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The 20 best frontmen in modern rock

Jeff Rosenstock (Photo: Scott Legato/Getty), Pierce Jordan of Soul Glo (Photo: Christopher Postlewaite), Annie Clark (Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty), Eva Hendricks of Charly Bliss (Photo: Lisa Lake/Getty)

Jeff Rosenstock (Photo: Scott Legato/Getty), Pierce Jordan of Soul Glo (Photo: Christopher Postlewaite), Annie Clark (Photo: Emma McIntyre/Getty), Eva Hendricks of Charly Bliss (Photo: Lisa Lake/Getty)
picture: Natalie Peeples

There are many great rock records out there, albums that have changed lives for the better in countless ways. But we all had the subsequent disappointment of an experience: seeing the artist live and walking away disappointed. Being a great front man in a rock ‘n’ roll band is very different from being a great rock musician; Skills often overlap, but as anyone who’s seen Bob Dylan on an evening off can attest, there’s plenty of room for divergence.

So consider the following, a list of great frontmen. When compiling this list of artists, we didn’t necessarily focus on our favorite musicians or whose music we love the most. It was about identifying the performers with that indefinable quality of charismatic showmanship – people who go out of their way to play the songs as best they can, with as much heart as they can muster to offer something more. It’s about celebrating the musicians who claim a live show as their own Show, first of all. They want to deliver a night you’ll never forget, whether through theatrics, bombastic energy, or simply a level of personal appeal that makes it impossible to look away; those are the qualities of a great rock ‘n’ roll frontman.

To keep the focus on the modern era (and to keep a manageable size for this feature), we made the admittedly arbitrary decision to only include bands and musicians who have started releasing albums in the last 20 years. In other words, yes, Mick Jagger is still a great frontman, but he doesn’t need our support. Likewise, artists who we consider excellent frontmen but who started work before the deadline were summarily disqualified. (Sorry, John Dwyer of The Osees; we all agreed you’d dominate any other list.) And finally, artists have been granted exceptions for embarking on an entirely new project over the past two decades: such the presence of Jenny Lewis as a solo act and Craig Finn as the lead singer of The Hold Steady despite their previous bands Rilo Kiley and Lifter Puller.

Given that this is an obviously authoritative list, and by no means just the votes of a handful of music critics who couldn’t possibly have seen every front person who’s blown your mind in recent years, we encourage everyone to make their own nominations in the comments. And if you’re particularly upset that someone didn’t make the cut, rest assured it was them exactly there at number 21.

https://www.avclub.com/the-20-best-frontpeople-in-modern-rock-1848759998 The 20 best frontmen in modern rock

Andrew Schnitker

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