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Chaka Khan Slams Mariah Carey and Other Stars Ranked on "Greatest Singers" List

The iconic vocalist has some notes for the experts behind Rolling Stone's recent ranking.

When Rolling Stone released its list of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time on Jan. 1, fans of certain singers were furious that their favorites either weren't included or weren't ranked as high as they wanted. (Particularly, fans of Celine Dion weren't happy that the beloved singer wasn't featured on the list at all.) Now, Chaka Khan, the singer who landed the No. 29 spot, has spoken out about the list, and she has some strong feelings about who's ranked over her.

On the Los Angeles magazine podcast The Originals, Khan shared exactly what she thinks about a list like Rolling Stone's existing at all and how she feels about where some of her fellow artists were seeded compared to her. Read on for the star's no-holds-barred opinions on Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, and more.

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Khan ranked in the top 30.

Chaka Khan at Variety's 2019 Power of Women
Tinseltown / Shutterstock

Out of all 200 singers included in the Rolling Stone list, Khan placed 29th. The magazine's description of the singer notes that her "vocal performances can be thrill rides" and that "she can knock any emotion out of the park."

When Khan was read her entry on the podcast, she responded, "In my eyes, just listening to that, if I didn't know Chaka Khan, I would have said, 'Ooh, that earned her at least a five, maybe a 10 at the least."

From the first spot, the top 10 singers of all time, according to Rolling Stone, are Franklin, Whitney HoustonSam CookeBillie Holiday, Carey, Ray CharlesStevie WonderBeyoncéOtis Redding, and Al Green.

Khan denounced the placement of some singers.

Mariah Carey at the premiere of "A Fall from Grace" in 2020
lev radin / Shutterstock

On The Originals, Khan shared that she agreed with Franklin getting the No. 1 spot. "As she [expletive] should be," the "I'm Every Woman" singer said of Franklin. And of Beyoncé, Khan said, "She's got the chops."

But, she was far more critical of other stars who were included. "Let's be honest, the [expletive] cannot sing," Khan said of Joan Baez, No. 189. Now, she was a good writer." Of Debbie Harry, who's No. 160, she said, "Okay, 'cause she can't sing either."

Of Carey ranking fifth, Khan suggested that maybe someone was bribed. "That must be payola or some [expletive] like that," she said.

And when Khan was told that Adele was ahead of her at No. 22, her response was, "Okay, I quit."

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She was particularly shocked by one singer's ranking.

Mary J. Blige at the 2022 BET Awards
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Khan had especially strong words for Blige, who is No. 25 on Rolling Stone's list.

"These [expletive] are blind as a [expletive] bat! They need hearing aids," Khan said of those who put the list together. "These must be the children of Helen Keller."

Khan once referred to her song "Sweet Thing" as "the song Mary J. Blige [expletive] up" when she famously covered it. She was asked about this elsewhere in the podcast interview.

"I didn't say that out in public. I might've said it to her. I told Mary J. Blige she [expletive] it up," Khan said. "Number one, her vocals were flat. And I told her. I asked her, I said, 'What time of day was it or night? What were you doing when you decided to cover 'Sweet Thing'?'" She said Blige told her she recorded it in the morning. "I said, 'Girl, you don't sing nothing at 8 o'clock in the [expletive] morning,'" Khan recalled.

The singer went on to explain that she and Blige—who Los Angeles magazine called her "frenemy"—feel comfortable being that honest with each other. "She and I have that kind of relationship, we can talk," the 69-year-old said. "I love her. She loves me. We don't have a problem. Now the press would love to making it a [expletive] problem."

Khan isn't a big fan of lists in general.

Chaka Khan at the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
DFree / Shutterstock

Khan shared on the podcast that she's not big on lists anyway and doesn't like the idea of musicians being pitted against one another.

"These people don't quantify or validate me in any way," she said of the writers behind the ranking. "These are people just like you, just like me. They, too, [expletive] on the toilet … I didn't even know what the hell you were talking about, so obviously lists don't mean a great deal to me."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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