Chris Isaak

He's the master of the smooth croon, and his low-key delivery might give the impression that he rarely breaks a sweat. But with a career that spans two decades and nine best-selling albums, Chris Isaak's unassuming attitude has garnered him a fiercely devoted following. Taking his cue from the classic pop sounds of the '50s and '60s, Isaak has crafted an engaging yet unobtrusive style that suggests Roy Orbison's brooding melancholia matched with Rick Nelson's squeaky-clean sincerity. As much as critical acclaim and his occasional hits (including "Wicked Game" and "Baby's Done a Bad Bad Thing," both found on his recent greatest-hits compilation), it's his innocuous, Everyman image that makes him so successful, a rare quality in an era of pop posers and self-indulgent celebrities. He's parlayed that approach into performances on both the big and small screen, beginning with cameos in such films as "Married to the Mob," "Wild at Heart," "The Silence of the Lambs," and "A Dirty Shame." Even so, it took the title role in his Showtime sitcom — which also starred members of his band and a naked mermaid who provided advice and affirmation — to make this self-effacing entertainer a certified superstar.

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Lee Zimmerman