Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Dance Party: 1,2,3,4, Tell The People What She Wore

Once again, this week's Dance Party is inspired by the recently deceased.

Lee Pockriss
In 1960, he provided the world with one of those novelty songs which gets stuck in your brain for days.  In fact, for decades.  The tune hit #1 on the charts all over the world, propelling high school student Brian Hyland to teen idol fame, for introducing "Itsie Bitsie Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini".  Pockriss estimated the repeated use of the song over the years yielded royalties of at least a million dollars.  He penned other hits of the early bubblegum era, including "Johnny Angel" for Shelley Fabares.  He can be forgiven for providing Anita Bryant with "My Little Corner of the World," about a decade before she decided her corner of the world should be gay-free.

Pockriss had less luck with his stage compositions, which included the score for Tovarich in 1963 (Vivien Leigh won a Tony for her work, but Lee was not nominated).  Lee also provided the score to Earnest in Love, the musical adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest.  How anybody thought the superbly constructed Oscar Wilde classic could be improved upon, is anybody's guess.

In 1957, Lee Pockriss penned perhaps his most enduring standard, the recording of which landed Perry Como at the top of the charts.  It became one of the crooner's signature songs, and this week's Dance Party proves the tune has a nice lilt, appropriate for the holiday season.

Como, it must be said, is one of those vocalists who was never very interesting to watch, though he headlined a successful variety show throughout the 50s and well into the 60s.  His Christmas Specials were perennial favorites for decades, perhaps because his style was understated to the point of somnambulism.  The clip below, plucked from his variety show, shows Como's lack of pizazz, as he's upstaged by his announcer, his announcer's sheet music, his backup singers, his backup singers' top hats, and even the gold record upon which he is tapping.