I was recently searching the interweb for some info on Frank Sinatra – more precisely info on what people figure to be his best songs. Almost immediately, Google offered up near the top of their search results a link to a page on aolradioblog.com that they claimed to be “the best Frank Sinatra songs as chosen by AOL Radio listeners“. Okay, I thought, this should be good and quite informative and all that and give me some insight into what many Sinatra fans think about what was his ‘best stuff’. Instead what I read felt like kind of an epic fail on the part of aol radio’s listeners.
Here below is the resulting list from that poll in reverse order as presented by aolradioblog (for heightened drama, I guess?) with their commentary about each song included for your benefit:
Don’t get me wrong, I would never suggest that it should be an easy thing to throw together a 10 Best list for something like this – the man had a long and outstanding recording career, after all, and I realize that when you get into the whole group think situation of voting and polls you can come up with some seemingly surprising or bizarre results, but really, this was the result? Is it being too cliched for people as a whole to still like the staple Sinatra standards enough to vote them to the top of the list where (I believe) they should be? Do people feel that they must always be that little bit more original or different from everybody else and offer up something out of left field as the # 1 choice? To be fair, I don’t know if the songs were picked from a list supplied by aolradioblog or if they were just handed in cold by each listener who took part but in the end that should not matter because in either case some of Sinatra’s best were represented, just not where you would expect to see them. (Of course if the songs were voted on from a provided list that kind of amps up the ‘really?’ factor on my part since that means some of his best were passed up by lesser pieces)
So lets look at the list, shall we? The bottom half of it (10 through 6) is filled with songs that could arguably be fighting it out in a pitched battle for the top 5 spots, although admittedly I think that they would all be fighting for a spot behind “My Way” and ‘New York, New York’. (the only two songs in their top five that I think should even have been there) I even think however that ‘Strangers In The Night’ could challenge for, ehhh – maybe even the top spot? Of course it might lose out on the moral argument that you cannot give a song the top spot when it is reported that the singer himself did not really like it too much. ‘The Way You Look Tonight’, at #4? Really? “Night and Day’ at #2? Really? Really? I’m sorry, but it is just not that good a cover of the song! Even if this was just a poll of Sinatra cover songs from the American song book, it would not rank that highly. Sammy Davis Jr. did such a wonderful cover of the song that I kind of feel that he ruined it for anyone else so that makes it even harder for me to see it ranked so highly as a Sinatra song. And as for their #1 pick, ‘Summer Wind’? Wow, really? Wow. I really like the song a lot and it even has some personal associations for me since it was the song that me and another much older gentleman who is no longer with us were able to team up on at karaoke one night a few years ago. However despite all that I could not rank it so highly. I will give the site props for the way they have each chosen song available to listen to in full on the page instead of having to browse through Youtube for a listen, but to add further tarnish to their list, they went and added a live version of ‘New York, New York’ that is not at all flattering and is missing the power of the original recording. Instead it sounds more like Sinatra near the end of his career when he was mostly just going through the motions for his adoring fans who were still coming out to see him perform live. Honestly, this list feels like it was put together by someone in the Nineties who had just come out of a Sinatra concert and had the show’s set list stuck in their head. Ouch.
I will acknowledge that interesting results like this can be found anywhere. Just today on youtube I came across someone who had offered up their own top 30 Sinatra songs list, and the reaction to it seemed to be pretty venomous by some when they realized that #2 on the list was Sinatra’s cover of ‘Something’ and that the top spot was given to the song ‘Soliloquy’. I know, everybody has to be different, right?
To wrap this up, I realize that I would probably be doing a disservice to the subject matter if I were not to offer up my own attempt at a list of what I consider to (arguably) be Frank Sinatra’s top 10 songs. Here you go:
1 My Way
2 New York, New York
3 Strangers in the Night
4 Summer Wind
5 Under My Skin
6 Come Fly With Me
7 My Kind Of town
8 I get A Kick out Of you
9 Luck Be A Lady
There you have it. Of course it was no easy thing to throw this together and I ended up with at least another 10 songs that just missed the cut but I feel more at peace about things after doing this and committing it to the world wide web. And of course while searching this stuff out I came across yet another ‘top 10 Sinatra list’ that made me go, ‘Huh, really?’, but I will just let it go. (I’m looking at you, Mr. Ken Levine, lol)