Crooner: Singing from the Heart from Sinatra to Nas (Reverb) (Paperback)

Crooner: Singing from the Heart from Sinatra to Nas (Reverb) By Alex Coles Cover Image
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An intimate history of the crooner in popular music from the 1950s to the present.
In this book, Alex Coles explores the history of the crooner—someone who sings close to the mic in a soft style—in popular music from the 1950s to the present. Each chapter focuses on how one song by one artist contributes to the image of the crooner in the popular imagination. The book describes the rich diversity of crooners throughout music history, including artists in disco, rock, hip-hop, and more such as Frank Sinatra, Scott Walker, Barry White, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Tom Waits, Grace Jones, Ian McCulloch, Nick Cave, and Nas. Ultimately, Coles shows how the crooner continues to connect listeners with their hidden feelings.

About the Author

Alex Coles is professor of arts and humanities at the University of Huddersfield. He is the author of several books, including Tainted Love: Twisted Romantic Ballads.

Praise For…

“Crooner [has] the virtue of sending you back to the songs and albums Coles discusses.”
— The Mail (UK)

“Coles defines 'crooners' as baritone singers using torch songs, concept albums, and studio technology to work their magic. He writes here that music studios gave birth to crooners such as Frank Sinatra who could capture softer, lower tones that are difficult to replicate on stage. . . . This is an intriguing study of a wide array of vocalists who were inspired by Sinatra. A fresh and educational look at an influential element of popular music.”
— Library Journal

"A satisfying historical survey of crooners, the 'baritone singers who bare their emotion through popular song,' from the 1950s to the present. . . . Music history buffs will be riveted."
— Publishers Weekly

"Crooning . . . is an extremely broad church, as Alex Coles' new book on the subject shows us, through several case studies which include Frank Sinatra, Bryan Ferry, Grace Jones and Nas."
— Quitetus

"The crooner is one of the most enduring personas in popular music . . . As the book’s subtitle suggests, Coles has structured his exploration by selecting ten vocalists from more than 50 years of recorded music. He investigates each one’s contribution to crooning by focusing on just one of their songs. This structure allows for a focused examination of the individual artist and song and a broader analysis of work by other musicians that influenced the recording . . . Coles skilfully strikes the right balance between these two components, employing extensive research to create informative and provocative discussions . . . It’s particularly commendable that the songs Coles has selected are not the best-known tracks by each artist - far from it, in several cases. Some choices push the boundaries of what might be considered crooning . . . the chapters on each of the ten artists collectively give the reader a better appreciation of an often satirized or misunderstood musical style. In that way, Crooner contributes to the literature on popular music."
— Pop Matters

"[The Reverb series] swerves the more predictable biographies and traditional histories of popular music. Instead, books published under Reverb focus on situating popular music in much broader historical and deeper cultural contexts. Alex Coles skillfully achieves this with his imaginative, radical history of the crooner . . . With each chapter saturated with references, the frequent illustrations do well to bring a sense of humanity to the crooner’s lived life . . . Crooner is undoubtedly a book written with passion for crooning, but Coles balances that passion with measured insights and a carefully crafted narrative. More than mindful listening at a cool distance, Coles offers a closeness that is personal, perhaps quasi-fanatical. With little to no abstract metanalysis that would explain crooning away into a confusing fog of theory, Coles’s post-critical writing delivers a rich, vibrant genealogy of crooning. This accessible study will appeal to casual fans of music, and not exclusively fans of crooning, while also holding court in academic circles for those looking to follow Coles’s idiosyncratic tracing of the crooked timber of crooning."
— Popular Music and Society Journal

"It’s about time somebody properly investigated the modern art of the croon and Alex Coles is the right person for the job. We’re not talking about the 'golden age' of crooning here, although of course Sinatra is a natural place to start. Across ten carefully selected case studies from those you might expect to be reading about (Nick Cave or Tom Waits) to others that may come as more of a surprise (the rapper Nas, for instance), Coles explores what it means to croon and how the art has evolved."
— JR Moores, author of 'Electric Wizards'
Product Details
ISBN: 9781789147667
ISBN-10: 1789147662
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Publication Date: September 18th, 2023
Pages: 208
Language: English
Series: Reverb