The future of music

30 Best Male Singers of All Time (Most Famous)

November 6, 2023
male singers

I’ve compiled a list of the most talented male singers across genres dominating the industry right now.

This overview features established icons and rising stars praised for their incredible ranges, powerhouse pipes, and unique styles.

Top picks of the best male singers

  • Elvis Presley
  • Michael Jackson
  • Freddie Mercury
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Elton John
  • Paul McCartney
  • Rod Stewart
  • George Michael
  • Johnny Cash
  • Andrea Bocelli

1. Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley was the King of Rock and Roll for a reason. 

He was one of the most influential male singers from the 50s and 60s who started his career in 1954 via Sun Records.

He distinguished himself with sexually provocative lyrics that earned him success and controversy.

Presley rose from humble beginnings in Memphis to become one of the most influential figures in rock n’ roll music. 

Decades after his death, Presley has remained one of the biggest names of the 20th century, inspiring a generation of upcoming singers.

Some of his most recognizable hit songs include “Suspicious Minds,” “Always On My Mind,” and “In the Ghetto.”

2. Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was nicknamed the King of Pop for his unmatched influence on the music genre and is ranked among the greatest artists of all time. 

He set new records and broke the existing ones, overcame racial boundaries, and entertained his fans whenever he got the chance.

Jackson’s limitless creativity changed the game in the 80s and 90s, earning him a place among the industry’s legends.

He introduced several signature dance moves, including the crotch grab, anti-gravity lean, circle slide, and the robot. 

In 2009, the world lost Michael Jackson, who became one of the most awarded artists in history, one of the best-selling music artists of his generation, and undoubtedly one of the greatest male entertainers of all time.  

3. Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury is best remembered for his iconic voice as the frontman of the English rock band Queen.

Mercury had the voice to turn every hater into a fan and a natural flair that modern rock and roll singers can only dream of.

His flamboyance was unmistakable.

And as one of the greatest male singers of all time, Freddie is best remembered for the hit songs “We Will Rock You,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “I Want to Break Free.”

4. Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra is regarded as one of the best American singers from the 20th century.

He was born and raised in New Jersey and started his career in 1935.

Frank became one of the greatest male singers of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s and one of the best-selling artists of all time. 

The American icon won 11 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

Some of his most iconic songs include “My Way,” “New York, New York,” and “The Best is Yet to Come.”

5. Elton John

Sir Elton John is easily one of the greatest male entertainers from the 1970s. 

His unique blend of pop and rock made him one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.

Elton discovered his passion for music at a young age, releasing his eponymous debut album in 1970 to rise to global fame. 

He’s had success with hits like “Candle In the Wind,” “Tiny Dancer,” and “Your Song,” and we consider him one of the best male singers of all time. 

See also: Best Elton John Songs

6. Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney rose to fame as a member of the English rock band, The Beatles.

He’s a living rock and roll legend with a storied career that continues to inspire many upcoming rock singers.

Paul was born in Liverpool, England, and started playing instruments and songwriting at a young age. 

He started his music career through John Lennon’s The Quarrymen in 1957.

In 1960, the band changed its name to the Beatles.

7. Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart is a British pop-rock singer and songwriter with a unique raspy voice that earned him many followers in the 1970s. 

He’s among the best-selling artists of all time, with over 250 million album sales.

Stewart has had 10 albums topping the album charts and another 31 singles reaching the Top 10 in the UK.

Many might argue that he’s among the most underrated British singers of all time, and we would agree. 

See also: Best Rod Stewart Songs

8. George Michael

George Michael is one of the best male singers of all time, who made a successful solo career after breaking away from the Wham! pop duo in the 1980s.

George released “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” alongside Aretha Franklin to launch his solo career, scoring #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles charts.

His 1987 hit single “I Want Your Sex” was widely criticized for its sexual lyrics, highlighting one of the lowest points in the singer’s career.

With several awards throughout his 30-year career, George Michael is easily one of the best male singers of all time.

See also: Best George Michael Songs

9. Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash rose to mainstream success in the mid-1950s, with songs often tackling social and political issues.

With an unmistakable, deep, raspy voice, Cash quickly became a mainstay name in country and rock and roll music.

In many people’s eyes, he’s a legend, with powerful songs that often addressed moral tribulation, redemption, and sorrow.

He was nicknamed the “Man In Black” for his distinct on-stage persona and is best remembered for the hit singles “A Boy Named Sue,” “Man In Black,” and “Jackson”.

10. Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli needs no introduction among traditional pop, opera, and Latin pop music lovers.

His painful story began with congenital glaucoma (a rare eye condition that develops at birth) diagnosis, worsened by a childhood accident that left him blind at 12 years.

But that didn’t stop the resolute Italian tenor from pursuing his music career, rising to fame in 1994 at the 44th Sanremo Music Festival.

Andrea has released 15 solo studio albums today and sold over 75 million units worldwide. 

He blends classical music with pop and is among the greatest male singers of all time. 

11. Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole was a multitalented American singer who also had success as an actor and a jazz pianist.

He started his career in the 1930s as a pop and jazz vocalist, recording over 100 songs throughout a 3-decade career to write his name in the history books.

As one of the most influential black singers of his time, Nat battled racial discrimination throughout his career, which he often highlighted in his songs and contributions to civil rights movements. 

He also hosted The Nat King Cole Show on NBC between 1956 and 1957, endearing him to the black audience. 

Some of Nat King Cole’s most memorable songs include “Unforgettable,” “Stardust,” and “The Christmas Song.”

12. Otis Redding

Otis Ray Redding is one of the greatest male black singers in American history.

He earned the “King of Soul” moniker and became one of the most influential figures in the 1960s.

Otis couldn’t complete school and started performing in his teenage years to support his low-income family.

He built his career through the Johnny Jenkins-owned Pinetoppers band before releasing his debut single, “These Arms of Mine,” in the early 1960s.

Otis recorded and released one of his most iconic songs, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” shortly before succumbing to a plane crash. 

Many years after his death, the American singer still gets the recognition he deserves from soul music lovers, ranking among the best male artists in history. 

13. Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke was a talented American singer and songwriter born in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

He’s one of the best soul artists of his generation, who stood out with a unique singing voice and influence on many soul singers. 

He launched his career with the Soul Stirrers before going solo in the late 1950s, releasing a series of hit singles, including “A Change Is Gonna Come,” “Wonderful World,” and “You Send Me.”

Sam had an impressive 8-year career, putting 29 singles in the Billboard Pop Singles chart and another 20 in the Top 10 of the Billboard Black Singles chart.

The American singer was fatally shot in a Los Angeles motel in 1964, but his influence on soul music is still felt far and wide as one of the greatest male singers of all time. 

14. Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye earned the nicknames “Prince of Soul” and “Prince of Motown” because he was so good at his craft. 

The American R&B and soul artist is credited with shaping the Motown sound in the 60s, becoming one of the best performers at the time.

His recordings in the 1980s influenced a generation of male R&B singers, earning him recognition from global audiences. 

Gaye has been inducted into the Rock and Roll, the Songwriters, and the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame posthumously, becoming one of the best male singers ever. 

15. Al Green

Al Green is deservedly among the best male singers of all time for all his contributions to the entertainment industry from the 1950s.

The Arkansas native has been described as “one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music,” winning multiple accolades, including the highly coveted Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Green’s best songs include “Love and Happiness,” “Let’s Stay Together,” and “Take Me to the River”.

He had a brief spell as a gospel artist after losing his girlfriend through suicide before reverting to secular music

16. Bing Crosby

Here’s the man who gave us the iconic “White Christmas” tune that has become a holiday staple. 

But long before that, Bing Crosby had already built a stellar career as a renowned actor and a multimedia star. 

What might surprise you about Bing Crosby is that he supported marijuana legalization at the height of his career.

But what might not surprise you is that he is one of the best male artists ever.

While many people remember him from his famous Christmas song, he also released other hit singles such as “My Blue Heaven,” “True Love,” and “Pennies From Heaven”.

17. Luther Vandross

Luther Vandross is an all-time great, debuting in the 1980s as a solo artist.

He released some of the best hits of the 80s and 90s and is still remembered as one of the best male artists of all time, many years after his untimely death.

The Manhattan native featured in albums by big-name artists such as Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, and Bette Midler and is one of the greatest male singers ever.

Some of his best songs include “Never Too Much,” “I Can Make It Better,” and “Here and Now”.

18. Stevie Wonder

The one and only Steve Wonder.

You can’t talk about 1970s music without mentioning “Little Stevie Wonder.”

He influenced a generation of artists across several music genres, from pop to soul, funk, jazz, gospel, and rhythm and blues.

Wonder made history as the youngest artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart, thanks to his 1963 hit single, “Fingertips”.

While many rave about the influence of big-name artists like Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, it’s hard not to recognize Stevie Wonder in the same category. 

19. Michael Bublé

Michael Bublé is a Canadian singer who rose to international fame with Its Time (2005) and Call Me Irresponsible (2007) studio albums. 

His Christmas (2011) album topped the Billboard 200 chart for 5 weeks, besides reaching the Top 5 in the UK.

Bublé is among the best-selling male artists of all time, with 15 Juno Awards and 5 Grammy Awards.

See also: Best Michael Bublé Songs of All Time

20. Art Garfunkel

Arthur Ira Garfunkel is half of the Simon & Garfunkel folk-rock duo that released “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

He was born in Queens, New York, and met Simon while playing Alice in Wonderland at school.

They started their journey as Simon & Garfunkel in the 1950s, establishing themselves as one of the best folk-rock groups in the 1960s with “Mrs. Robinson” and “The Sound of Silence.”

Art Garfunkel had a successful solo career after the group disbanded for unknown reasons.

His career summary includes 8 Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award, a Top 10 hit, and a Britannia Award, among various accolades.

21. John Lennon

John Lennon completes the Beatles’ Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison lineup, serving as the group’s rhythm vocalist, co-songwriter, and founder.

He’s one of the most prolific songwriters of all time, forming an excellent partnership with Paul McCartney to turn the Beatles into one of the best rock bands ever.

John quit the Beatles in the 1960s to pursue a solo career, forming the Plastic Ono Band alongside his second wife, Yoko Ono.

The English singer had some of the best collaborations in music history with Elton John and David Bowie, becoming one of the best male artists of all time. 

22. Billy Joel

Billy Joel’s style is almost impossible to replicate, which makes him one of the best male composers in history. 

The soft rock and pop rock legend was raised in The Bronx, New York, and is best known for much more than just his 1970s hit single, “Piano Man”.

Billy had a musical family to support his musical aspirations and developed a strong interest in playing the piano at a young age.

As one of the best male singers of all time, the New York native has won 6 Grammy Awards, sold over 150 million records worldwide, and got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

23. Mick Jagger

English singer and songwriter Sir Michael Philip Jagger rose to superstardom as a member of the English rock band the Rolling Stones.

He excelled as one of the group’s founding members and led vocalists, forming a formidable partnership with fellow band member Keith Richards to take the English band to the top of the music charts. 

Jagger has enjoyed an impressive 6-decade career, building a matchless legacy as one of the most accomplished frontmen of all time. 

His energetic stage performances and unique voice often caught many people’s attention.

Jagger was also involved in several romantic affairs and alleged drug use, attracting endless controversy throughout his incredible music career. 

24. Bob Dylan

Everybody remembers Bob Dylan as the man who sang “Like a Rolling Stone.”

Indeed, he was one of the most influential figures for the civil rights movements of the 1960s, releasing powerful songs that often found their way into many anti-war movements.

Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1941 and became one of the most influential figures of the 1960s.

His powerful lyrics often addressed real political, philosophical, and social issues.

He’s recognized among the best-selling music artists of all time, with several accolades to his name, including a Golden Globe Award, 10 Grammy Awards, and the Presidential Medical of Freedom, to mention a few. 

He’s been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, becoming one of the greatest male singers of his generation. 

25. Tom Jones

Sir Thomas Jones Woodward OBE is a Welsh singer who has excelled with gospel, soul, dance, country, show tunes, and R&B music.

His husky voice distinguished him from his peers, releasing many successful singles such as “Sex Bomb,” “Delilah,” and “What’s New Pussycat?”

Jones has also tried his luck at acting, featuring in the Pleasure Cover (1979), Mars Attacks (1996), and Playhouse Presents (2012). 

26. Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain influenced an entire generation with prolific compositions that often stayed in the listeners’ minds. 

He became the unlikely spokesperson of Generation X, leaving an indelible legacy as the founder, guitarist, primary songwriter, and lead vocalist of the Nirvana rock band. 

Kurt started his career in the early 1980s and continued his influence in the later years to become one of the best male artists ever.

Some of the best songs he wrote for Nirvana include “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come As You Are,” and “Lithium.”

Despite enjoying a stellar career, Cobain battled heroin addiction throughout the later stages of his life, culminating in suicide in 1994 at only 27. 

27. David Bowie

David Bowie was a prominent figure in the entertainment industry, inspiring several artists throughout the 20th century.

He was widely acclaimed in the 1970s for his creativity and constant reinvention, making a significant statement with art rock, glam rock, pop, and electronic music.

He’s best remembered for his 1969 “Space Oddity” hit single that reached the top 5 on the UK Singles Chart. 

David became even more popular between 1972 and 1973 with his newly adopted Ziggy Stardust alter ego.

During this period, he released a widely acclaimed album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and a successful hit single, “Starman”.

David broke into the US market after switching to “plastic soul” in 1975, releasing the #1 single, “Fame,” and another successful album, Young Americans. 

With a career spanning over 5 decades, the English singer has sold over 100 million records worldwide, won 6 Grammy Awards, and got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

28. Prince

Prince is among the most awarded male singers in history.

He was identified with his flamboyant persona and wide vocal range that often appealed to his loyal fans.

Prince was a multi-instrumentalist who excelled in several music genres, including hip-hop, jazz, new wave, pop, synth-pop, soul, R&B, and funk.

He achieved critical success with the Dirty Mind (1980), Controversy (1981), and 1999 (1982) albums. 

A major commercial success in Prince’s illustrious career was the 1984 Purple Rain album, which topped the Billboard 200 chart for 6 months. 

Some of his best songs include “Purple Rain,” “Kiss,” and “I Wanna Be Your Love”.

29. John Legend

John Roger Stephens, commonly known as John Legend, is a celebrated American singer who rose to international fame with his blend of soul and R&B music.

He became the first African-American singer to win the EGOT awards.

Stephen’s musical family influenced his path from a young age, taking his first piano classes as a child.

He went to the University of Pennsylvania and then relocated to New York, where he crafted his piano playing and singing skills at the local nightclubs. 

In the early 2000s, John met Kanye West and started working with popular artists such as Alicia Keys. 

After working with Ye on his debut album, The College Dropout (2004), the rapper repaid the faith by producing John’s first album, Get Lifted, in 2004 after establishing his GOOD Music record label.

Thanks to the “Ordinary People” ballad, the album was an international success, pushing the American singer to his first 2 Grammy Awards.

Legend has garnered praise for his soulful singing, which is often unique and classic in songs about love and relationships.  

See also: Best John Legend Songs

30. Bob Marley

Bob Marley’s influence on popular culture, regardless of color, race, or ethnicity, is unmatched.

His revolutionary career was about promoting peace and tolerance, even if it meant making a few enemies.

And that’s what he brought to the biggest stage, with sheer dedication and hard work to unite the world. 

The reggae icon’s contribution to the entertainment industry was felt far and wide, putting Jamaican music on the global map while leaving his mark on the biggest stage. 

He became controversial for his outspoken nature, almost paying for it with his dear life in the 1970s.

Picking the best Bob Marley songs is always challenging.

But you can never go wrong with “No Woman No Cry,” “Redemption Song,” and “Get Up, Stand Up” for a taste of the reggae icon’s best hits. 

Best Male Singers – Final Thoughts

There’s something about male singers that always stands out; they only want to do their thing and live peacefully. 

Sometimes, they get involved in awkward moments and competitions about who did it better than the rest, even though most of them only want to entertain their fans with good music.

We’ve been lucky to see, listen to, and interact with some of the greatest male singers in history, from Stevie Wonder to Michael Jackson and John Legend.

And one thing that stands out is that each artist is unique.

While Bob Dylan was all about powerful lyricism in songs about social, political, and philosophical issues, John Legend delivered powerful romantic ballads for lovebirds.

Ultimately, every music enthusiast has something to love about every singer.

That’s our list of the 30 best male singers of all time. 

You may also like: Best 90s Male Singers

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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