In the fine if somewhat sordid and convoluted history of Rock ‘n Roll, there are a lot of dynamic singers. The singer is of course, typically the most celebrated, recognized, interviewed and well-known member of the band outside of the world of hardcore fans. And the singer can make or break a band’s success. And while every band has a frontman, not every frontman represents their band, and music in general, quite like my personal favourite five…
1. Freddy Mercury. The late great Queen frontman is by far THEE most dynamic frontman in any rock band, EVER, in my opinion. From the glam-rock cat suits, to the chiseled jaw and intense eyes, to the moustache, to the operatic voice and loud, proud, flamboyant stage presence, Mercury was ‘it’; he is the quintessential frontman and one who sets a gold standard for every other frontman, in any other band. His exotic and commanding presence was the guiding force of Queen, and of 70s glam rock in general.
2. Anthony Keidis. While I’ve heard several people state that Keidis is the ‘weak link’ in the Red Hot Chili Peppers (and while John Frusciante is, in my opinion, the “strongest” force in the Chili Peppers’ almost supergroup-quality line-up), there’s no denying that Keidis is totally unique and carries a LOT of style, energy and shirtless prowess to the band’s funky, sexy sound. When I think of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the image of Keidis running shirtless in the LA streets in the ‘Under the Bridge’ music video is emblazened into my mind in his long-haired west coast skater punk glory. He’s really a frontman with attitude, pep and a whole fuckload of charisma.
3. Mick Jagger. Yes, it’s an easy choice to pick one of the longest-running and most well-known frontmen ever in the history of popular music, but I mean… Jagger wouldn’t be where he is without the swagger, the strut, the lips, the hair, the jackets, the decades of shabby chic, then hippy chic, then heroin chic, then glam rock chic, then carrying on a fine tradition of general ‘chic’ that he STILL – DECADES LATER – lends to the band’s sound, music and stage shows. Jagger has always remained one of the reigining kings of rock n’ roll lead singers. He could write the book on how to do it right.
4. Chris Martin. “Why, it’s only Chris Martin from Coldplay!” (‘Extras’ reference? No?). Having been fortunate enough to see Coldplay in concert (in fact, one of the best-EVER shows I’ve ever laid eyes on), Martin is sort of an unavoidable choice for one of my favourite frontmen. The band’s sound almost seems to fall effortlessly in place simply due to his voice and additionally, the first time I ever laid eyes on this band was in the ‘Yellow’ video in which Martin waltzes almost aimlessly on a rainy shore singing about drawing lines and stars. Coldplay’s dreamy sound is considered by many music connoisseurs (we’re talking “real” music fans here, PS) to be derivative, sappy, grating, overrated, a carbon Radiohead copy, etc. etc. etc. I disagree. I think Martin leads his band with class, talent, and grade-A top quality showmanship that is better than anything I’ve ever seen on a stage. He is one of the few frontmen today that carry the torch for future bands.
5. Robert Plant. Oh, Zeppelin. While critically reviled back in their heyday, they are now considered perhaps one of the best rock bands ever. Why? Plant. Page. Together on a stage making earth-shattering balls-out rock ‘n roll tunes and swaggering around as though possessed by that indescribable demonic presence that IS rock music; Plant’s hair and stage moves, his open shirts and energy, basically define the excess, drugs, sex and binges that are characteristically “rock star”. If you imagine in your head, the idyllically stereotypical badass rock singer, you may be imagining Plant without even realizing it. And he carved that out for himself; it never carved him out.