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Chris Cornell: 15 Essential Songs

The singer’s most memorable moments: Soundgarden’s grunge classics, Audioslave’s hits and his poetic solo material

Chris Cornell was one of the signature voices of Nineties rock alongside peers Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder and Layne Staley – and that voice was the boldest and most virtuosic of them all. The Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman, who died Wednesday at 52, will forever be remembered for his soaring, feral wail, maybe the movement’s clearest link back to larger-than-life Seventies forefathers like Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant. He was also an extremely versatile songwriter, who made effortless transitions between menacing metal and reflective folk, with detours into sleek electro-pop and epic soundtrack fare. Below are 15 songs that give a hint of the scope of his artistry.

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Chris Cornell, “Nothing Compares 2 U” (2016)

The final Cornell track to chart before his death serves not only as a gorgeous tribute to Prince, but a warm, unexpected epitaph to the singer himself. Cornell’s virtuosic pipes bend past the melody on the intimate, raspy recording. “Prince’s music is the soundtrack to the soulful and beautiful universe he created, and we have all been privileged to be part of that amazing world,” wrote Cornell upon the song’s release. “‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ … has a timeless relevance for me and practically everyone I know. Sadly, now his own lyrics in this song could not be more relevant than at this moment, and I sing them now in reverence as I pay tribute to this unequaled artist who has given all of our lives so much inspiration and made the world so much more interesting.” 

Chris Cornell and Soundgarden played old favorites in Detroit hours before the singer was found dead. Watch here.

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