Editors' Notes The introduction of microphones in the late 1920s meant that singers no longer had to belt out for the benefit of the cheap seats. Especially in the recording studio, vocalists could adopt a delivery so intimate that it was akin to a lover whispering softly in your ear. And so male stars like Dean Martin, Perry Como, and Nat “King” Cole became closely associated with crooning, though each brought his own particular style to the classic, romantic form. A common imagery developed alongside that comforting sound, with these classy yet approachable singers often pictured on record sleeves near some warming fire while ensconced in a cardigan or turtleneck. But the art of crooning was by no means static: Bing Crosby helped to popularize the polished singing style in country music, while heavyweight talents like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley—and more recently Michael Bublé—could both master and transcend the perennially cozy subgenre.

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