This Top 10 Pink Martini Songs list presents the best Pink Martini Songs like “Sympathique,” “Kuroneko no Tango,” and many more. In 1994, pianist Thomas Lauderdale from Portland, Oregon, formed an orchestral group titled Pink Martini, featuring fellow band members China Forbes and Storm Large. The group’s musical styles feature an influential mix of classical, jazz, Latino, and pop-rock. What sparked Lauderdale’s interest in this career path came from working in politics, finding the choice of music used for important events such as fundraising lacked finesse and excitement. In order to appeal to a broader audience, he felt jazzing up the musical performances would be the ticket to improving upon fundraising campaigns and more. As of 1995, Forbes was the first of Lauderdale’s recruits to the band as one of the lead vocalists.
Multi-Languaged and Multi-Styled
Part of the appeal behind Pink Martini was the multitude of languages the monolingual Forbes was able to perform. This, plus the various genres of music the group studied and performed as a group enabled them to reach a wide audience base, although they’re technically an American band. When Pink Martini made its European debut it was at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 before making its orchestral debut in 1998 with the Oregon Symphony. Throughout the group’s career, they have performed with several orchestras worldwide and have performed in world-class concerts from prestigious venues such as the Royal Albert Hall in London, England, and New York City’s Carnegie Hall.
Overall, Pink Martini has recorded and released seven studio albums between 1997 and 2016, as well as two collaboration albums, and a compilation album. Although the group has been credited with only one single release according to Wikipedia’s account, the musical portfolio of Pink Martini has demonstrated a long list of fantastic songs, including all-time cult classics, that are worth listening to just for its entertainment value alone. The quest to improve upon the dynamics of musical performances able to engage in a variety of styles seems to have been realized by Thomas Lauderdale, along with the assistance of China Forbes and Storm Large.
Top 10 Pink Martini Songs
#10 – What’ll I Do?
“What’ll I Do?” was a song first performed by Grace Moore and John Steel as a couple who had miles put between them when the woman’s father sends her away in hopes it would be enough to permanently sever their relationship. The attempt failed and the couple married, despite the time and distance that was placed between them. In the meantime, the vocalists wonder how are they going to cope with the separation, along with finding a way to get back into each other’s lives and pick up where they left off.
Over the years, “What’ll I Do?” has been recorded many times over and was a popular blues and jazz favorite during the timeline of the Roaring Twenties, as well as the duration of World War II. The popularity of “What’ll I Do?” was inspiring enough for Pink Martini to feature China Forbes sing out her cover of this brilliant song that became a modernized favorite. It was one of the many songs featured on the 2013 album, Get Happy.
#9 – Kisetsu no Ashioto (Footsteps of the Seasons) (featuring Saori Yuki)
“Kisetsu no Ashioto (Footsteps of the Seasons)” was an original song performed by the collaborative effort of Pink Martini and Saori Yuki. It was the final track recorded for the album, 1969, and served as a fantastic piece to set the mood as a listener becoming an imaginative wanderer. This is a beautiful acoustic performance that is best enjoyed as a romantic dance between a couple or as something to simply lounge in a cozy chair, sip a glass of wine and simply enjoy.
#8 – Shchedryk
“Shchedryk” is Ukrainian for Bountiful Evening and is also referred to in English as “The Little Swallow.” It is a popular song performed to celebrate the New Year. Originally composed in 1916, this song lyrically tells the story of a small bird flying into a home and sings the promise of wealth to bless the family as the new year progresses. The popularity of this song in North America began in 1936 and has since remained a Christmas season favorite, especially among the Ukrainian population. From Pink Martini’s 2010 album, Joy to the World, “Shchedryk” was one of the fourteen brilliant tracks featured that celebrates the holiday season with fantastic music to do exactly as the group’s vision has been since first forming as a band in 1997, which is to produce music that is far from boring.
#7 – El Negro Zumbon (Anna)
“Anna,” also known as “El Negro Zumbon,” was a song written for the 1951 Italian movie, Anna. In the film, this song is performed as a nightclub act by the starring actress, Silvana Mangano. The actual recording of the song came from Flo Sandon. When the song and the movie first reached the North American audience in 1953, it became a cult favorite in the pop-rock music genre, especially in the Latino music industry as the catchy lyrics and the instrumental style were just too tempting not to cover.
#6 – Is That All There Is? (featuring Saori Yuki)
The 2011 collaborative album with Saori Yuki, 1969, featured Pink Martini performing with the Japanese singer for the hit single, “Is That All There Is?” The original 1969 version performed by Peggy Lee was a number one hit on the adult contemporary music charts belonging to Canada and the US Billboard and was a number eleven hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. The version performed by Saori Yuki and Pink Martini in 2011 may not have earned chart success but it was enough to win over enough fans, especially in Japan. “Is That All There Is?” was a song performed from the narrator’s point of view about life experiences and how it has negatively affected her as a person.
#5 – Quizas, Quizas, Quizas
The English translation of the Spanish word, “Quizas” is “perhaps.” In 1947, “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” was a hit single released by Bobby Capo, long before the 2013 version by Pink Martini featuring Storm Large displaying her vocal talent. From the album, Get Happy, “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas” was first recorded as “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” in English in 1948 by Dezi Arnaz as a single where he was concerned about his love interest’s dance with another man and how it could affect his relationship with her. For Large, her performance approached this song from a woman’s perspective, which was done so with such beauty and grace that it’s hard not to regard this as an easy-listening fan favorite.
#4 – Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be)
Although topping the 1955 Doris Day original performance of “Que Sera, Sera” doesn’t seem possible, the version from Pink Martini is still noteworthy. This song became Doris Day’s biggest hit and signature song, as well as one of the all-time favorites in music history. “Que Sera, Sera” became so much more than just an Academy Award-winning song. It became a part of popular culture as an infamous catchphrase used to express the unfolding of situations that seemed to be beyond a person’s control.
Instead of becoming upset about a victim of circumstance, the cheerful response to simply contend with the outcome and move on has been one of the most instrumental methods used by people who are grown up enough to understand things happen, both good and bad, and the best way to deal with it is to learn from the experience and move on.
The version Pink Martini performed with The von Trapps turned Doris Day’s version from something simplistic to an orchestral feast of brilliant music as Forbes powerfully delivered “Que Sera, Sera” almost as epic as the original. The 1997 recording of Pink Martini’s version of this all-time classic is one of the popular tracks featured in the group’s debut album, Sympathique.
#3 – Dream a Little Dream (featuring The von Trapps)
“Dream a Little Dream” was originally “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” a 1931 song that was first recorded by Ozzie Nelson, then made ridiculously famous by The Mamas & The Papas in 1968. For them, it was a global hit that peaked as high as number one in Australia and at number twelve on the US Billboard Hot 100. While the version performed by the von Trapps and Pink Martini may not have seen an appearance on any of the official music charts, it is still worthy of mention as China Forbes’ vocal delivery was just as phenomenal as Cass Elliott’s. The piano performance in this song is simply amazing, as is the very concept of the song, which is about simply dreaming about something pleasant where the love interest is to serve as the focal point.
#2 – Kuroneko no Tango (Black Cat Tango) (featuring The von Trapps)
The Japanese term for “Black Cat Tango” is “Kuroneko no Tango,” is also known as “Volevo un gatto nero” in Italian. This song was originally recorded in Italian and Japanese in 1969 by a group of children and was used as a song entry for an Italian music competition that was held in 1969. The Italian version saw the child complain about receiving a white cat instead of a black one.
The Japanese version is somewhat more adult as the term “black cat” was used to describe the narrator’s love interest and it was believed by the children’s choir of that nation that “Tango” was the name of the black cat referenced in the song. In Japan, black cats are a sign of good luck, as is the case in Great Britain and several other nations that share in this belief. Since 1969, “Black Cat Tango” has been covered by many artists throughout the world, including The von Trapps, alongside Pink Martini.
#1 – Sympathique (Sympathetic)
“Sympathique” was the first single released by Pink Martini and is French for the term, “Sympathetic.” It was appealing enough to the French music industry to chart as high as number three on its official music chart in 2011 and become nominated as Song of the Year at its Victoires de la Musique Awards but not quite enough to secure the win. On the official music chart belonging to Belgium, “Sympathique” peaked as high as number three.
This was the one and only song released from the group to earn a chart appearance but this doesn’t diminish the fact Pink Martini is one of the best musical talents ever to grace the ears of a listener who appreciates the sound of quality music. Yes, this song is in French and no, it’s not exactly a rock song classic, but it is still brilliant. This is a fun song to simply get swept into, although it’s actually about a woman who has been emotionally traumatized due to a lifestyle situation she really doesn’t want anything to do with.
Top 10 Pink Martini Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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