Singers with the highest vocal range are generally rock singers and usually tenors-not pop divas or even operatic singers, but rockers. Why? Because rock employs a variety of vocal techniques like vocal fry and falsetto, which take singers to both lower and higher registers.
The average human vocal range is around 3 to 3.5 octaves or 40 notes. That's actually not too shabby. So, that chick up there on the stage doing bad karaoke has as much potential as the next chick up there on stage doing bad karaoke? Yes and no. Vocal range and skill are two completely different concepts. Someone can train their voice to accomplish more of a range, but learning to carry a tune is a little harder.
When you think of your voice as an instrument, it becomes a little more understandable. You have to know how to USE it. And these folks on this list definitely do. Some are pretty obvious and others, well, not so much. I'm just going to say "underrated" and move on.
1. Mariah Carey: 5 Octaves
If you managed to make it through this rather creepy composite, it's pretty obvious that Mariah is at the top of the list when it comes to the female vocal range. She uses it wisely. And it absolutely wrecked her voice, but we'll just pretend that didn't happen and we're all still running around in JNCOs and Vans.
2. Ariana Grande: 4 Octaves
Ariana is one of those singers who hits notes and even surprises herself sometimes. If you listen closely, you can hear some parallels with Mariah. They both use resonance very effectively. Almost all successful vocalists do.
There's a difference between hitting a note and supporting a note. Often, I describe it as the "goosebump trap". It's a note, sure. But it's got power behind it. How often do you hear that in karaoke? Often enough, I guess. Guy singing from the stage, belting out lyrics to the top of his lungs, but this isn't usually sustainable. These vocal techniques are what separate decent singers from fabulous singers.
3. Christina Aguilera: 4 Octaves
This, admittedly, is not the best quality video on here, but you get the gist of it. It's pretty obvious that Christina doesn't have the vocal range of Mariah, but one thing to keep in mind when discussing octaves is the lower end of the register. Mariah can hit lower notes than Christina. Is she more talented? Not necessarily.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some very iconic vocalists have a much narrower range. A couple of good examples of popular female vocalists with a smaller range are Stevie Nicks and Taylor Swift. Though neither has a wide range, they sing very well inside their comfort zone. (Even Adele, the queen of sultry, only has a 2-octave range!) Luke Bryan and Justin Beiber also have a smaller range, especially compared to a couple of male vocalists on this list, but again, a smaller range doesn't necessarily mean less talented. (Though the case may be made here.)
4. Axl Rose: 6 Octaves
Before he blew his voice out, Axl Rose was one of the most versatile singers of the 80s and 90s. There are numerous videos on YouTube with examples of some of his most impossible lyrics. If you have ever had the displeasure of sitting in a bar listening to some dude try to sing "Welcome to the Jungle", it becomes intensely obvious that Axl is the GOAT and no mere mortal can quite match him. (Though I'd recommend watching some clips of Axl vs Mariah.)
He wasn't just a sexy serpentine dancer in leather pants. The man had some serious chops. But, I can't finish this list without inserting one of my favorite (and overlooked) vocalists here that actually gives Axl a run for his money, if he wasn't a living meme in the US:
5. Vitas: 7 Octaves
Yeah, this guy. He's a Ukrainian vocalist who is known for being a bit weird. His song, "The 7th Element" is like a running gag here. But, if people can get over the crazy costumes, he's actually a brilliant singer.
I have no idea what he's singing about, but it's ridiculously good. Just listening to "Dedication" is an ethereal experience. And he has a whopping 7-octave range, to Axl's 6!
In case you still don't know who Vitas is (and you should by now), here he is in all his 7th Element glory:
Tim Storms: 10 Octaves
This guy is really low-key in more than a few ways. Tim holds the Guinness World Record for the lowest note ever produced by a human and the widest vocal range. Originally from Tulsa, he began his music career in the Christian Contemporary genre. As for the lowest note, it's a G-7 and on stage, the ear can't even perceive it. It's simply vibrations that are felt. G-7 is an entire EIGHT octaves below the lowest G on the piano. This is known as "infrasonic". How wild is that?
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