Ella Fitzgerald, known as the “First Lady of Song,” has left behind an awe-inspiring and versatile body of work. Known for her crystal-clear voice and impeccable intonation, Fitzgerald could masterfully handle any genre from jazz to pop. But which of her numerous songs are true classics? Let’s dive into the top 10 best Ella Fitzgerald songs.
10. Night and Day
Crafted by Cole Porter, “Night and Day” takes on a magical quality in Ella’s rendition. With an orchestral arrangement that oscillates between subdued and expressive, Fitzgerald offers a vocal performance that is both intimate and enchanting. This song is a highlight in the Great American Songbook, and Ella’s interpretation is nothing short of iconic.
9. I’ve Got a Crush on You
This George and Ira Gershwin tune hails from a different era, a time when the concept of romance and infatuation was perhaps a little sweeter. Ella’s rendition of “I’ve Got a Crush on You” is irresistibly charming, filled with a sense of nostalgia and genuine emotion that tugs at your heartstrings.
8. All the Things You Are
“All the Things You Are” is a complex piece with numerous key changes, yet Ella makes it effortlessly accessible. Her voice glides through the melody as if it were water, bringing fluidity that minimizes the complexity of the composition. This song often serves as a benchmark for jazz standards, and Fitzgerald’s version is one of the most cherished interpretations.
7. Autumn in New York
This song is like a vibrant autumn leaf gently floating to the ground. “Autumn in New York” is a warm, melancholic ballad that captures the magic of New York in the fall. Ella’s voice, rich and full, perfectly complements the mood of this timeless tune.
6. Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall
Together with The Ink Spots, Ella Fitzgerald reveals another facet of her talent. “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall” addresses the universal theme of ups and downs. The song strikes a perfect balance between the popular music styles of its time and the unique jazz flair that Ella commands so well.
5. It’s Only a Paper Moon
This song is a playful jazz standard, and in Ella’s hands, it turns into a showcase of vocal gymnastics. “It’s Only a Paper Moon” displays Ella’s lighter, playful side and is often considered one of her most uplifting performances.
4. They Can’t Take That Away from Me
In this Gershwin tune, Fitzgerald demonstrates her ability to reach emotional heights as well. “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” is a bittersweet love song that resonates with everyone at some point. Ella’s rendition is sensitive without being overly sentimental, a difficult balance that few artists can achieve.
Ella’s rendition of “Summertime” is undoubtedly one of the best interpretations of this frequently performed number from the opera Porgy and Bess. She effortlessly switches between gentle lulls and powerful belts, giving the song an emotional depth that few other versions can match.
2. Cheek to Cheek
“Cheek to Cheek” is everything you’d want in a jazz number: cheerful, swingy, and timeless. Fitzgerald’s voice and timing in this song are so perfect that it feels as if she’s dancing with the music. This is Ella at her most swinging and memorable.
1. Dream a Little Dream of Me
“Dream a Little Dream of Me” could very well be the quintessential Ella Fitzgerald song. It embodies all the elements that have made her legendary: technical perfection, emotional richness, and a timeless quality that ensures the song still sounds fresh today. It’s the perfect closing number for this top 10 list and a tribute to the unparalleled greatness of Ella Fitzgerald.