The holiday season provides a good selection of singing talent from the mid thirties to centuries end. Before then the technology was in its infancy and couldn’t provide a true representation of the artist’s voice. But since that time nearly all top vocalists recorded a Christmas song or album and this season gave me the opportunity to stage my own American Idol contest.
The question: Who was the best male and female singer of the 20th century?
What’s interesting is that I don’t have a horse in this race. Very few of the singers from my generation really qualified. This is not to say we lacked great singers, we didn’t but in this competition the singers were rated by their ability to sing at all three levels. Soft ballads (James Taylor, Karen Carpenter, Perry Como) Mid range (Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Judy Garland) and pure power ( Robert Plant, Amy Lee, Robert Goulet) and frankly the singers of my era (mid-sixties on) could do one or two easily but rarely all three.
Surprisingly, one singer, once you really pay attention, truly stands out. And when I compared his singing to the other well known male greats (Sinatra, Nat Cole, Perry Como) you realize just how much fuller, stronger and more resonate his voice is. This especially surprised me because I had been listening to him sing on TV for the better part of my young life and hadn’t really paid attention. But once I did I was impressed. Who is it? It’s Der Bingle, Bing Crosby himself. Helluva voice, helluva talent, but not the winner.
“Another even better, there is!” says Yoda
On the female side, there is one who, like Crosby when compared to the rest really stands out. She can sing ballads and has done many well, breezes right through mid-range songs and when called upon has shown she can belt it out with the best of them. “Whoszat?” you ask. Why it our favorite Mama, Cass Elliot. Truly a great voice. Second runner up is Karen Carpenter, another great voice, who, like Cass died before she had the chance to break from her comfort zone and really show us what she could do.
But there is one still better.
Before we go to the final selection I will point out that my choices come from well known popular singers. I’m not going to entertain suggestions that this opera singer, or that country western vocalist, or some obscure gospel singer was much better. My position is if they were indeed that much better, they would have been more well known.
The winner in both categories is well known, one more than the other but both pack a wallop when it comes to talent. My standard of judging was simple I used that old saw: THE TRULY GREAT ONES MAKE IT LOOK EASY. The Muhammed Ali ‘s, the Babe Ruth’s, the Albert Einstein’s, the Tiger Woods, The Zackary Richards’,The Beatles. And so I chose this male singer because of his performance of this Christmas song
It starts as a ballad become mid-range in the middle and goes full blast power at the conclusion. This guy handled all three forms with amazing ease. Perhaps the best representation of this guy’s awesome vocal talent.
I chose this female because of her duet in this song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOHvPj6dftc The male singer is steady giving the female the room to light up the tune with vocal pyrotechnics, going from near whisper in the beginning to mid-range to full blast power with amazing ease.
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That being said, Happy New Year everyone!