First things first. This list hasn’t been compiled as some comparative list of the greatest singers and front men that I, you or anyone will ever come across. No, far from it. Far from, even, a list of my favourite singers and front men. Nor is it an accurate representation of my musical taste. I have loved and worshipped at the altar of other singers, front men, bands and artists more at any given moment, as my fleeting attention span allows, be it for their technical prowess, their performance or their myth; I’m a sucker for a tortured artist.
No, what we have here is a list to make you think and reminisce; harking back to those long forgotten days of yore, of childhood. So without further ado, and our taking-ourselves-seriously-hats left reassuringly at the door, here then, is my list of Top Ten Singers I Pretended To Be Through Childhood And Adolescence With A Remote Control In Place Of A Microphone In My Bedroom (And Still Do To This Day Sometimes).
10. Dave Vanian (The Damned, Dave Vanian & The Phantom Chords, Naz Nomad & The Nightmares)
Now my father would be proud of this one, having reared me on a gluttonous diet of anything Damned. A diet that he still strictly follows today. Whether it was the cartoon-goth persona and imagery, the foray into skunk like hair or simply that low end croon that struck a chord with me, is all open to speculation but I can still remember being smaller than the TV on its stand and singing and parading around to a collection of Damned music videos. Most notably Grimly Fiendish. Of course I did this with Michael Jackson too, entranced with Thriller.
9. Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson)
I probably haven’t listened to Iron Maiden in years, but there was a period of my childhood where not a day went by where I didn’t have Best of the Beast kept on repeat, as I ran about the metre or two of free floor space in my bedroom, pretending my catcalls were anything near ol’ Bruce’s air raid siren wails. It all stemmed from catching site of Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter being discussed on some Saturday night talking heads type programme, that my parents were watching as I rolled around on the floor; pretending the gap between the rugs was a drop not unlike, if not exactly the same as, one you’d find between two skyscrapers.
8. Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance)
Years before I would even admit to liking My Chemical Romance, I was not shy (in my bedroom) of camping it up Gerard Way style about my bedroom, to the videos for Helena and I’m Not Okay (I Promise) that were on old Metal Hammer Magazine DVDs, and Thank You For The Venom that was probably on a Kerrang! compilation. There’s a joyous liberation to theatrically waving you hands tight to your chest as you then passionately grab your chest and then push away, with pure emotion, that same flailing jazz hand. Once I was finally brave enough to buy Three Cheers (instead of just listening on Spotify), you’ve never seen a camper and more passionate performance behind the wheel of a car.
7. M Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold)
Baby’s first screamer was dear old M. Some of the first harsh vocals that I truly loved were delivered on Eternal Rest, first heard on a Total Guitar magazine free CD. A song I played on repeat until I got Waking The Fallen for Christmas and fell instantly in love. Then I was free to flex my vocal mime muscles, acrobatting from harsh screams to soaring melodies and the occasional James Hetfield-esque chins out husky croon. The latter I’d been practising for a number of years but would always wield a guitar for; stood firm and chugging as I husked out a croon. Old M opened the way for the likes of Brandan Schieppati of Bleeding Through and James Hart of Eighteen Visions to join my bedroom performance artillery.
6. Pete Doherty (The Libertines, Babyshambles, Peter Doherty)
A controversial choice maybe, but fuck you, this is my list. I loved The Libertines, I liked Babyshambles and I even went to see him solo. Colourful tabloid history and general public opinion of derision against the man himself aside, sauntering about the place equal parts stagger as it was swagger singing along to his barely in tune cries. Well, it’s fun to pretend you’re a junkie rockstar from time to time. Of course I sang along with Carl, I always enjoy doing an impression of Julian Casablancas’ impression of Lou Reed and never am I prouder of sporting a mock Sheffield accent than I am when singing my heart out to the Arctic Monkeys. It’s just there’s some special appeal about pretending you’re on smack in the video for Fuck Forever.
5. Morrissey (The Smiths, Morrissey)
There are fewer more joyous sights in any indie disco, than when the DJ drops This Charming Man and the dance floor erupts into everyone’s best Morrissey impersonation both vocally and physically. Everyone has to hone that somewhere, and it starts in the bedroom. There’s the flouncing and flailing your arms like they’re no different from the imaginary Gladioli you’re wielding, then the strangely sexually charged snake hips for an ambiguously sexually orientated man, who’s always been too cool for sex. Not even getting started on those dulcet tones, punctuated yelps and rolled roars. When these dance floor scenes take place in each person’s mind, it’s the video to Stop Me (with all the lookalikes) and they’re the real Morrissey. I’m no different.
4. Chino Moreno (Deftones, Team Sleep, Crosses)
When one pretends to be Chino Moreno, one is pretending to have the voice of an angel and the roar of a goddamn lion. From the moment I heard My Own Summer (shove it) on, hear was a delusion I was keen to allow myself to fall foul of; that I could come anywhere near the vocals of this man, but it’s my delusion, it’s my bedroom, you don’t have to deal with it, leave me alone! If a now grown man, still wants to pretend with the exact same passion and exuberance that he once did in adolescence, then that’s his prerogative and I reiterate an earlier sentiment, fuck you. Now excuse me, before I write the next entry I’m just going to have to indulge this delusion one more time.
3. David Bowie
Ask my ex, there have been periods of time where I’ve spent weeks speaking in a faux-Bowie accent, and why not, it’s the most fun voice a person can adopt. I’d also like to point out that there is no relation between those facts; my adoption of Bowie’s voice for extended periods and that our relationship is past tense. Bowie’s voice, alongside Sean Connery’s, is irresistibly sexually attractive to both sexes and most animals. From childhood to today this one has stood the test of time. Being fed equally on Bowie as I was The Damned by my father, it starts with blow drying and moussing your hair (with your mother’s help) to replicate plastic soul Bowie as you strut and bellow along to the best of his music videos on VHS, and it ends with singing along to any number of songs that aren’t written or performed by Bowie, but now may as well be, given the voice you’ve adopted for them. Works surprisingly well with Nu Metal.
2. Corey Taylor (Slipknot, Stone Sour, Corey Taylor)
The man, the very man, that made me want to be a singer (I’m not a singer, and never been) in a band. Mostly, I just wanted to be this man. From hearing Wait And Bleed, to buying the self titled album, both this man and Slipknot had a lot to answer for, timed perfectly with puberty and that period of hating everyone, oh the angst, I can still picture it now. Scrawling the chorus to Surfacing across my exercise books and subject folders, wearing hoodies, jeans baggier than a clowns trousers, studded leather wrist straps, painting my nails black with permanent marker pen and my hosting a registration class presentation. Each member of my registration group had to hold a ten minute talk about a subject close to their heart, mine was Slipknot, and the majority of my talk was exposing those unsuspecting and for the majority unappreciating ears to My Plague. Still, if you’re ever to witness one of my bedroom performances, watching my erratic unhinged deliver of Eyeless will send shivers down your spine. You’ll probably want to leave the room too.
1. Nate Barcalow (Finch, Cosmonaut)
From first viewing the video for Letters To You on a free Kerrang! VHS I was sold. I wanted jetblack curtains atop my head and I wished for there to be an equally black chin beard to complete the look, I probably didn’t even have pubes yet (and if I did they certainly wouldn’t have been anything to write home about), but oh how I wanted that chin beard and curtains combination. It would’ve made my youth, but alas, I’ve never had the courage to shave leaving the chin exclusively covered and my hairline has never allowed for curtains. I could make up for this though, all I had to do was throw myself around the room with the same emotionally intensity that was blaring from my HiFi. This was the dream, this was living, this was performance. In my deluded ears and mind, it’s Nate that I think I sound most alike in my bedroom (closely followed by Daryl Palumbo), hell, even the shower. For this reason my finest bedroom performance will always be with Finch being played at a level that will and does, upset the neighbours.
Excluding even the fact I have moves like Jagger (I challenge you to find someone who can do a better impersonation of the man himself than myself, go on seriously, I’m not joking), this list can only fall short of the true representation of my bedroom repertoire from youth to now. In fact it’s probably a lot cooler than it should be, though you may beg to differ.
I mean, let’s take into account a childhood that was equally parts my father’s 70s rock as it was my mother’s Celine Dion and Diana Ross CDs. There’s a night in very recent memory I spent belting out all Celine’s biggest hits alongside some of the greatest power ballads that come to mind; your Bonnie Tylers, your Meat Loafs and your Sinead O’Connors to name but a few (it’s at this point I’d like to clarify, yes, I am a straight male).
Of course, for a while the Spice Girls were my heroes, and my favourite bands were S Club 7, Steps, any boy band you care to mention, and Hell, I was Shania Twain for a while (again, I reiterate – straight male), when I wasn’t besotted with Britney Spears.
Neglecting the period that Big Willie Style by Will Smith was my favourite album, and you could often hear me delivering an angelic performance of R Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly, until my balls dropped and so too fell my choir like vocals. Up to that point my mother wanted a recording of me singing it, after that point, not so much.
Another fact is my offhand remark about Michael Jackson at the start swept under the carpet, just how obsessed I was with Michael Jackson, black through white, resulting in some of the baddest white boy moves this side of anywhere. So too, Fred Durst, the man who made me want a red baseball cap, Chester Bennington made me want flames tattooed up my wrists, GCSE music was spent doing my best impressions of Kurt Cobain, Lou Reed and Mark Lanegan, and that Daryl Palumbo is the kind of man who can bring about singing and dancing in the shower on MDMA.
The point is, well, there isn’t a point really (besides the fact I am an outright liar more concerned with credible entries than the truth), there have been many multitude of singers that have inspired me to make a twat of myself privately, and there are many that inspire it publically. No doubt there is for you too, feel free to share them, or openly deride my list. In fact I encourage it.
(Yes, that is me singing my heart out confined to a Karaoke booth in Tiger Tiger, and yes, that is a friend of mine that looks like Nate Barcalow, the actual Nate Barcalow and an exceptionally unflattering representation of myself)