THE CROONERS/TIN PAN ALLEY POP TRADITION

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Crooning represented a singing style primarily identified with male performers that enhanced light voices. Stylistic features included pitch slides and turns on accented notes (short trills with the note immediately above). The genre originated in the mid-1920s, being particularly suited to radio and the electrical recording process which both encouraged a softer vocal delivery. The popularity of sweet bands in the 1930s (e.g., Leo Reisman, Eddy Duchin, Guy Lombardo, George Olsen) further cemented the commercial ascendancy of the style.

Crooners developed a symbiotic relationship with the swing bands which dominated the 1940s. The big band sound would alternate between hot, jazz-inflected instrumentals and pop ballads (which featured a lead singer--males or female--utilizing a crooning style). The top bands in this mold were fronted by Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Harry James, and Benny Goodman.

By the time of the genre's heydey in the 1940s, crooners had developed a cool, urbane delivery (singing was rarely overstated). The top male vocalists, in particular, were promoted as romantic vehicles to the listening audience, a device which was later copied by the teen idols of the rock 'n' roll era. These singers relied heavily on Tin Pan Alley songwriters for material. Most of the best known ballads composed in the twentieth century--e.g., Blue Moon," "Stardust," "Sentimental Journey," "I Only Have Eyes For You," Deep Purple," "Always," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "When or When"--were performed over and over again by crooners. As country, rhythm and blues, and rock 'n' roll became commercially established in the 1950s, crooners turned increasingly to the practice of "covering" recordings originating from these genres. Covers were geared to mainstream pop listeners who--in the opinion of the major record label executives--were unlikely to relate to the explicit lyrics, raw emotive singing, and crude arrangements of the originals. Pat Boone, Tony Bennett, Georgia Gibbs, and Gale Storm were particularly successful (at least from a commercial standpoint) in cutting cover renditions. As this practice became increasingly discredited, crooning receded to the outer margins of recording industry.

 

Top Artists and Their Recordings

Gene Austin--"When My Sugar Walks Down the Street" (w/Aileen Stanley) (1925); "Yearning (Just For You)" (1925); "The Fapper Wife" (1925); "Way Down Home" (w/Carson Robison) (1925); "Yes Sir! That's My Baby"/"Everything Is Hotsy Totsy Now" (1925); "Let It Rain, Let It Pour" (1925); "I Never Knew" (1926); "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue"/"Sleepy Time Gal" (1926); "Bye Bye, Blackbird"/"Ya Gotta Know How to Love" (1926); "Tonight You Belong to Me" (1927); "I've Got the Girl" (1927); "Someday, Sweetheart" (1927); "Ain't She Sweet?" (1927); "My Blue Heaven" (1927); "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" (1927/8); "My Melancholy Baby"/"There's a Cradle in Caroline" (1928); "The Lonesome Road" (1928); "Ramona"/"Girl of My Dreams" (1928); "Without You, Sweetheart" (128); "So Tired" (1928); "Just Like a Melody Out of the Sky" (1928); "Jeannine (I Dream of Lilac Time)" (1928); "Memories of France"/"Old Pals Are the Best Pals After All" (1928); "She's Funny That Way" (1929); "Carolina Moon" (1929); "Weary River" (1929); "Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine" (1929); "Little Pal" (1929); "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling" (1929); "Ain't Misbehavin'" (1929); "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone"/"When Your Lover Has Gone" (1931)

Tony Bennett--"Because of You" (1951); "Cold, Cold Heart" (1951); "Rags to Riches" (1953); "Stranger in Paradise" (1953); "There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight" (1954); "Cinnamon Sinner" (1954)

Pat Boone--"Ain't That a Shame" (1955); "Tutti Frutti" (1955); "Friendly Persuasion" (1956); "Love Letters in the Sand" (1957)

Al Bowlly—"Goodnight Sweetheart" (1931); "Blue Moon" (1935)

Rosemary Clooney--"Come On-A My House" (1951); "Half As Much" (1952); "Botch-A-Me" (1952); "Hey There" (1954); "This Ole House" (1954); "Mambo Italiano" (1954)

Nat "King" Cole--"Nature Boy" (1948); "Mona Lisa" (1950); "Too Young" (1951); "Somewhere Along the Way" (1952); "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" (1952); "Pretend" (1953); "Answer Me, My Love" (1954); "Smile" (1954)

Russ Columbo--"You Call It Madness" (1931); "Good Night, Sweetheart" (1931); "As You Desire Me" (1932)

Perry Como--"Long Ago (And Far Away)" (944); "I Dream of You" (1945); "I'm Gonna Love That Gal"/If I Loved You" (1945); "Till the End of Time"/"(Did You Ever Get) That Feeling in the Moonlight" (1945); "Dig You Later (A Hubba-Hubba-Hubba)" (1945/6); "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows"/"You Won't Be Satisfied (Until You Break My Heart" (1946); "Prisoner of Love"/"All Through the Day" (1946); "They Say It's Wonderful" (1946); "Surrender" (1946); "Sonata" (1946/7); "Chi-Baba, Chi-Baba (My Bambino Go to Sleep)" (1947); "When You Were Sweet Sixteen" (1947); "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now" (1947); "Because" (1948); "Far Away Places" (1949); "Forever and Ever" (1949); "A - You're Adorable" (1949); "Some Enchanted Evening"/"Bali Ha'i" (1949); "A Dreamer's Holiday" (1949/50); Hoop-dee-Doo" (1950); "Patricia" (1950); "A Bushel and a Peck" (w/Betty Hutton) (1950); "You're Just in Love" (w/Fontane Sisters) (1950/1); "If" (1951); "Maybe" (1952); "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" (1952/3); "Wild Horses" (1953); "Say You're Mine Again" (1953); "No Other Love" (1953); "You Alone" (1953); "Wanted" (1954); "Papa Loves Mabo" (1954); "Hot Diggity" (1956); "Round and Round" (1957); "Catch a Falling Star" (1958)

 

Bing Crosby--"Wrap Yor Troubles in Dreams" (1931); "Out of Nowhere" (1931); "Just One More Chance" (1931); "Just One More Chance" (1931); "I Found a Million-Dollar Baby"/"I'm Through With Love" (1931); "At Your Command"/"Many Happy Returns of the Day" (1931); "Stardust"/"Dancing in the Dark" (1931); "I Apologize" (1931); "Good Night, Sweetheart" (1931); "Gems From 'George White's Scandals'" (1931); "Dinah" (1932); "Where the Blue of the Night (Meets the Gold of the Day)" (1932); "Lazy Day" (1932); "Sweet Georgia Brown" (1932); "Love Me Tonight" (1932); "Please" (1932); "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" (1932); "Just an Echo in the Valley"/"(I Don't Stand) A Ghost of a Chance With You" (1933); "You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me"/"Young and Healthy" (1933); "Shadow Waltz" (1933); "Learn to Croon" (1933); "My Love" (1933); "Thanks" (1933); "The Day You Came Along" (1933); "The Last Round-Up" (1933); "Temptation" (1933/4); "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?" (1933); "Little Dutch Mill" (1934); "Good Night, Lovely Little Lady" (1934); "Love Thy Neighbor" (1934); "May I?" (1934); "Love in Bloom" (1934); "Two Cigarettes in the Dark" (1934); "June in January" (1934); "With Every Breath I Take" (1934/5); "Soon" (1935); "It's Easy to Remember" (1935); "I Wished on the Moon" (1935); "Without a Word of Warning" (1935); "Red Sails in the Sunset" (1935); "The Touch of Your Lips" (1936); "Robins and Roses" (1936); "I'm an Old Cowhand" (1936); "South Sea Island Magic" (1936); "Pennies From Heaven" (1936); "Sweet Leilani" (1937); "Too Marvelous For Words" (1937); "Never in a Million Years" (1937); "The Moon Got in My Eyes" (1937); "It's the Natural Thing to Do" (1937); "Remember Me?" (1937); "Bob White" (1937); "When Mother Nature Sings Her Lullaby" (1938); "I've Got a Pocketful of Dreams" (1938); "Small Fry" (1938); "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (1938); "Mexicali Rose" (1938); "My Reverie" (1938); "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" (1938); "You're a Sweet Little Headache" (1938); "Little Sir Echo" (1939); "An Apple For the Teacher" (w/Connee Boswell) (1939); "What's New?" (1939); "I'm Too Romantic" (1940); "The Singing Hills" (1940); "Sierra Sue" (1940); "Trade Winds" (1940); "Only Forever" (1940); "Dolores" (1941); "Deep in the Heart of Texas" (1942); "Be Careful, It's My Heart" (1942); "White Christmas" (1942); "Moonlight Becomes You" (1942); "Sunday, Monday, or Always" (1943); "People Will Say We're in Love" (1943); "San Fernando Valley" (1944); "I Love You" (1944); "Swinging on a Star" (1944); "Amor" (1944); "A Hot Time in the Town of Berlin" (w/Andrews Sisters) (1944); "Don't Fence Me In" (w/Andrews Sisters) (1944); "You Belong to My Heart" (1945); "On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe" (1945); "It's Been a Long, Long Time" (1945); "I Can't Begin to Tell You" (1945); "Symphony" (1946); "Sioux City Sue" (1946); "Now Is the Hour" (1948); "Far Away Places" (1949); "Galway Bay" (1949); "Some Enchanted Evening" (1949); "Dear Hearts and Gentle People" (1949/50); "Play a Simple Melody" (1950); "Sam's Song" (1950/1)

Frank Crumit--"Oh! By Jingo! Oh! By Gee! (1920); "Sweet Lady" (1921); "A Gay Caballero" (1928)

Vic Damone--"You're Breaking My Heart" (1949); "My Heart Cries For You" (1950/1); "My Truly, Truly Fair" (1951); "On the Street Where You Live" (1956)

Doris Day--"Sentimental Journey" (w/Les Brown's Orchestra) (1945); "Love Somebody" (1948); "It's Magic" (1948); "Again" (1949); "A Guy Is a Guy" (1952); "Secret Love" (1954); "If I Give My Heart to You" (1954); "Que Sara, Sara (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" (1955)

Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards--"If You Knew Susie (Like I Know Susie)" (1925); "Paddlin' Madelin' Home" (1925); "Dinah" (1926); "Sunday" (1927); "Mary Ann" (1928); "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" (1928); "Singin' in the Rain" (1929); "When You Wish Upon a Star" (1940)

Tommy Edwards--"It's All in the Game" (1951; 1958)

Eddie Fisher--"Thinking of You" (1950); "Any Time" (1951/2); "Tell Me Why" (1952); "I'm Yours" (1952); "Maybe" (1952); "Wish You Were Here" (1952); "Downhearted" (1953); "I'm Walking Behind You" (1953); "Many Times" (1953); "Oh! My Pa-Pa" (1953/4); "I Need You Now" (1954); "Count Your Blessings" (1954/5)

Mary Ford, Les Paul and--"Tennessee Waltz" (1950/1); "Mockin' Bird Hill (1951); "How High the Moon" (1951); "The World Is Waiting For the Sunrise" (1951); "Tiger Rag" (1952); "Bye Bye Blues" (1953); "Vaya Con Dios" (1953)

Joni James--"Why Don't You Believe Me" (1952); "Have You Heard" (1953); "Your Cheatin' Heart" (1953); "Almost Always" (1953); "My Love, My Love" (1953)

Frankie Laine--"That's My Desire" (1947); "That Lucky Old Sun" (1949); "Mule Train" (1949); "The Cry of the Wild Goose" (1950); "Rose, Rose, I Love You" (1951); "Jealousy" (1951); "High Noon" (1952); "I Believe" (1953); "Tell Me a Story" (1953)

Peggy Lee--"Waitin' For the Train to Come In" (1945); "Golden Earrings" (1947/8); "Manana" (1948); "Riders in the Sky" (1949); "Lover" (1952); "Fever" (1958)

Dean Martin--"That's Amore" (1953); "Return to Me" (1956); "Memories Are Made of This" (1956)

Al Martino--"Here In My Heart" (1952)

Johnny Marvin--"Breezin' Along With the Breeze" (1926); "The Little White House" (1927); "'Deed I Do" (1927)

Patti Page--"All My Love" (1950); "The Tennessee Waltz" (1950); "Would I Love You (Love You, Love You)" (1951); "Mockin' Bird Hill" (1951); "Detour" (1951); "And So to Sleep Again" (1951); "I Went to Your Wedding"/"You Belong to Me" (1952); "Why Don't You Believe Me" (1952/3); "The Doggie in the Window" (1953); "Changing Partners" (1953); "Cross Over the Bridge" (1954)

Johnnie Ray--"Cry"/"The Little White Cloud That Cried" (1951); "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" (1952)

Dinah Shore--"Jim" (1941); "Blues in the Night" (1942); "Skylark" (1942); "Why Don't You Fall in Love With Me?" (1943); "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" (1943); "Murder, He Says" (1943); "I'll Walk Alone" (1944); "Candy" (1945); "Laughing on the Outside" (1946); "The Gypsy" (1946); "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" (1946); "You Keep Coming Back Like a Song" (1946); "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons" (1947); "Anniversary Song" (1947); "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" (1947); "You Do" (1947); "Buttons and Bows" (1948); "Baby, It's Cold Outside" (w/Buddy Clark) (1949); "Dear Hearts and Gentle People" (1949/50); "My Heart Cries For You" (1950/1); "Sweet Violets" (1951)

Frank Sinatra--"All or Nothing at All" (1943); "You'll Never Know" (1943); "People Will Say We're in Love" (1943); "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night" (1944); "Saturday Night" (1945); "Dream" (1945); "Oh! What It Seemed to Be"/"Day By Day" (1946); "They Say It's Wonderful" (1946); "Five Minutes More" (1946); "I Believe" (1947); "Mam'selle" (1947); "Goodnight Irene" (1950); "Young at Heart" (1954); "Three Coins in the Fountain" (1954)

Rudy Vallee (and His Connecticut Yankees)--"Sweetheart of All My Dreams" (1929); "Marie" (1929); "Honey" (1929); "Weary River"/"Deep Night" (1929); "I'm Just a Vagabond Lover"; "Lonely Troubador" (1929); "A Little Kiss Each Morning" (1930); "Stein Song" (1930); "If I Had a Girl Like You" (1930; "Betty Co-Ed" (1930); "Confessin' (That I Love You)"; "You're Driving Me Crazy!" (1930/1); "Would You Like to Take a Walk?" (1931); "When Yuba Plays the Rhumba on the Tuba" (1931); "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries" (1931); "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan" (1932); "Let's Put Out the Lights" (1932); "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" (1932); "Just an Echo in the Valley" (1933); "Everything I Have Is Yours" (1934); "Orchids in the Moonlight" (1934); "You Oughta Be in Pictures" (1934); "Lost in a Fog" (1934); "On the Good Ship Lollipop" (1935); "Vieni, Vieni" (1937); "Oh, Ma, Ma" (1938); "As Time Goes By" (1943)

RELATED GENRE: POP SINGING GROUPS

Andrews Sisters--"Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" (1938); "Hold Tight, Hold Tight" (1939); "Beer Barrel Polka" (1939); "Well All Right" (1939); "Say 'Si, Si'" (1940); "Ferryboat Serenade" (1940); "Beat Me, Daddy, Eight to the Bar" (1940/1); "(I'll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time" (1941); "The Shrine of St. Cecilia" (1942/3); "Shoo-Shoo Baby" (1943/4); "Rum and Coca-Cola" (1945); "Rumors Are Flying" (w/Les Paul) (1946); "Near You" (1947); "Civilization" (w/ Danny Kaye) (1947/8); "Toolie Oolie Doolie" (1948); "Underneath the Arches" (1948); "I Can Dream, Can't I?" (1949/50); "I Wanna Be Loved" (1950)

The Crew Cuts--"Sh-Boom" (1954)

The Four Aces--"Sin" (1951); "Tell Me Why" (1951/2); "Stranger in Paradise" (1953/4); "Three Coins in the Fountain" (1954); "Mister Sandman" (1954/5)

The Four Lads--"Istanbul Not Constantinople)" (1953); "Skokiaan" (1954)

The Gaylords--"Tell Me You're Mine" (1952); "From the Vine Came the Grape" (1954); "The Little Shoemaker" (1954)

The Hilltoppers--"Trying" (1952); "I'd Rather Die Young" (1953); "P.S. I Love You" (1953); "To Be Loved"/"Love Walked In" (1953); "From the Vine Came the Grape" (1954); "Till Then" (1954)