Bachelors' Paradise

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On April 9, 1962, 20-year-old Ann-Margret earned a standing ovation for her performance of the Oscar-nominated title song to the Bob Hope comedy Bachelor in Paradise at the annual Academy Awards ceremony, another stepping stone on her way to stardom. Perhaps because it was still promoting her as a pop/rock singer, RCA Victor Records, her record label, which was just releasing its second Ann-Margret LP, On the Way Up, took a while to retool her image as more of a middle-of-the-road traditional pop singer, and it wasn't until her fourth album, released the year following the Oscar show, that a recording intended to capitalize on the "Bachelor in Paradise" triumph appeared. The Ann-Margret of Bachelors' Paradise was very different from the one who had hit the Top 20 with the bluesy "I Just Don't Understand" less than two years earlier. This was no distaff Elvis Presley, with Chet Atkins behind the glass and the Jordanaires on background vocals; this was a nightclub chanteuse working with an orchestra and performing a bunch of pop standards written by the likes of Rodgers & Hart ("You Took Advantage of Me" from the 1928 musical Present Arms) and Styne and Sondheim ("Let Me Entertain You" from the 1959 musical Gypsy and its just-released film version). The point of consistency between the younger Ann-Margret and the mature 21-year-old who made Bachelors' Paradise was her kittenish sexuality, which was even more accentuated by this lush ballad approach. One of the LP's songs was "Lovin' Spree," a 1954 hit for Eartha Kitt, and Ann-Margret displayed Kitt's strong influence, though without the older singer's predatory bite. This new direction might have led to recording success if Ann-Margret had pursued it; instead, she continued to focus on movies, in particular her latest vehicle, the film adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie.