Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Dance Party: The Jackpot Question In Advance

This week's Dance Party brought back lots of memories of this show, in which I appeared shortly before leaving Los Angeles for good.  Perfectly Frank was a musical revue of the work of Frank Loesser;  our company sang "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" as the centerpiece of the act one finale.
As the holiday season concludes, it's fitting that this week's Dance Party feature a song associated with New Year's Eve. 
Frank Loesser wrote Guys and Dolls, How To Succeed..., The Most Happy Fella, and Where's Charley?, as well as a slew of songs for movies and as stand-alone tunes.  He wrote two songs which have become inexorably linked to the holidays, though he meant neither one of them to become holiday warhorses.  "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" are now holiday standards.  It particularly galled Frank that the latter was sung at Christmastime, as he wrote it to be sung in the spring.  Note the opening line, "Maybe it's much too early in the game."  These days, that lyric is presumed to mean that it's too early in the relationship to be making plans for New Year's Eve, but no, Loesser meant it literally to mean too early in the year.
Frank Loesser wrote this tune back in 1947 and, much to his chagrin, it immediately became a holiday standard.  Everybody and his brother has recorded this song. 
When Barbra Streisand recorded a Christmas album way
back in 1967, the thing went quintuple-platinum.
Everybody forgot she was a Jewish girl from Brooklyn
and she was crowned the Queen of Christmas Music.
Her second holiday album, above, features this week's

Old timers such as Margeret Whiting and Dick Haymes brought the song to the public in the late 40s, but it may have been Nancy Wilson's version, released in the mid-60s, which put the tune in the standard holiday repertoire. 
Rod Stewart not only co-opted the song, he snatched
Ella Fitzgerald's performance of it, and with tech
slight-of-hand, recorded a duet with the long dead diva.

Johnny Mathis, Barry Manilow, The Carpenters, Donny Osmond, Bette Midler, Harry Connick, Patti LaBelle, even Chicago all took their turn. 

Our Dance Party clip is responsible for bringing new attention to the song.  A few years ago,Zooey Deschanel teamed up with her friend Joseph Gordon-Levitt to publish a sweet little rendition on YouTube. 
Nobody cares who this guy is, but the fact that he is
holding a ukulele can be blamed on this week's Dance
Party clip.

The popularity of the clip soared, with over 13 million views, and now, the Internet is thoroughly cluttered with all manner of amateurs accompanying themselves on the ukulele.  I wonder what Frank Loesser would think about that?  But why worry about such things, let's just wish everyone a Happy New Year, and hope everyone has a special somebody to kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve.