These singers captivated the music scene of the seventies and became icons we still praise today.
By Moises Pena
The seventies were probably the strangest yet most exciting time for music, especially for rock. From the classic musicians who moved us all with their meaningful songs, to the glitter of glam rock, the exciting shows of hard rock, the appealing progressive rock scene, and the radical rupture of punks. Through this list, we’ll go on a journey through those great voices that marked the decade: titans who changed music history with their microphones.
Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin)
The “Golden God” was a phenomenon, along with the iconic Led Zeppelin. Half Viking god and half blues soul, Plant knew how to move his audience with his powerful androgynous voice. Taking the best of Janis Joplin, Muddy Waters, and Paul McCartney, he condensed their peculiarities and turned them into shouts of pleasure and glory. He was a master at reaching high notes others would tear their chords even trying, and his intense and guttural sounds create a unique combo hard to imitate. Robert Plant definitely paved the way for genres like heavy metal, which were inspired by his voice.
The man who taught us about love, heartbreak, sex, world peace, and ecology with a sweet and tender voice. Gaye possessed one of those voices that make you want to cuddle with your S.O. and never let go. Boasting the perfect mix of technique and passion, Gaye was one of a kind, not only in the world of Soul and R&B, but also music in general. His way of seeing the world through music became a spark that kindled genres like hip hop. So, yes, Marvin’s volatile voice ranges will always be around us, since he still inspires so many artists today.
Freddie Mercury (Queen)
Though it’s been more than 20 years since the great Freddie Mercury left us, his legendary presence keeps taking our breath away every time we listen to each one of his anthems. The flamboyant Queen frontman showed the many possibilities rock had when it came to vocal ranges. There’s no one yet who can come close to his unique voice, and perhaps that’s for the best, since we don’t need anyone else but our favorite icon.
Starting since his teen years in the Motown circle of the sixties, Wonder had the chance to learn from great singers like Smokey Robinson and David Ruffin. From the beginning, his record company saw he had something unique and knew how to make him grow until he blossomed in the early seventies. His highly political songs soon merged with funk ballads that created lyrics and sounds that hadn’t been heard before. His very strong vibrato, wide vocal range, and appealing charisma turned him into a voice of his time and place. His self-confidence always stood out from other voices mainly because he always knew how to reach an audience and how to convey messages like no other.
David Bowie was a mysterious and chameleonic character who keeps impressing new generations. You just have to dive into his albums to realize that he’s not the same in each, and I’m not talking about his different personas, but he actually endowed them with different, amazing voices. With dark space-like tones, flirty folk sounds, androgynous notes, his robotic soul, that rocker attitude, and bizarre ballads, this British artist had a unique way to enthrall audiences.
As the last prince of the golden age of Soul, he never forgot his heritage. He took funk and turned it into an incredibly sexy sound with his incomparable falsettos. He didn’t roar like Otis Redding or move like James Brown, but his touching voice managed to hypnotize thousands of young people who crowded the dance halls just to get to dance to his beats. Sex and love were the main characters in his songs, creating an innocent pleasure atmosphere hard to refuse. The vulnerability he portrayed was lost the moment Al left the music scene, but his vibe and talent are still praised by his followers and newfound followers.
Just like the Caribbean waters that surrounded his home, Jamaica, Marley’s voice was pleasant and refreshing. But also, though it didn’t seem so at first, his songs were powerful and imposing. Singing about social issues and the many solutions love could bring, this Jamaican icon moved everyone who listened to him with a simple but generous sound that gave a new meaning to the word groovy. Without a formal music education or technique, we can say Marley’s is one of the most mesmerizing and sweetest voices in music history. Bob was blessed with a powerful voice that spoke of the socio-political revolutions of the decade, becoming the voice of the oppressed.
The pure strength of rock n’ roll rarely reaches such a high peak as when Bruce grabs a microphone. Momentum like that of Little Richard or Elvis Presley, as well as Bob Dylan’s wits were the influence this American icon took to create his own style. With abrasive, honest, and vulnerable (though not weak nor insecure) sounds, he managed to conquer (and still does) millions of hearts and hearts throughout the world.
When John Lennon listened to “Your Song” for the first time, he said it was the best thing that had happened in music since The Beatles, and apparently he wasn’t the only one impressed by the song. Elton brought back the piano to the scene with a unique and strong voice with playful falsettos and a refined way of interpretation. The versatility he showed in songs like “Your Song,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” and “Levon” had not been seen in pop and rock music of the time, turning him into the real pop master of the UK and the world.
The gorgeous Canadian with a peculiar voice became an archetype for aspiring musicians in the seventies. Mixing hundreds of words without losing tempo or notes, she became a master of the style. Her soft folk ballads became a bridge for the Woodstock generation and the upcoming one, always committed with her vision of life. There are tons of adjectives and metaphors with which we could refer to Joni Mitchell, but her voice itself proves how amazing she is.
There’s no ranking without the unique Patti Smith, who became the Queen of Punk before Punk was even a thing. Taking inspiration from artists like Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger, she rewrote the rules of what a cool woman was at the time. Her lyrics were highly charged with poetry that perfectly contrasted with her emotional chants that talk about female sexuality. When she was on stage, she became a tornado, with her black hair moving freely to the beats of her songs. Her influence was crucial for genres like New Nave and the Alternative Rock of the eighties, and her presence remains as strong as back in the day.
Do you think there’s another impressive artist that should make the list? Probably, but not as huge as these titans of rock.
Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards
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