UPDATE: Axl Rose himself has reponded as a result of our sharing this story. Read his letter below, in which he names his own favorite singers. Also, there's been a follow-up study to the original chart that finds Mike Patton (Faith No More, Tomahawk, Mr. Bungle, etc.) to have the broadest singing range in the popular music universe.
We've recently seen who has the biggest vocabulary in rap and who makes the most references to illegal substances, but a new chart visualizes one of the more traditional metrics of gauging the merits of a performer — their vocal range.
The chart was compiled by comparing both the highest and lowest recorded note by a given singer and some of the results are pretty surprising. Who would guess, for example, that Tom Waits has a wider vocal range than Sam Cooke, Stevie Nicks, Taylor Swift, and Björk? Or that Otis Redding is outclassed by Katy Perry?
Axl Rose, who tops out this list, has a recorded range of just over five octaves. For what it's worth, the Guinness World Record for largest vocal range is held by Tim Storms, whose range spans a full ten.
If you're into the crossover between music and statistics, it's a fun little thing to play around with. You can check out the interactive version over at Concert Hotels, and a letter from Axl Rose right here:
Big thanks to all the fans and media for the props reacting to the Spin top vocalists article.
From what I could tell, the original article was for the most part only talking about the professionally recorded vocal range of the singers they compared calling the entire group "The World's Greatest Singers." It's very flattering and humbling to be included in such an illustrious ensemble.
If I had to say who I thought the best singers were, I'd say first that I don't know there's a definitive answer as in my opinion it's subjective, and second that my focus is primarily rock singers.
That said, I enjoy Freddie Mercury, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Dan McCafferty, Janice Joplin, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Roger Daltrey, Don Henley, Jeff Lynne, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Scott, Etta James, Fiona Apple, Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Wonder, James Brown and a ton of others (predominantly 70's rock singers) and would rather hear ANY of them anytime rather than me!