Madonna to Taylor Swift: 50 Years of Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby”

Christmas is that magical, precious time of year when many of us will make up for months of missed calls home by buying totally useless crap for the people we love. Yes, Christmas is magical. Our pop stars think so, too. In the spirit of giving, they will take time-honored Christmas classics and then cover them in a last-minute seasonal cash-in. No contemporary carol has been reinvented more than late great Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby.” Today, we get to hear another desperate remake of Kitt’s jingle, this one by beleaguered Brit band Sugababes. Following covers of the tune by Madonna, Kylie, Shakira, and even Taylor Swift, it not only sounds redundant, it seals the song’s fate as the Gayest Christmas Carol Ever.

• In 1953, Eartha Kitt performed the original. And really, it was like The Big Bang all over again.

• 34 years later, Madonna, employing a sense of humor she’s long since misplaced, gave her own spin to the tune for this charity Christmas album.

• Of course, there’s also the obligatory RuPaul version, issued in 1997, which out-shined later remakes by Taylor Swift and Macy Gray.

• And in Ally McBeal, noted feminist everywoman McBeal provided her own sultry twist to the song. Which still wasn’t nearly as sultry as Miss Piggy singing it.

• Kylie Minogue’s own remake, as mimed on Top of the Pops was replete with odd squeaks:

• Last month, Shakira did her own version of the tune at the Rockefeller Center:

• Which is an excellent antidote for those who feel scandalized by the Pussycat Dolls’ filthy handling of the song.

• But really, this is all to say that the Sugababes’ own stamp on the song neither adds anything to the jingle or takes anything away. It’s a delightfully mediocre cover. Which is the fairest assessment of anyone who’s tried to tackle the tune since Kitt made it a hit more than a half-century ago.

Questions for the End of 2008

image● How come if they gave a rate hike to the cabbies because gas went to five bucks a gallon — then it hasn’t come down now that it’s at a buck and a half?

● How come if there’s a cop outside of every club anyway, it isn’t made official that the policeman’s job should be to keep the cabs from honking, the smokers from chatting too loudly, and to regulate tons of other stuff that bouncers without real authority (except unacceptable force) are told to handle now? With the exception of places with liquor licenses, a business in New York can rent a cop.

● Why not create a club czar who can oversee the problems and potentials of clubs? He or she can encourage tourism and community/club cooperation. They can follow that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” lead with a “wake up in the city that never sleeps” campaign, which can create real tax revenues and real jobs. Hotels, restaurants, Broadway, cabs, delis, shops, and thousands of et ceteras will benefit. The film industry has a film czar making sure television, video, and movie shoots are coddled to, and the film industry generated $5 billion last year — nightclubs generated $10 billion.

● Why not increase the penalties for presenting a phony ID to gain entrance to a nightclub and make it a real problem for a young-un to commit this crime? A crime which right now jeopardizes the livelihoods of club employees who are powerless to prevent this scamming. Phony IDs have become more sophisticated than the scanners used to detect them, so human error is inevitable as well. Why not make it a mandatory loss of driver’s license until the age of 22 for first-time offenders? That cop I have stationed outside can help here; if they don’t have some form of ID, make their parents pick them up at the precinct.

● Why not create a website where handbag thieves, pickpockets, drug dealers, and such are posted? Club security would get images of these bad folk and have a chance to prevent their entry before the fact. These days when bags are stolen, it’s a felony because most bags are expensive and often contain credit cards. A large number of felonies committed in a precinct makes politicians upset, and therefore makes precinct commanders punitive. A posting of bad guys will encourage a positive relationship between the club community and the police.

I was saddened by the death of Eartha Kitt. I booked her for New Years’ Eve at the club Life many years ago. I remember her rolling in with her two Scotties for sound check. She marched over to my insane Chihuahua Arturo who has nipped half of clubdom, and despite my warnings that he was a biter, Miss Kitt came right up to him and scooped him up into her arms. She talked to him for a couple of minutes, then put him down, and he followed her like … well, a puppy for the rest of the day. All were in awe. She had a charisma, a presence and a charm and she wowed them that night.

Tomorrow I’ll be in Times Square as always; it’s always a great experience and cannot be described. I’ll then pop into the nearby Aspen Social Club and then to Webster Hall for Lady Gaga. I hope you all have a safe, enlightening New Year’s Eve experience. I wish you all a good night.