Songwriters: Joan Javits, Philip Springer, Tony Springer
Original Release Date: 1953
Christmas is around the corner! I hope you’re all as excited as I am (it’s my favorite holiday). But if the “holiday spirit” gets to be a little too much, idobi is here for when you need a break. This week we’ve got the timeless classic “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt, covered by the Christmas king Michael Buble, plus a cool, but not-so-festive version from VersaEmerge, who currently go by VERSA.
“Santa Baby” is probably the only Christmas song out there without jingle bells. No ringing, whistles, or anything extravagant, and that’s one of the reasons this classic stands the test of time. This is a great song to play as Christmas Eve winds down. My family likes to spend the evening relaxing in front of the Christmas tree, enjoying hot cocoa and listening to the carols on the radio. This song takes me right to the night before Christmas every time. It’s got a low, sultry sound that makes me want to snap my fingers along. From the deep “ba-boom” that starts of the song and runs through the background, to the soft-shoe band that backs Eartha Kitt’s simple and effortless vocals. There’s a melodic orchestra that lightens the mood and makes the song feel even more like Christmas-time. The best part about this song is Kitt’s laundry list of expensive gifts she’d like for Christmas–including a brand new convertible, a yacht, and the deed to a platinum mine. She recites each item in complete seriousness, too. Still, I have to wonder: do you automatically get put on the naughty list for trying to seduce Santa?
Michael Buble, who could probably be named the king of modern Christmas songs, covered this song from his Christmas album in 2011. He’s been called the Frank Sinatra of our generation, and for good reason. He’s got the same low rumble and such a rich, velvety voice. He sounds like fresh cup of hot chocolate. But on his cover, Buble isn’t trying to seduce Santa quite like Kitt did. Instead, he changes little parts of the song and gets chummy with Mr. Claus, calling him “Santa buddy” and “dude.” He also switches up the wishlist a little, and makes it a little more applicable to him. Where Kitt asked for a sable, Tiffany decorations, and a wedding ring, Buble asks for a Rolex, decorations from Mercedes, Canucks tickets, and “cha-ching” (but not as a loan). It’s these clever changes that help modernize the song, too.
The creepiest cover award goes to VersaEmerge (who now go by VERSA). The band took this song to whole other level. Now it’s deeper and darker, and haunts me to the core. But I love it. They took those Christmas-y strings and made them tantalizing and chilling. I get a little shiver when I hear this version because, despite the cover being nearly word-for-word with Eartha Kitt’s and pretty similar melody wise, I get the strong feeling that vocalist Sierra Kusterbeck has no good intentions for Santa when he comes down that chimney. In that respect, Kusterbeck’s intense vocals serve to help darken this somber song even more. Maybe it’s the mirror fixation in the music video below, but I’m also getting a strong PVRIS vibe from this cover. (Oooh! I’ll need to add “PVRIS Christmas song” to my wishlist this year!)
Christmas is time to be joyful and cheery, but who can do that for an entire month? Especially with the stress of being around family, cooking, shopping, and trying to figure out how to look decent in that ugly sweater for family photos. When you’re feeling cheerful, Eartha Kitt and Michael Buble have your back with their relaxing versions of “Santa Baby.” But if the unsettling cover from VersaEmerge (Versa) happens to strike your fancy this Christmas, I simply must agree with you. I know I’ll be adding this to my Christmas playlist….we’ll see if anyone notices.