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   Vol. 13 No. 86  
Wednesday October 15, 2014

Why Bing Still Matters

Why Bing Crosby Still Matters   

Thirty-seven years ago yesterday, Bing Crosby holed out for an 85 on a golf course near Madrid, Spain. After he and his partner collected their $10 winnings, on his walk to the clubhouse, a massive heart attack suddenly silenced the Voice That Invented American Popular Music.
   That capitalized accolade is not only the opinion of an admittedly fervent fan—it’s a feeling shared by every competent musical and cultural historian. Before Bing first recorded in 1926, male singers were either opera belters or epicene high tenors. Afterward, as one of his most accomplished imitators, Perry Como, said: “You either sang like Bing, or you didn’t eat.”
   By any measure, Bing was the most influential and successful performer of the 20th century. He placed 396 records in the Top 30 charts—Frank Sinatra had 209, Elvis 149 and The Beatles 68. Bing had 42 number one hits—The Beatles had 24, Elvis 18, and Sinatra only 7. His White Christmas is the best-selling record of all time; it made the pop charts 20 separate times and has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. In the movies, Bing was the number one box office star for five consecutive years from 1944-1948, made the top ten 15 times between 1934-1954, and won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1944.
   Staggering statistics aside, the consistent quality (both definitions of the noun apply) in over 50 years of studio recordings and live, radio, and movie performances is Bing's honeyed baritone—casual yet confident, conversational yet conveying the most profound sentiments. A cursory listen to today’s most popular songs (a brief survey is all I can stomach) reveals the virtues of class, taste, and subtle craft have somehow gone missing.
   Fortunately, we can still revel in these elements by viewing a “best of” list compiled by both myself and fellow devotee, Geoffrey.
Michael Kelly

Michael is Cargo Communications Manager at United Cargo.

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