Cole Porter - 'Anything Goes' Comparison

Anything Goes by Cole Porter is the eponymous song of a musical he wrote in 1934. Later on in the 1950s, Frank Sinatra recorded the song for his album Songs for Swingin' Lovers!, which was shortly followed by Ella Fitzgerald's version for the (very imaginatively named) album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook. Despite both recordings being the same song composed by Cole Porter, they have significant differences in a variety of aspects, incluidng style, structure, harmony, instrumentation and timbre.

Fitzgerald's bright, warm vocal timbre and wide range including a rich, low alto gives the song a relaxed, intimate feel - reinforced by the instrumentation which includes strings, a flute and a harp, but contrasted by punchy brass stabs during the instrumental bridge passage and the ending. Her singing is precise in terms of rhythm, not pushing or pulling much around the beat, however there are some slight deviations from the lead sheet - such as the syncopation of "heaven" in bar 20, and the shortening of a tied beat by a quaver in bar 25 on "better words". Some notes also deviated slightly, such as "anything" in bar 46, where Fitzgerald sings all notes on C. In contrast, Sinatra's version is more energetic, gradually building up throughout the song, and fits much more into the label of big band swing - with a more prominant horn section featuring frequent syncopation, plus the freedom for Sinatra to anticipate or delay his notes to create a natural, flowing speech-like feel to his singing. For example in bars 38-39, "are just silly" is significantly delayed, which leaves fast semiquavers to be filled by "gigolos".

Both Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra also put their own twists on the structure of the song, slightly deviating and developing on the musical material provided int he lead sheet. Fitzgerald's version includes an instrumental bridge before the repeat of the verse, which gives very short solo-like expressions to many of the instruments one after another. It begins with a lyrical, expressive saxophone section, followed by a punchy trombone crescendo, then piercing trumpets dominating the high frequencies. This is then followed by high strings, and a harp glissando - then trumpets again but with accents being reinforced by the drum kit snare, followed by saxophones and trumpets. In Sinatra's version, the slower introductory section is skipped, starting straight from the main verse. He does not include an instrumental section, however the last phrase is repeated again with Sinatra's own composed words - a common feature of his arrangements.

In terms of melody, harmony and texture, the two versions of the song differ significantly as well. Fitzgerald's version includes the introductory passage at the start which contrasts significantly against the rest of the song, with rich and colourful chord changes and modulations - especially the sequence between bars 5-8 inclusive. It has a slightly slower, rubato tempo, and is much more reminiscent of a transition into a song in a musical. She remains mostly faithful to the melody and harmony of the lead sheet, without adding much chromaticism. The arrangement is quite light in texture, mainly with only the drum kit, bass, piano, and strings accompanying her singing, with horns filling in the space between lines and in the instrumental. The different horn instruments also don't fight for space, very rarely playing over each other and instead taking turns. Sinatra's version also starts off mellow, a drum kit with brushes, harp, drum kit and celesta. In bar 21, the celesta starts playing a much more chromatic improvised-sounding fill, and very syncopated trumpet stabs are introduced. As the song becomes increasingly energetic, this is reflected in the texture especially after the repeat. Two examples include the syncopated rhythm in bars 21-23 and 29-31 with the high and low horns playing against each other in an almost call-and-response fashion, and the horn stabs on every first beat in bars 33-38 which crescendos and adds chord extensions to build up suspense.