Some guidelines and rules…
Singers must have started their recording careers no earlier than 1953, and no later than 1993.
What is POP music?
That umbrella including folk, rock, r&b, black, white, soft, loud, all the latter day sub genres of those disciplines. In other words, every kind of popular music, from Leslie Gore to Lou Reed.
Singers must have some relevance to the popular culture. They must have either been played on the radio, worked professionally, discussed in media during their own lifetimes, achieved some notoriety so that their name was, is known among musicians and/or the population at large.
Robert Johnson is a good example. If no one really heard of him during his lifetime, if his work was not re-recorded and he was not played on radio or performed regularly in public, if he was not heard during his lifetime, he did not influence the music that evolved after him. If he was discovered forty years later, and imitated, then the case can be made that he directly influenced music, as long as the imitation is obvious. If the imitation is not direct, it is a case of inspiration, and this is not what we are calculating here.
Billie Holiday is another example. She has been imitated by a very successful young singer. Perhaps the case could be made, if one argued that this popular singer has been influential herself for over fifteen years, that Billie Holiday is directly influential on pop music today. ) Again, I am looking more for the influences started with the discovery, more or less, of rock n roll, as I personally think Sinatra is the King, but he will not be on my list, since his career begins long before 1953).
If JJ Kingbaum taught Bob Dylan how to write poems, JJ Kingbaum did not influence music, Dylan did. We do not know JJ, he did not record, and he is not who we listened to. In this context, we are looking for the names of people you think had an influence on the way songs are sung, the way people listen, they way writers write. The obscure singers guide may be another sporting event… we shall see.
No more than three sentences to explain your choice. Give us the list, just a bit of background.
Here are some guidelines to use when thinking this through… remembering that all singers are derived from what came before them, and that this list is not a list of best or better, but a calculation, a summation of your view of which voices seem to have influenced waves of other voices, what tones or vowels has history has brought forward, what are the threads each new generation uses to weave its tapestry of sound?
When you do this work you may be surprised who you come up with. Youngsters may not even know that they have taken the tone of Buddy Holly, or Aretha Franklin, may not know their names. It is for you to correctly gage history, our musical history.
So much music journalism, under the influence of publicists, products, under pressure to conform, impress, deliver, or, simply due to lack of knowledge, rewrite history from a vantage point that does not recognized the truth, ignores unpopular names and opts for the more cooler version. You write it now, and remember, this is not your favorite list, this is the list of whose voice has affected pop music? Is Madonna on your list? How bout buffy St Marie? Why? In three sentences. Use your before, during and after. Our history is our culture. Let’s write it for ourselves.
Before, During, and After
Did their style exist before they appeared?
If so, how did they impact it? If not, how many people today sing, in some manner, like this singer?
Did they have an impact on their own time? Where they impactful during?
Do you hear elements of their style now? What elements are unique to them? (The elements that make your artist unique… even though they have been taken up by somany singers, or so much of the culture).
Dylan first two words of a sentence use two notes, half spoken, it’s his trademark. How is this heard today? Do you hear it? Has it been edified so much that it is a new thing entirely?
If your singers style is unique, yet they seem to bare some resemblance to an older singer, one not as clearly impactful on the POP music of today, mention the mentor. It is a chance to show how even the most unique have roots in others. This is good. (For instance, say you voted for Tom Waits, but noted his voice bore some resemblance to Louis Armstrong. You would note this after his name).