No one remembers Marilyn Monroe primarily as a singer.
That would be like recalling Margaret Thatcher as a fashion model. Everyone agrees that Monroe was a gorgeous creature, a superb comedienne, a potentially great actress and a tragic individual whose numerous personal problems helped bring about her most untimely end.
But you wouldn’t call her one of the great vocalists of her time. This was the era of Doris Day and Patti Page, bright clear voices without a hint of shadow, girls who wouldn’t know a double meaning if it hit them over the head. Monroe, on the other hand, was all innuendo, a lass who could get more sexual undercurrents into a song than anyone since Mae West.
No, you can’t picture MM singing “Que Sera, Sera” or “How Much Is That Doggy in the Window?” but within her own, carefully chosen, very narrow range, she could be very effective.
It’s interesting to note that a lot of Monroe impersonators (of both genders!) zero in on her musical renditions when they want to deliver an amusing portrait of the blonde bombshell. Why? Maybe it’s because it was when she sang that Marilyn became the most Marilynesque. The breathiness was breathier, the sexiness was sexier and that wry air of self-mockery, which elevated her above the Jayne Mansfields and Mamie Van Dorens of the world, was served up with added emphasis.
Marilyn sings on eighteen of the twenty selections presented here, spanning a fairly limited period, from 1953 to 1959, but it was within this window that most of her Hollywood vocals were recorded, a period of time generally acknowledged to contain her best work.- Richard Ouzounian