The Kings Of The Pack

So, we’ve seen how cards can and have been used as an Aide-mémoire for everything from plane silhouettes to the revolutionary ideals you must be keeping as you lead a few powdered dowagers up the steps of the guillotine. But what if you woke up tomorrow with acute pop-culture amnesia from some kind of soap-opera level trauma? Here are the cards that would bring you back up to speed with the kings of the 20th and 21st century.

King of Spades

The King of Spades - Elvis Presley

Starting with the obvious, the original King, Elvis Presley.   Even if he wasn’t ‘the King’, you’d be hard pressed to find someone standing so conveniently who reigned over pop quite so absolutely, or someone who could be so obviously associated with the capital of gambling.  Placing him in a suit is as difficult now as it was more literally in his later years. Elvis basically works in any suit you want him in. Hearts? He wrote some of the most popular love songs of the 20th Century. Diamonds? His garish taste and Vegas-styled glamour glitters like a cave full of rhinestones. Clubs? Some would argue he is Las Vegas, the one performer that just means that kind of glitzy gathering in the heart of the Nevada desert.   But we’re going to have to go with Spades. The spade isn’t actually a digging tool, rather it derives from Italian ‘spada’, the sword, recalling his years of military service. Most importantly though, Spades are often the trump suit, and Pvt. Presley outranks them all.

King of Diamonds

The King of Diamonds - Neil Diamond

Ok, so Neil Diamond is sort of a lazy one. Not only are we less than subtly reminding our concussed amnesiacs what this guy’s name is, but we’re jumping from Presley to a man known from time to time as ‘The Jewish Elvis’. Elvis even regularly performed Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ and the more obscure B-Side ‘And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind’ throughout his Vegas residency.  But still, you’ve got to hand it to Neil Diamond. He’s one of only two of our king selection still going, and his 115 million worldwide record sales are still climbing to this day. But most appropriately of all, he’s as much about the show and the Vegas-style glamour as Elvis ever was. His sequin-covered shirts may have got more restrained in recent years, but then he always wore them with the most unpretentious goal: so the back of the audience could see what was happening without binoculars.

King of Clubs

The King of Clubs - Frank SinatraThere’s no way we couldn’t include Frank Sinatra –   Ol’ Blue Eyes, but why have we taken so long to get to him? Because he’s neither the military man nor the iconic, ultimate king figure that Elvis is. It would also be insulting to associate his effortless style with the gaudiness of a diamond. But clubs or hearts? There’s a case for either. Certainly he was the distinctive voice of many a romantic song, but for our money his love songs aren’t quite schmaltzy enough.  Sinatra was about the belting chorus, the echo of ‘My Way’ in the eaves of a packed Las Vegas theatre that met with an inevitable rapturous applause. Rock and Roll wasn’t a particular love of his during Elvis’ peak, but then, Kings are supposed to be at war with each other anyway. In this way, Sinatra is our king of clubs.

King of Hearts

The King of Hearts - Tom JonesAnd finally, the king of hearts, Sir Tom Jones. This chivalrous knight from an obscure Welsh village has an early history that could win hearts (the Welsh Warbler caught tuberculosis at 12 and basically spent two years of his life recovering in bed) and his discography includes some of the most schmaltzy love songs of the 60s and beyond (It’s Not Unusual and What’s New Pussycat? most obviously). But it’s this crooner’s live shows that make him an obvious choice as king of hearts. He’s still doing Vegas shows and he’s still getting ladies underwear thrown at him. Not many 70 year old men can claim anything on either of those counts.

Comments are closed.