Here is a list we have put together here at Bumpshack of the ‘Top 10 Best Grunge Singers of All-Time’. As with all lists I am sure you might feel this person was slighted or another person doesn’t belong. The beautiful thing about Top 10 lists is you can agree, disagree, or debate about them for eternity. The decision for #1 came down came down to an intense and heated debate between Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.
The Top 10 Best Grunge Singers of All-Time
1. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) – Had he not committed suicide, what would we think of him? Did he cement his own glory with his death? We will never know these answers. Cobain was eccentric, brilliant, deranged, and one of the most gifted lyricists of the late 20th century. Like many on this list, heroin and other drugs led to his tragic suicide back in 1994. Nirvana’s last two albums Nevermind and In Utero are two of the greatest grunge/rock albums of all-time. Cobain’s performance on MTV’s ‘Unplugged’ in 1993 will forever be seared into our minds and hearts as one of the greatest live performances of all-time.
Best Album: Nevermind
2. Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) – One word: longevity. Pearl Jam still rocks arenas, and Vedderâ€™s lasting appeal is a big reason why. Pearl Jam has a huge loyal following. Eddie has been the Neil Young of our generation. He has always been big on the environment, political matters and finding ways to incorporate those themes into Pearl Jam’s music. Eddie and Pearl Jam even battled Ticketmaster’s monopoly on selling concert tickets. Eddie’s voice is one of the most powerful voices that has ever been laid on vinyl. A strong argument could be made for him being the best grunge singer of all-time instead of Cobain.
Best Album: Ten
3. Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave) – Arguably the most versatile guy on this list. He always seems to succeed, no matter the sound he puts out. However, smoking has taken some of the grandeur from his once proud pipes. After the breakup of Soundgarden, Chris went on to mega-success with the super-group Audioslave. He created and was the frontman for Temple of the Dog which was a tribute album/band put together to honor his late roommate Andrew Wood (see #9).
Best Album: Superunknown
4. Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver) – When Weilandâ€™s keeping himself clean heâ€™s still one of the best true grunge singers. STP could have sold millions of more albums during the 90′s and since if Weiland could have just gotten a handle on his heroin addiction. Weiland is back with STP and they are back on the road making great music after Scott’s four year stint as the lead singer for the super-group Velvet Revolver.
Best Album: Purple
5. Layne Staley (Alice in Chains) – Overshadowed fellow lead man and braintrust of Alice In Chains, Jerry Cantrell. One of the best raspy voices of all time. Staley’s heroin addiction not only derailed his musical career but also his life. Staley died on the eight-year anniversary of Kurt Cobainâ€™s death (April 5th, 2002) Aaron Lewis of Staind thought so much of Layne Staley that when he heard of Staleyâ€™s passing, he penned â€œLayne”, a hard-rocking tribute on Staindâ€™s album, 14 Shades of Grey. In the song, Lewis credits Staley for helping Lewis get through â€œhis darkest times” and implies that had Staley not written songs about heroin addiction, Lewis likely wouldnâ€™t be a father to his daughter.
Best Album: Facelift
6. Gavin Rossdale (Bush) – Many critics were bearish on Bush, insisting that they were riding the coat tails of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. However Rossdale showed that Bush was to be recognized as a legit grunge band with their first album Sixteen Stone. Bush hasnâ€™t worked together since 2002, and Rossdale has since turned to acting, including playing Balthazar in the movie Constantine. Gav also gets points for marrying the sexy Gwen Stefani. He is scheduled to release his first solo album in 2008.
Best Album: Sixteen Stone
7. Courtney Love (Hole) – The only chick to make this list. Love as the singer and leader of Hole put out a couple of good albums in the late 90′s. Did she make a name for herself or did her marriage to Kurt Cobain create the iconic Love? Likely, probably a bit of both. A little known fact about Courtney is that she was for a short time the lead singer of Faith No More. She is also an accomplished actress to boot. Love dated Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan for a brief spell in the early 90′s. Great singer, bad mother!
Best Album: Live Through This
8. Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) – Quite the opposite of Rossdaleâ€™s Bush, the acclaim of Screaming Trees was always more of the critical variety than popular. Still, before Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden enjoyed commercial success, no one couldâ€™ve predicted that Screaming Trees wouldnâ€™t have followed suit. With Screaming Trees no longer together, Lanegan has continued to make music on his own, including appearing prominently on the second album of Queens of the Stone Age.
Best Album: Sweet Oblivion
9. Andrew Wood (Mother Love Bone) – Had Andrew Wood not overdosed on heroin, you might never have known the name Eddie Vedderâ€¦and you most certainly wouldnâ€™t have known Pearl Jam. After Woodâ€™s death, Chris Cornell approached former Mother Love Bone and eventual Pearl Jam rockers Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, asking them to do a tribute single in honor of their mutual friend, Andrew Wood. Eddie Vedder contributed vocals on â€œHunger Strike”, and eventually became the front man for Pearl Jam.
Best Album: Apple
10. Neil Young (Buffalo Springfield, CSNY) – The oldest and most grizzled rocker to make the list. Young etched his name in grunge folklore in the late 90′s teaming up with Pearl Jam on ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ and on his own album Mirror Ball. The ever political Young was here before most of us and likely will still be rocking after a majority of us are gone. Young has often been called ‘the godfather of grunge’ for his mentoring presence among Pearl Jam and other grunge acts.
Best Album: After The Gold Rush, Mirror Ball (Grunge)
By Joshua Holmes (Bumpshack.com) Compiled with Matt ‘Moonie’ Williams.
Who did we leave off? Who did we put on the list that doesn’t belong here? Who is your favorite grunge singer of all-time? Leave a comment and let us know.