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IU, BTS' Jungkook only K-pop acts in Rolling Stone's 200 Greatest Singers of All Time

By NICK GARCIA Published Jan 03, 2023 10:36 am

Soloist IU and Jungkook of BTS are the only K-Pop acts that made it to Rolling Stone's 200 Best Singers of All Time.

IU ranked 135th, while Jungkook placed 191st.

In its citation, Rolling Stone said IU has become one of the most highly regarded vocalists in South Korean music.

"Despite having a soft voice, she has a wide range, a powerful delivery, and a versatility that’s allowed her to move easily from bossa nova to Nineties chamber pop and from jazz to ballads," the music magazine said. It also highlighted her 2010 hit Good Day, and how she nails its "magnificent three-note climax."

As for Jungkook, Rolling Stone took note of his being "an extremely gifted singer," who's a "strong performer, written several songs, and is known to be extremely hardworking and humble despite the success he’s experienced at such an early age."

"He hits high notes with ease and harmonizes with his members effortlessly, always giving his audience new ad-libs and unexpected vocal riffs to keep things interesting," Rolling Stone said, citing Left and Right, Jungkook's collaboration with American singer Charlie Puth, as well as his solo venture Euphoria and covers on SoundCloud.

American singer Aretha Franklin, dubbed as the "Queen of Soul," topped the list.

"A force of nature. A work of genius. A gift from the heavens. Aretha Franklin’s voice is all that and more, which is why she remains the unchallenged Queen, years after her final bow. Her singing is the most magnificent sound to emerge from America—more universal than Coltrane’s horn, bolder than Hendrix’s guitar," Rolling Stone said of Franklin.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Whitney Houston, Sam Cooke, Billie Holiday, Mariah Carey, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, Otis Redding, and Al Green.

In picking names for its list, Rolling Stone said what mattered most to its staff was originality, influence, the depth of an artist’s catalog, and the breadth of their musical legacy. It also noted that it's not the "Greatest Voices" list, in anticipation of critical comments about the magazine's supposed snubbing.

"A voice can be gorgeous like Mariah Carey’s, rugged like Toots Hibbert’s, understated like Willie Nelson’s, slippery and sumptuous like D’Angelo’s, or bracing like Bob Dylan’s," Rolling Stone said. "But in the end, the singers behind it are here for one reason: They can remake the world just by opening their mouths."