supposedly they were measuring the qualities as a singers and not the importance as global artists or pop icons. I mean, I’m one of the defendants of the qualities of Dylan as a singer, his expressive voice is the best one for singing his own lyrics. But putting him as the #7 of all-time!! Same about Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop or Tom Waits. They were undoubtedly genius, but obviously they are not good singers. And, talking about not good singers that became influential icons, why not Johnny ‘Rotten’ Lydon? Still prejudices with punk more than 30 years later?
- And what about the versatile singers? I mean, more than 2/3 of the singers on the list are one-trick ponys, they repeated again and again the same trick (although sometimes genial tricks, like the howl of James Brown, the vibrato of Ronnie Spector or the whisper of James Taylor). Why not putting higher on the list the versatile singers, capable of howl, whisper and vibrate often within the same phrase? I’m thinking about Roy Orbison, David Bowie or Jeff Buckley (those three could be easily on my Top 5, but Buckley only deserved #39 according to RS).
- And, no surprises here, only 9/100 artist began their careers in the last 25 years (that’s it, after 1984). And four of them belong to the category of show-off imitators of Aretha Franklin, filling their songs with endless insufferable warbles (likes the ones of Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and Mary J Blige). Only Cobain, Yorke and mainly Buckley and Björk could belong to singers that try to develop a unique vocal style. And who was the 9th ? Axl Rose (good hard rock singer but merely copying the findings of previous hard rock singers).
- And, at last, the main defect of the list (and of the vast majority of the pop lists), the INTOLERABLE ETHNOCENTRISM. So, the styles coming from African American tradition, white American country and British pop are the only that matters? And what about the many exceptionally gifted singers of other music traditions, as (in alphabetical order) Algerian rai (Cheb Khaled), Argentinian tango (Carlos Gardel), Brazilian bossa-nova (Elis Regina), Caribbean salsa (Rubén Blades), Catalonian Folk (Maria del Mar Bonet), Cuban son (Beny Moré), French chanson (Jacques Brel), Mali Afro-pop (Salif Keita), Nigerian mbalax (Youssou N’Dour), Pakistani qawwali (Nusrah Fateh Ali Khan) or Spanish flamenco (Camarón de la Isla)? And there are a lot more of wonderful singers, and I admit that I don’t know the name, for instance, of the best Japanese singer. But this is not my job. Aw, come on you lazy critics! Do your job! Or at least listen to some music…

PS: When I was reading what I wrote I feel a little sorry for the tone of the last sentences. I won’t change it, but in fact the main fault of the list is the title. If you call it “The 100 Best Singers of All-Time” you can’t do that awful list. Simply call it “The 100 Best Pop Singers Ever” (or “The 100 Best Popular and Well-Known Singers from 1955 to 1984 Biased toward African-American Singers”).

Re: Rolling Stone (Spain) best of 2008 and The Best 100 Singers Ever

Usually the problems with these lists are less about inclusions than exclusions. They always favor dinosaurs and heavily favor mainstream.

But, um. Doesn't Christina Aguilera use a voice modifier? Doesn't she lipsync at live shows? Shouldn't that automatically disqualify you from *any* best singer consideration?

Re: Rolling Stone (Spain) best of 2008 and The Best 100 Singers Ever

I have no quarrels with #1 on this list. The rest could use a re-ordering.

Re: Rolling Stone (Spain) best of 2008 and The Best 100 Singers Ever

i have that issue of rolling stone and the article previous to the list qualifies that they mean 100 greatest singers of the rock era which is why Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald do not appear. I, myself was curious as to their absence until i read the article.

"We judge pre-rock singing by how perfectly the lyric is served. That's the standard Frank Sinatra exemplifies. We judge popular vocals since 1956 by what the singer unearths that the song itself could never quite."

I'm not entirely sure that's true but whatever. At least they qualified it to be solely from the "rock-and-soul" era.