Over Perry Como
One of the most popular singers of the post-World War II years, Perry Como's vocal style and personal demeanor were always relaxed, unruffled and seemingly untroubled. Como studied the "crooner" style of Bing Crosby and fellow Italian-American Russ Columbo, mellowing it out even further and becoming a beloved presence on radio, record, and television well into the 1960s. Sadly, it's hard to think of another American singer who was as big as Como was, for as long as he was, yet whose recorded legacy has almost completely disappeared from the public consciousness. Though he deserves better, two things have probably kept Como's vast catalogue of songs from seeming relevant decades after they were recorded (the way that Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Dean Martin's catalogues have). First, Como never fought against the tidal wave of goofy novelty numbers labels and publishers passed his way, so digging out the gems requires some patience. Second, his serene "sailing above the clouds" style lacks the attention to lyrics and the jazz foundation that even Bing Crosby, the king of the lackadaisical crooners, displayed. This is a shame because Como was a very good singer, and much of his material, especially his swing era work, is a whole lot of fun. If all you've heard is "Magic Moments," you may want to check out the fun, Crosby-on-Quaaludes side of the cardiganed crooner, which can be found on such CD reissues as Perry Como With the Fontaine Sisters and the first couple discs in the box set Yesterday & Today: A Celebration in Song.