Top 10 Best Lyricists of All Time


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The Top Ten

Bob Dylan
Well I am Shocked, Stunned and Flabbergasted! Well you know Usually I'd not be ANGRY if My First Choice is not On Top! But it's Bob ' Dylan! He is On TOP! He is Number one! Anyone whose Heard it's Alright Ma, Desolation Row, It's All over Now Baby Blue, Visions of Johanna, Blowin' in the Wind, Like a Rolling Stone, Positively 4th Street, Idiot Wind! Well There is no Way this man is not on Top! And until he is I shall boycott the musicians above him, Lucky for me there are only two! And well I don't listen to Tupac... EVER! And I'll just only listen to George Harrison's Beatles songs and give up John's solo career!
Bob Dylan is ten times the lyricist John Lennon ever could be. Dylan's lyrics are full of nuance, wordplay, innovation, allusions, and beauty. He is the closest a songwriter has ever come to poetry. John Lennon is not a poet; he is a pop song writer.
You do realize that "pop" stands for popular right? So if someone writes a body of work in their lifetime that captivates and interests millions of people, they're no good, huh? Preposterous.
If you do read poetry... And you should... It may take some work on your part to fully understand. That effort can have powerful rewards. Bob is a very good poet and has one of the best ears for language in music.

2Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith is a musical genius, his lyrics are heartbreaking, vulnerable and powerful. You can't ignore his amazing talent. Doubtful that anybody will listen to him after seeing this but for anyone that does read this, I think you would appreciate listening to King's Crossing. It's about his life and is absolutely heartbreaking. I'm a big fan of a lot of these lyricsists such as Cobain for his originality and Lennon for just doing what he does best. But in my opinion Elliott should be so much more appreciated for his amazing work.
Um how can he not be on he, he's practically a poet. Beautiful music, Miss Misery, Between the Bars, Twilight when he sings them it's so heartbreaking.
He still is to this day the most real, passionate, fragile, honest musician out there. I am so thankful I came across his music, his music comforts me and makes me realise there was someone out there who just felt and thought the same about a lot of things in life. And that it is ok to feel like that.. Because simply there sometimes is just no other way. How hard you try.. Or fight against it. Especially when you feel so alone and you feel like no one truely really understands how you feel. I love you Elliott thank you for your beautiful music.
[Newest]You stole my soul

Eminem is the best lyricist ever, period. Killing rhymes and the beat is not something that Shakespeare could ever do! Never! He is a beast, not only in rapping, but also is rhyming... Let's not forget the flow. He does more than one thing at a time. This is not what poets do! Poets write poems. That's that! Eminem performs miracles. You may say it's obscene, on the other hand, I'll call it being straightforward and outspoken.
Eminem's lyrics are spectacular! His wordplay was, and always has been, revolutionary, the subject matter controversial and has received critical acclaim. His rhymes are unreal; want an example? Listen to Jay-z ft. Eminem - Renegade, Eminem outshines Jay-z (its embarrassing).
guys... yes 2Pac great super etc but wheres Em?
You don't know his song when I'm gone, or not afraid or no love? his lyrics! Em is the best!


[Newest]Best performer, best rapper, best rhymes, best lyrics, best beats, everything is from pure experience, he grew up a crappy life and made it better by writing about it in the music he makes, is a genius.
More comments about Eminem

4John Lennon
Lennon had more in his locker than anyone else. Dylan was predictable, put random words together. Lennon was much more diverse. Once you start to write a song, poetry disappears, it becomes a song. Lennon had a much more range of writing, the others wrote usually wrote in one style. The Irony to all this was Lennon new he was superior to anyone else. His intellect was so far ahead, no one can match him in this department. His vision, leadership, creative ability was to advance and mostly misunderstood.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney both were the dynamic duo of The Beatles, John and Paul had great talent and creativity. The lyrics written by the Beetles are somewhat simple but at the same time so full of meaning as mentioned. People can relate to those lyrics very deeply, and nothing makes a musician like John Lennon happier than when that happens. It's amazing the things music can do
For those who may not know, Lennon and McCartney were the writers of The Beatles. These men are definitely amazing lyricist. Their amazing song Yesterday, is considered one of today's saddest songs of all time. I want that song played at my funeral. John Lennon also wrote songs independently. One of John's most popular songs was Imagine. That song is one of the most lyrical songs ever.

5Roger Waters
Every song written by Roger Waters has deep lyrics. There is a story behind all his songs. In terms of lyrics he's sometimes underrated. Come on, people, he wrote Dark Side Of The Moon. What more could you want? He writes about life, insanity, politics, alienation, society, death, time, treason. I'm glad he's in the top ten. He wasn't afraid to write about anything. He also wrote about the war and how it affected him. He's a genius. He also wrote The Wall, Animals, and Wish You Were Here after the true masterpiece, The Dark Side Of The Moon.
Talking about life in "The Dark Side of the Moon", nostalgia on "Wish You Were Here", politic in "The Animals", society in "The Wall", freedom, society and politic in "The Final Cut", human problems in modern life in "Amused to Death" and even more... Made him one of the best lyricists of the all time!
Nobody can write like Roger Waters. He words hold such raw power that most of it is unfathomable to plebs that prefer lesser artists. His songs can make me cry, laugh, scream, and can send shivers down my spine. His is the type of music that you have to listen to alone in a dark room without any external disturbances, because it is just that pure and powerful. He has made some of the most powerful works of art in the history of humankind and deserves to be called the best.

6Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)
Agreed, John Lennon was a huge inspiration, and a brilliant lyricist. But Kurt Cobain was just defining genius. A much better lyricist than Sir Lennon.
Kurt spoke for a generation of disillusioned youth, and adults alike. He left a legacy that will still be discussed in another 20
"I wish I was like you,
Easily amused
Find my nest of salt
Everything is my fault
I'll take all the blame
Aqua seafoam shame"

Although Rock and many other genres are vocally on another level, it take's true talent to put together lyrics that are said with such speed and annunciation. Rap songs may have up to three times as many words as compared to other genres. Tupac is a true genius, but where's Eminem?
Tupac touched souls with his lyrics, he was not just a rhymer, he had a main theme for every one of his songs.

"Only God can judge me"

He pointed out flaws in society and politics at the time, the negative side of gang violence, racism, discrimination against women, and emphasized the need for change.
Tupac is a poet and a very good one also. Tupac saved my life. I was going through a rough moment, being constantly bullied at school, being yelled by my parents, and basically, for being something I knew I wasn't. Tupac opened up my eyes and made me take a glance at the real world. The first Tupac song I've ever heard was Thungz Mansion, and it spoke to me. I later on purchased his Better Dayz album on iTunes. Rest in peace Tupac, you're truly the best to ever do it.
[Newest]No one ever portrayed reality in his music than Tupac

8Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin)
Definitely one of the best singers and lyricists ever. He is absolutely amazing!
The best lyricist ever born no one can give meaning to songs the way he does just by making noises

9Neil Peart (Rush)
If Neil could sing his lyrics as good as he writes them, a black hole would emerge out of the awesomeness.
Powerful and moving. Peart has a passion for Sci-Fi, culture, and personal freedom. I would put him in the top 5, next to Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. He's a born Poet.
Neils lyrics give something that you rarely ever see anymore. He takes complex ideas and intellectual ideas and puts them into rock. No one can top this guy. It's the thinking mans lyrics.
[Newest]Pretty underrated in my opinion...


10Freddie Mercury (Queen)
When it comes to songs, and if you need music straight from the heart, no questions asked, you go and ask Freddie... Somewhat

RIP, Freddie

We all love you (I KNOW YOU DO-- YOU BETTER)
NO. Freddie should be number one... John Lennon mostly wrote his songs out of crack... Freddie wrote it from the heart!
Freddie was a real legend. There would be no musician like him that would be as good as him. His lyrics are much better than those who are in the upper list. He should have been in top 3.

The Contenders

11Adam Duritz
He uses his lyrics to create true imagery within the words that he writes. If you listen to a lot of the CC's songs you can picture what is happening. The best is when he is making up parts of the songs live where he just has the freedom to create a word picture and you can feel like you are there. The way that he and Dan (guitarist) work together is just perfect.
Each and every time he sings a song it is unique, there's not such a thing as "he's singing that song again", but "I wonder what he will come up with this time". And there's just no way you will picture "I walk along these hillsides in the summer 'neath the sunshine I am feathered by the moonlight falling down on me" or "Now Autumn's fire is ashes on the breeze and it spins away like dust on pearls as winter comes to usher in the evening" and not swoon.
I heard people say the Adam Duritz singing the phone book would be beautiful. I think this is very true, and when he sings live he takes creative freedom with his own songs. Your in for a unique experience ever time you hear him.
[Newest]Doesn't come much better than AD

12Neil Young
Dylan is better. Lucinda is better. Springsteen and Elliot Smith are his equals. Everyone else is in the line standing behind Neil.

There will be another one
Who'll hover
Over you beneath the sun
See the things
That never come

When you see me
Fly away without you
Shadow on the things you know
Feathers fall around you
And show you the way to go
It's over, it's over
" And I'm such a heal for making her feel so bad"

"I guess I'll just call it sickness gone, its hard to say the meaning of this song, an ambulance can only go so fast its easy to get buried in the past when you try to make a good thing last"
His lyrics are simple but the meaning is deep

13Bob Marley
Bob marley is one of the greatest cultural icon throughout globe. A common man can identify himself in his songs. His lyrics are simple yet have a cutting edge to it. His songs like a medicine for millions out there.
Bob Marley was a brilliant lyricist and possible the best that ever lived. To have ever lived. Music inspired by God and the people.
"The stone that the builder refuse
Will always be the head corner stone. "

"The things people refuse
Are the things they should use. "

- Robert Marley "Corner Stone" (1973)

Perhaps the greatest and most inspiring Lyricist in the past 50 years. Bob Marley... The King of Kings
[Newest]Bob is number 1, who de cap fit let them wear it

14Paul Simon
He creates movies of the mind and allows listeners to. Dream while awake with every story he tells and every note he plays.

Okay, I'm a big fan of the Beatles, the Stones, Pink Floyd, the Who and Led Zep. Let's face it, no one can do music like us British. The Americans just copied whatever went on in England, America did start punk with the Ramones though. But it wasn't until the late 80/90s when American developed their own tastes and invented grunge. Meanwhile in Britain, we were shoved with Britpop. Good music but the musicians were too phony. It was like the long haired glam rockers from the 70s (love Bowie by the way)! Indie rock in very much a British thing and one of the few 'real' bands who sung about real things and didn't do what everyone else was doing was the Smiths. Metal is nice and all (also invented by the British: Sabbath and Maiden), but the Smiths' lyrics were way more edgy and Morrissey was king of the 80s. He was a real person who you could talk to. Check out his lyrics on There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, Cementary Gates, Frankly Mr Shankly, This Charming Man, Bigmouth Strikes Again, Still Ill, What Difference Does It Make and Girlfriend In A Coma. These are a just few of their many great songs. There are more to the Smiths then there are to Metallica. Metallica have loads of good songs, but in terms of album, only about three of them are amazing as a whole. I'd recommend buying The Queen Is Dead album if you're interested in the Smiths (Metalheads won't like the Smiths, it requires an IQ of 130 : My little joke, there are many smart metalheads, I know loads of them). I thought another British nut like me would have put Morrissey on here, but no. Also, WHERE IS BOWIE, PETE TOWNSEND AND RAY DAVIES!?
Surprised and disappointed he is not in the top 5, top 10 at least, along with Cohen. Even more shocking, Alex Turner above Morrissey. Arctic Monkeys are great, I own a couple of their albums and sure, I can't say I haven't swooned over some of his lyrics, but this placement is pretty disgraceful. Nonetheless, Morrissey is, in my mind, the best lyricist.
"In a river the color of lead
Immerse the baby's head
Wrap her up in the News Of The World
Dump her on a doorstep, girl"
How in the world is morrissey not number one. it's the best LYRICISTS of all time not the greatest musicians. tops of too dylan and all but morrissey is something different. he tells a story in the most literate of ways. a true genius and without a doubt the GREATEST LYRICIST OF ALL TIME
[Newest]I'm a huge Arctic Monkeys fan but the fact hat Alex Turner I above Morrissey is a joke.

16Alex Turner
Clever wordplay and cheeky verses. For someone so young this kid has mad talent.
Best song writer of this generation and massively underrated
Manages to find poetical beauty and interest in everyday kitchen-sink dramas, as well as having explored deeper metaphorical meanings. He has changed with each album and is without a doubt the most talented songwriter of his generation. Key songs: Riot Van, The Only Ones Who Know, Conerstone and Arabella
[Newest]Alex, you witty bastard.

17Jim Morrison
Lets swim to the moon
Let's climb through the tides
Penetrate the evening
That the city sleeps to hide

People are strange
When you're a strange
Faces look ugly
When your alone
Women seem wicked
When your unwanted
Streets are uneven when you're down

Before you slip into unconsciousness
I'd like to have another kiss
Another flashing chance at bliss
Another kiss
Another kiss

The days are bright and filled with pain
Enclose me in your gentle reign
The your drove up to insane
Well meet again
Well meet again

Oh tell your freedom lies
The streets are fields that never die
Deliver me from reasons you'd rather cry

'enough said
He should be in the top ten. One of the best song-writers to have ever lived. Just look at songs like the Unknown Soldier and the End.
Definitely one of the best lyricists of all time. Definitely belongs in the top ten.
[Newest]Love this guy - so honest

How any rapper is ahead of Nas on this list is just insane. With Illmatic Nas wrote the bible of rap, showing others who came after how to paint a picture with you lyrics. Listen to "NY State Of Mind" or "One Mic" and I'll be very surprised if you can't picture what he says"
Nas is a very talented rapper with him there is always a story one you can relate to you can listen and just feel it the lyrics just put a smile on your face
Just please, listen to him and you will know why he should be at the top, illmatic and it was written albums
[Newest]Great lyricist! However, Eminem and Tupac are better.

19Leonard Cohen
Should be no1. You guys have no idea
"Yes and you who must leave everything
That you cannot control
It begins with your family,
But soon it comes round to your soul,
Well I've been where you're hanging,
I think I can see how you're pinned :
When you're not feeling holy
Your loneliness says that you'vre sinned"
"Some women wait for Jesus
And some women wait for Cain
So I hang upon my altar
And I hoist my axe again
And I take the one who finds me
Back to where it all began
When Jesus was the honermoon
And Cain was just a man".
[Newest]I don't know about number one, but he should definitely be much higher than he is.

20Ian Anderson
'thick as a brick' is without doubt one of the most complex and lyrically brilliant albums of all time although in my opinion, Bob Dylan is still the greatest.
Paul S

21Paul McCartney
The best form the best!
How is he ot eve on the list...

22Maynard James Keenan
I had never heard anyone use words and voice so masterfully until I stumbled across Maynard Keenan and his many musical endeavours. It felt like it was not just the well selected words and eye-opening phrases that had meaning, but that each and every syllable was purposefully sung in a way that got the most beautiful and effective sound from it that merged effortlessly with the journey that the music was taking - no small feat given how complex Tool's music is for example. Maynard has been my creative hero ever since.
ONE PERSON on this list can come freakin close to Maynard.
That's John Lennon.
I like rush and nirvana more than the beatles, and I can still say that.
Best lyricist of all time, hands down. His lyrics are so complex, yet he makes them make so much sense

23Tom Waits
He invented his own genre of lyrics and music, must be in top 10!
You could probably make a film based on every song! He reaches parts of the human psyche in ways Dylan or Lennon couldn't. Subversive, suggestive and indirect lyrics using raw, gritty and sometimes grotesque imagery to unveill our fragile existence as humans. A rollercoaster lyricists that can exite the whole emotional spectrum, he'll make you laugh and cry. The 'bone machine' of songwriting... the 'swordfishtrombone' of the imagary... the 'drunken piano' of junkyard rhythms... the 'trampled rose' of raw beauty. A poet, a visionary, a comedian... a truly grat American songwriter! Hail hail the 'eyeball kid'! *****

24Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam)
Deep, ironic, political, fun, relevant to the times, rock n' roll. What else do you need in music?
Eddie Vedder would have to be in the top 5!
I wish I was the peddle brake that you depended on

25Craig Finn
Right up there with Mr. Bob Dylan. Craigs Lyrics are the best and most dense rock lyrics written in over 30 years. This man is a living legend.
As far as minneapolis and music go Craig Finn has the city feel and groove bringing every dirty street downtown to the outer burbs and exoburbs together in a miasma neighborhood block party with dirty hookers making out with wigger kids while mom and the winos take down boonesfarm from a paper bag and the punks and skinheads making love children..he tells a story with full circle movement succinct and syncopated. As a song writer...hands down one of the best ever. I feel like I'm on 7th street now.
Tied with Bob Dylan in my mind. Every time I listen to a song or an album by the hold steady (And when I listen to a song I almost always listen to a full album) I always notice something new. Every album is a deep and emotionally driven story. It takes time to get used to Craig's voice, but his lyrics are always gold.
[Newest]A moving and deeply resonant wordsmith, Craig Finn paints pictures of intense characters living troubled lives. A Bob Dylan for the modern age.

26Ryan Adams

27Thom Yorke
>Notorious B.I.G. over Thom Yorke of Radiohead
>pleb/10 list wouldn't list again
His lyrics are the incontrovertible proof that he thinks in music

28Cat Stevens
At times Cat Stevens seems like a less pretentious Bob Dylan, carefully weaving words together to get his message across. "I know we've come a long way, we're changing day to day, but tell me, where will the children play? "

29Bruce Springsteen
It's so sickening to see so many artist that shouldn't even be in the top 100 be ahead of bruce. This man is the one of the best if not the best lyricist of all time. He tells a story in each word he sings. He connects with everyone everywhere and knows how to reach personally as if you were actually talking with him. An he is quite witty. But it's not the websites fault, just the brain dead idiots that don't know what music is.
How springsteen isn't in the top 5 of this list so far is sickening. The man is a poet and ranks right alongside, lennon and dylan in lyric writing ability. Obviously the idiots who voted have never heard Born to run, Nebraska or The River... Pity them
The boss is a master poet, it's unbelievable the isn't in the top 10 at least. That man brings the poetry to music every time, like in his first two albums, there is proved his ability to write incredible stuff.

30Notorious B.I.G.
Big is the best lyricist of all time period

31Townes Van Zandt

32Richey Edwards
What's Richey doing down here? He should be at the top! The best lyricist for sure, just listen to The Holy Bible
'I wanna walk in the snow and not leave a footprint'
'I wanna walk in the snow and not soil it's purity'

The missing Manics Lyricist and Rhythm Guitarist was an Icon is the 1990's for troubled youth.
Greatest lyricist of all time, period.

33David Bowie
Stone love - she kneels before the grave
A brave son - who gave his life
To save the slogans
That hovers between the headstone and her eyes
For they penetrate her grieving

New love - a boy and girl are talking
New words - that only they can share in
New words - a love so strong it tears their hearts

To sleep - through the fleeting hours of morning

Just a small part of Bowie's Soul Love.
Always inspired and always setting the scene of his highly original songs.

34Lou Reed
Better than Dylan. Period. He stepped out of the boundaries of social norms to give commentary on things most people were to scared or ignorant to talk about. He was able to write some of the most sad and depressing songs ever written; so true to reality that you can't help but feel depressed. His 90's music was more relevant than any of your whiny Grunge bands, and, in the 60's, he was one of the first people to blatantly talk about drugs in their music. He also, along with the Kinks, talked about the transgender community in his music. I may be one of the few people who thinks Lou is better than Dylan, but ya gotta agree he should immediately after. If you disagree, well, besides the fact that you're wrong, you need to listen to his album, "Berlin."
Why is Lou Reed all the way down here. I voted for Dylan but Reed had a way of telling truths through his lyrics, terrifying the listeners, and evoking emotions. He is far better than most of the crap at the top, namely Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin is great but its lyrics are not), Eminem (there is nothing deep to his lyrics. period. ), or Freddy Mercury (he had a few good songs but most of it is just insubstantial pomp)
How can Lou reed be below Alex turner? Just listen to his lyrics with the velvet underground and transformer. Should be 2 at least. I guess this what happens when you let everyone vote


35Mike Shinoda

36George Harrison
George Harrison throughout his career is very much under-rated both in terms of his guitar and his lyrics.. He's a brilliant writer.. Drawing inspiration some of the greats in the field like Dylan & Lennon he's lyrics both in the later Beatles (Within You Without You, Something etc) and his solo career are excellent...

37Kendrick Lamar

38Jimi Hendrix
His brilliant lyrics are largely overshadowed by his guitar playing, but Jimi was an absolute genius as far as writing lyrics goes. The man was an absolute poet, and it's a shame most people take his lyrics for granted.

39Serj Tankian
Come on if you have to listen to the song again to make sure that that's what he said then he is really good
How is Serj below Neil Young and Nas? He is one of the most underrated lyricists ever.
Serj fuses dead serious topics, delivery, and gravity while maintaining a sense of delightful absurdism in many of the songs he has been responsible for.

40Zack de la Rocha

41Josh Ritter

42Jesse Lacey
Jesse lacey should be much higher on this list. His lyrics are incredible. Go listen to the devil and god are raging inside me.. you'll see what I'm talking about!
How on earth is Jesse Lacey all the way down here? I can't even pick an example of his best lyrics. Just Google literally any Brand New song.
I wish I could write like Jesse.

43W. S. Gilbert
WS Gilbert should be top! He was a poetical genius, rather than an ordinary songwriter! Paul Simon is great, but WS Gilbert is in another league to all the rest!


44Gordon Lightfoot

45Ezra Koenig

46Guy Garvey
Justin Bieber?! Taylor Swift?! Guy Garvey writes POETRY

So I'm there,
Charging around with a juggernaut brow
Overdraft speeches and deadlines to make
Cramming commitments like cats in a sack
Telephone burn and a purposeful gait

When out of a doorway the tentacles stretch
Of a song that I know and the world moves in slow-mo
Straight to my head like the first cigarette of the day

And it's you and it's May
And we're sleeping through the day
And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away

Do I have time? A man of my calibre?
Stood in the street like a sleepwalking teenager?
No. And I dealt with this years ago
I took a hammer to every memento

But image on image like beads on a rosary
Pull through my head as the music takes hold
And the sickener hits, I could work till I break
But I love the bones of you, that I will never escape

And it's you, and it's May
And we're sleeping through the day
And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away

And I can't move my arm
For the fear that you will wake
And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away

And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away
And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away

And it's you and its May
And we're sleeping through the day
And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away

47James Murphy

48Jason Lancaster
Dude Jason's the best! All lyrics to songs by Go Radio are incredible as well as his lyrics for Mayday Parade's first EP and album! He's highly unrecognized! Check out songs Redemption in The Verse, Any Other Heart, and House of Hallways by Go Radio, and Three Cheers for Five Years, Miserable At Best, and Ocean and Atlantic by Mayday Parade!
The best in pop punk.
The way he sings ABOUT singing in "if you wanted a song written about you all you had to do was ask? "

You dropped a note and we changed key
You changed yourself and I changed me
I really didn't see us singing through this
You screamed the bridge and I cried the verse
And our chorus came out unrehearsed
And you smiled the whole way through it
I guess maybe that's what's worse
Listen to "hold on" from his new band go radio's new album "lucky street", and anybody who's ever listened to mayday parade's first album knows how great his lyricism is.

49Tim Mcllrath
"Life for you's been less than kind, so take a number, stand in line. We've all been sorry, we've all been hurt but how we survive is what makes us who we are. "

"hiding from the laughter in the closets of our lives, but the door hinges are sqeaking, letting in thin shards of light. And now a hand's extending outward, quiet comfort they invite. Do we dare take what they offer? Do we walk into the light? "

"a hero of war. Is that what they see? Just medals and scars? So damn proud of me? "

"do you still believe in all the things that you stood by before? Are you out there on the front lines or at home keeping score? "

"too much blood has flown from the wrists of the children shamed for those they cose to kiss? Who will rise to stop the blood? "

I could name a million more. This guy is a genius.

50Chester Bennington
Chester bennington is world best singer I love chester voice and very good singing

51James Hetfield
I can say I'm disappointed he's so far down on the liste here... He's a magician. Nobody in this world can beat Bob Dylan (you heard me), but Jaymz is an artist in his own right, with topics ranging from politics 'halls of justice painted green, money talking' to the toll of war on veterans 'darkness, imprisoning me, all that I see - absolute horror. I cannot live, I cannot die, tied myself - body my holding cell' to drugs 'pain monopoly, ritual misery, chomp your breakfast on a mirror' to a mothers love 'mama she has taught me well, told me when I was young - son you life's an open book, don't close it when it's done' so in matter of diversity yet still maintaining his otherworldly lyrical ability, he is just the best. And this is beside the point, but come on who hasn't spent hours listening to his riffs and cleans?
I voted James since Dave Mustaine is for some reason not on this list. Hetfield's lyrics are amazing. Just listen to Metal militia, ride the lighting, for whom the bell tolls, fade to black, escape, creeping death, master of puppets, the thing that should not be, welcome home (sanitarium), disposable heroes, leper messiah, blackened, and justice for all, eye of the beholder, one, the frayed ends of sanity, don't tread on me, or pretty much anything else to see what I mean. Despite that, I strongly suggest Megadeth's lyrics too.
Just look at songs like Fade to black, which describes depression perfectly, or One which lyrics are just intense and give you chills every time you hear the song. James is an amazing lyricist. Maybe not the best, but he belongs in the top 15 at least. And sorry for bad English

52Billy Joel
Greatest songmaker ever (that I have ever heard of). May not be the best lyricist but definitely up there with the big ones.
Best. Lyricist. Ever. "And they're sharing a drink they call 'loneliness, ' but it's better than drink in' alone."

53Regina Spektor

54Corey Taylor
Lead vocalist of bands, Slipknot and Stone Sour. Corey can get pretty lyrical in all honesty. Slipknot's song Dead Memories, is one of the most melodic Nu Metal songs known to man. He also has great songs with Slipknot, such as Psychosocial, Vermilion Part one and two.
Listen to the lyrical genius that is everything on both parts of House Of Gold And Bones. It's obvious he should be up there with Roger Waters (who should be first)

55Kanye West
Why is HE on the list, come on people the guy is so over rated! He said "Rap is the new Rock'N'Roll, And I'm the best of the best." The dude ISN'T a good, never mind great, Lyricists! He writes meaningless lyrics... I can think of 10 better lyricists off the top of my head. (In no specific order. )

10. Nikki Sixx
9. Robert Plant
8. Axl Rose
7. Izzy Stradlin
6. Eddie Vedder
5. Jake E. Lee
4. Billy Joel
3. David Bowie
2. Jim Morrison
1. Jimi Hendrix

Hell even Taylor Swift is better! I mean I don't really like her music, But at least she's talented, And doesn't think she's better than anyone everyone before and after her... (I mean he named one of his albums "Yeezus"... REALLY KANYE?!?!

56Kris Kristofferson
"I'd trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday"...
"Freedom's just another word for nothing' left to loose"...

Classic... And both from Bobbie McGee

"And there's nothing' short of dyin' That's half as lonesome as the sound
Of a sleepin' city sidewalk and Sunday mornin' comin' down."

Bless you Kris

57Immortal Technique

58Isaac Brock
No one can make lyrics this complex yet meaningful like him.
WARNING: Interpretation is required.
Props to this guy.
Criminally underrated. Imagery, storytelling, complex subject matter and metaphors galore
One of the more under rated lyricists. Every song has multiple meanings...

59Jarvis Cocker

60Victoria Legrand

61Pete Townshend

62Joni Mitchell
What a sad and strange world we live in when Eminem comes in at No 2 and Joni is down here.
This list is a joke. Nothing comes close to this woman's poetic genius.
The sexism in this list hits you in the face.

63Tom Paxton

Who's the Musically illiterate 12 year-old (Not that 12 year-olds are musically illiterate, I'm 12. ) who put JAY-Z on the list! I mean I can almost see why Taylor Swift is on the list, but jay-Z? Really people! Can you put Jay-Z on this list while Robert Plant is still alive? Who ever put him on this list, Must not have heard Rock'N'Roll In their lifetime, and with that being said I almost feel bad for you... Almost.

65Anthony Kiedis
Brilliant use of metaphors.. His lyrics can be interpreted in so many different ways, the guy's a true poet.

"I'm an ocean
In your bedroom
Make you feel warm
Make you wanna re-assume"

"It's the edge if the world and all of western civilization
The sun may rise in the east at least it settles in the final location
It's understood that Hollywood sells californication"

"Over the laws of light
Over the moon by midnight"

And so many more... He should be in the top 10

66Chris Cornell
His vocals are amazing and his guitar playing so it's easy to see how his fantastic lyrics can be overlooked
Should be #1 on this list.
This guy is amazing...
Listen to "Black Hole Sun" "Fell on Black Days" "Burden in my Hand" "Like a Stone" and "I am the Highway"
This guy deserves to be in the top 10.

67Harry Chapin

68Big L
Died so young had a lot more to give, would have been up there with pac

69Syd Barrett

70Johnny Cash
I don't know whats wrong with you people not putting the man in black on this list, he's up their with Bob Dylan and John Lennon
Johnny is one of the greatest of all times


72Trent Reznor
Trent Reznor influenced the alternative and metal genre incredibly. The way he is able to say what everyone in today's society is too afraid to say leaves one in a state of complete awe and understanding that the world is just a time bomb ticking and as humans we're cutting the wrong wires and speeding up the process a lot quicker. Not only that, but Reznor wrote "Hurt", one of Johnny Cash's most famous songs, and definitely one of the most remembered. He IS a legend and should definitely be higher, never have I ever heard anyone with such phenomenal lyrical talent.
How is he not in the top ten? All his lyrics are genius!

73Darren Jessee
His writing is so fluid and beautiful, His responsible for Ben Folds Five hits Sky High, Brick and Song for the Dumped. His hotel lights music is beautiful.
Most underrated lyricist ever, he can write hits without even trying. Listen to Sky High, Magic or Super 8mm.
He writes potential hits effortlessly its a pity nobody has heard of Hotel Lights fantastic band.
[Newest]Hotel Lights are so underrated it hurts.

74Jeff Mangum

75Pete Seeger
All those rappers above this man. Seriously guys? Do you understand music?

76John Darnielle
I half expected John to be in the top ten despite that his fans are few and far between. Still glad to see he got an honourable mention, he's written some of the most powerful lyrics I've yet to hear.
Though not particularly well know, John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats is has a brilliantly unique method to writing lyrics, by humanising past figures and fictional characters, to great effect

77Shannon Hoon

78Don McLean
Lists are usually wrong, but the man who wrote American Pie languishing at 65 makes me want to hit all of you rap aficionados in the bollocks.

79Marc Bolan
Marc Bolan deserves to be so much higher on this list. His lyrics surpassed poetry.
'Summer deep is in the hills again,
His lady is a lioness.
Winds of birds blow through the fields again,
Invaders from the true world. '

80Robert Hunter

81Neil Finn
The difference between a lyricist and a poet is embodied in Finn
Niel is one the most under-rated lyricists/ songwriters alive today!
Neil Finn and His Brother Tim

82Gareth Balch
When this guy breaks through in 2013 you are going to have to re-write the list and redefine the parameters of genius... In fact he makes the word genius redundant at most and common at least. The complexity of his observations can be both bewildering and yet awe inspiring both at the same time... And many many more.
Thanks for posting this guy up. I googled his website and it has the words to about 100 songs. Absolutely brilliant and certainly gives the others on here a run for their money
Love this guy! Didn't know other people knew about him yet.

83Jack Johnson
Best ever! No competition.

84John Mayer
John Mayer. 59th. Seriously? W.O.W.

85Noel Gallagher
His words represented the thoughts and feelings of a generation and 'live forever' is lyrically one of the best songs of all time.
If beiber is on this list then Noel should be number 1... Just listen to "If I had a gun" if you don't believe me.

86Ian Curtis
His words have shown his depression and pain before his subsequent suicide. They flushed into a depressing and dark chasm that was unique in every right. Joy Division was never as popular as the band that evolved after, New Order, but the impact is there. Their final release as Joy Division impacted many of the time to form a whole new genre called Gothic Rock.
The most authentic person ever in the history of rock music. Dylan could write genius poetry and still sing like a lazy, overpaid ass. With Curtis everything mattered, no one comes close to his intensity.
I cannot believe he is so low on the list. I guess most people haven't even heard of Joy Division. To those people: if Eminem's lyrics is the deepest stuff you've ever heard? I feel truly sorry for you.

87Billy Corgan
High school is a hard time. Corgan really helped a lot of teens find themselves in the hardest time of their lives. His lyrics are so condensed but yet so powerful. Billy Corgan Is one of the greatest lyricists of all time
His lyrics are very compelling and have impacted my life and my perception of art. He's at least in the top five.

88Eric Clapton

89Justin Bieber
Wow... Okay... Umm... Who ever put this guy on the list is just as much of a moron as Justin Bieber is. I'm sorry but I don't think he's even a moderately talented lyricist, or artist for that matter. He isn't a good singer, Also I don't think he even writes his own music... When he asks his lyricists to write his music he must say: "I want you to write the worst song you could possibly write, and I'll sing it with my high pitched annoying voice and all my musically illiterate fan girls will love it because I've brain washed them into believing I'm talented." I swear it must be something close to that, or they're just some groupies who got so high they thought they were a lyricist.
He is the worst I ever heard

90Ben Gibbard
Listen to Title and Registration and your view on music just might change. In fact listen to any of his songs, the lyrics are superb


You're so cute when you're slurring your speach.
But they're closing the bar and they want us to leave.

91E (Eels)
Life is white
I am black
Jesus and his lawyers
Are coming back


Love, It's an ideal of the person you imitated

93Kate Bush
Well at least she beat Jay-Z. I guess the world has not yet come to an end. Were it l deciding, the top male lyricist - Pete Townsend; the best female - Kate Bush. Why seperate them gender wise? Because men and women are different. Or hadn't you noticed?

94Ozzy Osbourne
I'm a huge Ozzy Osbourne fan, but I don't think he writes his own lyrics. I'm sure he may have been able to write lyrics before the drugs... But now, after all the stuff he did, I don't think so... But one thing I noticed is that when ever he sings you can understand him BETTER than when he's talking, it's pretty amazing.
Ozzy did not, does not and cannot write lyrics

95M. Shadows
We wrote pretty good songs and that too extremely meaning full songs like seize the day and many other nightmare etc beast and the harlot, buried alive, scream and many other he really deserves a place in the list
From Avenged Sevenfold... Just Listen to So Far Away, Seize The Day and Afterlife...


T.I. is great lyricist because of why he helps people understand him, but at the same time helping other people with their life.T.I. really touched the world with his beautiful lyrics. King of the South!
T.I. is like the new "Tupac". He is and will always be for the people and the community. His music inspires me to be a better person than what I am, and can accomplish anything in the world.T.I. is King.

97Jeff Buckley
"A heart that beats as both siphon and reservoir. "
"Just like the ocean, always in love with the moon. It's overflowing now, inside you. "
"It's never over, my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder"

"Moving with grace the men despise
And women have learned to lose"

98Willie Dixon
Perhaps the most underrated and unknown songwriter ever he wrote the he wrote "little red rooster", "hoochie coochie man", "spoonful", and almost half of all led zepplins first two albums

99Michael Jackson

100Otep Shamaya
If her music style were more popular, I'm sure she would be in the top ten. She's a true poet. One of the most clever, creative, and powerful lyricists I've ever had the pleasure of listening to.

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This list was created 5 years, 242 days ago and has been voted on over 2,000 times. This top ten list contains 213 items, has been remixed 17 times and has been blogged about 1 times.

Updated Saturday, April 25, 2015

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