Crooner is a term used to describe primarily male singers who performed using a smooth style made possible by better microphones which picked up quieter sounds and a wider range of frequencies, allowing the singer to access a more dynamic range and perform in a more intimate manner. It is derived from the old verb "to croon" (meaning "to speak or sing softly").  This suggestion of intimacy was supposedly wildly attractive to women, especially younger ones such as teenage girls, known at the time as "bobby soxers". The crooning style developed out of singers who performed with big bands, and reached its height in the 1940s to late 60s.
Crooning is epitomised by jazz vocalists like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, although Sinatra once said that he did not consider himself or Crosby to be "crooners".  Other performers, such as Russ Columbo, also rejected the term. 
This dominant popular vocal style coincided with the advent of radio broadcasting and electrical recording. Before the advent of the microphone, popular singers like Al Jolson had to project to the rear seats of a theater, as did opera singers, which made for a very loud vocal style. The microphone made possible the more personal style.  Al Bowlly, Bing Crosby, Gene Austin, Art Gillham and, by some historical accounts, Vaughn De Leath   are often credited as inventors of the crooning style, but Rudy Vallée achieved more widespread popularity,  beginning in 1928; he could be heard by anyone with a phonograph or a radio.
In his popular radio program, which began with his floating greeting, "Heigh ho, everybody," beamed in from a New York City night club, he stood like a statue, surrounded by clean-cut collegiate band musicians and cradling a saxophone in his arms.
His first film, The Vagabond Lover , was promoted with the line, "Men Hate Him! Women Love Him!"  while his success brought press warnings of the "Vallee Peril": this "punk from Maine" with the "dripping voice" required mounted police to "beat back crowds of screaming and swooning females" at his vaudeville shows. 
By the early 1930s, the term "crooner" had taken on a pejorative connotation.  Cardinal William O'Connell of Boston and the New York Singing Teachers Association (NYSTA) both publicly denounced the vocal form, O'Connell calling it "base", "degenerate", "defiling" and un-American, with the NYSTA adding "corrupt".  Even The New York Times predicted that crooning would be just a passing fad. The newspaper wrote, "They sing like that because they can't help it. Their style is begging to go out of fashion…. Crooners will soon go the way of tandem bicycles, mah jongg and midget golf."  Voice range shifted from tenor (Vallée) to baritone (Russ Columbo, Bing Crosby).  Still, a 1931 record by Dick Robertson, "Crosby, Columbo & Vallee", called upon men to fight "these public enemies" brought into homes via radio. 
Some female singers, such as Vaughn De Leath, Annette Hanshaw, Mildred Bailey (at the beginning of her career), Harriet Lee, and Helen Rowland have been cited in the category of crooners.
Due to the country songs popularized by Bing Crosby, the crooning style of singing became an enduring part of country music.  Crosby achieved a million seller with his 1940 rendition of the song "San Antonio Rose", originally recorded by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys. In 1942, Perry Como had a smash hit with "Deep in the Heart of Texas"; Crosby, who had an enormous influence on Como, covered this song and took it to the number 3 position in the US chart that same year. Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves and Ray Price are especially well known for their country crooner standards.   
Dean Martin is associated with the country music he recorded in the period when he was working for Reprise Records, whilst his fellow Italian-American crooner Como recorded several albums with country producer Chet Atkins in Nashville. Regular, non-country crooners also scored hits with pop versions of country songs: Tony Bennett had a Billboard number 1 hit in 1951 with his rendition of Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart"; Como had a number 1 hit in 1953 with his version of "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes", a chart-topping country hit for its author Slim Willet and a number 4 country hit for Ray Price; Guy Mitchell scored a number 1 in 1959 with "Heartaches by the Number", a country hit for Ray Price; and Britain's Engelbert Humperdinck achieved a 1967 UK number 1 hit with "Release Me", another song already made famous by Price in 1954. In 1970, Price had a number 1 US country hit and a number 11 Hot 100 hit with the song "For the Good Times", written by Kris Kristofferson; subsequently, Como's rendition reached number 7 in 1973 on the UK Singles Chart.
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby Jr. was an American singer and actor. The first multimedia star, he was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century worldwide. He was a leader in record sales, radio ratings, and motion picture grosses from 1926 to 1977. He was one of the first global cultural icons. He made over 70 feature films and recorded more than 1,600 songs.
Hubert Prior Vallée, known professionally as Rudy Vallée, was an American singer, musician, actor, and radio host. He was one of the first modern pop stars of the teen idol type.
Lemeul Eugene Lucas, better known by his stage name Gene Austin, was an American singer and songwriter, one of the early "crooners". His recording of "My Blue Heaven" sold over 5 million copies and was for a while the largest selling record of all time. His 1920s compositions "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street" and "The Lonesome Road" became pop and jazz standards.
Ruggiero Eugenio di Rodolfo Colombo, known as Russ Columbo, was an American baritone, songwriter, violinist and actor. He is famous for romantic ballads such as his signature tune "You Call It Madness, But I Call It Love" and his own compositions "Prisoner of Love" and "Too Beautiful For Words".
"Prisoner of Love" is a 1931 popular song, with music by Russ Columbo and Clarence Gaskill and lyrics by Leo Robin.
"All the Way" is a song published in 1957 by Maraville Music Corporation. The music was written by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Sammy Cahn.
"Without a Song" is a popular song composed by Vincent Youmans with lyrics later added by Billy Rose and Edward Eliscu, published in 1929. It was included in the musical play, Great Day. The play only ran for 36 performances but contained two songs which became famous, "Without a Song" and "Great Day".
"Button Up Your Overcoat" is a popular song. The music was written by Ray Henderson, the lyrics by B.G. DeSylva and Lew Brown. The song was published in 1928, and was first performed later that same year by vocalist Ruth Etting. However, the most famous rendition of this song was recorded early the following year by singer Helen Kane, who was at the peak of her popularity at the time. Kane's childlike voice and Bronx dialect eventually became the inspiration for the voice of cartoon character Betty Boop.
"Where the Blue of the Night " was the theme Bing Crosby selected for his radio show. It was recorded in November 1931 with Bennie Krueger and his Orchestra. The song was featured in a Mack Sennett movie short starring Bing Crosby. Crosby recorded the song on several occasions starting with the November 23, 1931 version with Bennie Kruger and his Orchestra. He next recorded it on July 20, 1940 with The Paradise Island Trio. On July 17, 1945 he recorded it with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra and his final recording was on April 21, 1954 with Buddy Cole and his Trio for his Musical Autobiography set.
Going Hollywood is a 1933 American pre-Code musical film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Marion Davies and Bing Crosby. It was written by Donald Ogden Stewart and based on a story by Frances Marion. Going Hollywood was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on December 22, 1933.
"It's Been a Long, Long Time" is a big band-era song that was a hit at the end of World War II, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Sammy Cahn.
John Milton Owens, singer-songwriter, gifted pianist, and a star of the longest running network radio show, Don McNeil's Breakfast Club, was known as "The Cruising Crooner" because of his unique showmanship of cruising through mostly female audiences attending the live Breakfast Club broadcasts, and crooning love ballads to the blushing and giggling women, often singing directly to them, one at a time, sitting on their laps, and nuzzling close to them.
Gus Arnheim was an American pianist and an early popular band leader. He is noted for writing several songs with his first hit being "I Cried for You" from 1923. He was most popular in the 1920s and 1930s. He also had a few small acting roles.
"Goodnight, Sweetheart" is a British popular song written in 1931. It has been performed by Al Bowlly, Kate Smith, Connie Francis, Dick Haymes, Gordon MacRae, Sarah Vaughan and Dean Martin, among others, and was the theme song for the 1990s BBC time-travel sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart starring Nicholas Lyndhurst, which was named after it.
For music from an individual year in the 1940s, go to 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49
One for the Boys is an unreleased studio album recorded by American entertainer Connie Francis.
"Deep Night" is a song and jazz standard with a melody composed in 1929 by Charles E. Henderson and lyrics written by Rudy Vallee. The tune is written in a minor key.
Crosby, Columbo, and Vallee is a 1932 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoon short directed by Rudolf Ising. The short was released on March 19, 1932. It lampoons the popularity of crooners among young women, with popular crooners Bing Crosby, Russ Columbo, and Rudy Vallée being the namesake of the film.
Will Osborne was a Canadian-born American bandleader, trombonist, and crooner.