Donning tuxedos and bow ties, 13 men vied for the “Frank Sinatra Idol” title in an annual contest in Sinatra Park in Hoboken a week ago Thursday.
David Arellano, a 49-year-old retired police detective who lives in Staten Island, won first place with “My Way.” He said that other performers shy away from that tune. “It’s a big song,” he said. “You can’t mess it up. If you do it, you better do it right.”
One of the judges said he gave Arellano a high score for his uncanny resemblance to Buddy Valastro from “Cake Boss,” a reality show filmed just a few blocks away on Washington Street. Arellano said he’s heard that before and that Valastro himself commented on it after they took a photo together at the bakery a while back.
“Whether you’re happy or sad or proud or tired, there’s a Sinatra song that probably fits your mood.” – Rory Aylward
“I’m not looking to become famous,” said Arellano last week. “I just want to have some fun and keep singing and go where it takes me.”
The second place winner was Greg Myers, a 44-year-old IT consultant from Plainfield, N.J. He performed “Luck Be a Lady” and initially tied for second place with another contestant, Rory Aylward. The judges decided the two of them would have a sing-off with “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”
“That actually was the highlight for me,” said Myers. “I had such a great time singing with Rory.”
The audience was asked to cheer loudest for their favorite, and Myers won.
Unlike Arellano, Myers didn’t grow up in a musical household. Instead, a neighbor in his New Jersey hometown played him Sinatra tunes and even showed him a few chords on the piano. Myers is now not only a vocalist but also a professional pianist with the band Hudson’s Hope, which plays a bit of everything, including jazz, funk, and reggae.
Bumped by Myers, Aylward, a 48-year-old Army reservist from Astoria, N.Y., took third place in the contest. He came in strong with “You Make Me Feel So Young,” though he said he would like to sing his favorite Sinatra tune “The House I Live In,” if he could only find a good background track for it. It may not be the most catchy song, said Aylward, but it has a lot to say about the United States, and being so proud of his country, it has special meaning for him.
Sinatra’s music has something for everybody, said Aylward. “Whether you’re happy or sad or proud or tired,” he said, “there’s a Sinatra song that probably fits your mood.”
At the end of the evening, all the contestants gathered together to sing “New York, New York,” as Frank Sinatra Idol tradition goes. Several impersonators and audience members said they were already looking forward to next year.