Tony Bennett and Elvis Presley were famous around the same time, however, that doesn’t mean Bennett was a fan of Elvis’ songs. Over the years, he’s offered quite a few criticisms of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Here’s what he had to say — and how Bennett’s success compared to Elvis’.
Tony Bennett on the difference between Elvis Presley’s songs and Frank Sinatra’s
During an interview with The Guardian, asked Bennett whether Elvis had a greater impact on 20th century music than Frank Sinatra. “You can’t compare them,” Bennett opined. “Presley is country music, white music. Jazz is Black music – it was invented by [Black people] in New Orleans. And I’m really a jazz singer. I was impressed with Elvis – he was the handsomest guy I ever met in my life, and a very nice person, too. But the music doesn’t impress me.”
Bennett reducing country to an exclusively white genre is highly inaccurate. It’s also odd that Bennett classified Elvis as a country artist when he made rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, and pop music as well. In addition, Bennett cited Sinatra as one of his heroes alongside Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole.
Tony Bennett compared Elvis Presley to Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bennett once praised one of his collaborators — Amy Winehouse — for singing properly, unlike Elvis. “She was really, since Elvis Presley and The Beatles and The Rolling Stones… she was the only singer that really sang what I call the right way,” he opined. “She was really a great jazz singer, a true jazz singer.”
Bennett even predicted Lady Gaga would outshine the “Can’t Help Falling in Love” singer.” “The minute I heard (Lady Gaga) sing, I knew that she really knows how to sing,” he told Today. “My first reaction to her is that she’s going to be bigger than Elvis Presley throughout her life. She’s going to be around forever.” Notably, Bennett collaborated with Gaga on the album Cheek to Cheek and a cover of the standard “The Lady is a Tramp.”
Were Elvis Presley’s songs more popular than Tony Bennett’s?
Bennett’s comments on Elvis raise an interesting question: How did his success compare to Elvis’? Bennett released 23 songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100. None of those songs reached the top 10.
On the other hand, Elvis released 109 songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100. Of them, 25 reached the top 10 and 7 reached No. 1. It’s important to note that both Bennett’s and Elvis’ careers began before the advent of the Billboard Hot 100, so the chart doesn’t count all of their hits. However, since the chart began, Elvis clearly had more hits –regardless of what Bennett thought of his singing.