[NOTE: This entry has been updated (1) as of 6:33 PM Eastern on 19 Dec. See below.]
One cold winter's evening sometime in the early '70s a bunch of us (can't remember how many but more than 8) — classical musicians and classical music snobs all, ranging in age from 19 to 50 — were sitting or lying around a large, blazing and welcoming fireplace engaging in good-natured argumentative banter about various pieces of music and various composers. About the only thing we all managed to agree on so far was that Bach was the greatest composer who ever lived and his music the greatest ever written. Then one member suggested we play a game which he called "Scenarios". Each member would, in turn, set up an imaginary scenario and then ask what should be playing on the turntable in the background in that scenario. We would then all engage in a discussion on what each of us thought the best selection would be. Sounded like a clever idea and great fun and we all accepted the challenge. As expected, we seemed to agree on nothing and the detailed arguments for each selection, many of them put forward at length, were as good-naturedly argumentative as they had been all evening pre-"Scenarios". Then came this scenario: it's a cold and blustery winter's night much like this one and you're lounging in front of a crackling, blazing fireplace with your truelove. What's playing on the turntable in the background? Without an instant's hesitation came the unanimous answer from all members almost in unison as if we were all reading from the same script: Sinatra! And that pretty much says it all. Happy 100th!, Frank.
Update (6:33 PM Eastern on 19 Dec): Although at the time no one felt the need to offer an explanation for his or her declaration of "Sinatra!" in our little game as the explanation was tacitly understood by all, on this centenary of Sinatra's birth I feel the need to articulate the explanation for my declaration. And that is to my ear Sinatra was absolutely unique musically among male pop singers. It was not only the unique timbre of his voice but the way he shaped and articulated any song he performed. Disregarding his performances during the so-called "Rat Pack" years (i.e., during the first half or so of the 1960s which years and which performances are best forgotten), Sinatra's inimitable style was pure magic from song to song which songs he invariably transformed into taut, 3-4-minute mini-dramas with a skill almost preternatural but which mini-dramas came across as thoroughly natural and effortlessly realized in performance. Pop-musically, Sinatra was a singer of singular musical excellence and intelligence who simply has no equal, before or since.