With the advent of the first day of the new year 2023, the American magazine Rolling Stone published an updated list of the "200 best singers in history", and among these singers around the world, Kawkab al-Sharq Umm Kulthum was the only Arab voice on the list.
Umm Kulthum ranked 61st, ahead of Billie Eilish, who came in 198th, Bob Marley in 98th place, Michael Jackson in 89th place, and Rihanna in 68th place.
The magazine concerned with music, politics and popular culture around the world stated that the list was based on a vote by the magazine’s critics team, in addition to the opinions of a group of contributing music critics, as the selections were made based on the originality, influence, depth of the artist’s products and the breadth of his musical heritage.
The list limits 100 years of pop music, and the introduction to the article explains that the list is not about the best voices, but rather the best singers, in a closer sense, those mentioned in the list are in it for one reason: "They can reshape the world once they open their mouths," according to the magazine.
Umm Kulthum.. is unparalleled in the West
Regarding the voice of Kawkab al-Sharq, critic Will Hermes explained the reason for her selection, "Umm Kulthum has no equal in the West. She represented the soul of the Arab world for decades, and continues to do so very much today. She has an effective contralto voice, which conveys a breathtaking emotional range in her songs." complex that runs smoothly for an hour, while crowds of fans congregate around it."
Millions took to the streets of Cairo at Umm Kulthum's funeral in 1975, and her influence on Arab singers is still endless, and the Arab world has gone beyond the world as well.
Bob Dylan called her great, and Beyoncé used the song “You Are My Life” in her dance segment at her concerts in 2016, and British singer Robert Plant said, “When I first heard Umm Kulthum descending the musical scale and ending with a beautiful note, I could not even imagine singing. It was very difficult, as if someone had punched a hole in the wall of my perception of singing."
Top ten on the list
Eleven Grammy Award-winning American singer Al Green's voice is described by the magazine as "extraordinarily flexible, going in places the listener wouldn't expect, which is always welcome."
And that he is one of the few who creates the impression that they are drifting away from the song they are singing in the most intense way possible.
The magazine described him as having no limits, and managing to literally rock the stage.
But especially in the studio, he was a marvel of restraint, in his songs most penetrating to the walls of the soul.
The magazine considered it the keeper of the entire history of black music.
She's one of the great pop historians, an artist so enamored of the heroes who shaped her that she can't help but find opportunities to honor them in her music, performance, and of course vocals, and she's fashioned herself into an icon worthy of standing alongside these giants.
The magazine said that whatever tone Stevie Wonder wanted, from starry romance to gritty realism, his voice could deliver it with ease.
Ray Charles was quoted as saying to an interviewer in 1963: "People call me a jazz singer and a blues singer, but I don't really know the difference. I just try to sing a song, I just sing the songs I like to sing, and I try to put a little bit of soul into everything."
He meant everything, Charles was a giant of pop, jazz and country alike.
The magazine talked about the wide range of Mariah Carey's voice across 5 amazing octaves, she can move easily between a sour and ridiculous roar and an imaginative loud whistle, and her secret has always been her ability to be sometimes angelic or demonic, depending on how she uses many The secret sonic weapon she has in her arsenal.
Billie Holiday was distinguished for her emotional realism, a quality that gave her a special place among her fellow artists.
When Billie Holiday sings a song like "I Loves You Porgy" about a woman tormented by an abusive boyfriend, you can feel the exasperation she was feeling.
The way she sang it was both beautiful and sad.
Billie Holiday will always be known as a poet of melancholy, her slow tone well suited to plain misery, but she could also use the openness of her voice to express an outpouring of elation.
The magazine spoke of the magic inherent in "Wonderful World", a song that might sound tacky in other hands, but few singers enjoyed being sung the way Cook did.
The magazine described the late singer Whitney Houston as a soprano as strong as she was gentle, and one of the most powerful singers in pop music.
It was no coincidence that, in 1993, Houston recalled what it was like to grow up, believing that her voice would reverberate for decades after her passing in 2012.
"A force of nature", "a work of genius", and a "gift from heaven", this is how the magazine described Aretha Franklin's voice, and considered that this is the reason why she is still the undisputed queen years after her departure.
Her singing is the finest voice ever to come out of America.
Aretha can express happiness as well as invoke the deepest regrets. Her voice is a crossroads where all different musical genres meet, from funk to rock to blues, "I guess you could say I travel a lot with my voice," she said.