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Top Ten: Underrated Singers of This Generation

Updated on November 24, 2017

Everyone knows who Beyonce is right? Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran?

They are all amazing singers and songwriters that pretty much everyone walking down the street has at least heard of. They are each known for their powerful vocals and hits that please the ears and blare from radios pretty much every second of every day.

Below is a list of the most underrated vocalists of this generation. If you have anyone to add, please comment them.

Number 10: Liam Payne from One Direction

Most people, no matter their feelings towards boy bands, can agree that the guys in One Direction can sing. They not only placed third overall on the British singing competition show, The X Factor, they took the world by storm for over five years! It is surprising that any of them are underrated artists, but Liam's talent is often sidelined and understated compared to Harry Styles or Zayn.

Liam's talent isn't even just limited to singing. He is tied with Louis in terms of songwriting credits, he is a decent stage performer, can beatbox, and can play the guitar and piano as well.

Liam is listed as a Dramatic Baritone. His vocal range consists of three whole octaves and four notes, ranging from C#2-Bb5, which his voice strongly supports (especially in the lower-mid chest range). His voice is rich in texture, able to change smoothly from note-to-note while he sings, and can reach well up into his head voice range with clarity and strength. His falsettos are weaker, but still very clear and not forced sounding or screechy.

Performance wise, Liam tends to add vocal ad-libs in a lot of their live shows, modestly showing off just how talented he is as a singer. His harmonies make their sound fuller and stronger as well.

Solo career wise, Liam has taken a more laid back vocal path, falling to his falsettos more than anything, but live performances still showcase his incredible vocal range.

Recommended listening: Any of his covers back in 2010. Always on My Mind is a great choice because it showcases his chest voice more clearly than any performance he has done with One Direction, as well as the emotion he can add when a song needs it.

The demo song You he did with Juicy J is a great example of his voice in a totally different genre, showing that he can adapt to any genre he is singing in. The song is, admittedly, very auto-tuned, but it isn't too far off either.

Finally, check out: What A Feeling, Change Your Ticket, Wolves, Never Enough, Tell Me A Lie, and Long Way Down from One Direction, as well as Strip That Down and Bedroom Floor from his own solo work.

Number 9: ZAYN

ZAYN auditioned as a solo act back in 2010 for the X Factor with the song Let Me Love You and then was thrown into One Direction.

His time in the band was basically him belting out high notes and having very limited solo time, so fans weren't given much to go off of when he announced he was going to release a solo album, Mind of Mne, in early 2016.

ZAYN is listed as a dramatic tenor. His vocal range is three octaves, ranging from G2-A5. His voice itself is rich in texture and sultry on most of his solo songs. His low chest register is weakest, but he makes up for it with a powerful middle register and head voice. While his annunciation needs quite a bit of work, his ability to switch from the pop One Direction relied on to the RnB sound Mind of Mine has shows he is a versatile vocalist.

The album features mind blowing high notes and smoky low notes, making ZAYN a well rounded singer. His live vocals are also very strong and pretty much identical to the studio versions, and much like Liam, they are often way better. His live harmonies with the boys, as well as the different spins on the same high notes, showcases how well he knows music and what would sound good or make a performance sound better.

Recommended listening: his live performance of LIKE I WOULD at Wango Tango because that note he belts at the end shows how much he's grown as a singer (compare to live performances of Rock Me).
Songs from his album: dRuNk, rEaR vIeW, fOoL fOr You, and BRIGHT.
Songs from One Direction: Tell Me a Lie, Right Now, Where Do Broken Hearts Go, and You and I

Number 8: Little Mix

Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jesy Nelson, and Jade Thirlwall all auditioned as solo acts on the British singing competition show, The X Factor, in 2011. They were put together into the girl group Rythmix (later changed to Little Mix), and went on to dominate the entire show, blowing everyone else in the competition out of the water.

After winning the show, the girls have so far release four albums (DNA, Salute, Get Weird, and Glory Days), produced four singles from each album, and delivered four tours so far. They still have yet to break North and South America.

Perrie Edwards is the most well known member of Little Mix, mostly due to her four year relationship with Zayn Malik, formerly from One Direction. She auditioned with You Oughta Know.

She is listed as a light lyric soprano with a vocal range of Eb3-E6. Her actual technique could use some fine tuning, especially with her breathing, but she has been utilizing her head voice more on the new tour in place of her falsettos. She has no trouble holding out high notes in live performances. Perrie has a light but strong falsetto that is unmatched live.

Recommended listening: her cover of Listen by Beyonce as well as her cover of Bad Boys.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock is probably the most underrated vocalist of her group. She is often criticized for being too weak of a singer compared to her bandmates.

Leigh-Anne auditioned as a solo artist on the X Factor with the song Only Girl in the World.

She is listed as a light lyric soprano with a vocal range of Eb3-F#5. While her range is very limited, the texture in her voice makes her easily recognizable next to her stronger bandmates. Her strongest register is her chest, though she doesn't explore it very often. Her belts are also very strong, though limited. Leigh-Anne's main issue is her projection, especially with her falsettos. A little more work with that and utilizing that strong chest register will make Leigh that much better!

Check out her cover of Casualty of Love by Jessie J.

Jesy Nelson is the second most underrated vocally in the band. Many people dislike the rasp in her voice, claiming she is too different to the other members of Little Mix to blend properly with them. She auditioned as a solo artist in 2011 for the X Factor with the song Bust Your Windows. Jesy is listed as a light lyric soprano with a vocal range of Eb3-C6, much of which we don't really get to hear it as Jesy is the go-to singer for low notes and harmonies in the group. On their latest album, Get Weird, Jesy has explored more of her head voice and middle register, the stand out being the note she belts in Secret Love Song.
Recommended listening: her song One For Me.

Jade Thirlwall is the lesser known powerhouse of the group because of her shyness. She actually auditioned two times prior to her 2011 X Factor audition of I Wanna Hold Your Hand on the X Factor and before that she performed at gigs in her small town. She is listed as a light lyric soprano with a vocal range of D3-F5-D6. Jade's chest register is her weakest area, becoming airy and losing power. Much like Perrie, Jade relies on her middle register and head voice more than anything else. Her falsettos as light and girlish. Her vocals are very strong and developed for someone in their early twenties, but can of course use some further work. I recommend checking out her cover of Umbrella by Rihanna.

Recommended Listening: Turn Your Face, Boy, Towers, Good Enough (LIVE version), I Love You

Overall Recommended Listening: Lightening, Touch, Red Planet, These Four Walls, I Won't, Nothing Else Matters, Oops, and their covers of Don't Let Go by En Vogue, and Rihanna/Lady Gaga's Telephone on The X Factor.

Left to Right: Jesy Nelson, Perrie Edwards, Jade Thirlwall, and Leigh-Anne Pinnock
Left to Right: Jesy Nelson, Perrie Edwards, Jade Thirlwall, and Leigh-Anne Pinnock

Number 7: Adam Lambert

Ever since Adam auditioned for American Idol, he has been adored by fans everywhere. His rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody captured the judges attention straight away and he went on to finish in second place.

Adam is listed as a leggiero tenor with a range of A2 - Bb5. He can also hit a C2 (vocal fry), but this is done mostly in studio. In live performances, Adam mostly utilizes his head voice and middle register. He is a strong vocalist with great control and agility in his voice.

Lambert is able to effortlessly belt notes that most male pop singers sing in falsetto and is able to hold them for an extended period of time. His falsettos, usually heard when he sings acoustic versions of his songs, are light in tone and highlight his vocal ability.

Recommended listening: any of his American Idol performances. His notes in those performances are what he is most known for and the most impressive aspect of his vocal ability.

Studio songs: Never Close Our Eyes, Better Than I Know Myself, There I Said It, For Your Entertainment, and Ghost Town.

Also check out his cover of Bob Marley's Is This Love

Number 6: Tori Kelly

Tori Kelly auditioned for Season 9 of American Idol with the song Gravity by John Mayer. Despite negative comments from Simon Cowell, Tori made it through, but was ultimately eliminated before she could make it to the Top 24.

Despite this major setback, Tori continued to upload songs to her YouTube channel and finally released her EP, Handmade Songs.

Scooter Braun, the same man that manages Justin Bieber, discovered her videos on YouTube and got her a record deal with Capital Records. She has since released her album Unbreakable Smile, producing three singles: Nobody Love, Should Have Been Us, and Hollow.

Tori Kelly is listed as a light lyric soprano with a vocal range of C#3 - A5 - B6. She has a very distinct voice, sounding quite raspy at times. Her strongest register is her middle. Her chest register, though not very extensive, is strong and hardly breathy. Her falsettos are light in tone and very pleasing to the ears. Many critique her vocals because she utilizes her melismas quite frequently (meaning she sings multiple notes on one syllable).

Recommended Listening: her cover of Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran
Studio songs: I Was Made For Loving You, Expensive, All In My Head, First Heartbreak, and Art Of Letting You Go.

Number 5: Lauv (Ari Leff)

Most people have probably not hear of this artist.

His real name Ari Leff, a student from New York who makes RnB music and posts them on YouTube, Spotify, and iTunes. His first song, The Other, was tweeted out by One Direction member Liam Payne, causing him to skyrocket in fame.

He finally released his first EP, Lost in the Light a while after. This EP includes the singles The Other and Reforget. He most recently release his newest single, Question featuring Travis Mills.

Lost in the Light is an album that focuses on the different parts of a relationship. From being madly in love to questioning everything you've ever thought of the other person, he covers it all in five songs.

Leff relies mostly on his middle register and his falsettos in his studio versions of songs. He's very strong in these areas, though his chest register (at least on the studio songs) isn't to be snubbed. His voice has a smooth quality to it that makes it soothing to the listener. There are no records of his vocal range right now, but he has characteristics of a lyric tenor.

Recommended listening: The Other as it is a great introduction to his style.

Number 4: Cher Lloyd

Cher Lloyd auditioned for the X Factor with the song Turn My Swag On by Soulja Boy. She made it all the way to the finals, but was eliminated in fourth place due to having the fewest public votes. She has an extremely unique voice that some people find annoying, and tends to mix rapping into her songs. Her cover of Stay on X Factor, however, proved the Cher can actually sing as well.

Cher Lloyd is listed as a light lyric soprano with a range of E3-D5-F5. Cher lacks control on some aspects of her voice, but her falsettos are a thing of beauty. Her middle and upper register belts are not as strong as they could be with more training, but generally she has a very lovely voice and catchy sing/rap songs that showcase her musicality.

Once she learns to control her voice and strengthens those belts, Cher will be a force to be reckoned with!

Recommended listening: Sirens, her cover of Stay, and I Wish, all showing the strongest part of her range: her falsetto

Number 3: Christina Perri

Christina gained popularity by having her song, Jar of Hearts, played on So You Think You Can Dance. The attention the song gained after earned her a record deal. Soon after she released Arms, the second single from her EP The Ocean Way Sessions, Thousand Years, one of her most popular songs to date, was featured in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I. Her other singles include Distance, Human, and Breaking Gold.

Christina Perri is listed as a lyric mezzo-soprano with a range of D3-B#5. She has a unique voice that is strong all throughout her range (on her studio recordings). As shown in Human, Perri is able to belt incredibly high notes for a long period of time with power and ease.

Unfortunately, repeating these amazing notes live is a struggle for Perri at times, but with work and proper training she could be one of the best in the business. Her low notes, shown in Thousand Years and Human, also aren't as strong and actually came out a little flat in one performance, but she has time and talent. With that she could become great instead of just an average performer.

Recommended Listening: Any covers on YouTube.

Number 2: Jessie J

Jessie J (real name Jessica Cornish) is a British singer. She studied at a music school before she signed with a record company. Since then she has released three studio albums: Sweet Talker, Alive, and Who You Are. Her most popular song is Domino.

Jessica is listed as a lyric soprano with a range of C#3 - Bb5 - C6. She has an incredibly strong voice. Jessie has amazing strength when it comes to her middle register, but unfortunately loses this power once she reaches the falsettos. She is able to give long melismas with great control and power. Her weakest register, the chest, gains some power with added vibrato. Jessie has great control throughout her middle range, changing notes almost effortlessly. She also has great agility and rhythm, able to use move through vibratos quickly while still maintaining control. Hardly ever sloppy live.

Songs to listen to: Flashlight and her acoustic version of Bang Bang.

Number 1: Chad Kroeger from Nickelback

Nickelback is one of the most underrated and hated rock bands to ever exist. The lead singer, Chad Kroeger, is an incredible vocalist as well as performer. Their songs are all amazingly catchy, and their live renditions of the songs are just as good, if not better, than the studio versions.

Chad Kroeger has no recorded vocal range. His voice is very unique in the industry, perfect for the rock genre. He doesn't really use much of his range, sticking to his middle/chest registers, occasionally putting in a belt or two in a live performance.

Kroeger has proven that he can be versatile with the duet he did with ex Avril Lavigne. The song, Let Me Go, is as emotional as it is packed with powerhouse vocals from Avril and Chad. He also teamed up with Santana with the song Into the Night, proving that his usual gravelly voice can become softer and soothing.

Recommend Songs: Too Bad, Photograph, Burn it to the Ground, If Everyone Cared, Song On Fire,Someday, and Just to Get High.

Do you guys agree with this list? Have an artist you think fits on the list better? Comment below!

What did you think of the list?

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© 2016 Caitlyn Booth


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