I know with my established passion for cheesy 80s dance music like Pet Shop Boys and their ilk, it may not be expected to hear that I’m equally wild for the torchy, bluesy female jazz singers of the 40s and the 50s. Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London – love’em. Billie Holiday, of course, because, you know, I’m gay, and my absolute favorite, Dinah Washington, They all have such strong clear voices, but Washington’s has an added complexity I love.
Etta James is also a big fave. She frequently sang songs that would normally have been more appropriate for men, songs where she was apologizing for breaking her lover’s heart and asking for a another chance to go fuck, and this time she won’t stomp on their tender emotions, honest. Chumps. Her worse choices tended to be the standards that were the mainstays of all her contemporaries. Her cover of “Someone to Watch Over Me” is painful and when she sings “I’ll Be Seeing You” it sounds less like a promise and more like a threat. “Yeah. I’ll be seeing you, bitch, and I got a knife.” She’s so much better sticking with the ever dreamy “At Last.”