Top 10 Greatest Vocal Performances of All Time

These are vocal performances that show off the singer's true talent, range, and ability including vocals that go beyond the the limit and truly unforgettable.

The Top Ten Greatest Vocal Performances of All Time

1 Nessun Dorma - Jackie Evancho

Jackie was actually 11 when she performed this at BGT. Forget her age as on this poll she is being compared to the greats. I'm sure if Luciano Pavarotti had witnessed Jackie's singing that night be would have smiled broadly. Make no mistake, this was a world class performance by the best singer I've ever heard.

Nessun Dorma is an opera aria written for male sopranos. Not supposed to attempt it before the age of 30.
Jackie Evancho sang it when she was 10 years old, and amazed everyone with the power and beauty of her voice.
I submit that as one of the greatest vocal performances of all time. Watch it on YouTube and be amazed!

Better yet, see her PBS Great Performances "Dream With Me - In Concert" on DVD or Blu-ray (five stars on - Trancas

I've heard this song sung by many, and the variety is immense, from Deanna Durbin (honest) to Pavarotti to Paul Potts. You can't rule out any of the elements of performance in order to determine the "best" vocal performance. The overall effect is the determining factor. Jackie Evancho's version is completely overwhelming, especially on video of the PBS Special, Dream With Me. That combination of little girl, big stage, full orchestra; but then the mastery of her voice quality, breath control and dramatic presentation are the most amazing elements you will ever experience IN YOUR LIFE!

2 Bohemian Rhapsody - Freddy Mercury


In any best vocalist/singer/vocal performance list, the first two spots HAVE to go to Freddie and Rod (who's too good for you all, I see) then there are a number of other vocal performances that are absolutely amazing (just not as amazing as the two I've already mentioned).

Umm, it seems you mentioned 2 singers but not 2 performances.
And no, it's unreasonable to believe that any 2 specific performers HAVE to be placed in the first 2 spots of such a list - especially when they don't necessarily deserve the exaggerated praise. - Billyv

This is simple. It's not the song it's his voice that needs credit. He was just a unique talent.

Freddie and not Freddy.

3 The Show Must Go On - Freddie Mercury

What a jaw dropping vocal here. Freddie's voice a gift to us all and especially here when he was in his last few months of life and in a lot of pain. It is truly great and by definition a refusal to let his illness define him

This song has such a strong and personal message that Brian May wrote for Freddie. It was one of the last songs he ever sang and he couldn't even stand on his own when they recorded it. It is his best vocal performance and a powerful song that will give you goose bumps. Easily my favorite by Queen, they saved the best for last with this one!

Mercury did this on his deathbed, but he sounded more badass. Respect him forever.

How could this be the voice of a dying man? He really gave it all he had. Amazing.

4 Painkiller - Judas Priest (Rob Halford)
5 Rainbow In The Dark - Dio (Ronnie James Dio)

Simple phenomenal

6 Hallowed Be Thy Name - Iron Maiden (Bruce Dickinson)

An extremely demanding song - Requires the singer to shout lyrics with syllables that last micro-seconds (As Steve Harris loves to do in many of his songs) and requires the emotion of a man about to be killed to be felt. The pacing of the song often changes, and there are long periods of speaking combined with pitch changes that can easily strain a voice and leave the singer virtually breathless ("Running low-OWW-Yeaaahh! "). Bruce Dickinson deserves the recognition for this one. Go find the live version from Beast Over Hammersmith '82 on youtube. It's an amazing vocal performance from when the band was young and hungry for success!

Up The Irons!

7 A Day In the Life - John Lennon
8 Bridge Over Troubled Water - Art Garfunkel

This performance by Art Garfunkel is timeless and beautiful. It deserves to be at the top of this list.

There are stronger singers out there (Freddie) but there is no other performance that breaks your heart like this one.

Unbelievably beautiful performance by Art Garfunkel. His finest recording moments without doubt. Is there anything better?

I love this one. I think this one belongs up a little higher.

9 Child in Time - Ian Gillan

Well, this recording should be tagged "don't try this at home". It may harms your vocal cords!

An amazing vocalist. - Userguy44

No word's can describe it. -

Not as wonderful as Freddie Mercury's in "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "The Show Must Go On", but definitely top 3! I mean, it's wondrous!

10 Greatest Love of All - Whitney Houston

Such vocal strengths should not have ever departed from this world

I think she is the best

She should be number 1

Whitney is one of the best vocalist that ever lived

The Newcomers

? Metropolis Pt. 1 (The Miracle And The Sleeper) - Dream Theater

The Contenders

11 And Then There Was Silence - Blind Guardian (Hansi Kürsch)
12 Twist and Shout - John Lennon
13 My Last Sunrise - Demons & Wizards (Hansi Kürsch)

Chills guaranteed right here. If you are not familiar with this song, don't miss the chance - I'm sure it would be a great addition to your collection of great vocal performances. This is the most passionate vocal performance I've ever heard. Hansi's voice is breathtaking - a unique combination of the most angelic and most demonic voice you've ever heard. This is an incredibly powerful but also emotive, expressive and divine tone. - Metal_Treasure

14 Beat It - Michael Jackson

The best, the legend, the genius

The king

15 (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman - Aretha Franklin

It's what brought me to this list - Billyv

16 Oh! Darling - Paul McCartney

The best

Sing what you mean, mean what you sing, that's all you need

17 Maybe I'm Amazed - Paul McCartney

Honestly, this should be above John Lennon's songs. A Day in the Life is an incredibly written song, but when it comes to actual vocal performance, this song is raw emotion.

Just listen to it, it should be in the top ten no question about it - fruitslicer2000

18 My Immortal - Evanescence (Amy Lee)

One of the most beautiful voices. Amy Lee is perfect. - Userguy44

Any Lee is THE top rock vocalist today, bar none. I just wish she'd record more.

19 Caravan - Van Morrison

This is true artistry - beyond any of the others!

20 Yesterday - Paul McCartney
21 Dream On - Steven Tyler

Best vocals ever

22 Into the Mystic - Van Morrison
23 Without You - Harry Nilsson

Yes he is a good piece of song I like it

24 Stargazer - Rainbow (Ronnie James Dio)

Another level from any other.

I really can't believe this vocal masterpiece is in 103 place...

Just listen to it.

One of the best ever - RIP RJD

25 Heaven and Hell - Black Sabbath (Ronnie James Dio)
26 Say Hello 2 Heaven - Chris Cornell

Simply number 1. enough said

Chris's Vocals on this song are insane O_o the range/power/intensity of his voice, especially at the end are something to be placed on a rock pedestal

Not just technically flawless, but emotionally powerful and heartfelt as well, with a great escalation in intensity until he finally wails in his higher register. Brilliant performance.

Best vocal performance of all time - incredible power - untouched by anything before or since. Was definitely at his peak between 90 & 94.

27 Billie Jean - Michael Jackson

Perfect vocals, perfect bassline.

28 Landslide - Stevie Nicks
29 Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley

The greatest of all time. Number 31? How insulting is this? Elvis the king, yesterday, today and tomorrow. This lot above him? Get it right!

If I Can Dream,Love Me Tender,Jailhouse Rock,Mess of the Blues..i could go on and on...Elvis at position 32...laughable.

30 Earth Song - Michael Jackson
31 Piece Of My Heart - Janis Joplin

Amazing and problably the greatest female performence of all time. -

32 Lovers - Jackie Evancho

The theme from "House of Flying Daggers". Simply amazing.

Jackie still performs this at the age of 15, at every concert. You have to see it to believe it. Phenomenal! - BobG

What a powerful performance by a little girl!

Has to be seen/heard.
Surprisingly good.

33 I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston

Flawless vocal, shocking it's so low, let alone not even the highest ranking Whitney Houston song. It's the greatest vocal recording of all-time. - truckturner

Come on, way better than Greatest Love of All. Perfectly arranged, sung and felt! In terms of female pop, none better.

34 Since I've Been Loving You - Robert Plant

Can't believe I had to scroll this far to find this

35 Respect - Aretha Franklin
36 Victim of Changes - Rob Halford

The High Pitched Screms, the epic voice, and the song itself makes it one of the greatest vocal perfomences.

Judas Priest forever! Best vocal performance.
Victim of chaanges!

37 Baby I Need Your Loving - Levi Stubbs

Any of several songs by the Four Tops could be on this list, but I think this one is the best. Levi Stubbs had the most evocative voice anywhere.

I can't think of a song Levi Stubbs did that wasn't good, but to really hear him sing, you have to listen to the less commercial songs and unreleased tracks.

38 Black Dog - Led Zeppelin
39 Love Reign O'er Me - Roger Daltrey

There is no doubt "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the greatest song in popular music history and Freddie Mercury is the greatest rock singer that ever lived, but the greatest vocal performance is definitely Roger Daltrey with "Love Reign O'er Me". He belts the emotion out and it's a perfect ending to Quadrophenia. Oh God I need a drink... of COOL COOL RAIN!

It's so energetic, so loud, so real, and a major contender for the top spot position. -

Actually, there is a ton of doubt about BoRap being the GOAT. I can think of 50 songs that are better, and a dozen singers better than Freddie.

Awesome! - Garjen

40 Happiness is a Warm Gun - John Lennon
41 Who Want's To Live Forever - Freddy Mercury

Freddie was and still is a voice that you just can't shake it still gives me goosebumps!

Not Freddy! FREDDIE!

42 Behind Blue Eyes - Roger Daltrey
43 For Whom the Bell Tolls - Metallica (James Hetfield)
44 Grace - Jeff Buckley

It had it's good moment's, overall one of the all time great's. -

Like an angel, singing from the rafters of a whorehouse.

45 My Sweet Lord - George Harrison

Great uplifting and catchy tune. Typical Beatles traits. And I am atheist too lol.

46 Cry Me a River - Joe Cocker
47 Painkiller - Death (Chuck Schuldiner)

Rob did it better in my opinion. - Userguy44

48 For Once In My Life - Stevie Wonder
49 Somebody to Love - Queen
50 Nutshell - Alice in Chains (Layne Staley)

Second greatest in my opinion, only outdone by Chris Cornell.

Every time I hear one of his songs his voice has my full attention, and it breaks my heart.

Layne was simply the most powerful and emotional vocalist the world has ever seen. RIP

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