Top 10 Best Grunge Singers

The Top Ten
1 Layne Staley - Alice in Chains Layne Thomas Staley was an American musician who served as the lead singer and co-songwriter of the rock band Alice in Chains, which he founded with guitarist Jerry Cantrell in Seattle, Washington in 1987. Alice in Chains rose to international fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s. In 2002, Staley was found dead in his home of a drug overdose.

Let's be honest here, this discussion should come with an asterisk stating number 1 is Layne Staley, and we can argue about everyone else. No one else sings with the same raw emotion or overpowering harmonic greatness as Layne Staley.

Nirvana may have started the 90s rock movement, and Pearl Jam may have become the most consistent group to emerge from Seattle, but no one had more of an impact on future rock and metal bands than Alice in Chains. The guy was just that rare, once-in-a-generation voice that comes along where everyone is stopped dead in their tracks when they hear it for the first time.

From the tortured screams of 'Them Bones', the surprisingly melodic 'Man in the Box', to the soulful channeling of 'Rooster', or the soaring harmonies atop the thundering 'Would?', no one did it as well as Layne Staley.

Regardless of how you feel about Alice in Chains compared to Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, or Mother Love Bone, Layne deserves to be number one. Why? We're talking about vocal talent here, and this guy not only had a big range but he also had a voice that would grab you and take you away from whatever you were doing. Jerry Cantrell said he would make awesome vocal melodies just like that, and despite his drug addiction, he was still able to maintain a great voice, sometimes better than others though. Plus, he was a great songwriter, he had so much emotion and passion when he sang, and you could feel his pain. R.I.P. Layne, Andrew, Kurt.

2 Chris Cornell - Soundgarden Christopher John "Chris" Cornell was an American rock musician and singer-songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist, primary songwriter and rhythm guitarist for Seattle rock band Soundgarden and as former lead vocalist and songwriter for the supergroup Audioslave. His vocal range was C2 to A5, while his highest notes went up to G6. He died on May 17, 2017.

Chris is my number 2. A huge number of famous grunge bands would've never been heard outside of Seattle if Chris Cornell and Soundgarden didn't exist. This pioneer and his band were a driving force behind the genre. Not only does he have a unique sound with technicality and a range untouched by anyone on this list (aside from Layne), his creativity alone is enough to put him high on anyone's list of most influential artists. Not many artists can stand alone and captivate an audience equally with or without their band.

We lost Layne, but we still have Cornell and he is never going to stop cranking out new material. Kurt had a good sound going for him with Nirvana, but as a standalone vocalist, he doesn't come close to Cornell or Layne, and he shouldn't be in the top 3 vocalists. Nirvana deserves to be a notable band in grunge, but if someone thinks that they created the genre or were the best out of them all, then they are just on the bandwagon. Real grunge fanatics know Soundgarden set it in stone and Chris Cornell is the god of grunge.

3 Kurt Cobain - Nirvana Kurt Cobain was born February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. In 1987, he started the grunge band Nirvana, which became one of the most successful bands ever. He was a talented yet troubled grunge performer. Kurt Cobain became a rock legend in the 1990s with his band. He committed suicide at his Seattle home in 1994.

He was the voice of a generation. His voice is just so raw, but that's what's so iconic and awesome about it. His talking voice is so different. He should be #1. Also, I know he didn't start grunge, but it was Nirvana's Nevermind that put grunge into the mainstream and made the other grunge bands get more attention because before they were just little known rock bands from the Washington area.

The way his talking voice is kind of coarse goes to show you how much he is dedicated to singing. For instance, listen to the song Territorial Pissings to see how far he goes for music. If you are talking lyrically, listen to Heart-Shaped Box or Polly.

Kurt Cobain was the voice of a generation, and his vocals have a visceral power to them that cannot be surpassed. AIC fans may be tired of Nirvana and Soundgarden fans, but we are equally tired of you jealous Alice in Chains fanboys too. I think all the grunge bands are special.

4 Eddie Vedder - Pearl Jam Eddie Vedder is an American musician, singer and songwriter best known as a member of the rock band Pearl Jam, with whom he performs lead vocals and is one of three guitarists.

People keep saying Cornell had better range, and Cornell, may he rest in peace, did have an amazing voice. However, Ed's voice is just as amazing, and people don't understand that octaves and note ability make up the whole package. Ed's voice, to me, along with his writing ability and his electrifying stage presence, is incredible. The way the music flowed through him visibly back in the day... there's no comparison. Staley's voice can't be compared to these guys. It was mostly deep, gritty, and yes, powerful, but to me, in a more basic way. That being said, I also love Layne's music. AIC is great. Kurt's voice was quirky and perfect for Nirvana, but technically not as good.

Eddie is... Well, let's put it this way, PJ is the best grunge band, a classic rock band, and Eddie made the best solo album I've never heard thanks to his voice, wonderful lyrics, a few guitars, and a ukulele: "Into The Wild". We're all in our 30s and 40s now, and there isn't a single PJ album that sounds like another one! They're also the masters of ballads and rock folk. In fact, PJ isn't a "grunge band" anymore but has become, in a few years, one of the best "Rock Bands". Even though I still love listening to Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and others, I now have the impression I always listen to the same albums! This doesn't mean I don't like them. I still love them, but I recognize the two bands who did something else than metal-grunge are PJ and AIC. AIC made two of the best EPs from the 90s: Sap and Jar Of Flies!

5 Jerry Cantrell - Alice in Chains Jerry Fulton Cantrell Jr. is an American musician, singer-songwriter and guitarist best known as the founder, lead guitarist, co-lead vocalist and main songwriter of the rock band Alice in Chains.

Only 5% for one of the best voices of the grunge bands? Even if he never was the lead singer, his voice is so important! And let's not forget: he wrote and sang with his partner Layne grunge/blues, grunge/rock, grunge/gospel, not only metal! I think people should listen more to "Sap" and "Jar of Flies"!

Just listen to Jar of Flies' Nutshell to feel this man's spirit. To harmonize with Layne the way he did was pure magic.

Not even the actual singer of AIC but still an amazing backing vocalist. Him and Layne did some of the best harmonizing in music.

6 Scott Weiland - Stone Temple Pilots Scott Richard Weiland (October 27, 1967 - December 3, 2015) was an American musician, singer and songwriter. During a career spanning three decades, Weiland was best known as the lead singer of the band Stone Temple Pilots from 1989 to 2002 and 2008 to 2013.

I mean, Scott Weiland should be switched with Jerry. He had such a powerful grunge voice. Extremely versatile with not only great range but also with the vocal attitude and power that came with the movement. And probably some of the greatest stage presence and charisma to come out of the '90s.

Scott Weiland has the most diverse range. From his soft acoustic versions of Sour Girl, Wonderful, Atlanta, or Kitchenware and Candybars, to the fast and powerful Sex Type Thing, Meat Plow, No Way Out, Dead and Bloated, etc. Then he can do great pop melodies like Big Bang Baby, Trippin on a Hole, Interstate Love Song, and Days of the Week. Who else on this list can pull off all those songs, not only in the studio, but in one live setlist as well? Amazing performer, writer, vocalist!

By far the most versatile. Enchanted us with his vocals in Plush, Creep, Sex Type Thing, surprised us with his vocals on the Tiny Music album, his voice was changed in No. 4 and Shangri La Dee Da and he still surprised us with songs like Sour Girl, Atlanta, Wonderful.

7 Billy Corgan - Smashing Pumpkins William 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.

His whining is just legendary. Maybe he isn't the best for the grunge movement (that's quite a surprise for me as I've known him as part of the alternative movement), but for the music he used to write, his voice is the icing on the cake. So much passion and rawness combined with ultra-distorted and uber-overdubbed guitars is just what makes SP stand out from all the 90s groups. It's like combining the old things (Black Sabbath/Dio/Randy Rhoads/Sonic Youth/The Smiths/Joy Division) along with some 90s neo-punk attitude. That's what makes Gish, Siamese Dream, and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness my favorite albums of the 90s.

His voice is one of a kind, very unique.

8 Dave Grohl - Foo Fighters David Eric "Dave" Grohl is an American rock musician, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer and film director. He is best known as the former drummer of the hugely popular 90s grunge band Nirvana and the vocalist/guitarist for the alternative rock band Foo Fighters. He has sat behind the drums for many bands and artists, most notably: Queens of the Stone Age, Tenacious D, Ghost B.C,... read more

What?! Dave needs to be in the top 10! He has such an amazing voice! Get Corgan the hell out of there. Dave is a music icon and along with that has the voice to back it up. This is a shame. Listen to the Foo Fighters.

9 Gavin Rossdale - Bush Gavin McGregor Rossdale is an English singer, songwriter, musician, and actor, and is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the rock band Bush.

Definitely a post-grunge legend. This guy has been dubbed a Kurt Cobain rip-off by most, but if you really listen to this dude, his voice is something else.

Guy's got one hell of a voice.

10 Aaron Lewis - Staind Aaron Lewis is an American musician, who is the lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and founding member of the rock group Staind, with whom he has released seven studio albums.

Amazing voice. Such great range and power. Also, check out his solo covers.

The Contenders
11 Andrew Wood - Malfunkshun

An extremely gifted singer with a most touchingly unique voice. Layne Staley was definitely a far better singer than most of the people on this list, and Kurt Cobain doesn't even come close to having as magnificent a talent as him. However, in terms of versatility and sheer listening pleasure, I'd vote for Andrew Wood any day. Case in point: "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns". Enough said.

P.S. - I strongly feel that Andrew should have been listed as a member of Mother Love Bone instead of Malfunkshun.

Andy Wood opened the door for the grunge bands that followed. Incredible stage presence, with songwriting ability and a voice to match. Had he not passed so early in his career, there would have been no Pearl Jam. But Mother Love Bone would have been just as big.

12 Mark Arm - Mudhoney

Though I believe Layne Staley is the best singer on this list and Alice in Chains are the most talented, they were more metal than grunge. Even Jerry Cantrell admitted to that. Staley's voice wasn't grungy enough in my opinion. Saying that, I believe Kurt Cobain had a grungier voice than Staley, but the man with the best overall grungiest voice was Mark Arm. Eddie Vedder even said Mark's voice was grungier than his and Chris Cornell's (both excellent vocalists). His voice just screamed grunge at its finest. Still, though, it makes me happy to see Staley at the top of the list, it makes me unhappy to see it at the top of a grunge list.

Now, if the list was the best singer of the 90s, Layne's voice wins hands down. IN MY OPINION

13 Adam Gontier - Three Days Grace Adam Wade Gontier is a Canadian musician and songwriter. He is the lead singer, rhythm guitarist and main songwriter for Saint Asonia, but is best known as the former lead singer, rhythm guitarist and main songwriter of the Canadian rock band Three Days Grace.

The best hard rock singer I have ever heard, number one with James Hetfield from Metallica. Just listen to Never Too Late by Three Days Grace and you will understand. Adam is awesome!

He deserves to be in the top 10 instead of Shaun Morgan. His scream is so heavy and beautiful, much better than Shaun's and Dave's. It's my opinion.

The best vocal ever after Chester Bennington. He is the best. Simply the best.

14 Mark Lanegan - Screaming Trees

16th? Really? He's the best singer.

His voice is just incredible, it's deep, rough, intense... Well, you know, he doesn't need to do much effort to sing because even his speaking voice is mesmerizing.

Underrated vocalist and better than most of the vocalists listed here. I would put him at #5 behind Vedder. And majestic red hair.

15 Kevin Martin - Candlebox

Amazing voice, listen to He Calls Home, Cover Me, or Far Behind. Beautiful range and by far one of the most grunge voices out there.

16 William DuVall - Alice in Chains

Amazing replacement that is often overlooked. It is because of him that one of my favorite bands is alive and well today.

He is a really smart and great fit for replacing Layne.

17 Benjamin Burnley - Breaking Benjamin Benjamin Jackson Burnley IV is an American musician, composer, and producer, best known as the founder and frontman of the American rock band Breaking Benjamin.

An amazing songwriter and vocalist. Love his voice!

18 Todd Lewis - Toadies

He's got a very solid grungy voice that I think deserves some attention on this list.

19 Ed Kowalczyk - Live

Great range, great power, great passion, and some great songs to complete the package. I get chills when I hear the opening of The Dolphin's Cry. And he nails live performances, one of my favorite vocalists ever, deserves to be top 10 on this list!

Best range by far!

20 Tad Doyle - Tad

Easily one of the harshest vocalists, he went hard, considering the fact that Tad as a group seemed to be a very heavy band to begin with. They weren't quite metal and nowhere near as "nice" as other groups like Audioslave or AIC, but they were the most intense grunge band around. Sadly underrated as a band, Tad's vocals were rough, and being slightly out of tune much of the time seemed to add to the expression that he sought in the music. I truly enjoy their music and the vocal expression that is put into the sound.

21 Courtney Love - Hole Courtney Michelle Love is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and visual artist. A notable figure in the punk and grunge scenes of the 1990s, Love's career has spanned four decades.
22 Daniel Johns - Silverchair Lead singer, lead guitarist, and songwriter of the 90s Australian teenage rock band Silverchair. He started when he was 15 years old and would write his own songs as well.

The best of the best.

23 Shaun Morgan - Seether Shaun Morgan Welgemoed, known publicly as Shaun Morgan, is a South African musician and singer for the post-grunge/alternative metal band Seether.

Upon first hearing, Shaun Morgan's voice sounds like every other Kurt Cobain wannabe. But something will compel you to listen longer, and that's just the sheer passion behind the voice. Morgan excels with his incredibly full and strong voice, making it perfect for heavy rock songs. However, it's in the softer acoustic songs where he really shines. He has complete voice control, even in his whimpers. Unlike Cobain in Unplugged, Morgan seems at his most comfortable when he's at his purest. He really is a step above all his peers in this genre, and yes, that includes Cobain.

No one has a voice like Shaun. I don't care about who started grunge. Morgan is above them all. I've never heard anyone be so raspy yet soft and tender at the same time, and neither have you. YouTube 'Seether Fake It 98 Rock' and click on the first selection. Bottom line... Grunge is about emotion, and Shaun delivers more of that than anyone I've heard.

24 Shannon Hoon - Blind Melon Richard Shannon Hoon was an American singer-songwriter and musician. He was the lead singer of the band Blind Melon until his death in 1995.

It's a shame! Shannon deserves a place in the top 3, along with Layne and Chris!

Deserves to be higher on this list. As a vocalist, I think he is way more talented than Kurt Cobain.

Should be much higher.

25 Buzz Osborne - Melvins Buzz Osborne is an American musician, and composer. He is mostly known for the lead vocalist of the American Sludge Metal band "The Melvins".
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