Frank Sinatra and Michael Bublé — a comparison

by admin on March 14, 2010 · 73 comments

in Audiophiles and Musicians

by Harry Currie

Harry Currie is a conductor, arts writer, musician, and singer who was a vocal lead in BBC TV’s legendary Black and White Minstrel Show, had an HMV recording contract, and in 1989 was under consideration to play Frank Sinatra in Living Legends in Concert in Las Vegas. He declined for personal reasons.

Michael Bublé is a very fine vocalist. Let’s make no mistake about that. He has arrived on a scene which has lain pretty much fallow since Frank Sinatra’s vocal decline in later years and eventual death in 1998. The splash made by Harry Connick Jr. has largely abated, and Bublé is the flavour of the month, so to speak, for those who have enough appreciation to understand and appreciate good popular music and good singing.

Comparisons are inevitable, however, especially as Bublé has borrowed some Sinatra arrangements note for note – Come Fly With Me, for example. Some writers have expressed the opinion that Bublé is the new Sinatra for the modern age, and in some ways they are perfectly correct. But Bublé is appealing largely to a present-day audience that could be compared to Sinatra’s bobby-sox fans in the forties, but with neither the huge numbers nor the fervour and fanaticism that propelled Sinatra into the international idol he became from 1941 to 1949. That can’t happen today in this field.

Though the casual listener might very well think that Bublé is on a par with Sinatra both vocally and stylistically, to those who are discerning and possess a sense of musical integrity there are marked differences between the two singers.

Bublé has a great flair for note and phrase decoration, obviously influenced by modern pop singers. He can dance around the original melodic line with great flexibility, but only in short phrases. This isn’t vocal jazz improvisation as such, certainly not the vocalise of which Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme or Jon Hendricks were masters. And this kind of phrase decoration is certainly not new, for most classical singers in the Baroque era of music in the 17th and 18th centuries did it constantly, especially in recitative. But decoration like this is merely showmanship, no matter how well it’s done. It’s the kid on the bicycle saying “Look, Ma, no hands!” It’s calculated and carefully studied for effect. Bublé has a tendency to overdo it, and this is often not in keeping with the musicality or intended mood of the song.

Sinatra never did any of this. Even if he were aware of what the pop singers did, he would never have tried to emulate it. Sinatra was the pioneer who set a new standard for the American Popular Song. A pioneer starts with what others have done before him, builds on that, and sets out in a direction both unique and experimental. The Sinatra of the 40s was not the Sinatra of the 50s and 60s, for he had evolved and matured in those ten years, and he became definitive. Sinatra never calculated phrases or tricks of any kind for effect. His bending of phrases and occasional note substitutions are completely natural. When he sang it came from his heart, a spontaneous outpouring of vocal sound from his own life experiences that framed the words and music like no one had done before and no one has done since, though many have tried.

The vocal mechanism and the voice quality you have are pretty much what you are born with. It’s possible to learn how to better moderate this through proper use of the diaphragm for breath control and support, and you can spend years with a vocal teacher gradually building toward the voice you hope to achieve. But the sound is still largely what you inherited. Bublé has a great voice, strong, flexible, and with a wide range of dynamics and pitch. But he does have a slight harsh edge to the quality of sound, very noticeable when he sings softly. Sinatra has a much smoother sound, whether he sings in a gentle bel canto or soars loud and high, and this does much to add to the enjoyment of his artistry.

Sinatra was a man in conflict with himself. He was a bon vivant, a philanderer, a drinker, smoker, an occasional brawler, he loved with passion and lost with devastation, and he could never reconcile this with the person he knew he really was in the depth of his being. The flippant, insouciant presence he displayed was only a mask to hide his fears, guilt and insecurities. The only glimpse of the real Sinatra came through his singing, and in his song interpretations he revealed the joy, happiness, loneliness and despair which had shaped his life and his art in a way no singer had ever done before, and the sincerity he expressed was unparalleled. He not only believed in the words, he caressed them, and probably in this way found some release from his personal torments.

There were many male vocalists who sang a good song – Bing Crosby, Vic Damone, Dick Haymes, Sammy Davis Jr., Andy Williams, Harry Connick Jr. to name a few, and Michael Bublé rates among them. But not one of them ever got deep inside the lyrics and music as Sinatra did. In albums like For Only the Lonely and one of my favourites, Close to You, the heartbreak is maintained from the beginning to the end of both the songs and throughout the album. Yet listen to the early Swing Easy on Capitol and Songs for Swingin’ Lovers, a single like I’ve Got the World on a String or the Reprise version of Come Fly With Me, the Sinatra-Basie albums, and the happy, joyful exuberance is so infectious and real that you can’t help smiling.

For all Bublé’s listenable good work it’s just Bublé being Bublé, trying to impress and dazzle with his virtuosity, and he certainly does it well, though often at the expense of the integrity of the song. But it doesn’t grab you by the throat or lift you out of your seat as Sinatra’s recordings can still do. Bublé has yet to establish his own persona through his music, and that may take years, even if he has the staying ability. So far he’s tried to cover all the popular musical genres to show he can do it, but he has yet to emerge as Michael Bublé.

We should all be thankful that Bublé is around, keeping ballads and swing alive with great orchestrations. But when the legendary conductor Herbert Von Karajan was asked in a BBC interview who he considered the greatest singer in the world, without a moment’s hesitation he named Frank Sinatra.

When Sinatra was the recipient of a Kennedy Center Honours Award in 1983, President Ronald Reagan said that “art is the shadow of humanity, and Frank Sinatra has spent his life casting a magnificent and powerful shadow.” Every male singer of ballads and swing after Frank Sinatra, including Michael Bublé, will always be in that shadow. There will never be another Sinatra.

{ 1 trackback }

lyric » Blog Archive » Frank Sinatra and Michael Bublé — a comparison — Audiophilia
02.16.09 at 12:27 pm

{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

Martin Appel 02.16.09 at 2:43 pm

Interesting article and I agree with your analysis. I also appreciate both singers, especially Frank but I also feel that Buble has to be given time to ripen and mature. Buble is a voice that is uncommon in today’s pop music culture and is also trying to adjust to two differnt worlds; the more classic style of Sinatra and the ‘bling bling’ world of pop production. This is a tough bridge to straddle. Whose doing his marketing and promotion? What is his target market. Are you lamenting the fact that he’s not aiming at Sinatra’s market? Are we just old codgers who can’t stop the dumbing down of standards? Right now I’m just happy that THE POWERS TO BE allow a Buble to even get recorded. Time will tell.

admin 02.16.09 at 2:50 pm

David Foster discovered Bublé singing in a Vancouver club. He knows how to develop and produce talent. But, as Harry writes, the soul is not quite there yet. I am in complete agreement with the article.

Jay 02.23.09 at 3:38 pm

Another great Sinatra album: “Francis Albert Sinatra with Antonio Carlos Jobim”. He goes places Mr. Buble can only dream about (at least for now).

admin 02.24.09 at 7:00 am

Maybe I can get Harry to comment on why Sinatra did not particularly like the Jobim album.

:)

Martin Appel 02.24.09 at 4:04 pm

Another great Frank album is ‘FRANCIS A. & EDWARD K.’ That’s Francis Albert Sinatra joining with Edward Kennedy Ellington(that’s DUKE if you didn’t know) and his band in a fabulous joining of shear genious and musical enjoyment.

David 02.26.09 at 10:27 pm

Mr. Currie’s observations are spot on. I tell my young daughters that there are many people who have good voices but very few who are good singers. Performances that strike a cord with our head and our hearts. I’m not completely familiar with Mr. Buble’s body of work, but that is because I identified what I have heard as rather derivative. In fact his music inevitably would lead me to play the real thing - Sinatra. A contemporary female singer who inspires and owns nearly every song she sings is Stacey Kent. How does she do it? - Obviously with great joy. Does one have to have a colorful life of joy and pain to be a creative singer? Is that what separates the artists that connect us to our souls?

admin 02.26.09 at 10:38 pm

I shall search out Stacey Kent, hitherto, unknown to me. Thanks, David. Great comment, BTW!

Cheers, a

Harry Currie 03.14.09 at 11:58 am

A follow up:

During the past century there have been many male vocalists who have sung a good song with fine voices and in many personal and different styles. In revisiting many of Frank Sinatra’s recordings over the past few weeks I realized what made the difference. The rest were singers. Sinatra was an artist.

Trudy 03.17.09 at 8:07 am

I’m a huge fan of Michael Bublé! He’s here and cutting new records. In comparison to many new artists, his voice is lovely, refreshing. Here’s a guy doing what he loves, and I really hope he continues to develop! He definitely reminds us of Sinatra and maybe this fact will inspire younger generations to give Sinatra a listen. (Sinatra is “the natural”) Great article Anthony!

admin 03.17.09 at 8:36 am

Thanks for the comment, Trudy. Actually, it was written by one of our writers, the great Harry Currie. A Sinatra scholar and brilliant singer/musician in his own right.

Cheers, Anthony

:)

Harry Currie 03.18.09 at 9:59 am

Since Anthony has goaded me, I must comment on Sinatra/Jobim. The album recorded in 1967 and released as Francis Albert Sinatra/Antonio Carlos Jobim is a gem. Arranged and conducted by Claus Ogerman, everything came together pretty much as Sinatra had hoped. The delightful duet between the two on Girl From Ipanema was Frank’s idea, trading English and Portugese lyrics, and the tag at the end in harmony was figured out by Sinatra. Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars and my own favourite, Dindi (pronounced Gingi), are so gentle and introspective they can bring tears to your eyes.

Frank was so pleased with this LP that he planned a second. This was to be called Sinatra/Jobim, and the 11 tracks were recorded in 1969, arranged by Eumir Deodato and conducted by Morris Stoloff. An 8-track was actually released, the cover picture was of Frank standing casually behind a Greyhound bus. The 8-track was very quickly pulled from release and the LP didn’t happen. If memory serves me correctly the album was to have had the number FS1028. The reason was that in retrospect Frank was not happy with Tom Jobin’s vocal sounds on several tracks, but to say why that was so would be politically incorrect. Some of the tracks that Frank felt were okay were included on the LP Sinatra & Company. The 3 tracks that Sinatra were most unhappy about were Bonita, Sabia and Desafinado.

The first 2 were released in 1979 in a double LP collection called The Sinatra-Jobim Sessions, but only in Brazil, and that LP was never released in any other format or in any other country. Desafinado, or Off Key, was not heard until The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings of Sinatra’s work was released in 1998.

Frank and Tom Jobim did collaborate one more time in 1994 on Duets II with Fly Me to th Moon, but these Duets CDs are so phoned in and overdubbed that many serious Sinatra fans and collectors don’t consider them valid Sinatra.

OK, Anthony????

admin 03.18.09 at 10:03 am

Good enough, buddy!

:)

Maarten M 10.28.09 at 5:41 pm

Frank is a great mind and a great soul. An amazing energy. I guess that’s what makes the difference. I believe you can recognize artists like that on the spot. No mater what musical genre. They give you this instant state of alertness. It’s a feeling. For me, people like him stimulate the senses of the listener in a few more layers than the average. Sinatra is multi dimensional. It’s like a recipe with some extra, hidden ingredients. Bublé sure is a great singer, especially given the standard of pop music today, but he’s way less complex. To continue the comparison, when I first heard Bublé, I felt like he got blown away by the big band backing him up, although he was mixed up in the front. While Sinatra, well, he tends to blow away the big band. Of course he’s way to musical to ever really do that, but his voice has this quality to stand up against the band, which he has obviously in his pocket like a experienced conductor. One every century, my guess…

admin 10.28.09 at 6:34 pm

Thanks for the great letter, Maarten. Cheers, a

julie 02.08.10 at 8:35 am

I miss the soul in Buble’s singing. Been to a concert, he lacks of charisma. Wanna hear real soul, heart, talent and a unique voice ? Listen to Willy Deville.

admin 02.08.10 at 9:13 am

Welcome, Julie. And thanks for the recommendation.

Cheers, a

hemingway 61 02.22.10 at 1:44 pm

The nearest thing to Sinatra has allways been Tony Bennett.

Sinatra was at his best as his voice deepened and matured, imo, he was also extremely lucky to come along when he did .coinciding with a large amount of the American Song Book being created.
He was the first artist to record what became known as “concept albums”.
I like Buble and have seen him live a couple of times, I live in hopes that ,like Sinatra his voice with mature into a stunning interprative instrument

admin 02.22.10 at 6:42 pm

Thanks for the great comment. And welcome. Cheers, a

Tspin 03.10.10 at 3:02 pm

I love them both. I find Buble a little more flexible though. As fara s Buble not staying within the integrity of the song? If Sinatra has already done that, why not venture out and add some of your own style. I find people a bit too critical I say just enjoy Fanks music and enjoy Michael’s music and live performances while you still can. It may be a while before the next one comes….

admin 03.10.10 at 9:25 pm

Many thanks for your comment. Welcome. Cheers, a

Greta 03.12.10 at 4:07 pm

Just a fan of good music, whose first album purchase was Sinatra in the 50’s. When I heard Connick, I thought nice voice, hohum. When I heard Buble I thought WOW! It is so unfair to compare Sinatra’s body of work and life experience to the young Buble. Personally, after thinking no one would ever reach Sinatra or Fitzgerald, I now only think that of Fitzgerald. Try comparing Sinatra’s early work to Buble’s. Only time will tell if Buble will have the staying power, and be able to put his soul and life experience into interpretation as Sinatra did. Buble already has a superior voice.

admin 03.12.10 at 4:19 pm

Great comment, Greta. With all the way except for the last sentence.

Cheers, a

Donovan Moore 03.13.10 at 4:42 pm

Good post and very well thought out comments about Sinatra vs the others.

I tend to think that Josh Groban- also produced by David Foster has the “voice”. But to each his own.

Philip Wagner 04.04.10 at 11:27 am

Although it is obvious that Buble can sing (every if he disects the songs he sings into shorter phrases and sings them bit by bit), his style when he sings Sinatra and Nat King Cole songs is wrong. He has tried, subtley, to introduce a feeling of pop into the swing he sings, and i find that just doesn’t end well. He may sing the songs, but he isnt a Sinatra, he isnt a Nat King Cole, he isnt even a Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire in singing talent if you ask me.

admin 04.04.10 at 11:44 am

Many thanks for your post, Philip. And welcome. Cheers, a

John Evans 06.10.10 at 11:16 am

Harry
Absolutely spot on and i find it amazing that anyone would mention Mchael Buble in the same breath as Sinatra (never mind trying to compare ?) who was unique and original.
Michael unfortunately comes accoss as contrived with no real power or feeling in his voice, also Sinatra had an incredible charisma and always looked and dressed like the superstar he was!
Having seen Sinatra up close in his prime and in his later years i concur with Terry Oneill the photographer that nobody came even close to him !
My wife heard Michael singing “Cry me a river ” on the radio and described it as truly painful i responded by digging out the Julie London version !
Chalk and Cheese as they say !

John Evans 06.10.10 at 11:18 am

Moderation do you meannwatered down ?

admin 06.10.10 at 12:28 pm

Thanks for the comments, John. And, welcome. Cheers, a

Spence 06.28.10 at 12:55 am

Thanks for the article and for all the comments. I am a Sinatra fan - for most of my 42 years. I grew up with my grandparents and my grandfather in particular was a huge Sinatra fan. There came a time in my life, maybe like so many others, when I thought this music was out-dated. But in my late 20’s, after having gone from hair-bands to rap to country to metal (speed/death) and just about anything else that was out there, I came full circle back to Sinatra. So I have rarely gone a day for the past 15 year without listening to Sinatra.

I do like HCJ and MB. They have good stuff. I like that HCJ experimented with some different sounds. Some I liked, some I didn’t. But I’m still waiting for someone who will really “grab” me. I haven’t got that yet and I doubt that it will happen in my lifetime. I am thankful that my grandfather introduced Sinatra music to me. I have done the same with my children.

Cammy 11.27.10 at 6:48 pm

I get a little tense when I hear HCJ being compared with MB. Michael, I’m sure is a charming young man, but Harry’s right on the money in this article. It’s all pre-determined; in many ways it’s bound to be in this day and age, and artists such as Bublé have a great stock of these ornaments, but it’s like a cream that’s been overworked.

Harry Connick has something, however that Frank never had, for he is a consummate performer as a pianist and is one of the few arrangers who are attempting to push the envelope in their arrangements. Instead of dismissing his more inventive arrangements, I try to persevere; they tend to make sense after maybe ten or twelve exposures and I grow as a musician from listening to him. And I must say, as a singer there is a good deal more spontaneity there, in my humble, than M. Bublé. To me, HCJ is an inheritor of Satchmo in at least equal measure as Frank, perhaps more so.

I hope with time and maturity to hear something less safe and commercial from Michael; he certainly has chops in the arrangement arena, as evinced by the now iconic intro to his arrangement of “Cry Me a River” (although its really just a reworking of “Feeling Good”, it does manage to sound suitably cinematic - I was convinced it was sampled from elsewhere! It seemed so familiar). He’ll only find his way if he continues to be encouraged by the community, so I do genuinely wish him well.

admin 11.27.10 at 6:55 pm

Thanks for the note, Cammy. And, welcome.

Cheers, a

Adam 03.27.11 at 9:41 am

Unfortunately I just see the same pro Sinatra rhetoric here that does not properly examine the artist. For one, he never did any “vocal jazz improvisation” or “scat” because he couldn’t do it for toffee and one of his few scat phrases “ring-a-ding-ding”, was stolen from somebody else. This is well documented and was touched on in Rat Pack Confidential.

If you’re going to compare him to Buble by all means do so, Sinatra will more than likely come up on top for a few reasons and that’s fine given that Michael Buble is only half-way through his career and is of a different generation. The great conductors, composers and arrangers of the “glory period” are all but gone and it is all a bit more “popy” nowadays. I did find Buble’s “All of Me” quite upsetting when measured to Frank’s.

Do not, however, try to say “Bing Crosby, Vic Damone, Dick Haymes, Sammy Davis Jr., Andy Williams”, never tapped a song as Sinatra did. That is an evident bias that I wouldn’t expect - you only confirm this by considering them singers and Sinatra an Artist. Really? It’s upsetting to the point of it being ignorant

Sammy did songs like “I’ve Gotta Be Me” that Sinatra couldn’t touch and Sintra did songs like “Summer Wind” that perhaps weren’t as suited for Sammy either. Crosby had a really rich bottom end that Sinatra couldn’t match on songs like Swinging On A Star and Sinatra’s version lacks the appeal and gayity of the Crosby version. There’s give and take on who’s better at what but I can not take an article like this seriously and would not expect such a one sided view if you are indeed the Canadian vocalist (among other things) Harry Currie. It’s a real disappointment.

It’s probably not the best idea to imply that people who don’t agree with you lack a certain musical integrity when all you have done is show a lack of integrity through an evident bias.

Sincerely,

Adam

John Evans 04.05.11 at 1:10 pm

When I played Sinatra, Buble, Connick and even Robbie Williams and Rod Stewart for an opinion from the the 28 year old boyfriend of my daughter.
Who was not familier with any of them-he came out on the side of Sinatra as having more power, more fullness of voice, more into the song
with regards to the general feel and wonderful timing .
He felt in his words that the others sounded rather muffled and sang over the music rather than with itwith a cursory feel for the songs generally !
Only his opinion but I thought it quite astute particularly as he was raised on music totally different !

John Evans
Wokingham Berks.

John Evans 04.05.11 at 1:27 pm

Dont forget Bobby Darin - he was streets ahead of all the names mentioned-with the exception of Sinatra.
His enormous hit where he did an impersonation of Sinatras singing style with” “Mack the Knife” must be one of the best singles ever recorded !

John Evans
Wokingham
Berks

Adam 04.10.11 at 6:43 am

Hello John,

Darin idolised Sinatra but I don’t know where you get “impersonation” from? You just have to listen to Frank’s version of Mack the Knife, nothing alike (!). A lot of the songs Sinatra did that Darin himself covered came out completely different, take for example “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”. I’ve seen Darin’s described as a motown version. They did very different things in records and also live performances.

For the selection you played your daughter’s boyfriend I would agree with you and him in Sinatra being the most accomplished. It’s nice that Connick can play the piano to a high standard but looking purely at the vocal - Sinatra all the way. (I don’t think Robbie Williams lives on the same planet as the others mentioned). I wish you’d played others of Sinatra’s era as well as it would have been interesting to hear his opinion.

I do agree Darin was one of the best of the era but when I mention his name to younger people alongside the likes of the Rat Pack, the response I get is “Bobby who?”, this is coming from musical people (sigh). Darin died so young at 37 years old and did some great (if not so popular) folk music for awhile and pretty much lost a year after the devastation the assassination of Robert Kennedy caused him. Personally I think he easily deserves a spot in a “best crooners” category but I have a hard time arguing his corner because he spread himself out more and didn’t have as many big hits in the genre as say Nat King Cole who also died comparatively young (45).

All the best,

Adam

John Evans 04.10.11 at 2:53 pm

Hi Adam
Thanks for the response
Maybe style would have been a better description than impersonation ?
But please bear in mind the Sinatra of 1959 was much different from the 80s when he finally recorded this song , listen to “River stay away from my door” recorded by Sinatra in the same period.
Darin certainly did try to be Sinatra -witness all the recordings he made with Capital records but on his own admission never made it-but in my opinion the nearest rival !
Whenever I have the slightest doubt due to the overhyping that goes on today regarding the new kids on the block-I only have to play Sinatra -Basie with Frank swinging like crazy with the Basie band and Frank Foster blowing his brains out on tenor sax, to realise that the greats of the 20th century with regard to big bands and Jazz will never be repeated because you cannot improve on perfection!

Best Regards
John

Mike 04.21.11 at 7:03 am

I won’t try to compete with the erudition and insight of other contributors, only to say this. Michael Buble is a couple of years shy of Sinatra’s age when he first recorded for Capitol, so I think it’s fair to say that particular quantum leap is unlikely to happen in the same time-frame. However, I believe that Michael Buble should be compared, if indeed compared to anyone, to Tony Bennett. Which is not to deny the talent of either. Tony Bennett was very commercial in the ’50s, became definitive in the 60s, got lost and returned as the great iconic figure. Maybe Michael will have to get ‘lost’ to become the artist. Maybe as abandoned as Sinatra to become truely great.
However, I have faith that if anyone can, Michael Buble can.

Adam 04.22.11 at 7:08 pm

Hello again John,

I do agree that “River Stay Away From My Door” sounds more like something Darin would also do, however looking at the artists as a whole they have more discrepancies than similarities. Darin was very prone to adding his own character to a song in a way I don’t see from Sinatra. There’s a great video of him singing live one of the songs he penned himself “That Funny Feeling” where Darin forgets the words to his own song. The way he casually handles it is, in my opinion, fantastic (he does something similar in a live perfomance of “Talk to the Animals”), I find it a rarity when going wrong in a song doesn’t detract from it . In songs like Mack the Knife, Darin adds that certain something I don’t see Frank doing - “lies a body, oozing life - >EEE!<”. He does something quite unique and charming with “They All Laughed”, where the laughter on the track is provided by comedian (and his friend) George Burns. Burns gets carried away at the end and Darin simpy tells him “The records over!”. There’s also a great video of Darin singing the Newley & Bricusse hit “Once in a Lifetime” to a nice up-tempo beat that I feel further underscores the differences between the artists, especially their live performances. Then there’s Darin’s protest period to consider where he ripped out his hair piece and donned some “groovy” jeans. There was something more manic about Darin, I can’t recall the book but he was compared with Jolson for this reason. Attitude/manner wise Darin reminds me of Donald O’connor.

I enjoy both Sinatra and Darin but for very different reasons. Which is why I think we will be agreeing to disagree! Hoho. Although I’m quite happy to contine the discussion if you are.

All the best,

Adam

p.s.

Mike - Nicely said.

admin 04.22.11 at 7:34 pm

Great stuff, guys. Thanks for the great comments.

Cheers, a

John Evans 04.27.11 at 8:38 am

Mike
Yes I can agree Buble another Bennett but Sinatra never !

Best Regards

John

John Evans 04.27.11 at 9:16 am

Adam
Good comeback !
I agree Bobby Darin had a great stage persona, but having seen Sinatra and Darin at their best close up live -I can assure you that as great as Darin was -Sinatra did move less,but had exceptional charisma on stage and being an original never needed to copy other peoples mannerisms.
Surprising that you dont think say “Come Fly with me” did not have Franks character stamped all over it ?
With regard to Michael Buble, he is extremely lucky being young, and having no competition at all in attempting to pick up where Frank left off.
I recently heard his latest “Do you wanna be a rock star” very ordinary song and performance, but is unique to him but typical of what people will accept these days.
It would appear that generally people would rather buy pale versions of the originals rather than the real thing !

Keep Swingin
John

Adam 05.06.11 at 12:03 pm

Hi again John!

You’ve seen them both live? … I’m extremely jealous, where, when, how many times? (Deep breath) Did you see any other members of the rat pack besides Sinatra (or anyone else for that matter)? I feel like derailing our conversation and asking you 20 questions… Did you see Sammy Davis Jr. live? Jimmy Durante? (I must stop myself)

I don’t know if Darin copied the likes of Donald O’connor in his manner but he was one of the people I’ve seen Darin list as liking along with Sinatra and I have noticed similarities in their speech patterns. The word “copy” leaves me feeling uneasy given how unique Darin ultimately is as an artist (the genres he covered, the songs he wrote, the amount of instruments he played to a high standard not to mention the way he moved - very differently to a trained dancer like O’connor).

Ummm, “Come Fly With Me” is surely Frank’s song as is “New York, New York”, “All the Way” and many others that bear his character & stamp. I’m a little confused?

I think the Buble song you’re referring to is “Hollywood”. I prefer his songs to many other recent songs but none of them quite stack up to the songs of old for me. Perhaps it’s because they’re stuck somewhere between modern songs and the “old fashioned” songs I love. Also I can’t quite warm to his voice as much - it’s like he sings with a strong accent, which isn’t something that is so predominant to me with any other singer from an English speaking background (with exceptions to the likes of Harry Belafonte who talks with an american accent and sings in a Jamaican accent, although Belafonte’s voice has never detracted for me). I still like Buble a lot (especially in today’s musical climate) but it really strikes me sometimes when he sings.

All the best,

Adam

John Evans 05.19.11 at 10:15 am

Adam

All good stuff .

In conclusion if we return to the original argument Sinatra-Buble
I really become quite agitated when I listen to Buble -because I am comparing him where it occurs with the original.
There is one Henry mancini song currently being featured on a british television ad-where the original was sung by Buddy Greco -and Buble literally tortures it !
The best way I can think of to describe the comparison is when I first heard Sinatra singing” Birth of the Blues- as a youngster -he literally took you by the scruff of the neck and involved you completelywith a totally new style at that time .
Michael has nothing that makes you really go wow - is average looking and moves a bit stiff ,but in todays market it is rather like Boxing-where is the competition ?
He is probably a very nice guy but never likely to be a legend -however to be fair Sinatra was also a great actor when he wanted to be which added to the overall !
I will give Michael credit for one thing, he spotted a gap in the market where the only people left singing the american songbook were people like Robbie Wiliams , Rod Stewart and even Cliff Richard- it dont get much worse than that ?

Very Best Regards

John

Alan B 05.25.11 at 12:49 am

Wonderful article, and very thoughtful comments, too. Frank is on top but I have always enjoyed Buble, for the same reason I enjoy Krall and Josh Redman too, I guess: It’s nice to hear living artists! I used to jokingly say Buble was more like Sinatra Jr, until I heard That Face! by the younger Frank. Very nice record, that.
Comparing the different versions of Feeling Good by Buble and Frank Jr. is an interesting and enjoyable exercise!

Dee 10.02.11 at 2:31 pm

i love love looove frank Sinatra, i am 18 and the only people i can share Sinatra with our my old neighbours *sigh* i reallly appreciate Buble, he has a more modern sound and its was actually through Buble I found Sinatra. I am just glad my generation has Micheal Buble.

Dazman in Oz 10.22.11 at 11:01 pm

Give me a break, Bublehead isn`t even on the same solar system as Sinatra.
He’s ok and best of luck to him ’cause the marketing from his record co has helped him heaps.

christianx 12.06.11 at 8:34 pm

If there’s one singer coming anywhere close to Frank Sinatra these days and that has performed during the last decades, it would be Harry Connick Jr., but certainly not Michael Buble. Connick Jr. has a much more powerful voice with much more more soul and sex appeal. Besides, he’s much more versatile. Buble is not bad, but Connick Jr. is far ahead of him.

admin 12.06.11 at 9:15 pm

Thanks for the thoughtful post, Christian.

Cheers, a

Matt 12.07.11 at 1:12 pm

Great article! So glad I found it. After reading through all the posts, many are bordering idolatry regarding Sinatra. I agree with an earlier post mentioning Ella Fitzgerald. I’ve never heard a voice like hers. To say her voice was an instrument is more than just an expression. She played it flawlessly. Her voice was not only naturally beautiful, but her technique was brilliant. What I liked most about Sinatra and even more so with Ella,was an innate ability to express emotion through singing. That’s where Buble fails. I believe this even after watching his Christmas special last night. Buble seams to be an astute observer of the standards. He has a grasp on imitating certain characteristics, bu t lacks the sincerity. Regardless, I love listening to him. I so prefer the song to sound genuine over technical superiority though. And, that’s why I actually prefer a nasally Harry Connick Jr over Buble. I would like to read more comparisons between these two singers. Seeing them both, I thought HCJ had way more charisma. Women were swooning after that mischievous smile of his. My two cents anyway. Again, great article! Great posts!

admin 12.07.11 at 1:19 pm

Great comments, Matt.

Thx, a

Harold 12.07.11 at 7:55 pm

Harry Currie is obviously a knowledgeable musician and as such his appraisal of of MB is remarkably open and charitable. I’ve heard the latter and although seemingly a nice enough guy- appropriately self-deprecating in interviews- his talents seem very limited. Musically his interpretations seem to fight the song rather than add to it, and generally to me he invites comparison more to Bill Murray than to Sinatra.

Mike Mercer 12.08.11 at 3:45 am

Admittedly, I wasn’t a fan of Buble until my wife played some of his early stuff many years ago. She was a musical theater actress and singer (and boy can she belt - it’s how she won my heart actually, singin’ in Washington Square Park at my request, on our FIRST date, which was a blind date btw - 14 years later) - so she was a fan of Buble (didn’t he start in musical theater, I admit ignorance here). But, having grown up hearing Sinatra on my grandfather’s stereo system (who was the only audiophile in my family - and seriously influenced my curiosity about Hifi) I must say, for ME - it’s not even close: Sinatra in the first round, knock-out in under a minute!!!

admin 12.08.11 at 5:34 am

Right with you, Mike.

Buble has let ‘the life’ invade his art. Only natural when you’re number 3 or 4 on the money makers for the year — $70 million!!!! Wonderful singer, but destined to live in the shadow of Frank and Ella. Even Tony can’t break into that duo.

BTW, MIke, you and the author, the great one, Harry Currie should meet one day. I’ve known him since the day I was born. He’s one of the greatest musicians I know, a fabulous writer, and has had more experiences in life than just about anybody living or dead. A legend.

He also had the first set of commercial Quads in England. (Jaw drops!)

Cheers, a

John 12.08.11 at 7:08 pm

I THINK THE PROBLEM with many of these vocal comparisons is people really dont have the talent in the ears to recognize that this guy doesn’t actually sound like Sinatra.
The same comparisons were being made between Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston at first. Just because someone sings in the same style doesnt mean they have the same precise TONE.
If Im playing a violin and 2 other guys are playing electric guitars with different amps–one might say those other 2 sound the same. But anyone who knows guitar and amp tone will hear the striking differences between the actual TONE.

So comparing these 2, as if they are truly close in terms of tone is the ranting of unprofessional ears. I dont care is someone gets paid to hear—I care if someone actually can hear as a Phenom. These 2 voices wouldnt even come close on a CIA voice match.
Last, Sinatra was Not the be all, end all, of tone. He had plenty of weaknesses. Mike has the benefit of singing in an era where all the lush detail of the voice is on full display so again..comparisons are going to fall short in more ways than one..
I would suggest people to learn more about the tone between different instruments through critical listening and then apply what they’ve learned to the voice.

admin 12.09.11 at 9:14 pm

I can guarantee that Harry Curry has two ears. And two of the finest in the business.

And I think his fabulous essay is more about style than TIMBRE, anyway.

Cheers, a

Neil 01.10.12 at 7:17 pm

Hello All!
Being a very devout Sinatra fan myself, I was quick to discard Buble a mere imitation…which in truth he was initially, but has come a long way since as is evident in his live performance videos. His charisma has grown and his delivery can never be Sinatra because essentially when doing a song Sinatra did originally or made famous, any interpretation will come across as sub par. Harry Connick is in a different class of musician altogether. He is a natural talent who has honed his craft in composition, arrangement and performance and a real jazz musician with limitless piano chops. No one has been able to deliver like Frank and really no one wants someone to try and out do him. He reached Legendary status and that’s that. Buble is doing what he loves to do and doing it quite well enough to keep the masses happy! Not to mention it helps keep those timeless tunes alive!

admin 01.10.12 at 7:30 pm

Welcome, Neil. Thanks for the great comment. Cheers, a

Taylor 03.02.12 at 1:14 am

I’m 15, and I absolutley adore Sinatra! My topic for a compare and contrast essay is Frank Sinatra vs. Michael Buble.. although there is no argument. As said above, “There will never be another Sinatra.”

E 03.16.12 at 5:21 am

Sinatra also recorded almost all of the over 900 (plus) Pop Standards. More, in fact, than any other artist. He and his recordings are the standard of how those songs should be arranged, performed and recorded. Even if you choose to do them more different or contemporary…you had best first acknowledge the fundamentals.

Jim H. 04.12.12 at 11:44 pm

Interesting discussion here. I am just getting into standards, so I’m no expert, but I do think this discussion is slightly unfair to MB. Specifically, I think it’s important to keep something in mind. Namely, MB is in an unenviable position. Frank defined this genre - in many minds he *is* the Great American Songbook. So if you sing standards, you get compared to Frank. If you imitate Frank, you’re basically just a Sinatra cover band. If you try something new, you are invariably “doing it wrong” or not “respecting the song.”

I suspect this is why more modern artists don’t attempt this genre. They know if they do, they’ll be compared to Frank rather than considered on their own merit, and they will thus be found wanting.

I respect what MB has done. He has a stunning voice, and successful as he has been, he probably could have been moreso had he gone into “modern” Pop. Instead, he stuck to real music that he loved. He certainly doesn’t have the overall command that Frank did - yet. But certain songs… certain renditions.. he is truly excellent.

I’d encourage everyone here, when they hear MB or any other artist singing these songs, to try to listen with an open mind and NOT compare them to Frank. Instead, consider the rendition on its own merits. You might be pleasantly surprised. It may not be better than Frank - but that doesn’t mean it’s worse either. It’s just different - and different isn’t the enemy!

If we want the Great American Songbook to survive - to remain relevant - we have to get past comparing everything to Mr. Sinatra, as excellent as he was.

admin 04.13.12 at 2:33 am

Thanks for the insightful comment, Jim. And welcome.

Cheers, a

Bill Konrad 05.12.12 at 10:09 am

Sometimes Sinatra can transport me to a place I can’t even identify, for a moment in time I experience a feeling of magic that passes all too soon. He seems to share his soul. I cannot comment on his art in the critical manner of some, I can only say that listening to Sinatra is, for me, almost a religious experience. As for Michael Buble, I have enjoyed his “live” performances on two occasions. I found him to be
a superb performer and an excellent singer, probably the best since Sinatra, but as been suggested many times before, there is and was only one Sinatra.

Lamyae 08.25.12 at 9:42 pm

The voice of Sinatra, the way he sings, his lyrics, his music.. make me smile, cry.. When I listen to Buble, I enjoy it because he certainly has a beautiful voice but doesn’t touch me like Frank’s voice does! And I sincerly think that the best Buble sang is Sinatra’s songs! I didn’t like his new songs! The funny thing is that I discovered Buble before Sinatra, I should thank him for that because every day I fall in love with a song of Frank! Shame on me, I have never been interested by his music before, but it’s never too late :) I’m waiting for his biopic by Scorsese! Thank you for this article and for all the comments!

Bill Konrad 11.23.12 at 7:39 am

Buble is Buble unique and talented, a great showman with charismatic stage presence, however, to make a comparison with Sinatra is not a doable task. It would be like trying to compare the sun to the moon, both are round and both have their individual charm but they cannot be compared. There have been many great singers, Vic Damone, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Tony Bennet and on and on, some were technically better some had better voices but none could compare with the genius of Sinatra.

kurt wieting 12.27.12 at 9:30 pm

I for one, find it disgusting-yes that is the word that describes my reaction to Michael Buble ripping off Sinatra’s EXACT arrangements. He is no artist. If he were,his internal integrity would not permit him to to a “Sinatra -Lite” EXACTcopy. He would make his own statement of these great songs with a new arrangement. This is nothing more than well- produced Karaoke. It’s crap. And it offends me. And shold offend anyone who is a fan of Frank Sinatra. This guy is a shallow opportunistic punk.

kurt wieting 12.27.12 at 9:49 pm

I should say that this action of using Frank’s exact arrangements is shallow and opportunistic. I don’t know michael buble. he may very well be a nice guy. But he
would be much better served if he utilized the people around him to come up with something original when presenting these great songs.

Keith Payne 12.30.12 at 8:18 am

Just found this and read most of the comments. I knew Frank, Vic Damone, Dino Martin, and a few others mentioned back in the early seventies. When Frankie was planning his Caesar’s performance, most of us thought he was not ready. His voice had not come back, and he frequently could not remember the song words, (more so than before). A friend, Peter Epsteen, had the live performance taped. Gibbons and I didn’t go to the opening because we were afraid of the outcome. I DID get a copy of the tape, and it was not at all the Sinatra we knew. Glad we didn’t have to suffer backstage after that performance. But, I believe it finally shook him up enough to curtail the activities causing the loss of his voice. Not only that, he was seen more frequently in Palm Springs where we all lived without the accompaniment of Jilly who was usually able to “keep him in line”. Frankie really changed, and I saw it….others who knew him did also. His voice returned. Although it was different, it still had the Sinatra charm and was more vibrant if possible. He had been through a tough time for an entertainer…………the fear that he had lost it. It scared him and made him a better man for it.

As for Buble and Conick, I was glad to see that someone young had taken up the old style music of Sinatra, Crosby, Bennett and so many other classics. Hope they and others can keep it popular enough to be remembered.

There will never be another Frankie, the young fellah who swept floors in clubs just on the off chance he would be allowed to sing. My Mom and Dad used to dance to his singing when he would have to take over the show because Dorsey had gotten drunk, LOL…..think he was about 19 at that time. The “guys” got him out of his contract so he could go out on his own, and Ken Curtis was already there ready to take over for a while when it happened.

Last time I saw Frankie was in Miami. He was doing a show there, (think it was at the Diplomat), and Pat Henry, the comedian was his opener. Pat used to live next door to Jilly and Jilly next door to us. I called Pat and got front row seats. Frankie was supposed to be there for the party afterwards, but decided to take off. I only got to talk with him a bit. But, he was really a changed man. His show was great and the old arrogance had all but disappeared. He was the Frankie we knew and loved. Keith

admin 12.30.12 at 8:29 am

Many thanks for the great comment, Keith.

Cheers, a

Keith 01.08.13 at 12:27 pm

Great analysis. Michael Buble is an excellent singer but yes even at this late date of 2013, I don’t think that he has defined himself. But times are different and he is trying to play the field. Frank Sinatra didn’t do that and in fact didn’t like much rock and roll, although he covered a couple of songs by the Beatles and Elvis. Michael Buble has to play to a diverse audience as not everyone likes ballads. Frank was the best and Michael has some huge shoes to fill, which will take a lifetime.

John Evans 03.10.13 at 10:42 am

Back again !
MB is extremely lucky that he does not have to compete with the greats of the past.
I have tried to find something in MB that - but still find his voice ordinary and his presentation awkward .
To even mention him in the same breath as Sinatra is quite ridiculous because like
Bill Haley, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson were originals and almost everybody has copied in one way or another - or in the case of MB a blatant copy ?
The only fair thing I can say is that Sinatra was a popular actor - even to those that were not fans of his Music - so greatly assisted his popularity - I can think if no Male Singer who made that transition -as you can Female .

Think of the competition that they had to compete with in the past compared to today ?

My opinions but I respect that other people have theirs

John Evans
Wokingham
Berks UK

michael fenenbock 06.24.13 at 2:08 pm

We are grateful for Buble. He’s fun. But comparisons to the master are silly. Frank Sinatra is the gold standard. Period. End of speech.

Having said that, I’ll give you a vocalist that does not suffer in comparison . . . the great Mexican singer Luis Miguel. Luismi is an extraordinary artist and his ballad work is sublime.

joe 12.25.13 at 11:36 pm

You gotta be kidding. Buble is a bad joke, covers his mediocrity with phony “charm” and schtick. Any comparison with Sinatra is ridiculous. More lack a bland imitation of Connick.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>