Opera singer Luciano Pavarotti died earlier this month. While most pop music fans probably didn't follow his career very closely, his --and opera's--influence on pop music is unmistakable. For every great singer like Neil Young who once sang, "you were born to rock, you'll never be an opera star," there was someone, usually in the heavy metal field, who secretly dreamed of all that vocal power and bringing it to the people.
For those of you with no interest in opera, but who still wish to annoy your neighbors with lots of over-emotive bellowing, we offer the following:
Freddie Mercury of Queen: Freddie Mercury killed Kurt Cobain. Not on purpose. But, according to KC, Freddie's dedication to uplifting crowds with his sports arena anthems made KC's own career feel like a fraud. The smart thing to do would have been to join a Queen cover band and experience the thrill first-hand. But then there wasn't a grunge rocker alive who could hit those notes that made Freddie the Queen.
Rob Halford of Judas Priest: The man turned Fleetwood Mac's "The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)" and Joan Baez's Bob Dylan tribute, "Diamonds And Rust," into heavy metal fanfare. Riding aloft his Harley in full leather, studded belts and mirrored shades, Rob Halford was a man's man to all heavy metalists. Then he told his audience that he was gay. And they collectively scratched their heads, "hmmn, I guess he looks happy."
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden: Whether he's singing 15 minutes of "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" or about Satan's locker combination ("666"), Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson remains the gold standard for brawny, tough D&D players the world over.
Meat Loaf: While we await Bat Out of Hell 9: Return of the Sith Lord, Meatloaf (the king of the parenthetical rocker, by the way) continues to convince people that a man of his temperament (screw his size, the veins in his head bulge when he sings) has had sex with skinny models without killing them. His sweat alone could drown a woman.
Michael Bolton: Once a rocker, then a guy who turned R&B into a hernia. You could make the case for all those screaming divas as well: Mariah, Whitney, Celine...but we only have five slots. And, really, when a man loves a woman, maybe he shouldn't sing about it, but rather cut the hair and get a respectable job.
- Freddie Mercury