Singers who can’t sing

Why do aging hippies and young hipsters love singers who cannot sing?  Sometimes it’s charming to hear someone singing in a non-conventional way, but most times we just need to face facts and admit to ourselves that there are some people who should not be recording songs.

I am about to utter some thoughts I have held for a long time which will shock and dismay many of you.  Yet I feel it’s time to say it.  I can’t hold it in any longer.

These three rock stars are beloved by many, and revered by a few, and barely tolerated by me.

1.  Bob Dylan

I suppose it’s actually become pretty commonly known that Bob is a mush-mouthed mumbling whiny horrible singer.  Really he’s not much worse than he was as a young man.  There are a few songs of his that I enjoy, and I did like the Traveling Wilburys project too.  However, over 80% of his back catalogue is unlistenable whiny bullcrap.  I don’t care how good his lyrics are.  If his lyrics are so good then he should just publish books of poetry and hire someone else to sing them.


Whiny, pitchy, and intolerable, it just plods along while you slowly die.

Here is a cover by Jimi Hendrix:

Suddenly this is a SONG, with some kind of purpose and sung by someone who has emotions and feeling.  You can finally understand the story Dylan wanted to tell.

2.  Lou Reed

Oh, God, how can anyone listen to Lou Reed and enjoy it?  The man is one of the worst singers of all time.  Do I really have to say why?  Listen to him and you will know pain.  Why can’t anyone just come out and admit it?  Why does everyone pretend he is some sort of musician?  He’s not.  He is the most pretentious sack of crap that ever lived, and he proved it by marrying Laurie Anderson, who’s another one of those singers who just talks and makes noise.

Again, this is someone who has some great songs in his back catalogue but he needs someone else to sing them and make them something that humans can enjoy.


Note that this You Tube clip says “Best Live Version”.  If this is the best, I never want to hear the worst.  I get itchy just thinking about Lou Reed’s voice.  He makes me want to smash things.

In contrast, here is a cover of the same song by a band that made it into something beautiful and heartbreaking:

3.  Iggy Pop

I don’t hate every single Iggy Pop song, but when I hear someone cover one of his songs I realize how much better the covers are.  Iggy is an amazing performer and a compelling figure, but his vocal chops aren’t the best.  He’s legendary for many things – none of them are his singing voice.

I can’t hate on Iggy too much, because he is an interesting guy and seems like he is nice and fun to be around.  I love him in the John Waters’ movies, but I really don’t enjoy hearing him sing.


You can tell that this song has potential, but the vocals are so muddled and fuzzy you can’t really appreciate what you’re hearing.  It’s like a block of stone that has the potential to be a great sculpture.

I’m sure that everyone reading this has heard David Bowie’s cover of this song.  Bowie polished it up and made it into a pop gem.  He added some coherency and a backbeat, thanks to Nile Rogers.  Iggy should thank David every day for the mint he made off of this cover.  (And also, I imagine, for the great head.)

Now, this is only my opinion, and not the word of God.  I realize there are those who will disagree with me, and that is their right.  I am speaking for the people out there who think these singers sound like crap and have been afraid to voice their thoughts.  BE HEARD!  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

I suppose that all this post might actually prove is that I prefer glossy pop songs over messy punk songs.  That’s true.  After all, I was raised in the Yacht Rock 70’s and was a teenager in the New Wave 80’s.

I love me some pop music, is that so wrong?


10 thoughts on “Singers who can’t sing

  1. thethousandbookproject Post author

    Iggy should thank David every day for the mint he made off of this cover. (And also, I imagine, for the great head.)


    also my dad doesn’t like the velvet underground because when he was in high school every single garage band did shitty covers of Sweet Jane so I guess he’s traumatized now. Also because the velvet underground suck. I hate Nico.

    ps I’m assuming you’ve seen ewan mcgregor’s interpretation of iggy:

    1. mekkalekkah Post author

      Yes, I have seen that movie, but I always appreciate another opportunity to ogle Ewan’s nudity and flopping willy.

      Oh man, Nico. I could have included her on this list too. Oh well!

  2. thethousandbookproject Post author

    also Iggy Pop annoys me because Lust For Life is HELLA OVERPLAYED. It works in Trainspotting but then it was in an ad for cruise lines and every time I go to the britpop dance night they play it and I’m like REALLY. The same with Blitzkrieg Bop. There are a ton of other songs you could play.

      1. thethousandbookproject Post author

        omg what does it say about me that I actually LOL’ed at this

  3. Sarah

    I have a thing for flawed voices, so I’m partial to Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, but I never really got Bob Dylan. I can see how other people might like his singing because it’s, er, unique, but it never did much for me. So true about Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower”!

    I too LOL’d at the “great head” bit!

    1. mekkalekkah Post author

      I seriously just do not get Bob Dylan. I like a handful of his songs but even those would sound better with another singer. He should have just been a songwriter.

      Thanks for LOLing!

  4. Helen

    I have to say I agree with your assessment of Bob Dylan. I just don’t understand how people can derive pleasure from listening to him. Maybe it’s just Schadenfreude.

    I mean, he can’t even play a flippin’ harmonica nicely, can he? It sounds like a dog swallowed it and is running round the room trying to barf it up!

    There’s lots of songs which I like, then I find out *he* wrote them, and then my brain haunts me with the spectre of just how bad that would’ve sounded. And then I feel sad.

    1. mekkalekkah Post author

      It’s like you’re living inside my head! I agree completely with everything you said, especially the part about finding out he wrote a song that you like.


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