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

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

True this is meant for male tenors, but I love her version anyway.

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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.

Dude, the things Freddie does with his voice in this song ar amazing! - Velilana

Freddie and not Freddy.

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3 The Show Must Go On - Freddie Mercury

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.

What a legendary song. Freddie forever! - Userguy44

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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 Child in Time - Ian Gillan

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!

Phenomenal performance! Twice I've seen him do it live. - BobG

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

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9 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.

10 Greatest Love of All - Whitney Houston

She should be number 1

Whitney is one of the best vocalist that ever lived

Such vocal strengths should not have ever departed from this world

I think she is the best

The Contenders

11 Twist and Shout - John Lennon
12 And Then There Was Silence - Blind Guardian (Hansi Kürsch)
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

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

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

17 Maybe I'm Amazed - Paul McCartney

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

18 My Immortal - Evanescence (Amy Lee)

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

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

19 Caravan - Van Morrison

This is true artistry - beyond any of the others!

20 Yesterday - Paul McCartney
21 Say Hello 2 Heaven - Chris Cornell

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.

Perhaps the most emotionally empowered vocal delivery of all time...

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22 Dream On - Steven Tyler

Best vocals ever

23 Without You - Harry Nilsson

Yes he is a good piece of song I like it

24 Into the Mystic - Van Morrison
25 Heaven and Hell - Black Sabbath (Ronnie James Dio)
26 Stargazer - Rainbow (Ronnie James Dio)

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

Just listen to it.

One of the best ever - RIP RJD

27 Billie Jean - Michael Jackson

Perfect vocals, perfect bassline.

28 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.

29 Landslide - Stevie Nicks
30 Since I've Been Loving You - Robert Plant
31 Earth Song - Michael Jackson
32 Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley
33 Piece Of My Heart - Janis Joplin

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

34 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

35 I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston

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

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

36 Respect - Aretha Franklin
37 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!

38 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.

39 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!

40 Black Dog - Led Zeppelin
41 Happiness is a Warm Gun - John Lennon
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. -

45 My Sweet Lord - George Harrison

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

46 Painkiller - Death (Chuck Schuldiner)

Rob did it better in my opinion. - Userguy44

47 Cry Me a River - Joe Cocker
48 For Once In My Life - Stevie Wonder
49 Nutshell - Alice in Chains (Layne Staley)

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

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

50 Jailhouse Rock - Elvis Presley

Very influential and very good. -

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List Stats

1,000 votes
191 listings
8 years, 181 days old

Top Remixes (6)

1. Painkiller - Judas Priest (Rob Halford)
2. The Show Must Go On - Freddie Mercury
3. Rainbow In The Dark - Dio (Ronnie James Dio)
1. My Last Sunrise - Demons & Wizards (Hansi Kürsch)
2. Bohemian Rhapsody - Freddy Mercury
3. Rainbow In The Dark - Dio (Ronnie James Dio)
1. Bohemian Rhapsody - Freddy Mercury
2. Hallowed Be Thy Name - Iron Maiden (Bruce Dickinson)
3. Beat It - Michael Jackson

View All 6

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