5. Thom Yorke (Radiohead)
Ah, yes, the falsetto coo unlike any other. Although highly influenced by Jeff Buckley in the early ‘90s, Thom Yorke’s take on the falsetto presented in songs like “High and Dry” and “Reckoner” is sweet and cautious, where his falsetto in songs like “Climbing Up The Walls” and “Lotus Flower” is utterly haunting. Thom Yorke’s influence on vocal delivery and falsetto use can be seen all over the place, but most clearly in bands like Muse and Coldplay.
4. Smokey Robinson
The “King of Motown” is one of the reasons singing in falsetto became such a sought-after sound in the Motown and R&B music scenes in the ‘60s. Smokey could twirl his falsetto vocals all across a melody and still have time to throw in some extra ornamentation. Falsetto had always been a part of vocal groups and barbershop quartets but Smokey Robinson was one of the key players in making it a popular vocal technique in pop music and bringing out the sexual nature of it in songs like “Ooh baby baby”.
3. Frankie Valli
No list of awesome falsettos is complete without Frankie Valli, the man who brought the falsetto vocals to the forefront of pop music in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. In his singing group, The Four Seasons, Valli somehow made it okay to sing a song about unbridled masculinity in the range of an alto. Although the falsetto didn’t contain the same countercultural weight it would carry later at the time, Valli still picked up some heat for it. Fortunately, he managed to normalize the technique so much that it became a staple of both rock ‘n’ roll and soul throughout the ‘60s and on.
Prince is known for incorporating a wide variety of genres in his music including funk, disco, rock and pop. Even still, we’re pretty sure no one used the falsetto technique to this effect before Prince. With his flashy costumes and extravagant personality, Prince certainly made his mark in the world of mainstream pop. But his falsetto might been the biggest gift he gave us as his unique style has claimed its influence across the entire spectrum of pop music.
1. Jeff Buckley
Jeff Buckley was one of those singers who always kept his vocals quite understated. Because the emphasis of his music was always songwriting and lyricism, showing off his octave-leaping vocal range was never the highest on Buckley’s priority list. Even still, he gives us just enough of that heart-stopping emotion to always give you the impression that Buckley had a monster voice in him. If Thom Yorke hadn’t heard Buckley on his last tour for what would be his final album, the falsetto surely would have never made its way into popularity in mainstream pop and rock the way it had throughout the ‘90s and beyond.