Home » Blog » My Top 20 Female Vocalists

My Top 20 Female Vocalists

My top-played list on my Itunes is saturated by female vocalists. I guess this is because I can sing along with their songs (they’re in my range) and also because I feel like, as a singer myself, I can relate to them and appreciate their skill; I know just how difficult it is to sing that riff because, well, I tried!

So what are the qualifications to make my top 20? The most important qualification is the ability to sound great in a live performance, for obvious reasons. Other qualifications that were weighted less heavily and in no particular order were soul, uniqueness of sound, and technical skill. No, Adele is not on my list. She can be number 21. Homegirl can sing, but her lyrics are distractingly awful… I also wanted to put Mahalia Jackson on the list but ran out of room and I don’t listen to her music that much (but when I do, she’s amazing). Likewise, I don’t exactly listen to “The Reality Stars'” music that often, but those ladies are so talented, they had to make the list.

The list isn’t really in order except for my Top 5. Did I forget anyone you think should be on here?

The Legends

20. Mariah Carey for her riffs and range

19. Aretha Franklin

18. Whitney because she never fails to give me the chills (who can forget her live performance of the Star Spangled Banner?)

17. Christina Aguilera because you’ve never heard her like this before

The Alternative Ones

16. Janelle Monae for her endless and endlessly wonderful runs

15. Marianne Sveen from a cool Norwegian girl folk band called Katzenjammer for her wailing and the moment when she hits “faithful” in this song:

14. Amy Winehouse for her unique raspy sound

The Broadway Stars

13. Lea Salonga because I love Disney music! And Les Miserables.

12. Idina Menzel for her power and skill

The Reality Show Stars

11. Leona Lewis for the crazy things she does with her head voice.

10. Rachel Crow for her talent and attitude, and at such a young age. Just listen to her hit that sweet spot on “release me” in the chorus.

9. Hailey Reinhart for her sexy growling. Loved her Benny and the Jets cover.

8. Katharine McPhee for her control. This audition literally blows my mind.

7. Melanie Amaro for her sheer talent.

6. Jessica Sanchez for her versatility. She can literally do anything. Give her a few years, maybe she’ll make my top 5. Also, you should definitely watch this video; it might be the best thing I have ever seen on the Internet.

The Top 5

5. Jennifer Hudson

4. Regina Spektor for her creativity and vocal experimentation

3. Jenny Lewis for her singalongability and lyricism

2. Etta James for her soul.

1. Beyonce. All day, every day, Beyonce is the queen. She’s my queen.She has the technical skill and control to literally do anything with her voice. I love her for her consistently emotive performances – she believes everything she sings. She’s humble, kind, beautiful, sexy, and a talented dancer. She’s perfect.

Agree? Disagree? Who did I miss?


  1. love your choices and glad to see some singers I’ve never heard of! I’ll have to check them out… but I must say there are a few missing that deserve consideration:

    – Celine Dion
    – Bonnie Raitt
    – Grace Potter
    – Joni Mitchell
    – Janis Joplin
    – Barbra Streisand
    – Tina Turner
    – Sarah McLachlan
    – Alanis Morissette

    Love reading about your music opinion… right in time for the VMA’s!!! But I want to hear more about Thailand ๐Ÿ™‚

    • mishvo says:

      Ahhh now I have to go spend even more time on youtube and see about the ones you mentioned!
      More about Thailand to come, I promise!! (also you should tell me something about law school!) <333

  2. DaveO says:

    Listening to Lea Salonga sing On My Own brought back fond memories from seeing Les Miz on Broadway years ago. One of my favorite musicals. Lea has also done some other incredible work. Love her voice.
    Jessica Sanchez is pretty remarkable . Jennifer Hudson has to watch out!
    I was happily surprised to see Aretha on your list.
    How about Madonna?
    A very fun blog…. enjoyed hearing these other incredible artists.Many whom I haven’t heard of before.

    • mishvo says:

      Hey there! I can’t believe we haven’t seen Les Miz again yet. It was so amazing – what are we waiting for? Jessica Sanchez really blows my mind…but then again so do Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce. Oh, Beyonce…

      No Madonna. She’s a legend but I don’t think it’s for her voice…(same for Lady Gaga, but at least she plays piano and writes her own music and can actually sing a bit as well – see this vid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM51qOpwcIM )

      Anyways. Love you! xx

      • DaveO says:

        I never saw Lady G look so normal! Didn’t realize she can play the piano so well..and writes her own songs…hmm new respect for her.

        Good point about Madonna, she was a great all around performer and an excellent dancer. But of course her ‘attitude’ helped her popularity.

        I watched the Les Miz 25th Anniversary show last year that PBS broadcast. It was performed in London; they had the original cast mixed with the many other past cast members. Lea Salonga performed her Fantine roll. It was semi-staged and was streamlined, but they did an outstanding job re-creating the atmosphere of the full show. I read that they used a cast of 500 actors and musicians, with 300 in the chorus and had 14,000 people in the audience!
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&NR=1&v=x2FXfKFiErs Seven and a half minutes of the anniversary show. It’s fun, check it out. You’ll want to listen to the whole show after this!

  3. mishvo says:

    What an acute review! Watched, then I watched the one with A Heart Full of Love and One Day More. God, I love that show. You know they’re making it into a movie? I think it’s coming out Christmas. (Surely it will pale in comparison with the show though, right?

    • DaveO says:

      Since this blog, I have been listening and watching Youtube clips of Les Miz.. I’m hooked again! When you come back to the States, we’ll have to see the show. I hope the movie does it justice.
      I just listened to One Day More . It has to be one of the best songs. Another day, another destiny!
      I noticed that one of the Youtube clips , On My Own” from the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert. Samantha Barks as Eponine had close to 1 million hits! It’s amazing.. what is it about the music and show that we love so much?

  4. miestravels says:

    Yes yes yes! Janelle Monae, Regina Spektor! Awesome choices ๐Ÿ™‚ Do you know Feist? She’s amazing, I think you might enjoy her too. Ah and don’t forget Eva Cassidy, she could bring me to tears with her voice

    • mishvo says:

      Hey Michelle! Yeah, Feist…Yes, I have a ton of her music on my iTunes but I never listen to it ๐Ÿ™ She has a cool sound but I don’t know how impressed I am with her vocal skills. I just looked up Eva – who knew?? Don’t know that her genre is up my alley but her voice is lovely!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.