In 2014 Concert Hotels released a very surprising ranking of vocal ranges among famous singers. A visually appealing graph is created by taking the highest and lowest notes each artist hit in the recording studio and stacking them against each other. Of the 77 voices on the graph, Axl Rose takes the number one spot.
The Guns N’ Roses frontman, whose range on the chart goes from F1 to B6, leads the pack but is followed closely by Mariah Carey, Prince, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, and James Brown. Rounding out the bottom is Luke Bryan with Taylor Swift, Karen Carpenter, Sam Cooke, and Justin Bieber possessing just a little more range. The chart also lists which specific songs contain the highest and lowest notes for each respective artist. For example, Prince hit his low note of B2 on “Daddy Pop” and a high note of B6 on “God” giving him a range of four and a half octaves.
It should be noted that the list is almost entirely American or British, skewed strongly towards rock and roll, and contains no classical or romantic singers. This means that opera giants Enrico Caruso and Luciano Pavarotti do not feature on the list nor do Frank Sinatra or Michael Buble. However, Rapper Eminem is included beating out Rihanna, Ray Charles, and Neil Young.
Unlike Matt Daniels’ chart which detailed different rappers’ vocabulary, this list lacks a comprehensive breakdown of the data as well as a list of sources. Knowing that, it’s best to take a look of the data with a grain of salt.
Surprisingly Rose ranks number one in terms of low note despite the presence of Barry White, Chuck Barry, and Tom Waits on the list. The highest note belongs to Mariah Carey with Christina Aguilera falling in closely behind her. Prince hits the highest notes among males though Axl Rose is a very close second.
Much of the internet is already using this chart to name Axl Rose the greatest singer of all time. While Rose does possess one of the most versatile voices in rock music, there is more to a singer than a large range. For example, Whitney Houston is placed well into the second half of the list despite many music critics claiming her to have the greatest voice of all. Likewise, Johnny Cash’s relatively low range doesn’t dislodge his claim to one of the most distinct voices in music.