Ranking of Vocalists

Vocal ranking of male and female idol vocalists

PLEASE READ BEFORE QUESTIONING/LOOKING AT THE CHART. Please do not repost chart without copying the background information. Don’t take the chart out of context.

Following is the ranking of idols and young vocalists that we’ve analyzed so far here at KpopVocalAnalysis. This list only includes idols who’ve debuted in 2014 or earlier. Idols who have debuted after 2014 were not analyzed due to the lack of material and the possibility of improvements happening shortly after the debut of an idol. Thus no debuts after 2014 shall be included in this chart. If a vocalist of any group that debuted in 2014 or prior is not present in this chart, that would be because their final rating would be at most average or due to lack of material for an analysis.

In 2013, we from KpopVocalAnalysis gathered together as fans, as vocal enthusiasts, and some of us as vocal instructors and vocalists ourselves to bring education and knowledge and to satisfy the curiosity of a community within a fandom. The following rankings we shall post have one thing that most others don’t have, hard work. Unlike what fans like to call the “opinion of experts,” mostly done by PD’s, Composers, and Music Critics, we have not only taken the time to listen to each single vocalist in these rankings individually, one by one, but we also have provided more than a simple sentence to describe how they use their voices/instruments. We have compiled a ranking system through our very own upbringing and learning process in order to properly categorize and find similarities between vocalists, technically.

Most other rankings take into consideration tone, emotion, and the individual taste of the listener. They normally don’t take the time to search through every vocalist there is and truly evaluate whether or not they’re truly good technical vocalists. Most of the time, these rankings aren’t even put together by vocalists or vocal instructors. So long story short: we have taken the time and consideration to give each individual vocalist a fair chance and listen through many videos and performances in order to fully understand how they utilize their voices. Our only aim was ever to teach and help each fan be aware of the truth behind the vocalists’ singing abilities. After working through more than 120 vocalists over the period of two years, we have gathered enough information to correctly categorize and rank them against one another. This list is not meant to be offensive. The criteria is not only attached to the rankings, but also to the main part of this blog. Each vocalist in the chart has been fairly analyzed before and if there are any questions as to why a vocalist is ranked as they are, the explanation is well within each vocalist’s individual analysis.

So after being able to finalize this big project and finally come up with a ranking chart and more than 100 analyses in the blog, we have reached our goal. To educate, to have a reliable source fans can rely on to find each and every vocalist they’ve ever been curious about and read about them all. Of course this is not the end of what we’ve started, many more vocalists will still be analyzed within the Korean music industry. So without any further ado, enjoy the rankings.

If there’s a question as to why a vocalist is ranked where they are, each individual vocalist in this chart has an analysis. So before calling anyone biased or before resorting to name calling, take the time to read these analyses carefully. If even after reading the analyses, there are questions and oppositions, don’t hesitate to maturely explain why you disagree with this chart. Keep in mind this chart is about VOCAL TECHNIQUE and vocal technique ONLY.

The rankings will be regularly updated as vocalists improve or regress.

LIST OF ANALYSES

Males:

Females:

vocalrankinggirls

Last updated : December 25th, 2016

No change to be done as of: May 28th, 2017

Overtime, an Idol’s vocal technique may either improve or deteriorate, therefore this list shall be constantly updated when new material surfaces and significant changes are consistently seen in the vocalist’s technique. Also, when more detailed analyses are given on idols, an idol may no longer be on the list or my find himself/herself in a higher or lower position.

This ranking is not to be taken out of context or to be used in any sort of way for petty arguments between fandoms nor to create fanwars. It’s a ranking created in order to give a visual interpretation and summarize the overall idea of the blog with each vocalist’s rating compared to one another. It is not created to offend anyone and is to be taken as seriously as one might wish to and should not interfere with anyone’s choice as a fan or affect how you see your favorite singer.

Even so, we are very open towards opinions and suggestions. If you find that an idol is not in the correct position, or that somebody else deserves a spot and we didn’t list them, do let us know. Link us to the idol’s performance and we will analyze it. If your reasoning is proven we will alter the ranking. As with what we’ve mentioned before, this list will be updated regularly.

We would also like to remind you that the ranking is completely objective and is solely based on VOCAL TECHNIQUE. Emotions, stage presence, entertainment factor, tone will all be ignored as they are purely subjective. If you feel that your bias is an emotional singer, someone else may not. Things that are subjective cannot be used as valid reasons for an idol’s rank.

Please refer to our judging criteria here if you are unsure how we determine an idols rank. If someone is placed above another Idol, it usually means that they are a more consistent vocalist, have better and more developed placements and registers, and is more resonant than the people below them.

FYI

These rankings include idols and young solo artists only. This means vocalists like Sohyang, Park Hyo Shin, Naul, etc are not considered idols, therefore, they are not ranked.

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1,073 thoughts on “Ranking of Vocalists

  1. How is Uji 2 levels above Solji? Solji was Uji’s vocal trainer, how can the student be better than the master? in a youtube video comparing the 2 in the comments section it was agreed solji is the better singer

    Like

    1. I’m debating how to answer this question but I think the best way is…why don’t you read the analyses and find out? This isn’t a chart that we just made up out of thin air. As explained in the text, we analyzed each individual vocalist and so the answer as to why each vocalist is rated where they are is in the analyses.

      https://kpopvocalanalysis.net/2015/10/04/besties-vocal-analysis-u-ji/
      https://kpopvocalanalysis.net/2015/06/07/exids-vocal-analysis-solji/

      If you have any questions after reading, you’re welcome to ask and I shall clarify any reasons. But know that the logic in which a vocalist would not have better technique than their trainer is flawed simply because being a vocal trainer does not make one’s vocal technique impeccable nor perfect. In this blog, we don’t look at one’s profession as a vocal trainer or their history of 20 years of career, we objectively and neutrally only look at their singing. Your reputation is irrelevant to your vocal technique because all you need is to sing, not to have 20 years of career or a title as a vocal trainer.

      Also I don’t think youtube comments by random people who aren’t familiar with vocal technique would be the most reliable method of judging someone’s singing ability.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Do you mind going into more detail? I can only help you understand if I can have a clear explanation of what you’ve understood so far and what doesn’t make sense about IU.

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      1. “Very smooth legato singing” is part of her strength… Rather she is the weakest candidate out of all average vocalist is due to inconsistent in placement with her mix and chest, airy and tension in her lower and upper register and she has little development in terms of her chest and head voice… Did you even read the analyse bro/sis….

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  2. Hello! Firstly, thank you for all your time and effort while doing these in-depth analysis’s. I really appreciate it.

    Two questions:
    1) Out of the currently active male and female idol groups, who is the most well-rounded respectively strongest in terms of vocals?
    2) Ever since you started following K-pop and analyzing their vocals, was their a debut (female or male idol) that really impressed you?

    Thank you!

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    1. 1. You mean groups? It’s hard to say because groups have a large number of members and a large percentage of sub-vocalists as well, so the only groups that could fall into this category would have to have fewer members and no sub-vocalists. Logically for females, active female groups that is, Mamamoo would have to be the most well rounded idol group vocally. For males? It’s hard to say, if we count Super Junior K.R.Y. as a group, then most definitely them. If not, then I don’t know.

      2. Ever since I started listening to K-pop, that was 2007/2008, so that’s been a while. If we are talking about ever since I started analyzing vocalists, which means 2013/2014, then I’d say Shannon for sure. Shannon, Son Seungyeon, Wendy, Mamamoo, to an extent Yuju as well. For men, Seungkwan to the same extent as Yuju. Other than that, not many others.

      Like

  3. Hello! First of all thank you for this amazing whole website – I often come here just to check up things lmao & wow what would we do without it? I’m really thankful it exists & I hope you know how much your hard work is appreciated! 🙂
    So, my question is if a vocalist’s technique is something that usually is very fluid & get better only by more training (which kinda would mean that the older & more experienced you get the better you automatically get), or if everything already is decided when you’re born & that you only can get better to a certain extent (for instance; do children that sing really well actually have a good technique or is it just that it “sounds good”?). Or is it a combination of both? Do you know anything about how much kpop singers still train their voices to get better even after they’ve debuted or are they too busy for that? And if someone (ehem me) feels like they really suck at singing, is there still hope that one can at least be able to sing decently in the future with some help from a vocal instructor or should one don’t even bother to try? I literally know nothing about how to handle my voice & singing always makes my throat hurt lmao so yeah it’s kinda bad. After years of playing instruments I have a pretty ok ear so I can hear that it sounds wrong but I have no idea how to solve it…
    Anyway, sorry if this either is very very obvious & I’m just stupid or if you’ve already mentioned this somewhere! I know I haven’t seen all your youtube videos so if you talk about it there then please just tell me & then ignore this hehe. Thanks in advance & thanks again for your hard work!! Good luck with everything!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there! We really appreciate the kind words of support! It helps keep working harder!

      Now to answer your question. Technique is definitely fluid and gets better with more training, although not necessarily with age and experience. 10 years of singing with the same style and vocal habits will not result in any change nor improvement in vocal technique but 6 months of proper efficient training will. Although if you have an innate talent for singing, you’ll learn more naturally and faster.

      Actually from what I’ve seen generally, and this is completely by deduction, I’d say most vocalists show far more improvement after debuting than before. Vocalists like Sandeul, Kyuhyun, Luna, Jonghyun, Taemin, Taeyeon, Hyorin, Park Hyoshin, Jung Dongha, Sohyang, Ailee, etc, have shown far more improvement after debuting than prior to or during their trainee days.

      Of course there’s hope! Singing is a skill and it can be learned! As long as you practice well, stay realistic and open minded.

      No worries your questions are fine!

      Like

      1. Okay thanks a lot for the really fast answer! I just really need to ask about children again – sometimes you see youtube videos with like 5 year olds that sing crazily good, but do they have any good technique? Or is it just that it for us non-vocally educated it sounds good?

        Like

    1. If you read the post, which states that this is a list with young vocalists and idols ONLY, you’ll see why. Sohyang is not an idol. Also what’s a star rank? That’s not our blog’s rating system.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Umm, in what world is possible that Tiffany has better technique than Soyou, and Krystal is better than Gyuri?? I am also surprised by Sunny place

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    1. I dont know you, but please let me answer your question. Just because you dont agree that tiffany is better than soyou, doesnt mean she’s not, even just a lil bit. I mean they’re not exactly THAT different.

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      1. Umm, that is not a answer? Can you explain me more why Tiffany has better technique than Soyou?
        Let’s say, Tiffany is quite talented but her singing technique is really bad due to her vocal problems, maybe Soyou is not talented as Tiffany and Soyou doesn’t even have much better singing technique but she definitely sound more stable and support notes better than Tiffany. And flexibility: Soyou>Tiffany
        Second question for OP, how is Jessica better than Minzy? I know that Jess has one of best technique when it comes to female vocalists, but Minzy has quite rich voice with deep range compared to Jessica’s airy trained voice.. ??

        Like

      2. Have you read the analyses? Based of what you’re saying it leads me to assume that you haven’t read them before looking at the chart.

        Like

      3. If you had made the effort to read the analyses, a lot of your questions could’ve already been answered. This chart wasn’t pulled out out of thin air, this chart was based on more than 120 analyses, for each of these vocalists. Now I don’t think you’re going to make the effort to read, cause if you could have, you would have already done so. So I suppose I’ll answer your questions.

        1. “Stable” is a word that means nothing when it comes to vocal technique. People use that word very loosely in K-pop. Some people think it means hitting a note without shaking, some people think it means singing without shaking while you dance, some people think it means singing a note without cracking. I’ve made a video about stable.

        Here’s the video. Now, you said that Soyou support notes better than Tiffany but that Soyou doesn’t have much better singing technique than Tiffany. Those two statements contradict each other and don’t really make sense. Tiffany not only is able to manage her air with a lot less tension than Soyou, she sings with much better connection between her vocal cords. If you know singing, you know that the most basic thing is support. Support comes from the proper management of air from the diaphragm versus a strong stretch of the vocal cords in the larynx, without tension. Now the gap between Tiffany and Soyou isn’t big, Tiffany has her own big issues with tension and strain. But their supported ranges are fairly similar. Tiffany has a much better developed and connected head voice, a lot less issues with pure throatiness since Soyou tends to sing with a very throaty and pushed breathy quality in her singing even at times within her supported range and Soyou is often too breathy, which indicates a lack of connection and development of her vocal cords. Neither Tiffany nor Soyou support well above Bb4, but Tiffany carries a lot less throatiness and breathiness the higher she goes.

        2. Again you’re back to contradictions. Quite a few. You said Jessica has one of the best technique when it comes to female vocalists, which is simply not true. But then that Minzy has a rich voice with deep range compared to Jessica’s “airy trained voice.” I’m sorry but what does that mean? Cause that just doesn’t make much sense. Jessica again has a fairly well developed lower range, with support down to G3, which so does Minzy. Both carry support inconsistently up to C5, Jessica just has better consistency in allowing her upper resonators to open up and place her voice as she sings higher, while Minzy tends to push her voice from a lower resonator and so she has more limitations in her mixed range. Both are sopranos, and Minzy produces resonance less often than Jessica because of her inability to open up her resonators and relax the tension in her throat around C5. Whereas Jessica is lighter and pushes less, but is often nasal and doesn’t shape her vowels well to open her voice. Again they’re not very far apart in terms of vocal skill.

        Now I don’t mean to be rude but you must understand that we do not write these analyses for nothing. We write them so that questions like yours could easily be answered without us needing to explain things but then your questions do come off as a bit rude and like you did not even try to appreciate the work we’ve put into this and you are refusing to simply make just a bit of an effort to read. So I hope that these two answers will encourage you to read Krystal’s, Sunny’s, and Park Gyuri’s analyses, and many others. ^ ^

        Like

  5. @ahmin3 Thanks for response

    I actually read them, but anyway

    1. So about word stable, Idk if it’s has some other meaning in English language, since I am not native English speaker, but in music school I went too, teacher would often use word stability for hitting singing notes without shaking/or without much shaking.

    How they contradict each others? I see on this blog a couple types of vocalist, not only strong one or weak one. When I wrote “Soyou doesn’t even have much better singing technique” I meant generally that she lacks and that she doesn’t have the best technique out there, but she control her voice much better than Tiffany (and has better technique than her)

    Thank you for explanation. I see that, of course, it quite depends on criteria on this site
    It’s true that gap between Soyou and Tiffany isn’t big at all, but since singing is complex thing, it means and tells a lot

    2. Honestly, I said it wrong without much meaning of point of the ranking, but since Jessica is not naturally talented singer but after training 7 years she was able to make even to main vocalist (somehow), she definitely has one of most praised singing technique at least what I see how people react (same goes for Taemin). Airy voice, weird, she sounds like she sings quite low without full voice, relying on technique.

    I understand that you don’t write these analyses for nothing, but not everybody has to agree with them. In my opinion it’s basically impossible to make k-pop ranking of vocalist, not because there’re some artist which are probably good but not enough popular for us to hear them, but because some artist on this list are overexposed (SM) and there’re artist which doesn’t have chances to show their skills in showcases except in their comebacks

    It’s fine ranking overall 🙂

    If I am that rude, Im not going to post anymore

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you did read the analyses then I’m not sure exactly why there should be any confusion.

      1. That’s totally fine! You don’t have to speak perfect English. However international Kpop fans use the word stable very loosely and it often seems not to carry a meaning that’s relevant to vocal technique. Singing without shaking is in fact something that’s expected of vocalists who have proper basic breath support, but a shaky vibrato can at times be an issue too. The thing is neither Tiffany nor Soyou are “unstable” within their supported ranges. There are consistency issues with pushing/strain, and especially for Soyou, throaty breathiness.

      See when you say “better” it makes it seem like you’re relating her to Tiffany, as in “Soyou doesn’t even have better technique than Tiffany” which contradicts “Soyou is more stable than Tiffany and sounds better.” Do you see what I mean? Again I do disagree that Soyou controls her voice better than Tiffany, especially currently how Soyou has been singing for the past two years. The throatiness and breathiness are issues Tiffany does not have below Bb4 but Soyou does.

      2. I still don’t quite understand what you mean by “airy voice.” Also not sure what you mean by she sounds like she sings quite low without full voice. What do you mean by that? What do you mean low? How low? What do you mean full voice? Chest voice?

      I don’t have a problem with people disagreeing with the analyses! We are opened to healthy discussions but your points were not only vague, they hardly had anything to do with technique. All of your points focused on who’s better than who but not exactly why it didn’t make sense. For example Krystal vs Gyuri, there was no explanation there. Tiffany vs Soyou, again the explanation was vague and didn’t seem to address any of the points included in either of their analyses.

      This is why we only analyze vocalists with enough solo material for an analysis. We go above and beyond to find fancams and unknown performances, live with bands, acoustic covers and whatnot to really listen to their technique but one does not need more than 20 to 30 solo performances of a vocalist on average to be able to hear and identify if they have proper technique. For an instructor, one live performance while they stand and sing a song within a reasonable 1.5 octave range can tell a lot about a vocalist’s technical development. So I understand what you mean but keep in mind we are very fair on how we look for material for analyses and rely only on live performances, preferably with no choreography and solos.

      I don’t find you rude but I do believe that there’s a lack of depth to your points for now which is why I’m perfectly fine with explaining anything you need.

      I would really appreciate it if you could address what points in the analyses you’ve read that don’t make sense since you said you read them but still believe the ranking isn’t accurate.

      Like

  6. aiya how did jungkook and taehyung rank so low?? jungkook has a nice breathy voice which is soothing?? i don’t really get all this singing technique thing but surely he must be above average right?? he is like the main vocalist of bts, and he is only average, close to weak???

    Like

    1. not tryna come across as rude or anything, and i don’t really understand all the technicality for the singing technique analyses so if you could just provide like a simpler explanation (meaning one where i don’t have to search up what placement or tone or intonation or something means) as to why he’s ranked like that then i’d appreciate!!!! thanks lol

      Like

      1. Hi there, I’m not Ahmin or Pandayeu but I can help you answer your question.

        If you’re looking for a simple answer, like you asked, both V and Jungkook are rated weak due to the fact they both don’t have solid developed breath support (the basis of healthy singing technique).
        This doesn’t mean that they don’t sound good, obviously many, many people love their voices, it just means that they were not trained correctly.

        Like

    2. I appreciate what another user has said to you already but I’m going to add just a tiny bit on it. First, I thank you for asking and not simply cussing people out because the ranking isn’t what you expected. Second, you can’t use random words like above average or average if you don’t understand the context. We have a criteria page in which we explain what each of the ratings are. BTS’ Jungkook and V have lovely voices yes and soothing too, yes. But that’s irrelevant to singing technique. How pleasing a voice is to you is a personal preference and it has nothing to do with vocal skill. On this blog we focus solely on vocal technique and so what you like and what is objectively good aren’t the same and that’s fine! You can still love them just as much, but you can be aware that there are areas in which they could improve. Well like the other user said, in order to even be considered an average vocalist, a vocalist must first learn how to support their voices. Then in order to keep being considered higher, they have to have proper support and development of their range in more areas, with less strain, more openness, more control, more choices. Jungkook has a lovely voice, but he is limited in both range and volume. He can only sing with a breathy quality, switches to falsetto far too early for a tenor and when he does choose not to switch, he sings with a lot of tension and tightness which aren’t good for him. He can’t seem to sing very high as a tenor without vocal strain and without pushing. He is limited to his breathy soft sound which may be pleasing, but is hardly how you’d measure his skill. Anybody could sing like that, but not many people can sing through a wide range of notes with control of volume, support, openness, being relaxed, being in pitch and simply having that many choices in the development of their voices. If you pay attention to the vocalists above him, namely vocalists rated above average, you’ll notice they have much more connection in their sound, not just breathiness. They can sing higher without needing to strain as early as he does. They can support better, they’re more opened, they produce resonance, etc., etc. Unfortunately singing is not simple, not as simple you thought it was and so there’s no way I can give you a proper explanation without you reading their analyses to fully understand how singing technique works.

      Like

  7. Would you consider Above Average as the minimum ranking of having good/decent technique? And what about the people who fall in between Average to Above Average?

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    1. I suppose it depends on your own personal standards. Average could be enough if all you’re going to sing is songs like Colbie Caillat, it all depends on repertoire.

      Like

  8. Hi i was watching this duet and i got really interested about the girl on the right Lee Nahyun she is not an active singer but i really like her so i wanted to know if you could tell me how she did here like if she support or not and wich note is it ?

    2:07
    2:34
    3:43

    Like

  9. I know this is not really relevant with the post, but could someone’s voice change drastically for two years? I just watch Momo’s voice same or change on youtube and I am really confused.

    Like

  10. I’m going to audition for Kpop companies. In your opinion what would be the best soprano singers song to audition with? If you cant give a song in particular a few singers would be appreciated! Thanks

    Like

  11. Hey Ahmin!
    First of all, thank you for running this site, I’m sure it’s a lot of work.

    So, I see a lot of idols are ranked as weak or barely average, even though they have been in the industry for years, like Taeyang, Sungmin, Krystal, Bom, etc. Now I’m no expert regarding vocals or the kpop industry itself, but I feel like that’s very strange? I understand that most of them are very, VERY busy, but you would think that when your main job is to be a singer, you would strive to improve, take some lessons here and there and eventually get better. Yet the majority of idols seems to not really improve much, even when their technique is far from good. I was just wondering if you have any idea why that is? Do they not really care and don’t take any lessons? Or am I underestimating how difficult it is to improve beyond “average”?

    Like

    1. Hi there! No problem, it’s what I love to do at least! As you see, to be a successful artist, being a good technical vocalist was never a requirement. Having the combination of the right song, with the right image and right voice will make you who you are and keep your career going. Most popular songs aren’t very focused on singing nor vocally challenging, they’re just good tracks to listen to. Most of them don’t take lessons and sing just well enough to sing their own repertoire, which is all they really need. No matter how much you sing, if you sing the same way, nothing will ever improve in your singing. They have to first consciously change how they sing.

      Like

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