Greatest. Showman. Ever!

Elton John rockets to the top of this list

Dear subscribers, apologies for this only being your first actual email from me. Still getting the hang of this whole newsletter thing. Consider this newish playlist as a bit of a bonus.

About six months ago, I did a special report on rock icons for the Toronto Star (Canada’s biggest newspaper don’t cha know), coinciding with Bohemian Rhapsody’s coming-out party. I ran a poll asking who is the best frontperson ever. Oscar-winning biopic aside, Freddie Mercury was deservedly crowned the “queen” of all singers in a landslide. One individual who did not garner a single vote was Sir Elton Hercules John, probably because of how he question was structured. I’m sure if I said I was looking for who is the most flamboyant, life-affirming onstage entertainer in history, the results would have been drastically different. So, in retroactive recognition of Rocketman’s theatrical release I have decided to correct and improve on an earlier playlist so as to include John.

He may not have ever fronted a band per se (Bluesology nor Benny & the Jets count), but there aren’t many others who have been able to charismatically command a crowd while rocking a piano like nobody’s business for fifty years, yet still casually shop for records in Toronto.

So who else made the Top 10? I’m glad you asked…

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
Freddie Mercury didn’t just frequently dress the part a monarch, often putting Elizabeth herself to shame. He is the undisputed king of all rock frontpersons, full stop. We don’t need a pointless sequel to Bohemian Rhapsody in order to bow down to his greatness any more, do we?

The Tragically Hip – Ahead by a Century
Gord Downie cemented his immortality among Canadians with the courage he showed during The Tragically Hip's last-ever tour. Yes, sentimentality may have bought him a handful of votes, although 30+ years of “Eh”-grade awesomeness has a way of overcoming any perceived CanCon bias.

The Rolling Stones – It’s Only Rock ’n Roll (But I Like It)
It may take demonic intervention to get The Rolling Stones to call it quits; Mick Jagger can still run circles around performers a third his age. If a TAVR procedure at almost 76 years old couldn’t prevent him from cancelling dates on the No Filter tour, I’m not sure what will.

Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song
If ever there was a human incarnation of a golden god, it had to be Robert Plant at Led Zeppelin’s stratospheric height. While he can’t wail the way he used to on “Immigrant Song”, his legend has only grown amongst fans of subsequent generations in the period since Bonzo’s death.

Blondie – One Way or Another
Cardi B and Nicki Minaj should be worshiping at Debbie Harry’s altar as the first rapper to ever chart at number one for “Rapture”. Embracing her sex appeal and Studio 54 lifestyle at the time, she has continued to be a punk role model for girls and boys alike four decades on.

Van Halen – You Really Got Me
What David Lee Roth lacks in tenure compared to practically everyone on this elite ranking is more than made up for in bravado and man-made pyrotechnics. Not to glorify debauchery, but Diamond Dave should have his own entry on under “Sex, Drugs & Rock and Roll”.

U2 – Love Is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way
Bono is a larger-than-life figure who realizes he has the power to change the world through activism and U2’s music. No matter the audience size, few are better at maintaining concert engagement than Mr. Paul Hewson, even through the dreaded “latest song from our new album.”

Iron Maiden – The Trooper
Not only can Bruce Dickinson hit operatic high notes, he can fly Iron Maiden anywhere in the world as a licensed commercial pilot. If that isn’t enough, the most metal renaissance man there is has his own premium bitter beer with Robinsons Brewery, appropriately named Trooper.

Foo Fighters - Everlong
Dave Grohl went from drumming in grunge’s most iconic band to being the outward face of Foo Fighters for the past 24 years. If anyone has the potential to keep going out there longer than the Mickster (unless he becomes a full-time director), it’s this Energizer bunny of a guy.

Stone Temple Pilots – Interstate Love Song
Scott Weiland often used a megaphone to pump up his already-impressive pipes; he is the third singer on this list to have left us far too soon. I know summer hasn’t even really started, but I also think he’s the only one to have released an entire loungy Christmas album.