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Music / Shirley Bassey

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He's the man, the man with the Midas touch,
A spider's touch.
Such a cold finger,
Beckons you to enter his web of sin,
But don't go in.♫

Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey DBE (born 8 January 1937) is a Welsh singer of Nigerian and English descent, affectionately and spooneristically referred to as "Burly Chassis". Her career spans more than sixty years, and she has a powerful and very distinctive voice that is instantly recognisable - nobody sounds exactly like her, but you can immediately tell when they're trying to.

Bassey is particularly noted for being the only person to have sung more than one of the James Bond Title Theme Tunes, including the themes for Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker, and the original themes for Thunderball ("Mr Kiss-Kiss Bang-Bang") and Quantum of Solace ("No Good About Goodbye") before the studio decided to go with Tom Jones and Jack White/Alicia Keys respectively.

Her other famous songs include:

  • "Big Spender" ("Hey, Big Spender!")
  • "As Long As He Needs Me" (From Oliver!)
  • "History Repeating" (a collaboration with Propellerheads)
  • Believe it or not, a cover of "Get The Party Started" (even included on Dancing On Ice)
  • "Jezahel" (later sampled by Public Enemy for "Harder Than You Think")
  • "The Rhythm Divine", a collaboration with Yello that spawned a Newbie Boom for her in the late '80s.

Bassey's singing style, the singing equivalent of Chewing the Scenery, has been much imitated:

Her works contain examples of:

  • The Chanteuse: Especially apparent in her performance in James Bond themes, she sells a rather hammy noir motif.
  • The Cover Changes the Gender: Her cover of Ben E. King's "I Who Have Nothing" is another perspective-flipped example. Her cover of George Harrison's "Something" swaps "she" for "he".
  • Large Ham: The bombastic performances are unmistakable, especially when she is singing some James Bond themes.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: In performances, she has a tendency of doing this doing big finishes, and a good number of her numbers have them.
  • Spelling Song: "Burn My Candle".
    There's S for Scotch
    That's so direct
    And for straight and simple sex
    I for invitation to
    A close relationship with you
    N for nothing bad, no less
    S I N that's sin I guess