Top Ten Best Singer/Songwriters

redwings5

The Top Ten

1 Bob Dylan Bob Dylan Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, artist and writer . he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016 .

Is obviously the greatest singer/"songwriter" of all time. Bob Dylan actually wrote his songs, and didn't rely on other people to create them. I honestly have no idea how Josh Groban is even on this list!

Should clearly be first. Josh Groban the greatest singer-songwriter of ALL time? You are all patently complete morons.

Why Bob Dylan?

Because there was no other artist that has performed this consistently over the course of over 50 years? I will generously ignore his "Reborn Period" in the 80's and even during that time he wrote "good mainstream music", it just wasn't anything extraordinary or interesting. The only two artists who rival his songwriting are obviously Lennon and McCartney. But neither of them performed this consistently. Lennon died too soon (Roll On John), but even he had a bad period and McCartney just wasn't the same after the Beatles breakup.

Because Dylan keeps reinventing himself over the years, moving from Pretest Folk singer to Rockstar, back to Folk, to Country, to Blues, to Gospel and then even to some kind of music style, just to release a Sinatra cover album and move to a more jazzy style? Yes, the Beatles music was more diverse and Dylan never touched the really freaky stuff (Looking at you I Am The Walrus), but the Beatles were just ...more

Goes without saying...

V 48 Comments
2 John Lennon John Lennon John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE was an English singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He was assassinated by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980 at age 40.

I often wonder people's knowledge on songwriting and what do they base their songwriting on. John Lennon is the greatest songwriter ever and wins by a country mile, no one comes close to him not even Dylan. He made the Beatles in to prophets and took them foreward. Maccartney's greatness shined through only when he was led. Every other songwriter were limited and predictable. Lennon was much more diverse and had more in his locker. I get so fed up hearing about Dylan being a songwriter, he was not, he used music to convey his poetry. He basically was a protest writer and became an icon with that movement. I don't understand why the music industry is obsessed with him. What else did he have... Nothing... He was envious of Lennon's Intellect and pulling power. Some of Dylan's songs lacked chorus and bridge. Hie version of Norwegian wood was a joke and his Christmas album was embarrassing. In the 80's he produced nothing. Lennon was more prolific and consistent with lyrics and melody. So ...more

Hey dude dd369 you don't know anything about song writing and a Lennon hater. What is the question, song writer. One song that kills Dylan... Imagine, It is sung all around the world. Dylan a genius don't make me laugh, it shows you are limited, you can't even spell genius. Song writing is not just lyrics. If Lennon wanted he could easy write like Dylan but he was to advanced and much more diverse. Dylan's songs didn't exactly touch people's inner self like Lennon's did. What did he do in the 80's, nothing, he is a joke, didn't know what faith to follow and kept chaining. Musically, lyrics, singing Lennon wins easy. Dylan's word play was predictable, Lennon's word play was much more clever. Dylan had to write a whole verse to make a point, Lennon could do this with few words, Lennon was a superior human being. You can back to me with anything you like and I promise you I will counteract it.

Oh and Lennon never changed? There is a good case for placing Lennon ahead of Dylan as a songwriter but your argument is way off base on many points. Furthermore, Dylan wrote many more songs, and I'd venture to say Lennon may have given him the crown. The Beatles adored him. Also, since John was killed in 1980, Dylan was much more prolific in that decade. - Billyv

I tell you that; if you however have chance to ask Bob Dylan(one of the most genious when it comes to write masterpieces) that logically who's the best songwriter ever?.. The answer my friend is (blowin' in the wind :-p :-)) ; there's no problem with me but I think John Lennon is 1 or 2 bottom better than me... :_) - dd369

Although I like both John and Paul, I vote for John instead of Paul because John's style of songwriting appeals me more.

Paul is a great songwriter, no doubt, but I find some of Paul's songs are rather too "pop."

V 43 Comments
3 Paul McCartney Paul McCartney Sir James Paul McCartney is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer . With John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame with the rock band the Beatles, one of the most popular and influential groups in the history of pop and rock music .

The most successful singer/songwriter of all time! it's in the Guinness book of world records! and of course he was the other half of the famous songwriting duo Lennon/McCartney, he should be here it's so obvious

Paul is considered to be in the greatest writing duet of all time (Lennon-McCartney). He was also part of the biggest band of all time and he is the world's most successful artist. Why is Paul all the way down here? HOW DOES JOSH GROBAN EVEN BEAT PAUL?!

Yesterday is the most covered song of all time.

He was part of the biggest band of all time.

That band is among the biggest overall musical acts of all time.

Had the most successful solo career of all the

Half of the greatest songwriting partnerships.


Why is he all the way down here?

'Lennon' ahead of 'McCartney' is pretty typical but wrong.'Dylan' ahead of McCartney is just plain silly.
As wordsmiths you could easily argue that Lennon and Dylan are superior to McCartney.Although McCartney at his best matches both of them.
However McCartney's music is far more complex and sophisticated than either of them AND he is a far superior musician and was a far more versatile singer.His output and sales dwarf the other two.Easy choice for me with Lennon second and Dylan third.

V 31 Comments
4 Paul Simon Paul Simon Paul Frederic Simon is an American musician, singer-songwriter and actor. Simon's fame, influence, and commercial success began as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, formed in 1964 with musical partner Art Garfunkel.

The quality of work produced by Simon has been outstanding for over 50 years, many of his songs having become timeless standards. His body of work now stands comparison with any of the world's great composers or poets throughout history. His lyrics are exceptional, poetic, moving and profound, and his melodies have shaped the development of popular music in the post 1960 world. His work consistently has something interesting to say about the human condition, and has at its heart a love for mankind.

Yes Paul Simon what a fine body of work as a solo artist, with Art Garfunkel and other great musicians. Bridge Over Troubled Water one of the greatest songs ever - right at the very top with Danny Boy! Because Art Garfunkel had the lead on Bridge Over Troubled Water I did not realise how great a singer Paul is until I saw him on YouTube with David Crosby and Graham Nash on stage together singing George Harrison's Here Comes The Sun - now that is as good as it gets! What a combo and beautiful guitar playing by Paul too. Been a fan since about 1975! Rock on!

VERY, VERY, VERY WELL PUT! Love Paul Simon's VERY IMPORTANT body of work! Beautiful marriages of melody and lyric! Poignant subject matter throughout his wonderful carrier!
However he still needs to be ranked behind McCartney, Lennon and Dylan... I know it SUCKS... But the completion was fierce! Just look at these composers (including Simon)... AND they were ALL from the same ERA! What a magical period in popular song! - frank

Very gifted man!

V 3 Comments
5 Bruce Springsteen Bruce Springsteen Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born September 23, 1949) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and humanitarian. He is known for his work with the E Street Band. Nicknamed "The Boss", Springsteen is widely known for his brand of poetic lyrics, Americana, working class and sometimes political ...read more.

I hate the fact that everywhere I see the top songwriter list, I see Bob Dylan. Now I'm a Dylan fan. But this whole Dylan is the greatest thing is pissing me off. I like "Blowing in the Wind." I like "The Times They Are a Changing." I like "Tambourine Man," but I don't know what the hell it means. And I love "The Hurricane." But what are his top songs? Why are they the greatest ever?

Every time I see one of these lists, people expect me to believe that these Dylan songs are superior to "The River? " "Darkness on the Edge of Town? " "Stolen Car? " "Born in the USA? " "My Hometown? " "Nebraska? " "Reason to Believe? " or any regular old Springsteen song?

We're just supposed to believe that Dylan is the greatest?

Anybody who's a music lover, probably loves Dylan. I do too. But anybody who's ever tried to write a song, knows who he or she is trying to copy.

This Dylan = number1 is just ridiculous.

Springsteen has released 17 studio albums, and 2 compilations of songs that were unreleased. That is a hell of a lot more of what some of these singers ahead of him have done. Bruce's songs have meaning in them, just listen to "Atlantic City" "The River" "Born To Run". Not everyone has heard of him he is very underrated in this generation, that's probably why he's so far down the list

I've gone through dozens of list of this nature and this guy is in the top 10 on all of them. Seriously just read the words to any of his stiff from the 70's and 80's. Deep songs about normal everyday problems. Other than Bob Dylan I don't know who would be a better contender for best singer songwriter in the history of modern music

Love all his music have a nice voice

V 6 Comments
6 Roger Waters Roger Waters George Roger Waters, is an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. He was mostly known for the secondary lead vocals and bassist of Pink Floyd .

Pink Floyd became the biggest rock band of all time because
1. The inspiration of Syd Barrett
2. The guitar work of David Gilmour
And 3. The brilliant songwriting of Roger Waters

Actually, the Beatles are the biggest one. They made it all possible. - waldo

Roger Waters wrote entire legendary albums like The Dark side of the Moon and The Wall

I like Bob, John and Paul more, but I can't believe how low Roger is! Gotta vote him up, he deserves it. - Donut

Would:ve voted for Bob Dylan, but can't believe that Roger Waters is #6 when he should be #2!

V 9 Comments
7 Elton John Elton John

He didn't write the lyrics to most of his songs. Shouldn't be on here

Paid someone to help write his songs

Elton john bernie taupin no 2 all time best songwriters for me. Not even paul has written anything as advanced as Funeral for a friend and don't let the sun go down on me. But paul has numbers on his side.

yes..

V 3 Comments
8 Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury (5th September 1946 - 24th November 1991) was a Tanzanian-born British singer, songwriter and record producer, known as the lead vocalist and songwriter of the rock band Queen. He also became known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range. Before he became a singer ...read more.

He is good song writer and singer, he should be in the top 10 list.. I didn't like the singer in number 1 list.. Maybe some people who vote to him maybe a teenager or young and he's famous at this time that is why he is in the no. 1 in the list.. For me I will vote for the vocalist and song writer of 60s 70s 80s and 90s because the song that they write are beautiful and meaningful than the songs the are come famous for now.. I'm 24 years old but I like the song from the past than now.. Philippines

Freddie Mercury is an amazing singer, and a superb songwriter. His songs are all original, and he can write all kinds of genres from hard rock to ballads to opera. He wrote Bohemain Rhapsody, one of the greatest songs ever; We Are The Champions, one of the greatest anthems ever, etc. Not to mention how he wrote Crazy Little Thing Called Love in about 10 minutes in a bathtub with a guitar, because he couldn't play the guitar well and is limited to a few chords. Such talents are rare in this world. Freddie Mercury should one of the greatest - if not THE greatest - singer/songwriter ever.

Bohemian Rhapsody, Don't Stop Me Now, Somebody to Love, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Princes of the Universe, Killer Queen, We Are the Champions... should I go on? Freddie undoubtedly wrote some of the most iconic songs ever. Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor also wrote some iconic songs.

finally

V 12 Comments
9 Neil Young Neil Young Neil Percival Young is a Canadian singer-songwriter and musician, producer, director and screenwriter.

Great to see Neil crack the top 20. What I like about this top twenty, with the exception of Groban, is that the people on it are not only great songwriters but have also influenced other great songwriters in most cases. No flash in the pans on this list. Aside from the inexplicable Groban error, good list.

Neil Young is the closest to Bob Dylan anyone will ever come. He's still light years behind but he definitely deserves a higher spot

Yes, should be higher but honestly, he's a lot higher on this list than he is on some of the others. One has him behind Nick Jonas, for crying out loud.

Oh my god! not even in top ten? are you serious?!

V 5 Comments
10 James Hetfield James Hetfield James Alan Hetfield was born on August 3, 1963. He is an American musician, singer and songwriter known for being the co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and main songwriter for the American heavy metal band Metallica.

Yep, so true, his songwriting skills are sublime, (Roamer? One? The unforgiven trilogy? , I don't know where to start :S ) - Psykosauron

Hear songs like one, Fade To Black, Enter Sandman, UnForgiven, The Day That Never Comes, Master Of Puppets. And you will know that he is the best lyrics writer with deep meanings inside his mind - nooreldeen

No no no, james should be in the top 10 he's a kick ass singer and a great songwriter you people should know better than to put james at 11

Of course, Lennon, McCartney, Mercury and all the other legends are made great music and define their generations' music. But Hetfield's touch on my life is undeniable. Every word he has written touched so many people in many ways. Thank you Papa Het for awesome memories, for all the headbangs.. please keep bless us with your beautiful music! 🤘 - BekoT.

V 4 Comments

The Newcomers

? Mark Knopfler Mark Knopfler Mark Freuder Knopfler is a British singer, songwriter, guitarist, record producer and film score composer. He is best known for being the frontman of the British band Dire Straits.

I was so confused to see that Knopfler was not on this list. The stories he weaves with his songs are some of the most beautiful (and often sad) in existence. For example:
•Tunnel of Love
•Brothers in Arms
•Sultans of Swing
•True Love Will Never Fade
•Privateering - martinsjh

The Contenders

11 Pete Townshend Pete Townshend Peter Dennis Blandford "Pete" Townshend is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the lead guitarist and songwriter for the rock band The Who .

Why isn't he in the Top 10? Just listen to his songwriting on albums like Tommy, Who's Next, Quadrophenia, and The Who Sell Out. This list is an insult!

He's one of many very good writers but there are dozens that are/were much better - Billyv

Inspired the rock opera, and he's currently ranked 16th.

Baba O'Riley, Won't Get Fooled Again, My Generation, I Can See For Miles (first metal song), and having written well more than 100 songs for band's. And where is Mick Jagger/Keith Richard? They should be at least, 5.

Quadrophenia. Need I say more?

V 4 Comments
12 Billy Joel Billy Joel

Billy Joel is great! My favorite songs that he made are Piano Man, Angry Young Man, The Entertainer, Say Goodbye to Hollywood, We didn't Start the Fire, Honesty, My Life, Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway.

I don't know what you posters ages are but Billy Joel wrote and performed some of the greatest songs ever. He also wrote many songs for other singers.

He's amazing! Harmonica, piano, and singing! He has made so Many amazing songs that have lasted through time. He is the piano man.

Better than Elton John

V 3 Comments
13 Michael Jackson Michael Jackson Michael Joseph Jackson was an American singer, dancer, and songwriter born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana and passed away on June 25, 2009. He donated (at least) a remarkable 300,000,000 dollars to charity. Michael is also known as The King of Pop (a title given to him by Elizabeth Taylor) or under ...read more.

He did write most of his songs and if you say he didn't, then go do some research. Here are just some of the songs written by him entirely: Smooth Criminal, Beat It, Billie Jean, Earth Song, Will You Be There, Speechless, Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, Wanna Be Startin' Something, Workin' Day and Night, Morphine, I Just Can't Stop Loving You, Do You Know Where Your Children Are, Much Too Soon, Stranger in Moscow, D.S., Who Is It and Another Part of Me. He wrote 4 out of 9 songs on Thriller and 9 out of 11 songs on Bad. Not to mention, he co-wrote songs like: Black or White (only the rap part wasn't written by him), Remember the Time, Ghosts, Unbreakable, You Rock My World, Hollywood Tonight, Xscape, Love Never Felt So Good, Keep the Faith, Is It Scary, Scream, Tabloid Junkie, Break of Dawn, Whatever Happens, Dangerous and Blood on the Dance Floor. Sure, he has hit songs that weren't written by him, such as: You Are Not Alone, Thriller and Man in the ...more

Michael created a depth to his songs like no other. He sang with true emotion and feelings providing the listener with a connection to him personally. He meant what he sang and I love him for that. He was believable with the songs that he wrote and as a singer. love him xo mj - love4mjj

Someone said "Michael just writes, but Dylan is an intellectual thinker and is the most creative songwriter on earth". ARE YOU INSAANE! You OBVIOUSLY DON'T have intelligence if you think THAT! Listen, Michael wrote songs that touched the MASSES AND CHANGED OUR POINT OF VIEW OF THIS WHOLE WORLD FOR BETTER OR WORST! I mean we're talking Billie Jean, Wanna be starting something, Dirty Diana, Heal the World, Keep the Faith, Tabloid Junkie, D.S. , Is it Scary, Earth Song, Little Susie. And he's written some of the BEST and MOST BEAUTIFUL AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL music I have EVER HEARD such as Childhood, Stranger in Moscow, and Scared of the Moon. And the EMOTION HE BRINGS to those songs when he sings them is out of this UNIVERSE! I mean don't get me wrong I think Bob Dylan IS a TREMENDOUS songwriter undoubtably one of the GREATEST EVER But I say Michael is either tied or over him!

Man, I think this is the best man to the top, I mean he's the best of the best

V 22 Comments
14 Jackson Browne Jackson Browne

Yes, Dylan is a Master songwriter, and George, Paul and John, to, but Jackson gets my vote for having the most diverse body of work. His lyrics are profound, hopeful, personal, and politically and emotionally aware. His singing and arrangements are beautiful. His guitar and piano playing are great. His personal and humanitarian ethics are top notch. He is Number One and it is strange that he does not get the recognition that he deserves.

Jackson Browne is among a handful of top singer-songwriters. To look at those ranked above Jackson Browne reveals that at least someone does not understand what it means to be a singer-songwriter. His body of work is extensive and widely recognized. Further, there are very few more influential singer-songwriters who have influenced the careers of other singer-songwriters. Browne certainly influenced Glen Frey and Don Henley, as well as Warren Zevon, Bonnie Raitt, JD Souther, among others.

Speaking of "Running on Empty", that album is one of the most amazing live albums ever. Listen to how tight his band is--it sounds like they're in the studio! Another accomplishment of Browne's was co-writing the Eagles song "Take It Easy" with Glenn Frey. Yes, I've heard that he and Hannah had a problem or two. We're voting for songwriters, though, not choir boys.

JB is the prophet of the age, the poet of the century, he writes the most beautiful lyrics ever + he cares about the planet

V 19 Comments
15 George Harrison George Harrison George Harrison was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles.

In the best most influential band in the world, The Beatles, George Harrison deserves #1 instead of 17. He was the best songwriter of the Beatles, and equally as good a singer as Lennon and McCartney, George has had many influential songs including Something, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, My Sweet Lord, Isn't it a pity, Apple Scruffs, What is Life, and many more. Something, written by Harrison, has been sung by hundreds of musicians after him, and he IS still the most influential Beatle, in the most influential band, in the most influential era of music

I believe that George's songwriting ability was often unappreciated during the time of the Beatles! Don't forget that it was George who wrote Here Comes The Sun, Something, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Taxman, I Need You, etc.

Very underrated, he wrote many of the beatles' best songs including Something, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Here Comes The Sun, If I needed someone, Taxman... he was a really talented man.

Hard to believe some people vote thumbs down on comments like this - then again it's not so hard, the world's full of people who don't understand brilliance - Billyv

He makes me smile.

V 5 Comments
16 Van Morrison Van Morrison

This guy has been turning out awesome music since he was a teenager in Them. He is as fresh and relevant now as he was almost 50 years ago. Nobody sounds like him and nobody writes like him-Brown Eyed Girl, Jackie Wilson Said, Queen of the Slipstream, Have I Told You Lately, etc. Check out the number of films that have used his music.

Listen to the multitude of music this man has produced it's pure poetry about everyday life.

How Van Morrison isn't in the top 10 of all time is just a mystery. I think because of his quiet, away from the public lifestyle and his refusal to try and write "Top 40 BS" songs, he is under appreciated in todays world of over the top electronic, rap and bland pop music. It's a damn shame.

His music is original, beautiful and has such depth.
Should be higher.
Also where is Sting?

V 2 Comments
17 Gordon Lightfoot Gordon Lightfoot

Very meticulous songwriter and still a good live performer even in his late seventies. Really researched the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald to the point where everything in the song is pretty much accurate. Also did great ballads like Beautiful, If You Could Read My Mind, and Early Morning Rain.

Yes! Thanks to whoever added him to this list. Very underappreciated artist - Billyv

If people listened to his earliest few albums before he went mainstream pop, they would
probably agree with Dylan that he is one of the best ever.
Also what happened to Neil Diamond who wrote more hit songs than anyone except
Lennon and McCartney.

V 1 Comment
18 James Taylor James Taylor James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling artists of all time, and he has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

My all-time favorite. This list is a breath of fresh air compared to the crappy songwriters list Top Tens has out. Seriously, go visit that site if you want to see rankings that will make you puke.

This man is very understated.
Not only does he play beautiful guitar but he writes lyrics that are loved and sung by everybody. - Metalman173

He's the best. Haven't heard his new album yet. Have seen him twice live, go see him if you haven't, you'll be in for a treat.

I saw him live in a solo performance in a small old theater with great acoustics. Perfect setting, perfect art. - Billyv

The best singer songwriter of all - nobody matches his lyrics and melodies

V 1 Comment
19 Tom Petty Tom Petty Thomas Earl "Tom" Petty was an American musician, singer, songwriter, multi instrumentalist and record producer.

That's what I like about this list. You finally see people like Lightfoot, Taylor, Petty, Van Morrison, and Denver get their due. People who have established that they are among the all time great songwriters, and not a bunch of people who have just had a hit or two. With maybe a couple exceptions, this is a very intelligent top twenty.

109

He #1 with me he should at least be top 50 On this list hard to believe

Running Down a Dream, American Girl, Breakdown, Free Fallin, Last Dance with Mary Jane

Almost 60 & got a NEW 2disc CD out-it's great-did you guys forget him just cause he's softspoken? -

Tom Petty is an amazing human being. There is a lot of heart and soul in his music.

V 2 Comments
20 John Denver John Denver Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter, actor, activist and humanitarian, whose greatest commercial success was as a solo singer, starting in the 1970s.

Good to see a list that gives Denver his due. Maybe his songs don't have any deep, dark meanings to them, but that's not who the man was. He wrote simple, heart touching melodies. I've heard that the melody and words to Annie's Song came to him in fifteen minutes while he was riding up a ski lift. That is a talented man with a special gift. Not a bad actor, either, if you've ever seen Oh God with he and George Burns.

An exceptional talent in both singing and writing! I can't think of better love songs than "For You", "Never a Doubt" and "Perhaps Love".

A simply brilliant songwriter

John Denver OWNED the 70s. Love to see JD on this list. His songs reflected his deep convictions. He was ahead of his time. A genius singer songwriter.

PSearch List

Recommended Lists

Related Lists

Top Ten Most Talented Singer/Songwriters Top 10 Greatest Female Singer/Songwriters of All Time Top Ten Canadian Singer/Songwriters Best Singer / Songwriters of 2008-2012 Best Indian Singer-Songwriters

List Stats

11,000 votes
321 listings
10 years, 41 days old

Top Remixes (25)

1. Bob Dylan
2. Leonard Cohen
3. Bruce Springsteen
RecklessGreed
1. Kurt Cobain
2. Bruce Dickinson
3. Freddie Mercury
Alpha101
1. Bob Dylan
2. James Taylor
3. Jackson Browne
CaptainFantastic

WRemix
View All 25

Posts

Add Post

Error Reporting

See a factual error in these listings? Report it here.
P