A few months ago, over dinner with Todd-Avery Lenahan (President/CEO, Wynn Design & Development), I felt compelled to tell him how his gobsmackingly gorgeous design for the then as-yet-opened Delilah at Wynn Las Vegas had me itching to put compile a playlist, inspired not just by Delilah Las Vegas (though that was a big part of it), but also the famed supper clubs of yesteryear—such as the Cotton Club, Smalls Paradise, and Connie’s Inn (Harlem); the Stork Club and El Morocco (New York); the Cocoanut Grove, the Mocambo, and Ciro’s (Los Angeles), the 500 Club (Atlantic City), and El Tropicana Night Club (Havana, Cuba)—and, given Delilah’s location as well as our own, the great showrooms and lounges from Las Vegas’s first Golden Age of Entertainment.
So, naturally, I started with the blues (Bessie Smith), and then made my way to the bandleaders (Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong), the first ladies of jazz (Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson), the great entertainers (Josephine Baker, Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey, Harry Belafonte, Jimmy Durante), the Vegas legends (Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Miss Ann-Margret, Louis Prima & Keely Smith, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gormé, Sam Butera, Buddy Greco), the crooners (Mel Tormé, Bobby Darin, Nat “King” Cole, Paul Anka, Tony Bennett), and the songbirds (Lena Horne, Julie London, Eartha Kitt, Vikki Carr). Then, to keep y’all on your toes, I included some latter-day artists (Chaka Khan, Gloria Estefan, Robbie Williams, Pink Martini, Rufus Wainwright, Natalie Cole, Lady Gaga) putting their spins on some standards; and even a couple of artists singing contemporary songs in a retro style (Paul Anka, Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine). And, given the option (in Apple Music and Spotify), I opted for live recordings.
Now, to be sure, when placing a limit on the number of songs, there are going to be choices that have to be made, especially as many of these artists had very similar repertoires. As a matter of fact, as my friend Armen Ra was quick to point out, with the exception of “Goomba Boomba” by Yma Sumac, it’s likely that, at some point, Shirley Bassey has sung every song on this list.
Also, some songs were very intentional, if intended for a specific audience. For instance, Louis Armstrong singing “Hello Dolly” is a wink and a nod to the previous iterations of the Delilah space (originally Restaurant Alex, then the Chairman’s Salon, the focal point of the room had been a reproduction of the staircase from the 1969 film, Hello, Dolly!).
Further, some songs simply weren’t available on either Apple Music or Spotify. For instance, I’d have preferred to use Eartha Kitt singing “My Discarded Men,” but settled, instead, for a live version of her singing “Champagne Taste;” while the absence of Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gormé’s cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” (which is utterly delicious and would’ve been perfect for this compilation) compelled me to opt instead for their version of “This Could Be the Start of Something,” and include the former as a Bonus Track for this article that doesn’t appear on the actual playlists.
Finally, with regards to the contemporary artists, I made sure to include songs performed by artists like Robbie Williams and Pink Martini, who perform at Wynn Las Vegas.
So, check out the playlist (arranged alphabetically by artist), below; watch the videos (when included), and enjoy the swellegant aural journey.
Get into it!
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Paul Anka
“Thirteen Men” – Ann-Margret
“Hello Dolly” – Louis Armstrong
“Puttin on the Ritz” – Fred Astaire
“Bye Bye Blackbird” – Josephine Baker
“’S Wonderful” – Shirley Bassey
“Jump in the Line” – Harry Belafonte
“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” – Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
“For Once in My Life” – Sam Butera
“Minnie the Moocher” – Cab Calloway
“The Silencers” – Vikki Carr
“Baby Got Back” – Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine
“From This Moment On” – Rosemary Clooney
“Almost Like Being in Love” – Nat “King” Cole
“Route 66” – Natalie Cole
“Mack the Knife” (Live) – Bobby Darin
“A Lot of Living to Do” – Sammy Davis, Jr.
“Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” – Doris Day
“Give Him the Ooh-La-La” – Blossom Dearie
“Young at Heart” – Jimmy Durante
“What a Difference a Day Makes” – Gloria Estefan
“Begin the Beguine” – Ella Fitzgerald
“Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again” (Live) Judy Garland & Barbra Streisand
“It’s Impossible” – Robert Goulet
“The Lady is a Tramp” – Buddy Greco
“What a Little Moonlight Can Do” (Live) – Billie Holiday
“It Ain’t Necessarily So” – Lena Horne
“Nature Boy” – Etta Jones
“The Best is Yet to Come” – Chaka Khan & The London Symphony Orchestra
“Champagne Taste” (Live) – Eartha Kitt
“This Could Be the Start of Something Big” – Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gormé
“Cry Me a River” – Julie London
“Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” – Dean Martin
“Sweet Georgia Brown” – The Mills Brothers
“Sing, Sing, Sing” – Anita O’Day
“Sympathique” – Pink Martini
“Embraceable You / I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good” (Live) – Louis Prima & Keely Smith
“I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl” – Nina Simone
“Luck Be a Lady” (Live) – Frank Sinatra
“’Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do” – Bessie Smith
“Anything Goes” – Dakota Staton
“Goomba Boomba” – Yma Sumac
“It’s Delovely” (Live) – Mel Tormé
“The Man I Love” – Sophie Tucker
“Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets)” – Sarah Vaughan
“Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” (Live) – Rufus Wainwright
“Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” – Dinah Washington feat. Quincy Jones & His Orchestra
“Stormy Weather” – Ethel Waters & The Dorsey Brothers Orchestra
“Let’s Face the Music and Dance” – Robbie Williams
“Hello, Young Lovers” (Live) – Nancy Wilson
“Black Hole Sun” – Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gormé