Love him or hate him — Glenn Danzig is one of the greatest punk and metal singers ever. Period.
In the late Seventies, Glenn and the Misfits emerged from Lodi, New Jersey, sporting devilocks and batch of catchy horror-influenced punk burners, which stood out from the fray thanks to Danzig's crooning, melodic vocals (that would eventually earn him the nickname Evil Elvis).
After Misfits' demise, Glenn began exploring a more hard-rock style in Samhain, before producer Rick Rubin came along — and Danzig, the band, was born. It was in this configuration that the singer expanded his black wings — and booming vocals — and soared into new influential, and utterly unclassifiable, realms.
So, how does one go about picking Glenn Danzig's single greatest song, from across his career? Lucky for us we've got you, our trusted readers, to help. See your picks in the ranked list below.
The Misfits knew how to pack a lot of dark, punk fun into a small package, and "Skulls" helps illustrate what the band did best with Glenn Danzig behind the microphone. His inflection implied a hint of some of the romantic crooning that would define much of his later material, creating a song that's bound to get stuck in the head of any fan of punk.
Danzig's music slithers and strikes like a snake, and there is no better example of that than "Dirty Black Summer" from his third solo album, How the Gods Kill. On the verse portion, Danzig croons short lines like "Summer in the winter time" before the backing crew of John Christ, Eerie Von and Chuck Biscuits come in with venomous guitar stabs to remind you that this is a metal song ... and it rips. The slow gallop of the rest of the track has made it a strip-club classic, while that chorus has enough Tom G Warrior–style "ugh"s to make you listen over and over. Fist raised, naturally.
It's not just a song, its a goddamned rallying call. When Glenn Danzig says, "if you want to scream, scream with me" to open "Hybrid Moments," it makes you want to open up those lungs and shout along with the classic Misfits track. Fashioned after a classic Fifties-style melody, "Hybrid Moments" causes ear-to-ear smiles, even when Danzig delivers lines like "When do creatures rape your face," and "You hide your looks behind these scars." And no matter what sort of alien creature he's singing about, the song is really all about that almost-romantic chorus of "In hybrid moments, give me a moment" that feels like it's ripped straight from a Buddy Holly track.
In a lot of ways, 1992's Danzig III: How the Gods Kill was a culmination of Glenn Danzig's entire creative vision up to that point. The album's title track is a true epic, a winding, dynamic journey that proves why Danzig is one of the best voices — and songwriters — in his genre. The slow, tense build allows him to sound wistful and show off the beauty in his voice, before thundering to a roar when the song kicks into overdrive.
To the shock of no one, Danzig's monster 1988 hit and definitive cut "Mother" clocked in at No. 1 on our fan poll. Peaking at 43 on the Billboard Hot 100 and 17 on Billboard's Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, it's far and away Danzig's highest-charting single. Lyrically, it drew inspiration from the heated debate over the music censorship crusade led by moralist and rock naysayer Tipper Gore, who claimed vulgarity in popular music was having a detrimental effect on the youth of the late Eighties. Danzig's boisterous rebuttal to Gore's traditional Christian values struck a chord with the masses, and while he may have warned the children not to walk his way, even a whisper of the name Danzig today is enough to elicit a hearty round of the "MOTHER" impersonations.