Corey Taylor doesn't half-ass his vocal performances. Whether it's Slipknot, Stone Sour or his solo material, the vocalist puts himself deep inside the lyrics he's singing and delivers whatever the song calls for — and then some. In Slipknot, he rages like a violent maniac over thunderous metal assaults. In Stone Sour, he's explored less antagonistic, more melodic rock songwriting. And for his growing solo catalog, he pulls from every corner of his sonic repertoire, exploring whichever direction his voice will take him.
Throughout his countless recordings and live shows, Taylor has delivered so many breathtaking vocal performances over the years. We asked our readers to pick the single best one, and the top five vote-getters are ranked accordingly below.
5. SpongeBob SquarePants Theme (Live)
Yes, this literally got enough votes to make this list. Taylor's songs are almost all either oppressively angry or extraordinarily raw and emotional, but he's been sprinkling levity into his solo shows for years by singing the theme to SpongeBob SquarePants. No, not a metal version of the kids cartoon ditty, or a dour, reflective take on the silly sea shanty. He just plays it straight, and with a big smile on his face. It's great.
4. Stone Sour - "Bother"
At the time of its release in 2002, "Bother" showed a wildly different side of Taylor than Slipknot fans were used to. This single from from Stone Sour's self-titled debut (also included in the soundtrack to 2002's Spider-Man) is a tender, reflective acoustic joint, and Taylor flexes his tear-jerking croon all over it. Slowly, his voice builds from a demure mutter to a full-throated belt. It's a powerful performance.
3. Sound City: Real to Reel - "From Can to Can't"
This is one for the true Taylor heads. In 2013, the vocalist was asked by Dave Grohl to sing on a song the Foo Fighters bandleader had written for the soundtrack of his documentary film Sound City. That song was "From Can to Can't," and Taylor leaned into the smokiest, bluesiest part of his vocal range while huge, crushing riffs sounded off beneath him. It definitely has Grohl's Foos-y thumbprint on the instrumentation, but Taylor's bold vocals made the song the spectacle that it is.
2. Slipknot - Iowa
This is Taylor at his most vocally deranged. The 15-minute closing title track of Slipknot's sophomore album, Iowa, is one of the most harrowing songs in their whole catalog, and so much of the song's horrifying resonance stems from Taylor's unhinged vocal delivery. Playing the part of a tortured necrophiliac, Taylor shrieks and caterwauls and curses and blubbers and huffs and seethes and whatever other feral techniques his voice could muster, all while his bandmates play a violent racket of sludgy noise around him. "Intense" is an understatement.
1. Slipknot - "Snuff"
This had to be the one. Throughout Stone Sour and his solo material, Taylor has spent a lot of time honing the singing — as in, not screaming like a madman — side of his vocal range, but he's never delivered a performance as heart-wrenchingly real and poignant as "Snuff." The acoustic track from Slipknot's All Hope Is Gone is the band's quintessential ballad, and it's one of relatively few Slipknot songs that Taylor himself wrote.
The Nine recently added it back to their live set for the first time in a decade, but it's been a staple of Taylor's solo sets for years. The most famous performance occurred when he played "Snuff" during a set in 2010 and broke down crying in the middle. That's the kind of power this tune holds over Taylor, and that's the sort of emotional effort he puts into playing it live.
Watch the video for Taylor's most recent solo single, "Beyond," below: