If you are a fan of jazz music, there is no way you have not heard Peggy Lee’s “Mariana,” “Fever,” or “Sweet Happy Life.” My jazz playlist is never complete without these masterpieces! As someone who has listened to Lee’s songs for years, I can guarantee anyone will fall for her unique singing style after hearing as little as two notes.
Peggy Lee’s legacy continues through eras and generations, with the songwriter, singer, and actress receiving the appreciation she deserves. The bombshell had a captivating aura of mystique and a fascinating vocal style that never failed to stun anyone.
That said, Peggy Lee was not just a jazz musician. In fact, she took several musical paths, including soft rock, Latin, and pop. Celebrating her talent, I have compiled a list of the best Peggy Lee songs of all time, in my opinion.
Peggy Lee recorded a cover version of "Fever" in 1958, which featured significantly rewritten lyrics composed by Lee herself without credit. The song’s subject is a woman who is restless for her lover’s love. Despite its popularity, the song was initially a flop because more than 20 different record labels turned it down before it was finally released. However, it became one of Peggy’s signature songs not long ago. An interesting fact about “Fever” is that Peggy Lee even sang it for President Eisenhower at the White House.
Ain’t We Got Fun
“Ain’t We Got Fun” first got popular in 1921, but it did not reach the same heights until Peggy Lee’s famous rendition of this joyful and carefree song was put forward. It came out as part of her 1949 album, “The Man I Love.” Personally, I believe this song is the ideal mood-lifter, thanks to its jovial horns, upbeat lyrics, and the unmistakable vocal style of the prolific singer. Everyone from Doris Day to Van Morrison has covered it; its Billboard chart all-time high ranked at the number four position.
“Sweetheart” was very similar in mood, tempo, and style to Lee’s chart-topping hit, “Fever.” The latter smasher was released earlier in the same year. The simple drums and bass arrangement is the primary element, making the two songs similar. “Sweetheart” is a lovely Peggy Lee song written by R&B singer-songwriter, Winfield Scott, the composer of Elvis Presley’s “Return to Sender.”
Is That All There Is
One of the craziest singles to ever reach the U.S. Top 20 earned Lee a Grammy. It was written and produced by legendary rock ‘n’ roll hitmakers, Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber. “Is That All There Is” aesthetically evokes Kurt Weil and mimics the vibe of the cabaret scene of 20s Berlin. The song involves Peggy Lee talking through the song rather than singing it. As such, it recalls the follies and disappointments of life with a mordantly sarcastic sense of humor, aside from the carefree, joyful chorus, “Let’s break out the alcohol and have a ball.”
Peggy Lee gave us jazz lovers some of the best songs we absolutely can’t stop listening to. Besides listening to Peggy Lee, exploring smaller and independent artists is also an excellent way to keep the music alive. Check out my songs at https://maggysimonsings.com/music!