Archive for December 5th, 2011

05
Dec
11

Santa, Baby, it’s Cold Outside

I’ve been doing this “Christmas Party” here on the blog for years now, and so every so often I decide to revisit old topics. Back in ’08, I took the time to pick through my gargantuan iPod album of Christmas music and identify every version of The Twelve Days of Christmas I had on the computer. Needless to say, there were many of them. And although that list has only grown since then, I’m not getting back into it today. Instead, I’m going to look at two of the most vaguely inappropriate — yet somehow alluring — Christmas songs on my list: the unusually sultry “Santa Baby” and the “Wow, this guy might get a little too aggressive” classic, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

Santa Baby, that old favorite, was written by Joan Javits and Philip Springer and first released in 1953. In this song, a grown woman sings to Santa — usually in a very breathy and alluring tone of voice — about all of the extravagant gifts she hopes to get this year while simultaneously assuring him that “I’m an awfully good girl.” The song would basically be the original Cougar’s Christmas Carol except that Santa is older than the women intended to sing this song by approximately 1700 years.

Still, I love the song, and I’ve got several versions of it, including…

  • Eartha Kitt. This version was the original recording of the song and still, probably, the greatest of all time. Maybe it’s just because I best know her as Catwoman, but somehow Eartha Kitt totally gets a pass on the potential creepiness that infests some of the other ladies who’ve recorded this song, such as…
  • Madonna. I don’t know how this version got in my iTunes, I honestly don’t. It looks like it was on some massive Christmas compilation CD, where I just saved every song indiscriminately because 1TB external hard drives are now relatively cheap. Let’s see if I can find something a little less embarassing…
  • The Glee cast. Okay, I can live with this. Granted, Glee took a sharp downward turn midway through the second season, from a storytelling standpoint, but the voices are still strong. Who else is on my list?
  • Kellie Pickler. How in the world did she get into my iTunes? I don’t listen to country music at all.
  • Kylie Minogue. Okay, seriously, is somebody Punking my iTunes? I know I didn’t download her song deliberately. Two left, let’s see…
  • The Pussycat Dolls. ACK! ABORT! ABORT! AAAAACK!
  • Miss Piggy. Oh thank God, finally a version of the song I can be proud to have in my collection. Eartha Kitt made this song famous, but if she has a spiritual successor anywhere in the universe, it’s Miss Piggy.

Let’s move on.

Baby, It’s Cold Outiside was written in 1936 by songwriter Frank Loesser, who recorded the song with his wife, Lynn Garland, who was subsequently royally pissed at him when he sold the rights to the song to MGM. In this duet, two people sing about how cold it is outside, with the timid one (usually — but not always — sung by a woman) commenting on how she needs to get home, while the aggressive one (usually — but not always — sung by a man) trying to use the blizzard as an excuse to get her to stick around for another drink, another cigarette, and although he never comes out and says it, probably a roofie or two. Oddly, the song never specifically references Christmas or anything actually related to Christmas, but people think of it as a Christmas song because it’s all about snow. Because, y’know, we all know there’s never been a blizzard in March.

This song has been recorded by friggin’ everybody. Including…

  • Dean Martin. Remember, this is a duet, but my track listing doesn’t tell me who Deano sang this with. Technically, I suppose it was whoever the hell he wanted to sing it with, because he was DEAN MARTIN.
  • Al Hirt and Ann-Margaret. A classic version, and perfectly acceptable.
  • Hot Lips Paige and Pearl Bailey. Back then those cats really knew how to swing.
  • Doris Day and Bing Crosby. The only way this recording could be any more Christmasy is if the speakers dribbled egg nog while you listened.
  • Cerys Matthews and Tom Jones. Eh — not bad. The classic versions aren’t too embarassing at all, really. Let’s see what I have in the more modern recordings…
  • The Brian Setzer Orchestra. Well, why not? It’s easy enough to turn this into a swing number.
  • Leigh Nash. I actually really like this version — I’m a big fan of Leigh Nash’s voice, with its earthy, breathy tone. Why the hell hasn’t she recorded “Santa Baby?”
  • Lady Antebellum. Again with the country? This must have snuck in on the same compilation album as Kellie Pickler.
  • The cast of Glee. Ahem. Moving on.
  • Vanessa Williams and Bobby Caldwell. I don’t actually know who Bobby Caldwell is. I could look him up, but I suspect his Wikipedia page will consist simply of the sentence “that dude what sang ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ with Vanessa Williams that one time.”
  • Leon Redbone and Zooey Deschanel. This is actually from the soundtrack from the movie Elf, which officially makes this 3-minute 32-second track the best thing ever to happen as a result of Will Ferrell’s career. And speaking of Zooey…
  • She & Him. This is a singing group, with a brand-new Christmas album this year. The group members are Zooey Deschanel and that guy that sings with Zooey Deschanel.
  • Cynthia Robins and Billy Philadelphia on the album “Stranger Than Fiction.” I love this album — it’s a compilation of songs by writers, including Stephen King, Amy Tan, and Dave Barry, and is typically characterized by being hysterically terrible (check out Leonard Maltin’s “Act Naturally” if you don’t believe me.) This one, actually, is pretty good, though.



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