We’ll do these in bulk, and quickly:
Ying-Yang Twins (1) vs Drake (2) - While the Ying Yang Twins were put on this earth to ruin my will to live, when it comes to grating musical voices Drake has them taken care of without much of a fight. Drake’s nerd Muppet voice moves on to the Final 4.
Jack Johnson (5) vs John Mayer (3) - Bleep bloop. Jack Johnson’s Cinderella run continues. On to the Final 4 for Double-J.
Bob Dylan (1) vs Billy Corgan (2) - To this day I don’t understand how Smashing Pumpkins had any fans. Billy Corgan to the Final 4.
Gary LeVox (1) vs Taylor Swift (3) - Oh God. If the brackets were set up differently, this could have been the championship match-up. What an incredible display of annoying, screeching, terrible voices. My issues with Taylor Swift are documented ad-nauseum, so I so badly want to push this juvenile, apocryphal, narcissist to the next round… But Gary LeVox’s voice is almost alien. It’s other-worldly in its aggravation. Gary LeVox to the Final 4.
Your Final 4: Drake vs Jack Johnson. Billy Corgan vs Gary LeVox.
First up, the top seed Bob Dylan:
If you Google “Worst Singers Ever,” a cursory glance at the results will show Bob Dylan’s name comes up more often than basically anyone else. He’s a talented songwriter, lyricist, thinker, whatever, you name it. He’s that. Everything except “vocalist.” If animals could talk, Bob Dylan’s singing voice would come out of a platypus.
He’ll combat Rod Stewart in this round:
Even the staunchest Rod Stewart defenders have to admit his voice has a tendency to waiver from “Grittily Rock” to “Trying Too Hard Iowa Garage Band Singer.” It feels forced at times. And this is his young stuff. We’ve already talked about his pedophilia-inspired voice as an old man (see play-in round vs John Lennon).
Final Verdict: Bob Dylan. He’s a rough listen unless you’re on some sort of medication or drug.
Next up we have Billy Corgan vs Tom Petty. We’ll start with Billy Corgan:
(Listen to literally any Smashing Pumpkins song here)
I can’t stand this voice. It would make me physically ill when people would throw on Smashing Pumpkins tracks in high school, and attempt to sing like billy Corgan. What the hell for??? Am I the only one who hears it? His voice is the definition of “grating,” which happens to be the determining factor in this tournament. He’ll be a tough out.
His challenger is Tom Petty:
Know why everyone sings along with Tom Petty songs when they come on at a bar, radio, concert, etc? So they don’t have to listen to him. I can’t put my finger on why his voice is so dreadful, but it has something to do with putting too much gum in a toddler’s mouth, recording them talking, and then playing it back at half the speed.
Final Verdict: VERY tough decision here. Both very worthy of being named the worse voice. But when it comes down to it, Tom Petty can mask his voice in catchy songs. Billy Corgan just cries. Billy Corgan moves on to face Bob Dylan.
First let’s analyze Gary LeVox vs Rihanna and Shakira.
Final Verdict: Gary Levox. Biggest blowout we’ll see in this tourney. No need to waste words and analyze it.
The second match-up in the Ladies Region of the Most Grating Voice In Music tournament sees the 2-seed Macy Gray square off against the 3-seed Taylor Swift. Let’s look at Macy first:
This is not good. Her voice reminds you of that time you got really drunk one night, screamed your voice away, and then tried to play it off as laryngitis the next day. Only with her, that’s every day, every word, every song, every performance.
Let’s look at Macy’s opponent, my mortal enemy Taylor Swift:
That audio is completely undoctored. She really sounds like that. Let’s just skip ahead to the verdict and not give this sociopath any more attention than she deserves.
Final Verdict: Come on, you think I’d give Taylor Swift a free pass?
That sets up a Ladies Region final of Gary LeVox of Rascall Flatts vs Taylor Swift.
We’ll dive right in with the #1 seed Perry Farrell:
I really like this song. Many people (my wife included) cannot stand it because of Perry Farrell’s voice. I don’t disagree with the opinion on his voice, but I think it’s a necessary evil of the song. The vocals should be grating. So even though you feel like you’re listening to a train screeching on chalkboard tracks, I think it plays well. Still, the point remains, Perry Farrell’s voice (at least on this track) is rough. Very deserving of a 1-seed.
He squares off against our play-in winner, Jack Johnson:
Bleep bloop, bleep bloop, bloppy bippity, bleep bleep blop bloop. That’s what I hear when Jack Johnson sings. Like Aaron Neville gone frat boy.
Final Verdict: I cannot stand Jack Johnson. He wins in an upset.
Our second match-up in the “Modern” “Rock” Region will start with Uncle Kracker:
Really, fuck this song. Uncle Kracker has the most boring and yet annoying voice that has had a hit song in the last 15 years. How did we let Uncle Kracker happen? I understand how we let the Mortgage Crisis happen. I understand how we took so long to catch Bin Laden. I mean, we couldn’t even make “Fetch” happen, but we let Uncle Kracker through the cracks? No singer sounds more like a dying dog than Uncle Kracker. I put on this song and my dog sprinted to the window to look outside to help his fictional fallen brother.
He gets a tough match-up in John Mayer:
This is John Mayer. Despite what he tries to do when he sings, he is NOT to be confused with Sting. That is Sting’s voice, John Mayer. You’re not fooling me. Sing, dammit. Quit the whispering. You’re a white guy who plays acoustic guitar, that by itself will earn you hordes of female fans. You don’t need the seductive whispers as well. That’s called overkill.
Final Verdict: This is a tough call. I hate Uncle Kracker’s voice. It’s truly awful. And although he gets an unbelievably bad rap (deservedly so), John Mayer seems to at least embrace the fact that he’s in an elite class of assbag and has a sense of humor about himself. Still, that voice just takes me back to so many nights in high school and college where guys would play their axes and hope for a blowj or two. We all need to get past that. We let Uncle Kracker happen and we should be ashamed, but he’s been gone for a while. We’re still letting John Mayer happen. John Mayer advances.
First up, those genius Ying Yang Twins vs Nicki Minaj.
Let’s look at the Ying Yang Twins:
It cannot be pointed out often enough that the Ying Yang Twins made millions of dollars putting out dogshit like this. If you’ve ever considered suicide as a reasonable option because the world isn’t fair, I would suggest you do not watch the Ying Yang Twins episode of MTV Cribs. Every time these guys open their mouth anyone within a thousand-decibel radius gets dumber. Their voices, besides being unintelligible, are what I would imagine those blow-up clown dolls that you punch but can’t knock over to sound like if they ever came alive. Complete ear-bleeding gibberish.
We’ve talked about Nicki Minaj during her play-in battle vs Ke$ha, but here’s another sample of her work:
Again, it’s the pointless, droning accents. Here she seems to incorporate some sort of Rihanna/Barbados thing. Nobody knows Nicki Minaj’s real voice because she has never used it for more than 2 bars in a row.
Final Verdict: Ying Yang Twins, without question. Let’s move on before I start analyzing too closely and take my dogs hostage.
Next up, Drake vs DMX.
We’ll look at Drake first:
Listen to the beat and hook for the first minute or so. Beautiful, right? Like, truly a catchy track that people could enjoy regardless of their favorite genre. If the song were just that beat and just Chantal Kreviazuk’s hook, it’d be near-perfect. And then you get to the 1:07 mark, and Drake’s voice fucks it all up. It is so unbelievably jarring. The tone, volume, demeanor, everything. Drake’s rap voice is atrocious, which is silly because I love most of the beats he rhymes over. He just happens to ruin them all with his Muppet-on-whippets voice.
He faces off against DMX:
I don’t know what to say here. He’s just trying too hard. Nobody’s voice should come off that rough for no particular reason. He’s rapping about a party but his tone says he’s going to knock some fuckers out. Chill, dude. It’s a party.
Final Verdict: Others could better explain why DMX’s voice is awful, but even still, he’s not competing with Drake here. Drake in a landslide, setting up a monster battle of the top two seeds in the Hip-Hop/Rap region of the Most Grating Voice In Music tournament: Ying Yang Twins vs Drake
I’ll make this one quick in the “Really Gonna Piss Some People Off” Region.
Our 4-seed is Rod Stewart:
I like Rod Stewart, and I like this song (it was performed at my wedding). But there’s something about his voice that’s a bit… molester-y. I wouldn’t be at all shocked to learn that the voice of Herbert from Family Guy was based on Rod Stewart.
And sure to piss everyone off, the 5-seed John Lennon:
Sorry, I don’t get it. I don’t get the Beatles, Lennon, all that. I apologize, but I do not get it and probably never will. I can’t find anything redeemable about Lennon’s singing voice. It’s actually pretty forgettable.
Final Verdict: It’s gotta be Rod Stewart here. While I enjoy his soft voice, it’s quite clear why many people could not tolerate it. He’ll move on. (Also, I don’t want to hear anyone complain about disrespecting the legend of John Lennon. Bleh.)
A battle of titans in the “Ladies” region.
The 5-seed, Shakira, will go first:
If I wanted to take the time to really break down what makes her voice so grating, it would turn into a 12,000 word manifesto and nobody wants that. So let’s fine-tune to one word that describes what it is exactly about her voice that gives me seizures (it can happen)- Vibrato. Good heavens, the vibrato. Shakira sounds like can’t decide if she’s an alto or soprano (she’s neither) and hedges in both directions. She always sounds like a cassette tape on its final spin as it’s getting slowly warped and eaten by the boombox.
And then we have Rihanna:
To effectively show the depths of Rihanna’s voice, here’s the way that song SHOULD be performed. Rihanna manages to work the actual wails of a pouting 4-year-old deprived of a ring pop into every song she performs.
Final Verdict: This was a VERY tough decision. Really, a coin flip. I could answer one way today and then tomorrow decide the opposite. I don’t know. Whatever, it’s a tie. They both move on.
Fun little match-up here.
On the surface, there’s not a lot to outwardly dislike about either of these two. Thankfully, that’s not the point of this competition. It’s all about voice.
First, let’s break down Johnny Rzeznik, the 4-seed in the “Modern”“Rock” Region.
I like “Iris.” I like much of the Goo Goo Dolls’ catalog. But having seen him perform in concert twice, I can confidently say he’s the beneficiary of an incredible studio production team. What is he doing in this acoustic track? Is that a whisper? Is he ill? It’s not singing, and it’s not, like, seductive or anything. He swallowed a cactus before this recording (and before every concert I’ve seen him in, apparently). Maybe I’ve just seen him at his weakest and maybe I’m too lazy to look at other performances to prove it otherwise (I am). So while I grew up a fan of the Goo Goo Dolls, I’m not rushing out to see them perform any time soon.
Johnny goes up against the 5-seed in the region Jack Johnson:
Jack Johnson is probably one of my 5-or-so favorite singers to impersonate. He’s created his own genre: “Bleep Bloop” vocals. If you listen to his music and clear your head, you could mistake him for a 1990 elementary school computer churning out beep sound effects. It’s fun, sometime sing along to a Jack Johnson song and instead of words, just scat solo “bleeps” and “bloops” and “blips” and “blops,” etc. The transition is seamless.
Final verdict: While my history with live Johnny Rzeznik is jarring, I legitimately cannot stand Jack Johnson. When I hear his voice I want to scream “PUT FORTH SOME SORT OF INFLECTION OR EMOTION OTHERWISE YOU ARE NOTHING MORE THAN A MORE VOCAL VERSION OF THE INSTRUMENTALS FOR THE POSTAL SERVICE.” He’s terrible. Jack Johnson moves on.
This play-in has a couple of titans right away. These are the only two ladies to be moved out of the “Ladies Region,” and for good reason: These two can hang with some of dogshit you’ll find in the Hip-Hop/Rap region.
First up, the 4-seed Ke$ha. For her sample song, we’ll include this one:
To be fair, I’ve grown to not only tolerate Ke$ha’s music, but also enjoy some of it. She’s included in the field because despite that, it’s very evident why many would demand her inclusion. This has nothing to do with her face that says “I need 23 hours of sleep a day” or interviews that prove she’d be the weak link on an pre-school Pictionary Junior team. No, she’s here because of her reliance on the dreaded auto-tune. Admittedly, I’ve never heard her sing without it. She could be great. I don’t know, nor do I care (it’s my bracket, I’ll decide however I want). Can Ke$ha sing? Who knows. All we can go on is a string of a half a dozen songs that have the same beat, same hook, and the same 4-note vocal range sung by a rat in the midst of stage-5 chemo treatment.
Nicki Minaj enters as a 5-seed and her vocal talents are on full display here:
What is this accent? She’s from New York, if I’m not mistaken. It’s vaguely Cockney, if someone had grown up with a Cockney accent and then relocated to Australia for 3 of their formative years, and then took a month-long vacation that consisted of doing nothing besides watching Katherine Hepburn films. I don’t get the voice. I don’t get the allure. It’s silly. It’s not art, it’s an attention-starved neighborhood kid.
Verdict: Not even close. Nicki Minaj is quite bleh (so much so that I misspelt her name on the bracket). Of the two, at least Ke$ha seems to “get” the bit, that she’s making pop music and making money with the same catchy tunes over and over. Nicki Minaj has the more grating voice.
Page 1 of 12