There is a difference. For example, we know Whitney Houston can saaang. It’s one of the reasons we’re so excited about her comeback album. But not everybody has the world rooting for them. Some artists we seek after, others we simply settle for. At a time when hit records seem easy to come by, the line between singers and sangers, the talented and talentless, is easily blurred. Here, we pick our Top 6, in both categories. Can you guess who’s who?
6. She can’t pull the wool over our eyes, but she can blind us with her beauty. The former model has a less-than-average voice, but has managed to stay in the public eye for over three years and with only one album under her belt; we credit the shaved head, pierced nipple, and questionable closeness with a certain media mogul.
5. Her singles are a series of hits and misses – we all loved the go-go influenced smash single, but no one remembers “Take Control.” Her albums have been released without so much of a blip on the radar (Because I Love It, anyone?). Marketing would help her exposure, as would an incriminating paparazzi photo, but she prefers to lay low. She’s got the look, but because of her inconsistency, she fails at establishing a loyal following.
4. A side-by-side comparison of the singer from her dancehall days to now shows a transformation so extreme, it’d give Lil’ Kim a run for her money. Who needs a voice when you’ve got a number of tattoos rivaling that of Angelina Jolie, a fashion team behind you that treats every sidewalk like a catwalk, and a mentor who “will not lose”? Considering those elements – and that one incident involving a famous former boyfriend – this girl has an “It” factor that we can’t pinpoint, but know won’t ever fade.
3. She can’t hit a high note, but neither could Janet Jackson. If the famous icon ever leaves the industry – after all, she released her 10th studio album just last year – this girl can take her spot, fulfilling the role as a dynamic performer, incomparable dancer, and sex kitten who hisses into the mic more than she harmonizes, and whispers more than she wows us.
2. Her debut as a solo star was a long time coming. She’s winning us over, not because of her voice, but because of her ability to make a hit (she’s written songs for Britney Spears, Usher, Jennifer Lopez, and Omarion) and because of that “swagga right” she carries so well.
1. Now don’t get us wrong, this girl is by far one of the most talented, but when looking for a voice marked by emotion, experience, ache, and adversity, she falls a bit short. However, her tone never falters, neither do her fingers. She shines behind the Grand, and has proved herself time and time again as a legend in the making.
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Here’s a few of our top choices doing what they do best – and worst – together.
6. Though her up-tempo, booty-shaking bangers have gained her more popularity than her ballads, when she does sing a slow jam, she sings it well and she sings it with heart. An unwavering work ethic and blessed body keeps her at the top of the game, but it’s her ability to manipulate her voice and go from devilish diva to sauntering seductress in a matter of moments, that keeps us listening.
5. She enraptured us with her raspy voice and a grit that can only come courtesy of being born and raised in Philadelphia. Blending doo-wop, pop, reggae, and soul on her debut, she went hard on her first single – a song that quickly became an angry anthem for the ladies. We hear her when she pleas, fights, and exposes her insecurities, and we love her for it.
4. The Grammy-Award winning singer can channel Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald just as easily as she can guest-appear (and steal the spotlight) on songs by two of raps rivaling G.O.A.T.’s. At first glance, she’s unassuming, but her jazz-influenced melodies will set her apart from the rest of the rising R&B starlets, as will her vocal range.
3. She is unapologetic for her no-holds-barred personality, apparent both in front of the camera and behind the mic. Revenge, regret, and a loving regard for men, no matter how contradictory, often find their way as the topics of her tunes. But regardless of what she’s singing, her pint-size self is belting out something larger-than-life.
2. After a few years in hiatus, she’s begun working on her 12th studio album and is reclaiming her title as one of the greatest voices of all time. Her five-octave range, and ability to sing in the whistle register, makes her voice one of the only instruments she’ll ever need.
1. Though her latest single gets a thumbs-down for Auto-Tune usage, no one can deny her talent. With this queen still in the industry, it’ll be hard for anyone to ever claim the top spot. Though her older tracks, inspired by pain, addiction, and tumultous relationships, seemed to hit closer to home to an audience full of women, it’s clear she’s in a better place. And if she’s managed to achieve happiness, maybe she can pull it out of the few of us that need it, too.
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