When Pat Boone covered Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" he had a radio hit, but what a travesty. No offense to Pat or his fans, but never did the man sound more white-bread bland than when he did this song, which he obviously did not understand. I heard it on the radio recently, and the thought crossed my mind, is there a recording by a black artist that sounds even more devoid of funk than Pat's "Tutti Frutti"? Well, there are quite a few, in fact. Some by Johnny Mathis or Charlie Pride or Sammy Davis, Jr....gifted as these singers are or were, they were not disciples of the James Brown church, let's face it.
If I had to pick one, the ultimate, it would have to be a rarity by Nat King Cole titled "The Happiest Christmas Tree". "And a HEE and a HO and a (clap-clap) HI-HI, and a HO and a HI and a (clap-clap) HEE-HEE..." is how it begins, and oh Lordy, it slides downhill rapidly from there. I venerate Nat King Cole, I own three of his box sets, but this recording makes Burl Ives's "A Jolly Holly Christmas" sound like Mahalia Jackson doing "Oh Holy Night."
Remember the movie ABOUT A BOY? Hugh Grant plays a guy who doesn't have to work, because his late father wrote a Christmas novelty song that became a freak hit, and he lives off the royalties. When people hear about this, they inevitably break out singing the wretchedly cute song, to Hugh Grant's mortification. Remember that song? How awful it was? It sounded quite a bit like "The Happiest Christmas Tree", except it was better.
I think we have a winner. But I welcome other candidates....
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