Pavarotti made a name for himself as a singer because he could sing. Sounds obvious and redundant. But there have been plenty of singers who throughout the past five decades while this scourge called "rock 'n' roll" has taken hold who clearly cannot sing and seem to flaunt it at every turn. Of course, it would be preferable if well-credentialed authorities, to ensure the safety of the listening public, carefully screened all potential singers.
But we have been negligent so long that an entire industry has had to resort to computerized auto-tuning programs to ensure mere competence. If only people were forbidden from making music until they were really ready. Let's support a Constitutional Amendment banning "illegitimate singers" today.
Each of the following singers has made a stunning amount of albums, has an ungodly amount of fans, and has at some point in their lifetime filed a tax return claiming "musician" or "singer" as their occupation. None of them will be confused with Pavarotti.
Tom Waits: Leave it to Frito-Lay to lose a lawsuit to a guy who sounds like he's had a tracheotomy. The delicious snack company decided at some point that the best way to sell their product would be to have a guy sing in the likeness of Tom Waits. Because obviously anyone who enjoys listening to a guy singing with a sore throat would surely be in the market for some salty after-dinner snacks. Waits heard this likeness on his TV and wasn't amused. He filed suit, received a lot of money, and a lifetime supply of an undisclosed snack food. Which is why he seems so happy nowadays.
Captain Beefheart: He finally stopped in 1982. He'd had enough. I guess he got tired of people asking him what they always ask me when I play his records: "Is he supposed to sound like that?" Amazing, really, how a Lancaster, California teenager can learn to sound like a grizzled old bluesman and be neighbors with Frank Zappa, and have both pay off considerably. Most of my neighbors went to prison. Or joined a bowling league.
Billy Corgan: He shaved his head to distract your attention from his whiny voice. He reunited the Smashing Pumpkins without the blonde girl or the Asian guy, the two other focal points of the group. Nobody can see what the drummer looks like with all those drums in front of him. Makes you question the meaning of the word "reunion." Makes you question what's exactly the difference between a "band" and a "solo project." The accountants will tell you it's millions of dollars, that's for sure.
Phil Anselmo: This guy scares the crap out of me. Most singers who act tough are doing just that: acting. I get the feeling this guy really would burn my house down. So we'll tread lightly. But suffice to say that whether it's Pantera, Superjoint Ritual or Down (who I'm told have a new album coming soon) or one of the many other projects where Philip has added his vocal talents, it always sounds like the man singing is a man in great intestinal distress, suffering severe lower back pain and has modeled his "phrasing" on the sound of his Rottweiler chewing on an intruder. He inspired a generation.
Bob Dylan: Yes, it always comes back to the guy who started it all. Ten points to everyone who knows someone who says, "I like his songs. I just prefer when other people sing them." To which, I'd offer: Then you haven't heard this wretched collection of emo bands covering his tunes that'll make you eat those words. Dylan may have inspired others like Neil Young and other guys who can't sing, but if you go back and listen to the old folk music that inspired him, you'll hear that once upon a time, nobody could sing.