Music is swaddled in a vast tapestry of voices of varying tone and delivery. The best make you really feel alive as the singer’s personality shines out from every purred syllable. The worst? Well, the worst make you feel like you’d rather run out into the street and clamp your ear to the nearest road drill.

But what makes a “bad singer”? Why is it that Tom Waits, who sounds like a drunk clown, is widely considered so brilliant and some people regularly compare Florence Welch’s powerhouse vocal style to a blaring foghorn? We may never know.


Anyway, here’s my list of the 10 singers who make me want to run away from the stereo.

10. Amy Lee

It’s like Beverly Craven fell into a goth clothes shop and decided to join a metal band for a lark. Her voice is so “serious face”.

9. Ian Broudie
In at Number Nine, it’s as if boring old Paul “from accounts” was drafted in last minute to take the mic when the real singer was busy. But then the real singer never returned and Paul stayed.

8. Heather Small

A big, over-ripe orange of a voice. Every word sung as if she’s doing a funny voice. But she’s not, it’s just her voice. Very strange.

7. Billy Corgan

Sings like he’s a perverted nuisance caller trying to blow out several birthday cake candles.

6. Mark Knopfler

Sounds like Jeremy Clarkson on local anaesthetic. WAKE THE HELL UP! The soundtrack to many childhood car journeys and we weren’t desperately screaming :”ARE WE THERE YET?” because we were impatient children, if you catch my drift.

5. Duffy

Imagine if Lulu was forced into a very tiny bottle of Aqua Libra after inhaling two ‘Barbie Princess’ helium balloons.

4. Starsailor’s James Walsh

He’s going to burst into tears! No he’s not. Oh wait…he is now! Is he? Hang on…Now! Yes! Oh maybe not yet…Wait…etc, etc.

3. The Offspring’s Dexter Holland

When he isn’t whining bitterly, he is speak-singing with that sandpaper-on-skin tone of his. Could he be singing all of his songs in the character of a obnoxious Californian yuppie? Maybe. Or maybe his voice is just unbearable.

2. Michael Jackson

As a child and early in his career, MJ sounded full of the joys of youth. As he got older however, his voice veered between an aural tourettes factory that was full of crazy tics, whoops and “scared boy-man slowly walking down the stairs with the lights off”.

1. Bob Dylan
My absolute worst. If the vacuum cleaner from The Teletubbies (NooNoo to you and me) had respiratory failure, he’d sound like this. Obviously he didn’t always wheeze through his songs, but the latter half of his career has seen that froggy voice over shadowing everything.

Agree? Disagree? Who do you think has the worse voices in music?