Totally snark-free: I *love* Tom Jones.
While most people in my age group either know of Tom as a kitsch icon or Carlton’s hero on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, I grew up in a house where Tom Jones was not only appreciated from a musical standpoint, but appreciated by the womenfolk (OK, appreciated by my grandmother). Of course, a lot of the guy’s appeal has always had to do with the fact that he practically radiates sex, but have you heard the man SING? Now THAT is a voice. That chesty tenor can move boulders. If you believe the rumors, there are *other* parts of the man that can move boulders (and apparently do damage to the lady parts of future Mistresses of the Dark), but that’s another story for another time.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a healthy dose of camp, and Tom has been trading in that for decades. Whether it’s the wink-wink, nudge-nudge lyrics of “What’s New Pussycat?” or songs like “Sex Bomb”, his music has always been delivered with a raised eyebrow and an implied grin. However, camp doesn’t work without talent, and this guy’s got the goods. That gets reinforced every time you hear him tackle a standard or a country song or…well, you get the idea. Listen to the guy sing “Green Green Grass of Home” (which might be the first song I heard of his) and you will get chills. And even at retirement age, the man still blows ’em away (and still gets panties tossed at him) when on stage!
Tom did an album in 1994 called “The Lead & How to Swing It”. It was his attempt at a contemporary pop album, with guests ranging from Seal producer Trevor Horn to the king of new jack swing, Teddy Riley. One of the two videos I remember from the project was a duet called “I Wanna Get Back With You”. I’m including the video here, but if you are cruising a used bin and happen to see a copy of this album, I strongly advise you to pick it up!