Famous Countertenors in Popular Music for $500, Alex!
March 4, 2011 3:15 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone think of any famous countertenors/male contraltos in popular music?

Are there any countertenors out there in popular music that could be used as a parallel to the contralto voice of say, Grace Jones or Lady Gaga?

Maybe someone like Prince, etc?

Thanks for all your help!
posted by _superconductor to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Jimmy Sommerville is probably the most famous.

There was an excellent South Bank Show documentary about Countertenors in 1999. 1 2 3
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:35 AM on March 4, 2011

(Somerville, rather)
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:36 AM on March 4, 2011

Klaus Nomi? (Not mainstream famous, and also dead now.)

Wikipedia | YouTube | Documentary (well worth watching)
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 3:39 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not sure if Aaron Neville meets this qualification or not but he is amazing. Here and in duets with Linda Ronstadt you can see for yourself.
posted by Anitanola at 3:43 AM on March 4, 2011

Anthony Hegarty?
posted by swordfishtrombones at 3:51 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Death Vessel's Joel Thibodeau has a really good voice too.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:07 AM on March 4, 2011

Wayne Coyne | The Flaming Lips * Bad Days
Jonathan Donahue | Mercury Rev * Holes
posted by at the crossroads at 4:46 AM on March 4, 2011

posted by neroli at 4:56 AM on March 4, 2011

How about Morten Harket, the a-Ha vocalist?
posted by bardophile at 5:26 AM on March 4, 2011

Bon Iver is pretty famous.

Glee features a countertenor and had a plotline where he wanted to sing a song normally sung by a woman.
posted by surenoproblem at 5:56 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Adam Lambert is certainly capable of it, although most of his popular music falls primarily in the middle of his enormous range, but he does utilize his falsetto pretty often. The best example would be when he sang Tracks of My Tears on American Idol. You might also want to check out the last part (5:25) of this video which showcases his vocal range note by note.
posted by katyggls at 6:06 AM on March 4, 2011

The obvious one for me is Michael Jackson.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:56 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Matt Bellamy from Muse?
posted by clerestory at 7:14 AM on March 4, 2011

The singer from The Darkness -- as least in their one hit, "I Believe in a Thing Called Love."

Mika -- try the song "Relax, Take it Easy."

Bono? Listen to U2's "Lemon."

Some of the singers from The Four Seasons ("Sherry," "Walk Like a Man," "Big Girls Don't Cry").
posted by John Cohen at 7:56 AM on March 4, 2011

Plan B on his soul album, 'The Defamation of Strickland Banks'. Current single is 'She Said' (sorry for lack of linkage, am on phone).
posted by goo at 8:15 AM on March 4, 2011

To expand on le morte's answer, Jimmy Somerville: Bronski Beat, TheCommunards

Ney Matogrosso, who was the lead singer of the Brazilian glam rock group Secos e Molhados and who continues to record on his own.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:57 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Geddy Lee, perhaps.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:03 AM on March 4, 2011

Antony of Antony and the Johnsons?
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:18 AM on March 4, 2011

The singer from the Four Seasons was Frankie Vallee, wasn't he?

I remember a BBC radio show from years ago called Men Singing High. It was mainly about classical singers such as Alfred Deller, but some popular people got mentioned as well--the Gibb brothers and Jeff Buckley, and possibly others.
posted by Logophiliac at 11:56 AM on March 4, 2011

Milton Nascimento, although wikipedia says it's falsetto, so maybe that's not what you're looking for.
posted by hydrophonic at 4:14 PM on March 4, 2011

Darren Hayes, the former lead singer of Savage Garden, can probably go even higher than you have in mind. He sings lower sometimes, but any search for any of his solo work or SG work will be an example -- except he also sang at some event with Pavarotti and that particular performance was much lower and traditional. Hands down the most beautiful voice I've ever heard. "I Just Want You to Love Me" has the highest note I've heard him hit, I think.
posted by Nattie at 6:03 AM on March 5, 2011

In the realm of jazz, there's Jimmy Scott, who's also sung with non-jazz artists (e.g. Lou Reed) over the years; here's his Wikipedia page. Fans of Twin Peaks will be familiar with him -- that's how I got introduced to him (he sang in the series finale, and a recording of the song -- the haunting "Sycamore Trees" -- was also on the movie soundtrack). His official site's splash page (note: music auto-plays) has a nice clip of the standard "Smile".
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 2:05 PM on March 5, 2011

It's funny thing--Jimmy Scott sang "Imitation of a Kiss" on the Jazz Passengers album In Love. I must have not paid attention to the liner notes, because I always thought the vocalist was a woman. I was just looking at that album because of the high voice of John Kelly, who did two songs, "Swim to Me" and "The Handsome Man From Fiji."
posted by hydrophonic at 9:51 PM on March 8, 2011

Oh, and Jeff Buckley does a song on there too.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:10 PM on March 8, 2011

Little Anthony
posted by hydrophonic at 8:13 AM on March 14, 2011

« Older Best tips on how to travel with a kid in the U.K.   |   Can I use a laptop as a monitor for a video camera... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.