We recently had the idea to rank how well various artists sing harmony, using several different factors to rate them. This list could use some organizing, but I wanted to post it here so other forum users could chime in or help us organize people who aren't on the list yet. We haven't organized the second or third tiers excessively either.
NOTE - I have merged most solo/group projects together to avoid oversaturation (Alex61 )
TIER 1 Top of the line. • The Beach Boys • Crosby, Stills, Nash (And Young) • Enya/Clannad • The Beatles • Queen • Electric Light Orchestra • Blind Guardian • Simon & Garfunkel • Boyz II Men • Eagles
TIER 2 Unmatched. Sexy in their sexiness. • Alice In Chains • ABBA • The Bee Gees • Michael Jackson • The Association • Fleet Foxes • The Everly Brothers • Prince • Yes • King's X • Fleetwood Mac • The Mamas & Papas • Earth, Wind & Fire • Peter Hammill • The Zombies • The Hollies • The Temptations • T-Ride • The Cowsills • Bon Iver • The Bangles • Mariah Carey
TIER 3 Distinct, with enough groups at their level or above, but still resilient. • Haken • The Carpenters • Destiny's Child/Beyoncé • The Byrds • The Flamingos • Marvin Gaye • Elton John • Styx • Toto • Stone Temple Pilots • Jefferson Airplane • Kansas • Boston • Def Leppard • Grateful Dead • Mr. Bungle • Badfinger • Björk • Bon Jovi • Dion and the Belmonts • The Four Seasons • The B-52's
TIER 4 Less predictable choices that still warrant mentioning. • Cocteau Twins • Cream • The Who • Wings • Buffalo Springfield • Nirvana • Love • The Kinks • Billy Joel • Kate Bush • David Bowie • Imogen Heap • Foreigner • Heart • Rhapsody Of Fire • Gentle Giant • Kiss
SHIT TIER Go here for lazy, off-pitch and generally half-assed harmony work. • The Rolling Stones
Also an acapella group's entire job is to harmonize, I don't think it is fair to count them in this kind of thing.
I think it would be worthwhile having a separate list for a cappella acts. In any case the OP could mention that a cappella isn't included in the main tiers, otherwise omissions of particular groups might baffle some readers. I also think The Hollies could be tier 2. Is Graham Nash the only singer (so far) to be included on the list in more than one band? An interesting achievement. Just for fun, here he is singing a guest vocal with a-ha (Morten Harket singing lead) too www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Bm-EbBfqIQ
I'd say The Dubliners could make it into tier 4 or maybe tier 3. Nothing overly-complex, but effective harmonies with every member of the band contributing vocals. "The Auld Triangle" clip went down well when I used it in the clip-off www.youtube.com/watch?v=aa7birRBmNM
I don't know about En Vogue but I do know that Destiny's Child were pretty good at harmonizing in live performances. However, in the studio it really just sounds like Beyonce harmonizing with herself IMO.
Ok tier 2 was stretching it haha, but I'm pumped up for Wintersun right now because of the new album some of the choir recordings in studio were impressive and majestic sounding, even if some parts were additional friends from other bands who joined in as well and not all technically members of the band. I'll dig out some clips tomorrow