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Frank Sinatra's Contemporaries and Wannabes
On his own
Though Sinatra's stature as a twentieth-century legend means that he appears to tower over the world of entertainment, throughout his career there were always worthly contenders who operated in the same field. In the 1940s, he left most of his contemporaries who sang in bands, like Bob Eberly, behind, though Dick Haymes, Sinatra's replacement in the Dorsey band, was a serene-voice balladeer who carved a creditable solo career and for a while was considered a serious rival for Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Another singer, emerging from the Ted Weems band, was Perry Como, whose style was so relaxed that even the ultra-cool Crosby commented that Como was "the man who invented casual". Haymes, Como and Dean Martin, who began to have hits in the late 1940s, all modelled their vocal approach on Crosby. Stylistically, in the 1940s Sinatra was on his own.
Other great singers
In the early 1950s Sinatra's ballad style was somewhat overshadowed by the popularity of Nat "King" Cole, and by pop singers with more extrovert vocal personalities, such as the emotive "Nabob Of Sob" Johnnie Ray and the whip-cracking "crooner with steel tonsils", Frankie Laine. By the time that Sinatra had established his 1950s Capitol persona, however, others followed where he led; everyone wanted to be a "swinging lover". His influence made itself evident on records by Cole, Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr. and a new generation of swingers such as Buddy Greco, Vic Damone and Bobby Darin.
Another Italian-American singer, eleven years Sinatra's junior, who sang good songs that Sinatra admired, was Tony Bennett. "The best singer in the business", Frank said of Bennett in the early 1960s. "He excites me when I watch him". He was also impressed in the same period by Jack Jones: "He has a distinction, an all-around quality... he sings jazz pretty good too". Sinatra always liked Ella Fitzgerald and had good words to say about Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee and Rosemary Clooney. Of the extravagant jazz singer Sarah Vaughan he said in 1965: "Sassy is so good now that when I listen her I want to cut my wrists with a dull razor".
A generation later, the allure of Sinatra attracts not only jazz musicians but also pop stars, who repackage it to enchant a new audience. The pianist and singer Harry Connick Jr. successfully updated Sinatra's swing sound for the 1990s with his own songs and arrangements. Robbie Williams, formerly a pop idol in Take That, overdubbed a duet of "It Was A Very Good Year" and devoted his 2001 album Swing While You're Winning to material from the Rat Pack era, as did the Irish boy band Westlife with their 2004 offering Allow Us To Be Frank. Vancouver-born singer Michael Bublé has blandly imitated Sinatra's every musical move with enormous commercial success.
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