In the 1990s, some of rock’s most distinctive voices were unleashed. The Smashing Pumpkins’ nasal yet expressive Billy Corgan and Crash Test Dummies’ deep baritone Brad Roberts were among the many performers on hand. Mike Patton of Faith No More extended his voice to operatic heights while PJ Harvey descended into the depths of womanhood.
Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval
It just takes one listen to “Fade Into You” to become a lifetime Mazzy Star fan. A whisper in the wind, Hope Sandoval’s voice is like a lullaby. Her voice has a distinct Southern California desert sound to it. Sandoval’s long brunette hair obscures her face in the band’s dark stage theatrics. Her voice has an ethereal quality as if she is channeling emotions from another realm via her body.
Who was Nirvana’s, Kurt Cobain?
Proficiency in a language isn’t a plus here. Even though Kurt Cobain was often regarded as the leading proponent of the “Generation X” generation, he was a complex performer. Weapons of an artist at battle with himself were his grunting, cracking, and yelping screams. Only the strange kids could fully hear and understand his pain as he masticated on lyrics like “I’m so ugly/But that’s OK/So are you.” It was a language that resonated with those whose families had been broken, who had been misfits, and who had been marginalized. It didn’t always sound good, either. In other words, it was the whole idea of the exercise.
Mr. Daniel Johns of Silverchair fame
Cobain influenced him, but Silverchair guitarist Daniel Johns went from grunge to pop. On Frogstomp, in 1994, he played a rascally adolescent who grows into a mature actor. On his solo album, Talk, he flexes his vocal muscles even further with a seductive falsetto. He’s a self-made phoenix that rose from the ashes of his naivety.
The lead singer of Hootie & the blowfish, Darius Rucker
Hootie & the Blowfish are obvious targets for mockery with their soccer-mom appeal and a ludicrous name. Darius Rucker, the band’s singer, is a genuine force to be reckoned with. He got his start in the gospel and show choirs before transforming college rock into something everyone could enjoy. “Hold My Hand” and “Let Her Cry” still bring a tear to this writer’s eye. He’s also adaptable, as evidenced by the large fan base he’s garnered in the country music industry.
Garbage’s Shirley Manson
Even though Shirley Manson’s first band was called Angelfish, the devil in her provided her an advantage. This woman has a sensual appeal that’s almost a little too dangerous. See “Queer” from 1995 for a good example of what we’re talking about here. You’re torn between fleeing and raping her.) Slithery like Axl Rose and sensual like Donna Summer, Manson has an attitude that feels reptile. Her band’s request to sing a James Bond theme song was a no-brainer.
STP frontman Scott Weiland
The fact that “Sex Type Thing” was sung by the same man who performed “Barbarella” is astounding. One of Scott Weiland’s many assets is the breadth of his work. His snarling rage might knock you to the ground. Sex with him in your bedroom can put you right back on track. As with the medications that ultimately led to his demise in 2015, he was unpredictably uncontrollably chaotic, calming, adventurous, and terrifying simultaneously.”