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CROSBY'S FAME WILL OUTLAST THAT OF SINATRA


TomJH
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I strongly suspect, based on the CDs that I see in stores, that Frank Sinatra's music considerably outsells that of Bing Crosby today. It may be because of talent. But it may also because there is more of Sinatra's generation around to still do the buying.

 

HOWEVER, Bing Crosby's immortality is guaranteed because of his association with Christmas. Not only are there countless television broadcasts of White Christmas (the movie) every year in December but, even more important, it is impossible to not hear Bing singing the Irving Berlin song hit of 1942. Even if it is just the background music in a grocery store. It still remains, I feel, THE sentimental Christmas pop song in the minds of many, perhaps most, people.

 

I strongly suspect that 50 years from now people will still be hearing Bing Crosby's voice, if only at Christmas. Can the same be said of Sinatra?

 

Possibly, but it's not as much of a guarantee. For that reason I posted the title to this thread that I did. Anyone disagree?

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While "White Christmas" will be around for the holidays as long as we're around to celebrate holidays, Frank Sinatra has this hipster quotient that appeals to new generations in turn.  On these boards, you often hear about people that don't like der Bingle, or can't believe he was the biggest star around for a number of years.  So it's hard to tell, as Crosby's film legacy seems to be receding, even amoung us TCM watchers, possibly because of the unavailability of his mostly Paramount titles.

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While "White Christmas" will be around for the holidays as long as we're around to celebrate holidays, Frank Sinatra has this hipster quotient that appeals to new generations in turn.  On these boards, you often hear about people that don't like der Bingle, or can't believe he was the biggest star around for a number of years.  So it's hard to tell, as Crosby's film legacy seems to be receding, even amoung us TCM watchers, possibly because of the unavailability of his mostly Paramount titles.

I agree that Sinatra continues to enjoy a hipster popularity. I made reference in my original posting to the fact that I think he considerably outsells Crosby today. Personally, I have one Crosby CD, as opposed to about seven or eight of Frank.

 

I still think, however, that, ultimately, Crosby's Christmas connection will trump all, though, when it comes to continuing fame as the decades pass. The fact that many on these boards dislike Crosby (which, quite frankly, amazes me a little) is immaterial to that fact.

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Even if Bing's film library was readily available to see today I don't think it would come close to matching the enduring popularity of Sinatra's films.   Except for his "Christmas"  themed films most people today might limit their Crosby viewing to the Hope/Crosby Road films. On the other hand  Frank did quite a job establishing himself as an action type with military films, cop/ private eye films, the Rat Pack films, etc.  Bing's whole image as a singer and actor is too closely tied into the 30's, 40's.  Sinatra is much more "cool" (like a Bogart) and can be considered more contemporary.

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I don't disagree with anything you wrote, mrroberts.

 

But this thread is not about who is "cooler" or who has more versatility in his film roles or who is considered more contemporary today.

 

It is about who's fame is guaranteed to last because of his Christmas connection. It will be that much tougher, because of that, for Sinatra to still be competing with Bing in fame a half century from now, I strongly suspect.

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I don't disagree with anything you wrote, mrroberts.

 

But this thread is not about who is "cooler" or who has more versatility in his film roles or who is considered more contemporary today.

 

It is about who's fame is guaranteed to last because of his Christmas connection. It will be that much tougher, because of that, for Sinatra to still be competing with Bing in fame a half century from now, I strongly suspect.

 

I doubt if "White Christmas" will outlast "New York, New York", at least as long as Major League Baseball exists and the New York Yankees are in the American League.  "White Christmas" lasts for but a few weeks a year, whereas the season of "New York, New York" runs from April through September or October.

 

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I suspect that the fame and impact of The Beatles will greatly outlast Bing and Frank combined when all is said and done.  As I'm not a big Christmas guy neither's Christmas songs matter much to me though I greatly like Bing's voice better than Frank's. 

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I don't disagree with anything you wrote, mrroberts.

 

But this thread is not about who is "cooler" or who has more versatility in his film roles or who is considered more contemporary today.

 

It is about who's fame is guaranteed to last because of his Christmas connection. It will be that much tougher, because of that, for Sinatra to still be competing with Bing in fame a half century from now, I strongly suspect.

 

I doubt if "White Christmas" will outlast "New York, New York", at least as long as Major League Baseball exists and the New York Yankees are in the American League.  "White Christmas" lasts for but a few weeks a year, whereas the season of "New York, New York" runs from April through September or October.

 

Spoken like a true ball fan. But there are more people that are into Christmas than into baseball or New York City. (Sorry, New Yawkers).

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I strongly suspect, based on the CDs that I see in stores, that Frank Sinatra's music considerably outsells that of Bing Crosby today. It may be because of talent. But it may also because there is more of Sinatra's generation around to still do the buying.

 

HOWEVER, Bing Crosby's immortality is guaranteed because of his association with Christmas. Not only are there countless television broadcasts of White Christmas (the movie) every year in December but, even more important, it is impossible to not hear Bing singing the Irving Berlin song hit of 1942. Even if it is just the background music in a grocery store. It still remains, I feel, THE sentimental Christmas pop song in the minds of many, perhaps most, people.

 

I strongly suspect that 50 years from now people will still be hearing Bing Crosby's voice, if only at Christmas. Can the same be said of Sinatra?

 

Possibly, but it's not as much of a gurantee. For that reason I posted the title to this thread that I did. Anyone disagree?

 

I disagree.   In 50 years while the song White Christmas will be known to the those that still celebrate Christmas (which will be less of a percentage of the population than today),  I believe Sinatra will still be the most well known singer of the 20th century and people will listen to his music (a lot less than today but still a lot more than the records of Crosby).  

 

I assume that in 50 years many of the people that listen to White Christmas will not know who is singing the song just like many people don't know who the performers are for many well known Christmas songs.   i.e.  they know the songs and love them but not the performers.    For all we known White Christmas done by, say,  someone like the Taylor Swift of our times, will be played more than the Crosby version.

 

Also,  Sinatra is more of a cultural icon than Crosby.    Rat Pack,  Vegas,  remakes of his movies like Ocean 11 etc....       

 

Hey,  I view Crosby as a major talent but since he doesn't have an iconic factor his star will dim as the years pass on.   This is true for most artist.   One has to have that iconic factor (like Wayne and Monroe) to remain popular to future generations.    Sorry, Crosby doesn't cut it in this regard.   

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I disagree.   In 50 years while the song White Christmas will be known to the those that still celebrate Christmas (which will be less of a percentage of the population than today),  I believe Sinatra will still be the most well known singer of the 20th century and people will listen to his music (a lot less than today but still a lot more than the records of Crosby).  

 

I assume that in 50 years many of the people that listen to White Christmas will not know who is singing the song just like many people don't know who the performers are for many well known Christmas songs.   i.e.  they know the songs and love them but not the performers.    For all we known White Christmas done by, say,  someone like the Taylor Swift of our times, will be played more than the Crosby version.

 

Also,  Sinatra is more of a cultural icon than Crosby.    Rat Pack,  Vegas,  remakes of his movies like Ocean 11 etc....       

 

Hey,  I view Crosby as a major talent but since he doesn't have an iconic factor his star will dim as the years pass on.   This is true for most artist.   One has to have that iconic factor (like Wayne and Monroe) to remain popular to future generations.    Sorry, Crosby doesn't cut it in this regard.   

James, I don't know the basis for your statement that people will not know who is singing White Christmas 50 years from now. That's quite an assumption, based on . . . what exactly? You may be right that there could be a more popular version than Crosby's by then but I have difficulty believing that the man whose tremendous popularity at the time of the song's origin helped to make it such a hit (and who is still associated with the song today more than any other entertainer, OVER 70 YEARS!!!, later), will not still be associated with it.

 

I strongly suspect that as long as Christmas is celebrated, Bing Crosby's name will be known. Frank Sinatra doesn't have such guarantees.

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Spoken like a true ball fan. But there are more people that are into Christmas than into baseball or New York City. (Sorry, New Yawkers).

 

I didn't say that everyone would like "New York, New York", but they'll know the song, and they'll know who's singing it.  It's as much of a staple of Yankee baseball as "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" is to Cubs fans, and the Yankees play 20 or more opposing teams every year, so it's not as if the song is (or will be) known only to New Yorkers.

 

Not to mention that many millions of Americans celebrate Christmas without tuning into the sort of programs that play "White Christmas".  And while I'm sure it's all over the Muzak-laced elevators and shopping malls during December, there's little or no association there with Bing Crosby.  It's just background noise in those places.

 

And as James points out, most people who recognize the song "White Christmas" today couldn't tell you who Bing Crosby is, let alone be able to pick his face out of a police lineup, which has to be a prerequisite for considering a person to be "famous".

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James, I don't know the basis for your statement that people will not know who is singing White Christmas 50 years from now. That's quite an assumption, based on . . . what exactly? You may be right that there could be a more popular version than Crosby's by then but I have difficulty believing that the man whose tremendous popularity at the time of the song's origin helped to make it such a hit (and who is still associated with the song today more than any other entertainer, OVER 70 YEARS!!!, later), will not still be associated with it.

 

I strongly suspect that as long as Christmas is celebrated, Bing Crosby will be associated with it. Frank Sinatra doesn't have such gurantees.

 

I explained my POV,  but I'll try again;   I believe most people know the SONGS and people have strong feelings and associations towards the songs and Christmas (even I do and I don't celebrate Christmas,  but I play the songs at holiday parties),  but NOT,  per se,  the artist that is singing them.   

 

Take another famous Christmas song;  Mel Torme's The Christmas Song.    As new versions are made the Torme version as well as the Nat King Cole one continue to get lost in the mix.    i.e. people say 'hey I love that song' but don't care as much who is singing the song.   (unlike,  say a Beatles tune that is covered by another artist).

 

Hey, this is just my opinion and I could be wrong but how you feel about Crosby version is based on how that song impacts you.

Yea,  to you the singer and the song are ONE.    e.g. when you hear White Christmas done by someone other than Crosby you think of the Crosby version.  You compare it to the Crosby version.   I get that since I do that with every song I play on guitar; i.e. there is aways one IT version of a song when I learn song.  

 

But I believe you do this because you grew up with these IT versions.   You lived them (just like I did).    But unless that is passed down to future generations,  to most people these IT versions just become another version  (just like the latest version (remake) of a movie is more well known to people today than the original version made before they were born).

 

Hey,  in may ways I hope I'm wrong and these IT versions are carried on from generation to generation.  

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And as James points out, most people who recognize the song "White Christmas" today couldn't tell you who Bing Crosby is, let alone be able to pick his face out of a police lineup, which has to be a prerequisite for considering a person to be "famous".

I do not know upon what basis you make that statement. That's a huge assumption that merely serves your viewpoint, Andy. (No offense intended).

 

People hear the Crosby version of White Christmas for two, three, perhaps four weeks off and on a year, and invariably Crosby's name is cited. They may not think of Bing much the rest of the year but hearing him at Christmas is enough to keep the fame going to a degree.

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I do not know upon what basis you make that statement. That's a huge assumption that merely serves your viewpoint, Andy. (No offense intended).

 

People hear the Crosby version of White Christmas for two, three, perhaps four weeks off and on a year, and invariably Crosby's name is cited. They may not think of Bing much the rest of the year but hearing him at Christmas is enough to keep the fame going to a degree.

 

Well with what is going on in the news today,  most people will think the song was done by Bill Crosby!     :D

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I explained my POV,  but I'll try again;   I believe most people know the SONGS and people have strong feelings and associations towards the songs and Christmas (even I do and I don't celebrate Christmas,  but I play the songs at holiday parties),  but NOT,  per se,  the artist that is singing them.   

 

Take another famous Christmas song;  Mel Torme's The Christmas Song.    As new versions are made the Torme version as well as the Nat King Cole one continue to get lost in the mix.    i.e. people say 'hey I love that song' but don't care as much who is singing the song.   (unlike,  say a Beatles tune that is covered by another artist).

 

Hey, this is just my opinion and I could be wrong but how you feel about Crosby version is based on how that song impacts you.

Yea,  to you the singer and the song are ONE.    e.g. when you hear White Christmas done by someone other than Crosby you think of the Crosby version.  You compare it to the Crosby version.   I get that since I do that with every song I play on guitar; i.e. there is aways one IT version of a song when I learn song.  

 

But I believe you do this because you grew up with these IT versions.   You lived them (just like I did).    But unless that is passed down to future generations,  to most people these IT versions just become another version  (just like the latest version (remake) of a movie is more well known to people today than the original version made before they were born).

 

Hey,  in may ways I hope I'm wrong and these IT versions are carried on from generation to generation.  

James, aside from the fact that the Crosby version of White Christmas is the one I grew up with, I frequently hear it playing on the radio each year. Don't you?

 

It's 72 years and counting now, and no one else had supplanted the Crosby version yet for continuous play. That's quite an impressive track record.

 

As I said earlier, I have 7 or 8 CDs of Frank to only one of Bing. I love listening to Sinatra, but that's beside the point, I feel, as far as Bing's Xmas connection is concerned and long lasting fame.

 

Also, let's not forget the play of Crosby films on television at Xmas time - aside from White Christmas, there are also ample servings (these days, at least) of Father Bing in Going My Way and Bells of St. Marys, along with the original of White Christmas, Holiday Inn.

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I love Bing's "White Christmas."  It is the only version of "White Christmas" in my opinion.  I also like his other Christmas standards.  I have Bing Crosby's Christmas album and have a bunch of Sinatra albums. 

 

I agree that Bing's name is linked to Christmas more so than Sinatra's.  I don't know if I'd go as far as to say that in fifty years from now, Bing's name will be more known than Sinatra however.  I'll have to agree with the statement that Sinatra is the entertainer of the 20th century.  Bing's rendition of "White Christmas" was the top selling single of all time up until I believe Elton John's version of "Candle in the Wind" for Princess Diana's funeral.  I think Sinatra will still be well known because his music is listened to all year 'round (okay, maybe only by me, lol).  Sinatra's versions of different standards end up in many films and television shows.  He is an icon of the 20th century with his singing and membership of the Rat Pack. 

 

Bing, to me, seems to have found his niche in the "Christmas scene."  I know that I always make sure to watch White Christmas and Holiday Inn every year, I also like to listen to Bing's Christmas songs.  He also sings the "Mele Kalikimaka" song featured in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  Plus, let's not forget his duet of "Little Drummer Boy" with David Bowie. 

 

Sinatra, while he does have singles of various Christmas songs, I don't know if I would consider any of his versions the "definitive" version of that song like I do others.  Bing's "White Christmas," Judy Garland's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Nat King Cole's "A Christmas Song," are a few examples of what I personally feel are the only version to listen to.  I can see the question that TOMJH is asking and I can see what he's getting at.  If newer and newer versions of these songs continue to come out, I could see the classic ones being buried; but versions like Bing's "White Christmas" are classic and I think will continue to be played.  If the stations are like the Christmas stations that I hear on the radio, they'll probably be playing the identical songs 50 years from now that they're playing today and they've been playing for the last 10 years.  The station I don't think ever tries to get "new" older versions nor "new" new versions.  It's always the same. 

 

My question would be: would Bing and Frank's Christmas songs be played because his rendition is classic or because their voices are classic? Perhaps it doesn't matter what they're singing, maybe it's a matter of who is singing.

 

I think both men's legacies will stand up in fifty years, just in different ways. 

 

BTW: Speaking of Bing Crosby... For those who are interested, on Dec 2, PBS is airing a new segment of their American Masters program.  It is dedicated to Crosby. 

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Thanks for your in depth analysis and reply, Speed Racer. You put some real thought into it.

 

With your listing of what still continue to be the most popular Christmas songs, those titles put me in mind of the fact that the accepted Xmas classics still continue to be the  oldies that have been around for decades. How many new Christmas songs have so caught on with the public that they continue to be played year after year, like a White Christmas or Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas?

 

As a kid, I loved Crosby (primarily because of the Road films with Hope) and, of the Rat Pack, I also adored Dean Martin, the essence of sophisticated show business cool, a great looking guy with a sense of humour who appeared to be having the time of his life. I couldn't understand what people saw in Sinatra.

 

As the years have rolled by, however, I have come around to fully appreciate Frank as the king of swing, and, in his prime, one of the great romantic balladeers. I have more CDs of Sinatra today than any other singer, and derive far more pleasure now from listening to his singing than I do Crosby (though I still like Bing, make no mistake about that).

 

I'm not surprised that those contributing to this thread have a preference for Frank as a performer (and what a great actor he could be at times, too, though, again, Bing proved his worth in The Country Girl, didn't he?).

 

Still, who knows how popular Sinatra will be in another half century. That Crosby Christmas connection, I feel (call it a niche, if you like) guarantees his fame to varying degrees for decades to come. Sinatra, extraordinarily gifted singer/actor/all round show biz phenomenon that he was, will hopefully also retain his fame with the passage of years.

 

I just don't think that sheer talent, however, guarantees it as much (with the changing tastes of time) as does a Xmas connection and an imperishable classic like White Christmas.

 

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I have to channel my dear departed dad, who was a Crosby fan, and rely on my own knowledge as an amateur singer with some musical training.  I believe that as a cultural icon, Sinatra will "outlast" Crosby in terms of reputation; also, his presence in films is less "dated" than Crosby's.  His performance in films like The Manchurian Candidate, From Here to Eternity, Some Came Running, etc., as well as his "rat pack" reputation I think have sewed up his place as a major figure in popular culture of the 20th century.  However, my own opinion is that Crosby was a more gifted musician and singer.  I have collections of his earliest recordings, and his voice, as well as his ability for improvisation and harmonization (with other artists like the Andrews Sisters) show that he is a superior musician.   My own favorite interpreter of America's Songbook is Fred Astaire, who introduced most of the great repertory of the American Songbook -- Porter, Berlin, Gershwin, et al.  Most people don't realize that many of the songs that Sinatra (Night and Day, The Way You Look Tonight) was noted for were introduced by Astaire, and in fact, the composers of those songs (except for Gershwin, who died before Sinatra became popular) actually preferred Astaire's renditions as more true to their original intent in keeping close to the melody and articulation of the lyric.  I have a recording of a jazz session with Astaire and Oscar Peterson from the 50s -- delightful and intimate, as is if the singer is right in the room with the listener.  Someone once described Astaire's voice as being an example of how a hummingbird could soar.

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James, aside from the fact that the Crosby version of White Christmas is the one I grew up with, I frequently hear it playing on the radio each year. Don't you?

 

It's 72 years and counting now, and no one else had supplanted the Crosby version yet for continuous play. That's quite an impressive track record.

 

As I said earlier, I have 7 or 8 CDs of Frank to only one of Bing. I love listening to Sinatra, but that's beside the point, I feel, as far as Bing's Xmas connection is concerned and long lasting fame.

 

Also, let's not forget the play of Crosby films on television at Xmas time - aside from White Christmas, there are also ample servings (these days, at least) of Father Bing in Going My Way and Bells of St. Marys, along with the original of White Christmas, Holiday Inn.

 

Speedracer made many of the same points I did and added a few more on why the odds are higher that Sinatra will be more well known in 50 years than Crosby.   This thread is just trying to predict how popular US culture will feel about someone way in the future so any prediction is a wild guess.    

 

But I'm still sticking with Frank.   Note that Frank's version of The Way You Look Tonight has been played at every wedding I have ever been too (my wife knows this is the one song she can get me to dance too!).   I don't say this because I'm trying to win, like I said we are all just guessing here,  but to me it is another example where the deck is stacked in Frank's favor over Bing.

 

Oh, and while I list Frank as the #1 entertainer of the 20th century,  I have always rated Bing as #2,  with Garland as #3.  

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I do not know upon what basis you make that statement. That's a huge assumption that merely serves your viewpoint, Andy. (No offense intended).

 

People hear the Crosby version of White Christmas for two, three, perhaps four weeks off and on a year, and invariably Crosby's name is cited. They may not think of Bing much the rest of the year but hearing him at Christmas is enough to keep the fame going to a degree.

 

Tom, here's an honest question:   Think of all the music stations there are in the country today--I mean in all genres, from rap to rock to R&B to country to bluegrass to classical to jazz to top 40 to oldies to any other genre you can think of.

 

What percentage of those stations do you suppose play Bing Crosby's "White Christmas"?  The last time I heard it on any station I've ever listed to was when the local DC AM station WWDC had a Big Band format.  But that was over 15 years ago.  Whenever I hear Christmas music being played today, it's always in the genre that the station features.  It's not as if Crosby is some sort of wild card pick that gets played everywhere.

 

IOW outside of elevators and shopping malls, where are "people" today actually hearing "White Christmas"?  Who are these people?  And how many times is Bing Crosby's name connected to the music? 

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Little known fact:

 

Frankie was ALL set to record the original version of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" UNTIL he heard Brenda Lee's career was on the wane.

 

And so, after hearing that, AND always liking her, he told his manager to give the song to "that talented little broad"!

 

(...betcha never heard this "little known fact" before, have ya folks?!) 

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Little known fact:

 

Frankie was ALL set to record the original version of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" UNTIL he heard Brenda Lee's career was on the wane.

 

And so, after hearing that, AND always liking her, he told his manager to give the song to "that talented little broad"!

 

Good thing. Teens never would've bought Sinatra's version like they did Brenda's.

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Good thing. Teens never would've bought Sinatra's version like they did Brenda's.

 

AAAH, but how about IF Frankie would have added a few "Doo bee doo bee doo" 's into the mix, dark???

 

I'll betcha THAT might've helped spur the sales of that song to the teenyboppers of the time out there, wouldn't ya think?!

 

OR maybe if Frankie would have had the sound mixer speed up the recording of HIS version of this song and in order to make him sound like a cool and hip chipmunk??? That worked for Dave Seville, ya know!

 

(...I'm just throwin' out ideas here you understand...and NOT that any of 'em so far MIGHT have worked, ya see...it's called "Brain Storming" as I'm sure you know...and if ANYONE around here would know about the instances of "storming" inside one's "brain", it sure would be ME, wouldn't ya think)

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