Prince: Coming across as the love-child of Little Richard, Elvis Presley and Sly Stone, this was a man who had a unique vision for his music, and a voice to match. Even from early numbers like “I Wanna Be Your Lover”, it was clear that this was the person to bring sex-pop to a mass audience without scaring (too many) casual listeners off. speed dating As the songs grew stronger through album such as “Controversy” and “1999”, both with astonishing title tracks, so did his confidence and ambition, culminating in the first of many peaks with “Purple Rain” possibly still his most complete (in a cohesive sense) album to date. The title track boasts one of the best choruses ever, and a song lyric so universal that only the hardest heart could not be touched at the grandstanding falsetto of pure emotion that erupts at the end.
But not to limit himself, there is also the weightless funk of “When Does Cry” with a lyrical couplet so catchy that it is often overlooked, and a hypnotic delivery. Often thought of as a self-contained artist, he also wasn’t averse to taking on the styles and issues of the time, as witnessed on “Sign O’ The TImes”, a razor-sharp satire on the emerging “gangsta” hip-hop scene viewed from the point of view of the man on the street, with his vocals being appropriately deadpan for the most part. And although he may have become more of a live draw nowadays than a ongoing musical concern, some “later” material still shows his deft touch; the “Diamond And Pearls” album flirts from the romantic title track to the borderline pornographic funk of “Gett Off” without losing a beat, and with some of his most confident singing and arrangements for some time. Long may he reign.
ABBA: And finishing on what, to my ears, are the most gifted singers of all time, the inimitable Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad. Mostly seen as terminally uncool in their own time, history has shown them to be masters of the craft, with huge hits such as “Mamma Mia!” and “Dancing Queen” being merely the tip of the iceberg. Writers Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus (no slouches themselves in the vocal department when the occasion arose) have noted that, with English not being their first language, that their lyrical motifs were often more unusual than many English-speaking singers and songwriters,