Katherine Jenkins made a reasonable stab at Santa Baby in the guest spot of the semi-finals of Strictly Come Dancing (2012) and reminded us there are decent Christmas songs which have not been done to death.
Like nearly everybody who has tried, however, she failed to make it quite as sultry and funny as Eartha Kitt’s original of 1953. Sample that at http://tinyurl.com/coog2su/
Lead writer on the lyrics of Santa Baby was a US senator’s daughter, Joan Javits, sometimes listed as Joan Jarvits, who also had a hand in Baby It’s Cold Outside. On this occasion, her collaborator was Philip Springer (aka Tony Springer), who was the subject of a 1994 tribute musical called A Song Floating.
It’s a gold-digger’s song and possibly fell out of fashion for a while for being attitudinally incorrect. But now everybody loves it again and you can spend an entertaining hour on YouTube watching everybody from Miss Piggy to the Pussycat Dolls, plus a lot of amateur vamps, trying to equal Eartha. In the course of doing so, I was impressed by Kellie Pickler, winner of American Idol in 2005.Try her version at http://tinyurl.com/dybvlbb/
Madonna has done it and the original Madonna, Mae West, born 1893, did a version I’d like to hear, on a 1966 album called Wild Christmas. You can buy track and album as MP3s but I can’t find a free sample which doesn’t involve signing up for something.
I thought, as many apparently do, that Marilyn Monroe had done it, but Wikipedia says we are probably thinking of a version recorded in 1997 by jazz singer Cynthia Basinet for the entertainment of Jack Nicholson, who was her boyfriend at the time – http://tinyurl.com/banfojt
I am always surprised how many people have not heard the very funny Texan Christmas story Merry Christmas From The Family, by Robert Earl Keen. Since his 1994 album Gringo Honeymoon, it has become such an American institution it is hard to find versions which are not dominated by the audience singalong, but there is a cleanish version playing currently when you open http://www.robertearlkeen.com/
My own playlist would always include Elvis’s Blue Christmas – http://tinyurl.com/22pxadv – and I also want the karaoke version – http://tinyurl.com/csoenka/
I was surprised to discover how old it is – written in 1948 by Jay W. Johnson, a radio jingles specialist, and guitarist Billy Hayes. Both wrote more but nothing else as memorable. It was recorded the following year by Hugo Winterhalter and His Orchestra, then Doye O’Dell, then Ernie Tubb made it a hit in 1950.
Did you know that I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in Boston in 1952? The record company had to meet the Archbishop to explain the story and clear the air. Hear that first version at http://tinyurl.com/cqto54c/
The singer, Jimmie Boyd, sounds like a girl but he was only 13 at the time. Writer Tommie Connor was a Brit, also responsible for Biggest Aspidistra In The World. But Boyd was an American, from a family of country musicians. He did some recording as a grown-up but did not like being mainly a singer of novelty songs and turned down the best thing he was ever offered, Jambalaya by Hank Williams, because he thought it was just another one. He had some success as a comic and actor, however.