Geordie Greep, frontman and main vocalist of London-based group Black Midi, has the sort of voice that can get away with delivering lines such as "diagnose if you wish, but please first take your hands off your dick". Greep only gets away with it because they're placed against a background of raucous art-rock, wild enough to make the lyrics seem fairly reserved in comparison. His delivery is erratic, flitting between a quiet croon and agitated yelps, all in an accent that is unique and as far as I'm aware doesn't correspond to any real language.
I feel like I speak for a lot of us when I say how much I love Sam Fender's voice. Unique, raw, soaring, beautiful. Every word he sings is sung with meaning. I could easily choose any of his songs for today's theme but I thought Saturday would be the perfect pick for a Saturday. In February I was lucky enough to see him live at the O2 in a show that I can only describe as everything I wanted it to be and more. Towards the end, a girl in the audience held up a sign saying "Let me sing Saturday with you". In a performance that must have been an absolute dream come true, the pair performed the most spectacular rendition of Saturday that was truly special to watch. My cheeks ached from smiling that night and I never wanted it to end. After battling with voice troubles that saw him withdraw from Glastonbury and cancel a string of shows in 2019, Sam's had more than his fair share of vocal hold-ups. But as anyone who knows and loves his music will undoubtedly agree, it's a small price to pay for a one in a million voice that has to be preserved.
The difficulty today was not deciding the band I would be writing about. Tommy O’Dell has a voice which can only be described as angelic, but picking just one DMA’S track proved to be a harder task than I had anticipated. Eventually I went for ‘Time & Money’, a song from the band’s second album, and one in which both the softness and weight of O’Dell’s voice are most evident. Despite being softly spoken, he manages to generate some real vocal power, and this distinctive voice is perhaps that which elevates this band above other indie counterparts. Indeed, DMA’S seem to have a bright future ahead of them, and it is the incredible voice of their frontman that helps contribute to the optimism that surrounds their growth.
I really like singers with unusual voices and there’s none more unusual and brilliant than Tom Waits. His gravelly voice transports you to a smokey corner of a dive bar and it’s impossible to imagine him singing without a large whisky and a full ash tray in front of him. His voice has got deeper and darker with age and I think is best shown off in his 2004 song ‘Green Grass’. With his whispered vocals accompanied by soft acoustic guitar it sounds like the whispered inner monologue of a cartoon murderer. It’s a testament to Waits that he can make such a simple song so strange and interesting with just the quality of his vocals.
I can’t believe I’ve come this far without any David Bowie songs. Bowie was a musical genius with one of the most iconic voices ever. There’s no particular reason for this song being selected as all of his songs are incredibly fantastic, but after watching the TV series Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes (both are well worth a watch), this has been rattling around my head of late. Bowie sings songs that you just never tire of hearing, which is a rare talent, and 'Life on Mars' is one of his best ever.
How could I not pick a Queen song for this day, a list of incredible voices demands the presence of Queen, or more specifically Freddie Mercury. Widely renowned as one of the best singers to have ever lived with an incredible range Mercury's voice is iconic, and one I absolutely love. The song itself I picked for its energy, excitement and carefree attitude. Most importantly it was one of the songs written by Freddie. An incredible song, sung by an incredible man.
I told you you’d see him again on this list! Mac DeMarco has a voice which just melts like butter. His laid back method of singing, highlighted perfectly in this track, is coupled so well with his guitar. They both have that lo-fi vibe which is as relaxing as it is captivating. For today I think that listening to the track will do it more justice than I could, so feel free to give him a listen!
North Shields finest Sam Fender was undoubtedly the artist of my first year at uni and his Dead Boys EP was on repeat for most of it. It just felt perfect, a North East artist exploding onto the scene while I was in my first year. Since then I've seen him four times and plan to increase that number by the time I've finished my degree. 'Leave Fast' is the song that really got me into Sam's music. It's bleak but beautiful and Fender's voice really shines on the track- particularly when performing live. 'Leave Fast' not only made me love Sam's music but I also have it to thank for strengthening my love of the North East that little bit more.