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Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey, DBE (born 8 January 1937) is a Welsh singer whose career began in the mid-1950s, best known for both her powerful voice and for recording the theme songs to the James Bond films Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Moonraker (1979).In January 1959, Bassey became the first Welsh person to gain a No. 1 single. Big Spender Shirley Bassey karaoke
In 2000, Bassey was made a Dame for services to the performing arts. In 1977 she received the Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist in the previous 25 years. Bassey has been called “one of the most popular female vocalists in Britain during the last half of the 20th century.
Shirley Veronica Bassey was the sixth and youngest child of Henry Bassey and Eliza Jane Start, and was born on Bute Street in Tiger Bay (Butetown), Cardiff, Wales. She grew up in the adjacent community of Splott. At the time, Tiger Bay was one of the largest ports in the world and was very multi-ethnic. Her father was Nigerian, and her mother was English, from Teesside in the north-east of England. Two of her mother’s four children from previous relationships lived in the Bassey household. Bassey’s mother listed her first husband, Alfred Metcalfe, as her own father in the registry of her marriage to Henry Bassey, giving rise to speculation that this marriage was bigamous in the absence of a prior divorce. Eliza and Henry’s second child died in infancy, so Shirley was born into a household of three sisters, two half-sisters, and one brother.
Teachers and students alike at Moorland Road School noticed Bassey’s strong voice, but gave the pre-teen little encouragement: “…everyone told me to shut up. Even in the school choir the teacher kept telling me to back off till I was singing in the corridor!” A classmate recalled her singing the refrain “Can’t help lovin’ that man of mine” from Show Boat with such feeling that she made their teacher uncomfortable. After leaving Splott Secondary Modern School at the age of 14, Bassey found employment at the Curran Steels factory while singing in public houses and clubs in the evenings and on weekends.
In a 1999 interview with Nigel Havers in her Monte Carlo apartment, Bassey pointed to a piece of paper framed on the wall and referred to it as her first contract, at a salary of £14 a week (a considerable sum for a sixteen-year-old in 1953). However, upon closer inspection of this document, dated December 17, 1953 (three weeks before her 17th birthday), it appears to be £10 for two performances. Also in 1953, Bassey signed a contract to sing in the touring variety show Memories of Jolson, a musical based on the life of Al Jolson. She next took up a professional engagement in Hot from Harlem, which ran until 1954. Pregnant at 16 with her first child and unwilling to reveal the name of the child’s father, she returned to waiting tables in Cardiff.
In 1955, Bassey toured various theatres until she was noticed by the impresario Jack Hylton. He invited her to feature in Al Read’s Such Is Life at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End.
During the show’s run, Philips record producer Johnny Franz spotted her on television, was impressed, and offered her a recording deal. Bassey recorded her first single, “Burn My Candle”, released in February 1956, when she was 19. Owing to the suggestive lyrics, the BBC banned it, but it sold well enough nonetheless, backed with her powerful rendition of “Stormy Weather”. More singles followed, and in February 1957, Bassey had her first hit with “The Banana Boat Song”, which reached No. 8 in the UK Singles Chart.
In 1957 she also recorded under the direction of American producer Mitch Miller in New York for the Columbia label, producing the single “If I Had a Needle and Thread” b/w “Tonight My Heart She Is Crying”. She then made her American stage début in Las Vegas at El Rancho Vegas. Big Spender Shirley Bassey karaoke
In mid-1958, she recorded two singles that would become classics in the Bassey catalogue. “As I Love You” was released as the B-side of another ballad, “Hands Across the Sea”; it did not sell well at first, but after an appearance at the London Palladium sales began to pick up. In January 1959, “As I Love You” reached No. 1 and stayed there for four weeks; it was the first No. 1 single by a Welsh artist.
While “As I Love You” climbed the charts, so too did Bassey’s recording of “Kiss Me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me,” and both records would end up occupying the Top 3 at the same time. A few months later, Bassey signed to EMI’s Columbia label, and the second phase in her recording career had begun. Big Spender Shirley Bassey karaoke
In the early and mid-1960s, Bassey had numerous hits in the UK, and five albums in the Top 15. Her 1960 recording of “As Long As He Needs Me” from Lionel Bart’s Oliver! reached No. 2, and had a chart run of 30 weeks. Bassey made her American television début on 13 November 1960, when she performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. Her collaboration with Nelson Riddle and his orchestra, the album Let’s Face the Music (1962), reached No. 12 in the UK album chart; and the single, “What Now My Love” made it to No. 5. Other UK Top 10 singles of the period included her second No. 1, the double A-side “Reach for the Stars”/”Climb Ev’ry Mountain” (1961), “I’ll Get By” (also 1961), and a cover version of the Ben E. King hit “I (Who Have Nothing)” in 1963. Bassey appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine in 1963, and sang at a Washington gala celebrating President Kennedy’s second year in office.
Bassey enjoyed her only US Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hit in 1965 with the title song of the James Bond film, Goldfinger. The single, released in the United States during January 1965, peaked at No. 8, while the original soundtrack of Goldfinger hit No. 1 in the US that year. Also in 1965, she sang the title song for the James Bond spoof The Liquidator, and had a Top 20 live album, recorded during a sold-out run at the Pigalle in London.
Bassey recorded a song for the next Bond film, Thunderball (1965). “Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” was not used in the movie, although the film’s score follows its melodic theme. Written by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse, after Bassey’s version it was re-recorded by Dionne Warwick, and then rejected in favour of a new song, “Thunderball,” hastily written by Barry and given to Tom Jones (who, like Bassey, is Welsh) after the film’s producers decided the song over the opening credits must feature the film’s title. Big Spender Shirley Bassey karaoke
The “Goldfinger” theme song, however, had a lasting impact on her career. In the sleeve notes for Bassey’s 25th Anniversary Album (1978), Peter Clayton noted that: “Acceptance in America was considerably helped by the enormous popularity of (“Goldfinger”)…But she had actually established herself there as early as 1961, in cabaret in New York. She was also a success in Las Vegas…’I suppose I should feel hurt that I’ve never been really big in America on record since “Goldfinger”…But, concertwise, I always sell out.’…” This was reflected in the fact that Bassey had only one solo LP reach the Top 20 in a US chart (R&B, Live at Carnegie Hall), and she was technically a one-hit wonder. In the aftermath of “Goldfinger” her UK sales started to falter as well: only two of her singles would enter the UK Top 40 from 1966 to 1970. She had signed to United Artists, and her first album on that label, I’ve Got a Song for You (1966), spent one week on the chart; from 1966 to 1970, only two albums would chart, one of those a compilation. One of her best-known singles, “Big Spender” was released in 1967, charting just short of the UK Top 20.
Bassey began to live as a tax exile in 1968, and was unable to work in Britain for almost two years. Also in 1968, at the Sanremo Festival in Italy, she performed “La vita”, an Italian song by Bruno Canfora and Antonio Amurri, with some lyrics re-written in English by Norman Newell for her. Bassey’s version of the song, with its chorus sung in Italian, became a Top 40 hit in Italy. Bassey recorded several songs in Italian, some appearing on the album La vita (1968). (Later, Newell would write English lyrics for the rest of “La vita”, and the result was “This Is My Life”.) But her UK sales continued to suffer. Big Spender Shirley Bassey karaoke
Bassey’s UK comeback came in 1970, leading to one of the most successful periods of her career. Starting the year with a BBC Television ‘Special’ The Young Generation Meet Shirley Bassey, recorded in Sweden and shown on BBC1 on 18 March. She returned to the UK with a record-breaking run of performances at the Talk of the Town nightclub. Also that year, her album Something was released, and showcased a new Bassey style, a shift from traditional pop to more contemporary songs and arrangements (the eponymous single was more successful in the UK charts than the original recording by The Beatles) – although Bassey would never completely abandon what that had been her forte: standards, show tunes, and torch songs. Big Spender Shirley Bassey karaoke
“Something” was also a Top 10 US hit on the Adult Contemporary chart. Other singles of this period included the hit “Never Never Never”, an English version of the Italian “Grande grande grande”, reaching the Top 10 in the US Adult Contemporary Chart, the UK Top 10 and No. 1 in Australia and South Africa. The success of “Something” (single No. 4, album No. 5 in the UK) spawned a series of successful albums on the United Artists label, including Something Else (1971), And I Love You So (1972), I Capricorn (1972), Never Never Never (1973), Good, Bad but Beautiful (1975), Love, Life and Feelings (1976), You Take My Heart Away (1977) and Yesterdays (1978). Additionally, two of Bassey’s earlier LPs also entered the charts in the ’70s: And We Were Lovers (1967, re-issued as Big Spender), and Let’s Face the Music (1962, re-issued as What Now My Love). Two compilations, The Shirley Bassey Singles Album (1975) and 25th Anniversary Album (1978), both made the UK Top 3: The Shirley Bassey Singles Album her highest-charting album, reached No. 2 and earned a gold disc, and the 25th Anniversary Album eventually went platinum.
Between 1970 and 1979, Bassey had 18 hit albums in the UK Albums Chart. Her album The Magic Is You (1978) featured a portrait by the photographer Francesco Scavullo. In 1973, her sold-out concerts at New York’s Carnegie Hall were recorded and released as a two-LP set, Shirley Bassey: Live at Carnegie Hall. This album and the majority of her recordings from this period have been released on CD by EMI and BGO Records. Returning to the James Bond franchise, she recorded the theme song for Diamonds Are Forever (1971).
Bassey was the subject of This Is Your Life on two occasions, in November 1972 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at Heathrow Airport, and in January 1993, when Michael Aspel surprised her at the curtain call of a sell-out concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Big Spender Shirley Bassey karaoke
Bassey appeared on the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show, broadcast on Christmas Day in 1971. Bassey starred in the six-episode The Shirley Bassey Show (1976), the first of her television programmes for the BBC, followed by a second series of six episodes in 1979. The final show of the first series was nominated for the Golden Rose of Montreux in 1977. The series featured guests including Neil Diamond, Michel Legrand, The Three Degrees and Dusty Springfield and featured Bassey in various international locations as well as in the television studio. In 1978, Bassey pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly “after shouting abuse in the street and pushing a policeman”.Bassey closed out the decade with her third title theme for a Bond film, Moonraker (1979).
Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the Western world during the 1950s and 1960s, deriving from rock and roll. The terms “popular music” and “pop music” are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular (and can include any style).
Pop music is eclectic, and often borrows elements from other styles such as urban, dance, rock, Latin, and country; nonetheless, there are core elements that define pop music. Identifying factors include generally short to medium-length songs written in a basic format (often the verse-chorus structure) as well as the common employment of repeated choruses, melodic tunes, and hooks. Big Spender Shirley Bassey karaoke
David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop music as “a body of music which is distinguishable from popular, jazz, and folk musics”. According to Pete Seeger, pop music is “professional music which draws upon both folk music and fine arts music”.Although pop music is seen as just the singles charts, it is not the sum of all chart music. The music charts contain songs from a variety of sources, including classical, jazz, rock, and novelty songs. Pop music, as a genre, is seen as existing and developing separately.Thus “pop music” may be used to describe a distinct genre, aimed at a youth market, often characterized as a softer alternative to rock and roll.
The Oxford Dictionary of Music states that the term “pop” refers to music performed by such artists as the Rolling Stones (pictured here in a 2006 performance)
The term “pop song” was first recorded as being used in 1926, in the sense of a piece of music “having popular appeal”.However, the term was in mainstream use at least ten years earlier. Hatch and Millward indicate that many events in the history of recording in the 1920s can be seen as the birth of the modern pop music industry, including in country, blues and hillbilly music.
According to the website of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, called Grove Music Online, the term “pop music” “originated in Britain in the mid-1950s as a description for rock and roll and the new youth music styles that it influenced The Oxford Dictionary of Music states that while pop’s “earlier meaning meant concerts appealing to a wide audience … since the late 1950s, however, pop has had the special meaning of non-classical mus[ic], usually in the form of songs, performed by such artists as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, ABBA, etc”. Grove Music Online also states that “… in the early 1960s [the term] ‘pop music’ competed terminologically with Beat music [in England], while in the USA its coverage overlapped (as it still does) with that of ‘rock and roll'”.
Throughout its development, pop music has absorbed influences from most other genres of popular music. Early pop music drew on the sentimental ballad for its form, gained its use of vocal harmonies from gospel and soul music, instrumentation from jazz, country, and rock music, orchestration from classical music, tempo from dance music, backing from electronic music, rhythmic elements from hip-hop music, and has recently appropriated spoken passages from rap. Big Spender Shirley Bassey karaoke
It has also made use of technological innovation. In the 1940s improved microphone design allowed a more intimate singing style and ten or twenty years later inexpensive and more durable 45 r.p.m. records for singles “revolutionized the manner in which pop has been disseminated” and helped to move pop music to ‘a record/radio/film star system’. Another technological change was the widespread availability of television in the 1950s; with televised performances, “pop stars had to have a visual presence”. In the 1960s, the introduction of inexpensive, portable transistor radios meant that teenagers could listen to music outside of the home. Multi-track recording (from the 1960s); and digital sampling (from the 1980s) have also been utilized as methods for the creation and elaboration of pop music. By the early 1980s, the promotion of pop music had been greatly affected by the rise of music television channels like MTV, which “favoured those artists such as Michael Jackson and Madonna who had a strong visual appeal”. Big Spender Shirley Bassey karaoke
According to several sources, MTV helped give rise to pop stars such as Michael Jackson and Madonna; and Jackson and Madonna
Pop music has been dominated by the American and (from the mid-1960s) British music industries, whose influence has made pop music something of an international monoculture, but most regions and countries have their own form of pop music, sometimes producing local versions of wider trends, and lending them local characteristics. Some of these trends (for example Europop) have had a significant impact of the development of the genre.
According to Grove Music Online, “Western-derived pop styles, whether coexisting with or marginalizing distinctively local genres, have spread throughout the world and have come to constitute stylistic common denominators in global commercial music cultures”.Some non-Western countries, such as Japan, have developed a thriving pop music industry, most of which is devoted to Western-style pop, has for several years produced a greater quantity of music of everywhere except the USA. The spread of Western-style pop music has been interpreted variously as representing processes of Americanization, homogenization, modernization, creative appropriation, cultural imperialism, and/or a more general process of globalization. Select subgeneres of pop such as the guitar-driven “Jank” subgenre have consciously reversed the trend toward homogenization by combining elements from world and classical music into more traditional pop structures.Big Spender Shirley Bassey karaoke
According to British musicologist Simon Frith, characteristics of pop music include an aim of appealing to a general audience, rather than to a particular sub-culture or ideology, and an emphasis on craftsmanship rather than formal “artistic” qualities. Music scholar Timothy Warner said it typically has an emphasis on recording, production, and technology, rather than live performance; a tendency to reflect existing trends rather than progressive developments; and aims to encourage dancing or uses dance-oriented rhythms.