Rolling Stone magazine kicked off 2023 with a healthy serving of chaos, releasing its list of the 200 greatest singers of all time on Jan. 1.
Whenever any list that purports to rank the best or the greatest of anything is unveiled, it’s bound to spark healthy debate and plenty of ire, but this tally seems to have caused more of a commotion than the legendary publication intended.
Music lovers everywhere quickly perused the 200 singers included on the ranking and immediately took to Twitter and other social outlets to argue about where a certain performer ranked or to point out an omission they felt was offensive.
Many names were thrown around regarding who some believe should have ended up higher, lower, or anywhere on the list, but there are a few standouts that the LGBTQ community has focused on that began trending online.
Even though several days have passed, much of the commotion has not died down, and millions are still arguing over this list. Read on below to learn who was ignored or done wrong, and decide for yourself how the ranking holds up.
By far the most egregious snub of all is Celine Dion.
The Canadian singer with the Titanic-sized voice was shockingly not to be found anywhere on the ranking, despite having spent decades as one of the most recognizable and applauded vocalists on the planet.
Dion’s Grammy and Oscar-winning smash “My Heart Will Go On” is generally regarded as one of the better vocal performances of all time – and few realized that she recorded it in a single take.
While those who paid attention to the list were upset about a number of placements and omissions, Dion racked up the most headlines as it was difficult for almost anybody to understand how this could happen.
Judy Garland may be found somewhere over the rainbow, but she’s nowhere to be found on this Rolling Stone list.
The gay icon is known for her incredible on-screen persona and legendary vocal talent. Throughout her decades-long career, she delivered some of the most iconic performances of all time, and her live recording Judy at Carnegie Hall was one of the first Album of the Year winners at the Grammys and remains one of the only live recordings to even be up for the honor.
Somehow, Rolling Stone did not see any of this as worthy of inclusion on its list.
Jennifer Hudson does not have the same discography filled with smash hits as Dion or Garland, but she is recognized as one of the better vocalists of the current era and certainly one of the top talents to come out of the American Idol franchise.
Her Oscar win for Dreamgirls is attributed almost entirely to her showstopping performance of the song “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” which remains one of the most difficult theater tracks to sing.
She recently completed her EGOT, which includes a pair of Grammys. She is continually sought after for concerts, special events, and any film role that requires a powerhouse singer.
Unlike Dion, Garland, and Hudson, Barbra Streisand is actually on the Rolling Stone list, though her placement still has fans plenty angry.
The beloved movie star and recording artist can be found all the way down at No. 147. That puts her much lower than many people believe she should be, and it means she comes after musicians who are not as well-known for their generation-defining voice, such as K-pop star IU, talk-singer Fiona Apple, and even Taylor Swift, who sits almost exactly in the middle.
Like Streisand, Kelly Clarkson is also featured on Rolling Stone’s controversial list, but her placement has also roused quite a few fans to complain online.
The inaugural American Idol winner barely broke on to the 200 spot tally, placing at No. 194. That means she is below fellow champion Carrie Underwood, as well as plenty of other vocalists who have not earned their career based solely on their incredible vocal prowess.
Clarkson doesn’t always pull out the high notes on her singles, but anyone who has tuned in to her daytime talk show or listened to her Kellyoke EP knows just how amazing she is when she wants to be.
Opera & Theater
Rolling Stone’s ranking seems to focus solely on people who identify first and foremost as singers, so there are no major theater stars included.
If this is the route the magazine wanted to go, that’s up to them, but names like Patti Lupone, Audra McDonald, Julie Andrews, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, Chita Rivera, and even Liza Minelli should all have earned some sort of mention, especially considering many of them also had at least some success in the music industry.
Many gay men like to argue non-stop about which of their favorite Broadway divas has the best voice, so to see all of them missing from this roundup is kind of crazy.
Also absent are opera performers, who arguably have some of the most impressive voices of all time. Both male and female stars, such as Luciano Pavarotti, Maria Callas, Renée Fleming, and Plácido Domingo, were absent as well.
Two hundred spaces may sound like a lot, but when you take into account every type of musician from all time periods and cultures, it’s actually pretty difficult to whittle things down to compile this list.
So, while there isn’t room for everyone, Rolling Stone seems to have made it clear that it isn’t just the best technical singers who made it onto the ranking, but rather those who used their voice to create an incredible body of work and influence many others.
If that is the case, then there are many other superstars who many would insist should have made the cut.
That list is extensive, but could include such beloved (and many would argue great) singers such as Madonna, Nat King Cole, Janet Jackson, Reba McEntire, Cher, Pink, Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Bruno Mars, Michael Buble, Josh Groban, and Justin Timberlake, to point out only a handful of the many excluded powerhouse vocalists.
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