Rock music is a way of life. Anyone who considers themselves to be a rock fan gets a rush from the riffs, the snap of the snares and the rumble of the bass. But rock music has a defining trait: absolutely incredible vocals.
In today’s rock scene, the emphasis on a lead singer who can do more than screech, shout and carry a barely-passable tune has become paramount. The best in the industry today are more well-rounded than ever before.
From incredible power belts to soft melodies, these singers are the total package. And I want to make sure I shed some light on their talent! This list is comprised of the singers who can elicit the most emotion, power and melody from their voice.
So take a look below as we begin our countdown of the 10 best vocalists in rock music today!
Counting Down the 10 Best Vocalists in Rock Music Today
10. Billie Joe Armstrong – Green Day
Starting the list with a legend is a bit strange, but this isn’t about the success. It’s about the vocal talent and diversity. Green Day has put out bangers for the better part of three decades, and Billie Joe Armstrong continues to captivate us with his throaty, unique vocals. Able to be pure punk or foray into the world of ballads, Armstrong continues to defy the years and can put on an amazing show. He was almost left off this list, but the song “Still Breathing” firmly cemented him as a must-place. A strong start, a fun listen and a true legend.
Best vocal performance: “Still Breathing” – “Revolution Radio”
9. M. Shadows – Avenged Sevenfold
I’ll never forget the first time I heard the raspy, shouty voice of M. Shadows. It was in a game of “Madden”, and it was the rip-roaring “Bat Country” that got me into Avenged Sevenfold. After that, I had to hear more, and their incredible third album “City of Evil” that produced hits such as “Beast and the Harlot”, “Bat Country” and “Seize the Day” was the perfect place to start. From emotional melody to bone rattling screams, Shadows delivers on multiple levels.
Best vocal performance: “Bat Country” – “City of Evil”
8. Dave Grohl – Foo Fighters
Dave Grohl went from being the best drummer of the ’90s to the lead singer of one of the best bands of the ’90s. Moving from the percussion prince of Nirvana to the frontman of the Foo Fighters, Grohl has known nothing but success in his professional music career. He has also yet to show signs of slowing down! It took an album to find his sound, but once he did, Grohl found a megahit in “Everlong” Combining a clean vocal style with a trademark shout, Grohl shows that it isn’t about being overly technical, but rather how you use your voice that really matters. Not that it impacts his placement on this list, but he’s also the funniest man in rock music. Never afraid to make fun of himself, who doesn’t love Dave Grohl?
Best vocal performance: “Walk” – “Wasting Light”
7. Jacoby Shaddix – Papa Roach
One of the more underrated bands on the list, Papa Roach has been at this for a long time. And their frontman, Jacoby Shaddix, has been putting his vocals on display in a variety of ways. From the anthemic “Last Resort” to the heartfelt “Scars”,
Shaddix delivers varying sounds and an always-catchy melody. His voice is in the higher register of rock singers without going into that wailing sound. Not that we dislike a good wailing vocal, but Shaddix stays in that gut-punch style that is emblematic of hard rock in general.
Best vocal performance: “Leave a Light On” – “Leave Light On”
6. Josh Kiszka – Greta Van Fleet
Wailing, meet Josh Kiszka, one of the most impressive male vocalists on the planet. With a signature shriek that is reminiscent of Dio, Kiszka delivers power and complexity to his vocals. Unfortunately, this style is frequently met with true divisiveness in terms of enjoyment. But it doesn’t take away from the talent needed to pull this sound off.
Best vocal performance: “Highway Tune” – “From the Fires”
5. Danny Case – From Ashes to New
If you’re wondering who From Ashes to New is, you are not alone. But after seeing them in concert, I had to listen to their music more. On the come-up, this band is one of the few that has two frontmen! However, it is the powerhouse Danny Case who really shines. Clearly inspired by Linkin Park, the mix of rap and rock creates wonderful journeys through their music, and Case flies up the register, frequently living at C notes. Not one to bail on the big notes live, Case has, well… made his case for being one of the top rock music vocalists today.
Best vocal performance: “Panic” – “From Ashes to New”
4. Hayley Williams – Paramore
You didn’t think I would leave the ladies of rock out, did you? Nah, it just so happens that the women of rock and roll today are in the uppermost tiers in terms of their vocal ability and performance. And Hayley Williams kicks off a run of three in a row who absolutely melt our faces off! With a wide range of sounds from the poppy “The Only Exception”, to the pop-rock megahit “Still Into You”, to the angsty classic “Misery Business”, Williams has firmly established herself as a force in the rock music industry. And no one will ever convince me otherwise!
Best vocal performance: “Ignorance” – “Brand New Eyes”
3. Amy Lee – Evanescence
How hauntingly beautiful is Amy Lee’s voice? Everyone knows it from the sparse piano-and-vocals opening of “Bring Me to Life”, and Lee never wavers in her ability to mix opera styles into hard rock. Her booming chest voice and soul-piercing belts hit so many different sweet spots one can’t help but become hypnotized by Lee and the uniqueness she brings to rock music.
Best vocal performance: “Bring Me to Life” – “Fallen”
2. Lzzy Hale – Halestorm
OK, the top two were hard. I had to make a tough decision and I think I made the right one. Lzzy Hale is ridiculous. Truly ridiculous. Her shrieks, screams, belts and alto ability all add up to something uniquely hers. The talent of conveying emotion is key in this list, and Hale is one of the best at it. One need only listen to what I consider her best vocal delivery in “I Miss the Misery” to understand why she is ranked so highly on this list!
Best vocal performance: “I Miss the Misery” – “The Strange Case of…”
1. Brent Smith – Shinedown
Finally, we reach No. 1. The answer was a no-doubter for me when I started this list. As much as I love Hale, Brent Smith felt like the only true choice for No. 1. Admittedly, I am a massive Shinedown fan. I have seen them more times than I would care to share (11), and not once has Smith missed the mark.
Delivering everything from ballads to anthems to mosh-pit-inducing bangers, Smith has elevated Shinedown to the top of the Billboard rock charts more times than any other rock band in history! The list of hits includes “Sound of Madness”, “Enemies”, “Symptom of Being Human”, “Bully” and of course, the anthem-of-all-hard-rock anthems, “Second Chance.” You won’t find a frontman with more charisma, ability and passion than Brent Smith.
A true power baritone who can live in the high registers or drop down to the near-bass level sounds, Shinedown is able to produce a huge variety of sounds thanks to the vocal gifts Smith has been given and worked to hone. A truly worthy No. 1, and someone who I will never get tired of listening to!
Best vocal performance: “Second Chance” – “Sound of Madness”
Thanks for reading my “10 Best Vocalists in Rock Music.” I hope you have enjoyed yourself, and keep an eye out for more movies, music and show recommendations! For more entertainment and sports takes, find me on Twitter, @Steve_Lawson93.