Top 10 Best Lyricists of All Time


The Contenders: Page 5XW

81Trent ReznorMichael Trent Reznor, known professionally as Trent Reznor, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and film score composer. He is known for his intense music videos.

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!

82Ian CurtisIan Kevin Curtis was an English musician and singer-songwriter. He is best known as the lead singer and lyricist of the post-punk band Joy Division.

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.

"Here are the young and the weight on their shoulders"

V4 Comments
83Klaus Meine

Before you say anything, read the lyrics of "Crossfire", "Still Loving You" and "The Good Die Young". - DarkSideOfDragons

84Eric ClaptonEric Patrick Clapton is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream. He has also been a member of Derek and the Dominos.
85Victoria Legrand
86James Murphy

James Murphy might even be in on the joke of how he's not a very good lyricist, insisting in "I Can Change" "love is an open verse to a book of your bad poetry/and this is coming from me", but he's selling himself short. After all, he's able to make that self-deprecating joke into vulnerability. If James Murphy the producer wore his influences on his sleeve, James Murphy the lyricist wore his heart there. They might get fumbled time to time, but they're honest and earnest like nothing else. "The worst is all the lovely weather/I'm stunned its not raining" from "Someone Great" is a good enough line to disprove any claims he's no good.

87Tobias SammetTobias Sammet is a German musician. He is best known as the vocalist and primary songwriter of the power metal band Edguy, as well as the founder, main singer and bassist of the metal opera Avantasia.
88John Mayer
89Josh Ritter
90Darren 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.

I have only recently started to listen to Darren Jessee's music. You can tell, he pours his soul into it, and, as a budding songwriter/lyricist myself I can very distinctly say that this man is very much underrated and I hope to see him climb even higher up these ranks.

Most underrated lyricist ever, he can write hits without even trying. Listen to Sky High, Magic or Super 8mm.

Hotel Lights are so underrated it hurts.

V3 Comments
91Marc Bolan

"I need a Rolls Royce, 'because it's good for my voice". Not exactly the most profound, but the lyrics to 'Cosmic Dancer' are beautiful and inspiring.

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. '

A creamed cage in August and the hidden riders of tomorrow.

92John Darnielle

Darnielle's work is dark, rich, and affecting. The contrast between honesty and vulnerability, but then raw anger and long-suffering bitterness is masterfully done. Darnielle nails the intricacies of relationships (long and short term), addiction (substance and otherwise), and pretty much every other light and dark contrast in the average person's life. Darnielle is a true poet, but that he can stage his compositions to music elevates everything to reliving life experiences through the eyes of the story's speaker. The sheer volume of his catalog speaks for how much his creative voice has to say.

John Darnielle might not line up with being the best lyricists of all time, but he is definitely one of the most astute, passionate, and empathic. He is able to articulate emotions in ways that hit hard and strike sharp, not to mention instill the song with something powerful. Whether it's basically a poem over some acoustic guitar, or a more full-fledged rock song, Darnielle is a brilliant lyricist. You only need to read the lyrics to "Cubs in Five", "No Children", or "Cry for Judas" to understand why they're great.

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.

V1 Comment
93Noel GallagherNoel Thomas David Gallagher is an English musician, singer, songwriter and guitarist. He served as the lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and principal songwriter of the rock band Oasis.

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.

94Ben 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 - ShaggysWorld

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

95Robert Hunter

Hunter has written some of the deepest, most meaningful pieces I have come across. The man has an outstanding ability of conveying the feeling of the songs, simply through written form, like I have never seen before. With simple, unpretentious vocabulary he goes a long way, much like the great Ernest Hemingway. Known for his work with the Grateful Dead, there's a reason for also having collaborated with current #1 on this list - Bob Dylan.

The Grateful Dead's lyricist. The man who wrote Ripple, need I say more?

Shake the hand that shook the hand of PT Barnum and Charlie Chan.

96Neil Finn

The difference between a lyricist and a poet is embodied in Finn

Niel is one the most under-rated lyricists/ songwriters alive today!

V1 Comment
97Gareth 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

Count me in, Gareths capacity to involve so many diverse situations and emotions with an unequalled pen is nothing short of phenomonal.

V1 Comment
98Jack JohnsonV1 Comment
99Billy CorganWilliam Patrick "Billy" Corgan Jr. is an American musician, songwriter, producer, television writer, poet, and professional wrestling promoter best known as the lead singer, guitarist, and sole permanent member of The Smashing Pumpkins.

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

V1 Comment
100Joanna Newsom

The single best lyricist of all time, hands down.

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List StatsUpdated 6 Dec 2016

3,000 votes
253 listings
7 years, 103 days old

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