From ‘Misty’ to ‘Summertime’: Exploring 25 of Ella Fitzgerald’s Most Popular Songs

The Timeless Allure of Ella Fitzgerald: Exploring 25 of Her Most Popular Songs

Ella Fitzgerald, affectionately known as the “First Lady of Song”, enthralled audiences with her captivating voice, impeccable technique, and unmatched ability to breathe life into melodies. Her vast repertoire spans decades and genres, leaving an indelible mark on the world of music.

This exploration delves into 25 of Ella Fitzgerald’s most popular songs, from the wistful beauty of “Misty” to the timeless “Summertime.” These recordings showcase her remarkable vocal range, effortless swing, and a joyous zest for improvisation.

Let us rediscover the brilliance of these musical treasures. They serve as testament to Fitzgerald’s extraordinary talent and her enduring influence on generations of singers and music lovers alike.

Join us as we delve into the timeless magic of Ella Fitzgerald’s most popular songs!

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Ella Fitzgerald: The First Lady of Song and Her Timeless Legacy

Ella Fitzgerald, the “First Lady of Song”, wasn’t just a singer; she was a master storyteller.

Born in Virginia in 1917, Ella overcame a tough start in life, transforming her hardships into a voice that could express everything from playful mischief to quiet heartbreak.

When Ella sang, it felt like she was confiding in you – her effortless warmth drew you in.

Her secret weapon was her control: she could shift from a velvety croon to a dazzling cascade of notes in a heartbeat.

Whether she was swinging with a big band or tackling a classic love song, Ella’s voice had a way of making old melodies feel brand new.

Ella was more than just a pretty voice. She was a jazz innovator.

Her scat singing – think lightning-fast improvisations with her voice – brought a thrilling sense of spontaneity to her performances.

Over the decades, Ella never stopped exploring. She sang pop, blues, even bossa nova!

Her legacy isn’t just about her talent, but about her enduring passion. That’s why singers still try to emulate her, and why jazz fans still get goosebumps listening to her recordings.

If you want to understand why music has the power to move, Ella Fitzgerald is a great place to start.

Unveiling the 25 Most Popular Ella Fitzgerald Songs

“Dream a Little Dream of Me”

Ella Weaves a Tapestry of Longing

Leave it to Ella to take a sugary pop tune and turn it into a timeless work of understated melancholy.

Her “Dream a Little Dream of Me” isn’t just a rendition; it’s a revelation!

That honeyed voice of hers finds the bittersweet yearning beneath the song’s simple facade.

Her phrasing lingers, each syllable a sigh.

The band provides a soft cushion of swing, but it’s Ella’s voice, that intimate hush, that makes this one stick with you long after the record stops spinning.

“A-Tisket, A-Tasket”

When Ella Made a Kids’ Song Swing

Okay, nursery rhymes aren’t exactly high art, but when Ella gets her hands on one? It’s pure magic!

Her “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” is a shot of pure joy, a big-band blast that’d get anyone’s feet tapping.

Ella’s got that mischievous glint in her voice – she’s having fun with it, riffing off the melody like it’s the hottest tune on the charts.

The band cooks behind her, and suddenly, a playground chant morphs into a full-fledged jazz jam. That’s the power of Ella.


Two Legends Breathe Fire into a Southern Ballad

When Ella and Satchmo tackle “Summertime,” it ain’t just a song, it’s a force of nature.

Ella’s voice carries the weight of sweltering Southern heat, that mix of longing and resignation that seeps into your bones.

Louis echoes that ache with his gravelly trumpet, adding a layer of raw blues that cuts right through.

Their call and response, the way they weave around each other… it’s pure electricity.

This version of “Summertime” ain’t for the faint of heart.

It’s heavy, it’s haunting, and it’s damn unforgettable.

“Cheek to Cheek”

Ella Spins a Spell of Old-School Glamour

Ella‘s got that timeless touch, and “Cheek to Cheek” showcases it like few other tunes.

Her voice melts like butter over the arrangement – warm, rich, and just a dash bittersweet.

It’s the kind of performance that makes you picture swirling gowns, champagne bubbles, and that bittersweet ache of a crush.

Ella doesn’t reinvent the wheel here, but she reminds us why it’s a classic.

It’s pure romance, wrapped in a voice that could charm a whole ballroom.

“Mack the Knife”

Ella Turns a Dark Ballad into a Swinging Sensation

Okay, so maybe Ella forgot the lyrics halfway through. But the flubbed lines? Now THAT’S legendary.

Her “Mack the Knife” isn’t just a performance, it’s a wink-and-a-grin celebration of the unexpected.

She takes this sinister tune about a murderous antihero and turns it on its head.

One minute, her voice drips with smoky menace, the next she’s scatting like it’s the lightest, happiest song on the radio.

The band swings hard, and somehow, Ella’s improv keeps pace.

That’s the thing about Ella – even when she stumbles, she makes it look effortless.

This “Mack the Knife” is pure jazz magic!

“How High the Moon”

Ella Blazes a Trail Through Bebop Territory

Forget the sweet stuff for a second – Ella‘s “How High the Moon” is a showcase of pure vocal firepower.

This is where she lets loose, channeling the frenetic energy of bebop with those jaw-dropping scat runs.

Her voice becomes an instrument, darting and weaving around the melody like a bird in flight.

The band keeps up with breakneck tempos, and Ella’s right there with them.

It’s a performance that leaves you breathless, a testament to her technical mastery and her fearless sense of improvisation.

“They Can’t Take That Away From Me”

Ella Soars with Symphonic Grandeur

Ella takes on a classic Gershwin ballad, this time backed by the sweeping grandeur of the London Symphony Orchestra.

This “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” becomes a cinematic declaration of love.

Ella’s voice soars above the lush orchestration, tinged with bittersweet nostalgia.

It’s a performance at once grand and intimate, showcasing the versatility of both Ella and the song itself.

This version might lack the subtle intimacy of her smaller combo recordings, but it replaces it with a sweeping romanticism that’s hard to resist.


Ella Paints a Portrait of Longing

Ella‘s “Misty” is like a bittersweet sigh.

Her voice aches with gentle melancholy, each note tinged with a wistful yearning.

The arrangement shimmers with a delicate touch, like moonlight on water.

This is a performance that captures the essence of the song, that hazy, heart-tugging sense of longing for something just out of reach.

“The Lady is a Tramp”

Ella Embraces the Sass

Ella‘s got a wink in her voice on “The Lady is a Tramp”.

She leans into the playful defiance of the lyrics, a tongue-in-cheek celebration of a woman who lives life on her own terms.

There’s swing in her step, a hint of sly humor.

Let’s be honest, Ella could make the phonebook sound saucy, and this song is prime territory.

“Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”

Ella and the Ink Spots Weave a Tapestry of Heartbreak

Ella‘s duet with the Ink Spots on “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall” aches with a shared sense of longing.

Her voice blends seamlessly with theirs, a bittersweet chorus of lost love.

The stripped-down arrangement adds a sense of stark intimacy.

This is Ella at her most vulnerable, a poignant reminder that even the brightest star experiences heartbreak.

“My Funny Valentine”

Ella Finds the Beauty in Imperfection

Ella‘s “My Funny Valentine” is a tender embrace of love’s unconventional side.

There’s a bittersweet honesty in her voice, a willingness to see the beauty beneath the surface quirks.

The gentle arrangement leaves space for Ella’s vocals to take center stage.

It’s a performance that stays with you, a reminder that love thrives in the unexpected.

“Blue Skies”

Ella Radiates Pure Joy

Ella‘s “Blue Skies” is a shot of pure, infectious optimism.

Her voice soars with a sense of freedom and delight.

The upbeat arrangement swings hard, and you can almost hear the smile in Ella’s voice.

If this version doesn’t make you want to tap your toes, well, nothing will.

“Someone to Watch Over Me”

Ella Embraces Tender Yearning

Ella‘s “Someone to Watch Over Me” is a quiet wish, a gentle plea for love and security.

Her voice has a delicate sweetness, conveying the vulnerable hope at the song’s core.

It’s a performance tinged with the wistfulness of dreams, the quiet ache of a lonely heart.

The arrangement provides a soft backdrop, allowing Ella’s vocals to take center stage.

“It’s Only a Paper Moon”

Ella Finds Magic in the Mundane

Ella‘s got a twinkle in her eye on “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”

She plays with the lyrics, wringing a joyful whimsy out of the song’s absurdity.

Her voice dances over the melody, light and playful.

Ella has the power to transform a simple tune into a sparkling moment of delight.

This performance is a reminder that magic can be found in the most unexpected places.

“Cry Me a River”

Ella Channeling Heartbreak and Defiance

Ella‘s “Cry Me a River” is less a lament, more a declaration of independence.

Her voice drips with bitter defiance, a refusal to be the victim of lost love.

She turns the tables on the song’s sentiment, twisting it into a display of strength in the face of heartbreak.

The arrangement adds to the emotional punch, building to a powerful crescendo.

“But Not For Me”

Ella Wears Her Heart on Her Sleeve

Ella‘s “But Not For Me” aches with unrequited love.

Her voice carries a quiet resignation, a tinge of despair beneath the surface sweetness.

There’s an almost painful vulnerability in this performance, made all the more effective by the simplicity of the arrangement.

You don’t just hear the song; you feel Ella’s heartbreak.

“I’ve Got You Under My Skin”

Ella Sizzles with Seductive Charm

Ella‘s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” is a sultry confession.

Her voice smolders with longing, dripping with playful sensuality.

The big band arrangement crackles with energy, mirroring Ella’s simmering passion.

It’s a performance that leaves you breathless, a testament to Ella’s ability to turn up the heat.

“Anything Goes”

Ella Embraces Cole Porter’s Wry Humor & Brassy Optimism

Ella‘s “Anything Goes” is a riotous celebration of life’s unpredictable twists and turns.

There’s a mischievous glint in her voice as she tackles Cole Porter’s witty, sometimes nonsensical lyrics.

The upbeat arrangement sizzles with brassy energy, mirroring Ella’s infectious enthusiasm.

It’s a performance that throws caution to the wind, reveling in the sheer fun and absurdity of it all.

Ella reminds us that jazz, like life, can be delightfully surprising—so buckle up and enjoy the ride.

“Oh, Lady Be Good!”

Ella Lets Loose with Joyful Abandon

Ella‘s “Oh, Lady Be Good!” is a pure celebration of the unbridled joy of jazz.

This is where she cuts loose, scatting with wild abandon over a hard-swinging arrangement.

Her voice becomes an instrument, soaring and dipping with the energy of the band.

There’s a sense of playful defiance in her performance, a gleeful reminder that this music – and Ella herself – refuses to be contained.

“Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”

Two Legends Spar in a Playful Duet

Ella and Louis Armstrong‘s “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” is pure jazz delight.

Their voices intertwine with playful banter, trading witty barbs over a toe-tapping arrangement.

Ella’s bright vocals are a perfect counterpoint to Louis’s gravelly charm.

It’s a duel of musical charisma, and their obvious chemistry makes it all the more infectious.

It’s not just a song; it’s the embodiment of two jazz giants having a blast.

“‘Round Midnight”

Ella Captures the Essence of Late-Night Melancholy

Ella‘s “‘Round Midnight” is a haunting exploration of loneliness and longing.

Her voice has a smoky, world-weary quality, tinged with the bittersweet ache of a solitary heart.

The sparse arrangement leaves space for Ella’s vocals to take center stage, underscoring the stark emotion of the song.

This performance is like a dimly lit jazz club after hours, intimate and unforgettable.

“Night and Day”

Ella Embodies Obsessive Passion

Ella‘s “Night and Day” thrums with restless desire.

Her voice simmers with a barely-contained intensity, a desperate plea for the all-consuming rush of love.

The arrangement, whether lushly orchestrated or in a stripped-back setting, adds to the song’s sense of urgency.

This isn’t just a love song; it’s a performance that captures the intoxicating pull of obsession.

“I Got Rhythm”

Ella Showcases Her Rhythmic Prowess

Ella‘s “I Got Rhythm” is a masterclass in swing.

Her voice dances over the iconic melody, effortlessly shifting between rhythmic precision and improvisational flights of fancy.

The band is right there with her, the whole performance crackles with a contagious energy.

This is Ella at her most playful, a reminder that the heart of jazz lies in that irresistible rhythmic drive.

“Every Time We Say Goodbye”

Ella Elevates a Classic Ballad to Heartbreaking Heights

Ella‘s “Every Time We Say Goodbye” could tear your heart out.

Her voice aches with a quiet resignation, a desperate attempt to hold on in the face of inevitable loss.

The gentle arrangement adds to the song’s stark intimacy, like a whispered confession.

This isn’t just a performance; it’s a raw, vulnerable glimpse into the depths of human emotion.

“Satin Doll”

Ella and a Big Band Classic, Reimagined

Ella‘s “Satin Doll” is a sophisticated spin on a big-band favorite.

Her voice has a knowing coolness, infusing the playful lyrics with a touch of world-weary wisdom.

The arrangement is classic yet timeless, allowing Ella’s vocals room to shine while still keeping that essential swing energy.

This is a performance that reminds you why they call her the First Lady of Song – she makes it look effortless.

In Conclusion: The Timeless Magic of Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald wasn’t just a singer; she was a force of nature. Whether she was crooning a torch song or scatting up a storm, Ella had this way of getting under your skin.

That voice, that effortless swing…it was a recipe for magic. That’s why her music still resonates, why we still call her the “First Lady of Song”.

These are some of her most iconic recordings – essentials for any fan of classic jazz vocals. But let’s be real, this is just scratching the surface of Ella’s musical legacy.

Her discography’s a treasure trove: swinging big band sides, intimate ballads, even bossa nova! There’s something for everyone.

If you haven’t explored Ella Fitzgerald’s popular songs beyond the hits, you’re in for a treat. Her music is pure joy, heartbreak, the whole messy, beautiful spectrum of life.

Sebastien Helary

Written by Sebastien Helary

Sebastien Helary is the founder and principal writer for, a premier destination for contemporary jazz enthusiasts. His insightful contributions have also graced the pages of Time Out Montreal and Cult Montreal. Outside the realm of music and food journalism, Sebastien’s personal musings and artistry are showcased at

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