Top 10 Surprising Answers to the Question "Who Has a Bigger Vocal Range?"

Vocal range is something objective and you can measure it - you need the lowest and the highest note a singer ever hit taken from the songs where s/he hit them. Then you count the octaves and notes.

But the perception of the vocal range can be subjective and can be terribly wrong. Most of the comments on the music lists are based on subjective perceptions, misconceptions or urban myths and legends.

Misconceptions:
1) Many people think that the range is the highest note a singer can hit - no, it's the distance between the highest AND the lowest note.
2) Some other guys think that a big range means high voice - again, it's wrong. Lowest notes are taken into account to determine the range.

One more thing: range is only one of the aspects to evaluate singers and not always singers with the bigger ranges are also the better singers. There are other things to compare, such as power, control, switches, runs, and so on.

The Top Ten

Mariah Carey or Axl Rose? - Axl Rose

Cool! I learned another new thing today! Great list! - Misfire

Mariah Carey: 4 octaves, 6-1/2 notes (from G#2 to G7)
Axl Rose: 5 octaves, 2-1/2 notes (from F1 to Bb6) - Metal_Treasure

Luciano Pavarotti or James Hetfield? - James Hetfield

Luciano Pavarotti is the best and greatest male singer of all time, bar none.

Luciano Pavarotti or Alkadikce? Alkadikce - Alkadikce

This one demonstrates that vocal range is just one small part of singing ability.
I like James Hetfield's singing, but Pavarotti is the consensus greatest male singer of all time.

Luciano Pavarotti: 2 octaves, 2-1/2 notes (from C#3 to F5)
James Hetfield: 3 octaves, 3 notes (from C2 to F5).
You see that the highest note both hit is the same - F5. But this note sounds much better when Pavarotti sings it. On the other hand, James Hetfield can sing a whole octave lower than Pavarotti. - Metal_Treasure

Whitney Houston or Dave Mustaine? - Dave Mustaine

Now this is a truly shocking one. One of best singers ever compared to a singer who admitted himself that he was not particularly good.

Whitney Houston: 2 octaves, 4 notes (C#3 to G#5)
Dave Mustaine: 2 octaves, 6-1/2 notes (E2 to Eb5) - Metal_Treasure

Jon Bon Jovi or Freddie Mercury? - Jon Bon Jovi

Jon Bon Jovi: 4 octaves, 2-1/2 notes (from E2 to G#6)
Freddie Mercury: 4 octaves (from F2 to F6) - Metal_Treasure

Billy Joe Armstrong or Chad Kroeger? - Chad Kroeger

Billie Joe Armstrong has an amazing voice, and a distinctive roar that is perfect for what he plays. He might not have the best vocal range but his distinctive voice sets him apart as an amazing vocalist.

Chad Kroeger: 3 octaves, 2-1/2 notes
Billie Joe Armstrong: 2 octaves, 6-1/2 notes

Green Day actually is so much worse, than Nickelback. It didn't surprise me at all, Chad is a godly vocalist compared to Armstrong, which has an annoying forgettable voice. Shame.

Michael Jackson or Elvis Presley? - Elvis Presley

This one shocked me the most. I didn't realize how limited MJ's voice is beyond the high register. - Gg2000

Michael Jackson: 3 octaves, 4 notes (F#2 to C#6)
Elvis Presley: 4 octaves, 1 note (G1 to A5) - Metal_Treasure

Tom Araya or Chester Bennington? - Tom Araya

This doesn't surprise me because Araya sings pretty deep (and clean) in the Black Sabbath cover Hand of Doom while he also screams in a high voice in many Slayer songs. - Alkadikce

Tom Araya (Slayer): 4 octaves (from C#2 to C#6)
Chester Bennington (Linkin Park): 3 octaves (from G#2 to G#5) - Metal_Treasure

Luciano Pavarotti or Freddie Mercury? - Freddie Mercury

Luciano Pavarotti: 2 octaves, 2-1/2 notes
Freddie Mercury: 4 octaves - Metal_Treasure

Dimash Kudaibergen or Mariah Carey? - Dimash Kudaibergen

Both have a gigantic range, but Dimash's range (A1 - D8, 6 octaves and 5 semitones so far) is more than an octave bigger than Mariah's

Dimash - 6 octaves and 3 notes, up to D8 (as heard so far). - Metal_Treasure

Damn his vocal range is insane! Even better than Mike Patton and that says something. - Userguy44

Dimash has more than an octave more than Mariah 😊

Robert Plant or Ian Gillan? - Ian Gillan

Didn't suprise me at all from the way Gillan sings you can anderstand he is way more better range than Plant.

Robert Plant: 3 octaves, 5-1/2 notes
Ian Gillan: 4 octaves - Metal_Treasure

The Contenders

Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift? - Justin Bieber

But they are auto tuned, especially the Beaver man. - I80

Significant difference - a whole octave:
Justin Bieber: 3 octaves, 1/2 note
Taylor Swift: 2 octaves, 1-1/2 notes - Metal_Treasure

Justin Bieber or Johnny Cash? - Justin Bieber

Ummm...what? Johnny Cash had WAY more than 2 octaves 5 notes. A1-G5 is just under 4 octaves.

Justin Bieber has a 3 octaves vocal range? - Userguy44

Justin Bieber: 3 octaves, 1/2 note
Johnny Cash: 2 octaves, 5-1/2 notes - Metal_Treasure

David Gilmour or Roger Waters? - Roger Waters

I'll be honest, I'm not very surprised. Roger Waters frequently jumps from his lower register to his higher register. The only problem is that his voice has always been untrained, meaning that it doesn't always sound pleasant. - Gg2000

That's 100% true. He had range but had not vocal skills/technique, as you said - untrained voice. - Metal_Treasure

Roger Waters range is almost 5 octaves: 4 octaves, 6-1/2 notes - Metal_Treasure

Michael Kiske or Kai Hansen? - Kai Hansen

Michael Kiske: 3 octaves, 3 notes (E2 to A5)
Kai Hansen: 4 octaves (C#2 to C#6) - Metal_Treasure

Matt Bellamy or Phil Anselmo? - Phil Anselmo

Not too surprising. Anselmo showcases a great range in his singing. - JoLeKosovo

Matt Bellamy: 3 octaves, 2 notes (G2 to B5)
Phil Anselmo: 4 octaves, 1/2 note (A1 to Bb5) - Metal_Treasure

Chester Bennington or Chad Kroeger? - Chad Kroeger

Oh. - Misfire

Chester Bennington: 3 octaves
Chad Kroeger: 3 octaves, 2-1/2 notes - Metal_Treasure

James Hetfield or Dave Mustaine? - James Hetfield

James Hetfield

James Hetfield

Jack Black or Frank Sinatra? - Jack Black

WHAT - Misfire

Jack Black- a very funny comedian with some singing ability.
Frank Sinatra- possibly the greatest ever non-operatic singer.

Jack Black : 3 octaves, 6 notes
Frank Sinatra: 2 octaves, 3-1/2 notes - Metal_Treasure

King Diamond or Paul McCartney? - Paul McCartney

This doesn't surprise me since I don't know who the other guy is. Lol - Misfire

Corey Taylor or Meghan Trainor? - Corey Taylor

This one doesn't surprise me.

This isn’t surprising at all. - 3DG20

Rob Halford or David Lee Roth? - David Lee Roth

This one suprised me? - Userguy44

David Lee Roth's got 5 octaves, 3 notes. But he's known for not using it - Metal_Treasure

Mariah Carey or Corey Taylor? - Corey Taylor

Mariah Carey: 4 octaves, 6-1/2 notes (from G#2 to G7)
Corey Taylor: 5 octaves, 5-1/2 notes (from Eb1 to C7) - Metal_Treasure

Bruce Dickinson or Hansi Kürsch? - Hansi Kürsch
Hansi Kürsch or Michael Kiske? - Hansi Kürsch
Axl Rose or Corey Taylor? - Corey Taylor

I though axl had the biggest vocal range after mike - zxm

What! I am surprised! - zxm

Thanks for the info - zxm

@zxm - haha, the list title is "surprising answers"!
Here are the 5 guys with 5+ octaves:
1. Mike Patton - 6 octaves, 1/2 note (Eb1 to E7)
2. Corey Taylor - 5 octaves, 5-1/2 notes (Eb1 to C7)
3. David Lee Roth - 5 octaves, 3 notes (E1 to A6)
4. Axl Rose - 5 octaves, 2-1/2 notes (F1 to Bb6)
5. Ville Valo - 5 octaves, 1/2 notes (C1 to C#6)
Update 2019: #1 is Dimash Kudaibergen, 6 octaves and 3 notes - Metal_Treasure

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