Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby: A Timeless Classic with a Twist

by Alex Harris

29th November, 2023

Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby: A Timeless Classic with a Twist

The Genesis of a Holiday Hit

Santa Baby, a song synonymous with the sultry voice of Eartha Kitt, was penned by an unlikely trio: Joan Javits, the niece of US Senator Jacob K. Javits, along with Philip Springer and Tony Springer. The latter was actually a pseudonym used by Javits and Springer to speed up the song’s publishing process. Released on October 2, 1953, and produced by Henri René, this track became not just a holiday staple but also Kitt’s signature song. The collaboration of these talents resulted in a tune that has been covered by numerous artists over the years, each adding their own unique flavour but never quite capturing the original’s charm.

Eartha Kitt’s Enigmatic Performance

Eartha Kitt’s rendition of Santa Baby is a masterclass in vocal allure and subtlety. The lyrics to Santa Baby are delivered with a playful yet seductive tone, showcasing Kitt’s unparalleled ability to convey a narrative that is both cheeky and charming. Her performance begs the question: Is Santa Baby about a sugar daddy? While on the surface, it appears to be a whimsical wishlist addressed to Santa Claus, a deeper analysis suggests that ‘Santa’ could be a metaphor for the singer’s affluent boyfriend, a theory that adds a layer of sophistication to the song’s interpretation.

Kitt herself was aware of the song’s double meaning and enjoyed the ambiguity. In an interview, she said, “I think it’s wonderful that people can interpret it in any way they want. It’s a very clever song, and I love the way it was written. It’s not just a Christmas song; it’s a love song.

The Controversy and Charm of Santa Baby

Despite its popularity, Santa Baby has not been without controversy. The song’s sexual undertones have sparked debates and even led to its inclusion on some “worst Christmas songs” lists. However, this controversy only adds to the song’s enduring appeal, highlighting the societal changes in perception of such themes since its release.

The songwriters, Joan Javits, Philip Springer, and Tony Springer, crafted Santa Baby specifically for Kitt, and her interpretation remains unmatched in its combination of wit, charm, and a hint of naughtiness. Javits recalled: “We wanted to write a song for Eartha that was sexy and funny, but not vulgar. We wanted to capture her personality and her voice. She was a very sophisticated and elegant woman, but she also had a sense of humour and a playful side.

Understanding the Lyrics

The Santa Baby lyrics are a clever mix of innocence and allure. The opening line, “Just slip a sable under the tree,” refers to a luxurious fur coat, symbolising the opulence the singer desires. This blend of material wishes with a flirtatious delivery creates a unique juxtaposition that defines the song’s character.

Eartha Kitt - Santa Baby
Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby

The song also references some of the most coveted items of the 1950s, such as a ’54 convertible, a yacht, a platinum mine, and a duplex. The singer also asks for a ring, but not on the phone, implying a marriage proposal. The song ends with a request to trim the Christmas tree with decorations bought at Tiffany, a famous jewellery store. The singer expresses her belief in Santa, or her lover, and hopes that he believes in her too.

The Legacy of Santa Baby

Who sang the original Santa Baby? Eartha Kitt’s version remains the definitive rendition, despite numerous covers by various artists. The song was the best-selling Christmas song of 1953 in the United States and has since been used on a number of TV specials and appeared in the movie Driving Miss Daisy. Various films and television series, such as Elf, Mean Girls, Glee, and The Simpsons, have also parodied, referenced, and featured the song.

However, Kitt disliked some of the covers, especially Madonna’s, which she considered disrespectful. She said, “I did not like the way she sang it. She sang it in a very vulgar way. I think she missed the point of the song. It’s not about being a gold digger; it’s about being playful and teasing.”

Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby is more than just a holiday song. It’s a cultural artefact that captures the essence of an era while remaining timeless in its appeal. Its lyrics, laced with double entendres, and Kitt’s captivating performance continue to enchant audiences, making it a perennial favourite during the holiday season and beyond. As we revisit this classic, we’re reminded of the power of music to transcend time, sparking conversations and igniting imaginations year after year.

Earth Kitt Santa Baby Lyrics

Verse 1
Santa baby, just slip a sable under the tree
For me
Been an awful good girl
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Verse 2
Santa baby, a ’54 convertible too
Light blue
I’ll wait up for you dear
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Chorus
Think of all the fun I’ve missed
Think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed
Next year I could be just as good
If you’ll check off my Christmas list

Verse 3
Santa baby, I want a yacht
And really that’s not a lot
Been an angel all year
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Verse 4
Santa honey, one little thing I really need
The deed
To a platinum mine
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Verse 5
Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex
And checks
Sign your ‘X’ on the line
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Chorus
Come and trim my Christmas tree
With some decorations bought at Tiffany
I really do believe in you
Let’s see if you believe in me

Verse 6
Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing
A ring
I don’t mean on the phone
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Outro
Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry, tonight

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