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"Santa Baby"
Singer Eartha Kitt sits on Santa Claus's lap in a sepia-toned photograph.
Single by Eartha Kitt and Henri René and His Orchestra
from the EP Eartha Kitt
B-side"Under the Bridges of Paris"
Released1953
Format
RecordedOctober 5, 1953 (1953-10-05)
GenreChristmas
Length3:22
LabelRCA Victor
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Henri René
Eartha Kitt singles chronology
"I Want to Be Evil"
(1953)
"Santa Baby"
(1953)
"Lovin' Spree"
(1954)
Henri René and His Orchestra singles chronology
"I Want to Be Evil"
(1953)
"Santa Baby"
(1953)
"Lovin' Spree"
(1954)

"Santa Baby" is a song performed by American singer Eartha Kitt with Henri René and His Orchestra and originally released in 1953. It later appeared on Kitt's self-titled and first extended play in 1954. The song was written by Joan Javits and Philip Springer, who also used the pseudonym Tony Springer in an attempt to speed up the song's publishing process. Springer initially was dissatisfied with "Santa Baby" and called it one of his weakest works. Lyrically, the song is a tongue-in-cheek look at a Christmas list addressed to Santa Claus by a woman who wants extravagant gifts such as sables, yachts, and decorations from Tiffany's.

The lyrical content of "Santa Baby" proved controversial, resulting in temporary bans of the song in the Southern United States. Music critics gave mixed reviews to the single, with some calling it too suggestive for a holiday-themed song. It has since been included on lists of both the best and worst Christmas songs ever written. In the United States, "Santa Baby" became the best-selling Christmas song of 1953 and found more success, retrospectively, when it entered various component charts by Billboard in the 2000s and 2010s. As of 2014, her version has sold more than 620,000 copies. Elsewhere, it peaked on the record charts in Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

"Santa Baby" has been parodied, referenced, and featured in various films and television series. It has also been covered by many artists, such as by Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Taylor Swift, Michael Bublé, Colbie Caillat, Trisha Yearwood, and Robbie Williams. Other musicians, like Cynthia Basinet, LeAnn Rimes, Ariana Grande, and Gwen Stefani, released covers of "Santa Baby" as commercial singles. Madonna's cover sold 270,000 copies in the United States was subject to discussion with many music critics, who believed her version revived the popularity of the song. Kitt, however, disliked Madonna's association with the track. Many of the cover versions experienced major commercial success, with Minogue's version reaching the top 40 of the UK Singles Chart and selling over 330,000 copies. Grande's cover was released as a duet with Elizabeth Gillies and managed positions on charts in several countries such as Australia, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

Background[edit]

In August of 1953, lyricists Philip Springer and Joan Javits were commissionned to write a Christmas-song for Eartha Kitt as the upcoming holiday season approached.[1] The two had met first met in 1950 during Springer's trip to Massachusetts and Javits had wanted advice about beginning a career as a songwriter, to which he advised against pursuing.[2] Their professional relationship resumed three years later when Springer was searching for a new writing partner; he called:

I was looking for a new lyric writer, so I asked someone who had a lot of contacts and they suggested Joan Javits, the exact person who I suggested stay out of the industry! She said she was too busy. I asked her if she had ever written a hit and she said hadn’t, so I said, ‘l have. Are you going to tell me that you refuse to write songs with a songwriter who’s done more than you in the business?[2]

Recording and release[edit]

Kitt recorded the single live with René and his orchestra on October 5, 1953 at a recording studio in New York City.[1] The song was first distributed later that month in a release handled by RCA Victor in the United States and Canada.[3] To promote the single, the record label purchased page advertisements in weekly journals like Billboard and marketed it as "1953's Big Christmas Record!".[4] It was pressed as a 7" single in its wide release in the two countries,[3] while a promotional 10" single was created with intent for airplay.[5] The RCA Victor 7" release featured Kitt and René's version of "Under the Bridges of Paris" as the B-side.[3] In the United Kingdom and Denmark, "Santa Baby" was released in 1954 under the label His Master's Voice. On this version, the B-side was Kitt's cover of "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)".[6] On Kitt's 1954 extended play titled Eartha Kitt, "Santa Baby" was used as the closing track.[7]

The single received numerous reissues years later, including in Italy in 1957 when RCA Italiana released a 7" single that was paired with B-side "Thursday's Child".[8] The same label also distributed a four track promotional extended play titled White Christmas that same year, featuring Kitt's version of "Santa Baby" as the second A-side.[9] In 1987, Collectables Records released a limited edition 7" single of Kitt's "C'est si bon" (1953) that was paired with "Santa Baby" on the flip side.[10]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

A color photograph of producer Phillip Springer in a recording studio on the piano.
According to co-writer Philip Springer, he came up with the music for "Santa Baby" and completed it within ten minutes.

According to the official sheet music for the song at Musicnotes.com, "Santa Baby" is set in common time with a moderately slow tempo of 84 beats per minute. The key of the song is in D-flat major with Kitt maintaining a relatively consistent vocal range that spans from A♭3 to A♭4 in scientific pitch notation.[11] The song contains chord progressions that follow a D♭-E♭-A♭-D♭ pattern in the verses and whenever she sings "Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight".[11]

Upon completing the lyrical component of "Santa Baby", Philip Springer expressed his dissatisfaction with its content. During a meeting with a group of music publishers in 1953, Springer warned them: "Gentlemen, this is not really the kind of music that I like to write. I hope it's OK. It’s the best I could do."[1]

Controversy[edit]

Following the first release of "Santa Baby" in 1953, areas of the Southern United States implemented a ban of the song that prevented rotation on radio stations and distribution of the physical single releases.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

In a 2019 poll created by Evening Standard, Kitt's version of "Santa Baby" was voted the eighth "most annoying festive song" by British listeners.[12][13]

Commercial performance[edit]

According to Billboard, "Santa Baby" was the best-selling Christmas song of 1953, mostly due to the controversy surrounding it.[2] RCA Victor, Kitt's label at the time, referered to the single as "far more than a seasonal success [...] but a further tribute to Eartha's art – for, as each of us desires, she can make every day of the year seem like Christmas".[7] On the Billboard Hot 100, then titled the Best Selling Singles chart, in the United States, "Santa Baby" debuted at number 16 before rising to number ten the following week.[4] On November 21, 1953, Billboard reported that the single had sold 200,000 copies, which the magazine called surprising: "Unlike many other Christmas tunes it has broken the deejays' 'We won't play Christmas records in November' sound barrier, and has been getting loads of airtime."[14]

"Santa Baby" entered several of the Billboard charts in the twenty-first century. In 2005, the song had its best week on the Digital Songs chart, reaching number 28 in the month of December. It returned to the chart in December 2007, when it re-entered in number 59.[15] During the week of December 21, 2012, "Santa Baby" peaked at number 11 on Billboard's seasonal Holiday Digital Song Sales chart in the United States. In total, the single has spent 101 weeks ranking on the chart.[16] It also reached the similar Holiday Streaming Songs chart where it peaked at number 6.[17] On December 9, 2008, the mastertone recording of "Santa Baby" received a gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America, denoting shipments of 500,000 copies or more.[18] Sony BMG reported that "Santa Baby" is one of the holiday season's most popular ringtones, and that it in addition to six other holiday songs have sold an accumulated 2.3 million units in one year later.[19] The Billboard-published Ringtones chart later listed Kitt's version of the song peaking at number 6 in December 2010.[20] According to the German database Statista, Kitt's version of "Santa Baby" has sold 620,000 copies in the United States as of 2014.[21]

In later years, the track found more success and entered the record charts in several countries other than the United States. According to Springer, the retrospective success of "Santa Baby" was completely unexpected. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said: "I ask myself, ‘How come?' I've written so many songs that, to me, musically are much better than 'Santa Baby', and they're not popular. The answer has to be that 'Santa Baby' has a magic that goes beyond a composer's plans."[1] In Canada, the single reached number 43 on the Digital Song Sales chart in 2007 and peaked at number 42 in 2008.[22][23] In the United Kingdom, Kitt's version of "Santa Baby" debuted on the UK Singles Chart in 2007, when it hit number 85.[24] It had previously reached number 30 on the accompanying UK Singles Downloads Chart in 2006.[24] The single had its best performing period during the last week of 2019 when it re-entered the main chart at number 55, its highest peak to date.[25] The British Phonographic Industry later awarded "Santa Baby" a silver certification, signifying certified units of 200,000 copies.[26] In France, the single debuted with a peak of number 92 on December 28, 2013; it dropped to 113 the following week but rose to 96 the week after that, marking its last appearance overall.[27] "Santa Baby" also charted in Germany and Switzerland and positions 73 in 2018 and 94 in 2019, respectively.[28][29]

Impact and legacy[edit]

Following the mixed reception than music critics gave to "Santa Baby" in 1953, Springer and Javits reworked the song completely for the upcoming year. In 1954, Kitt recorded a new holiday song titled "This Year's Santa Baby", featuring new lyrics but identical songwriter credits.[30] The publishing company who handled the song's legal matters promoted the new release by distributing "Santa Baby"-themed apparel, in addition to releasing country pop and children-specific versions of the song.[1]

Rob LeDonne from Billboard called "Santa Baby" one of the "most recognizable non-traditional yuletide recordings" in a piece commemorating its 65th anniversary.[2] In 2019, Kelly O'Sullivan of Country Living ranked "Santa Baby" at number 56 on her list of the "60 Best Christmas Songs".[31]

On August 4, 1989, Billboard released Christmas Greatest Hits 1935-1954, a collection of ten popular Christmas tracks in the United States, in which "Santa Baby" was included in the track listing.[32] Kitt has since featured "Santa Baby" on several of her compilation albums in her discography. It was also seen on her seventh studio album Revisited (1960) and her first live album Eartha Kitt at Tivoli (1962).[33][34] In later years, it appeared on catalog albums such as Eartha Kitt (1979),[35] At Her Very Best (1981),[36] The Best of Eartha Kitt (1982),[37] Mink Shmink (1989),[38] Eartha-Quake (1993),[39] After Dark (1995),[40] That Seductive Eartha (1996),[41] The Ultimate Collection (1996),[42] Purr-Fect: Greatest Hits (1999),[43] Greatest Hits (2000),[44] Legendary (2001),[45] and Heavenly Eartha (2002).[46]

Track listings and formats[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1953–2019) Peak
position
Canada Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[23] 42
Germany (Official German Charts)[28] 73
France (SNEP)[27] 92
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[29] 94
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[25] 55
US Billboard Hot 100[4] 10
US Holiday 100 (Billboard)[47] 18
US Rolling Stone Top 100[48] 61

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[26] Silver 200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[18] Gold 500,000double-dagger / 620,000[21]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Covers[edit]

Madonna version[edit]

"Santa Baby"
Song by Madonna
from the album A Very Special Christmas
ReleasedOctober 12, 1987 (1987-10-12)
GenreChristmas
Length2:35
LabelA&M
Songwriter(s)
  • Joan Javits
  • Philip Springer
  • Tony Springer
Producer(s)Jimmy Iovine

Madonna recorded a cover of "Santa Baby" for the 1987 charity album A Very Special Christmas. It was released on November 12, 1987 by A&M Records.

Caroline Framke from the A.V. Club argued that Madonna's version increased the popularity of the song, initiating an "explosion of covers and parodies [to] follow".[85] When asked about his thoughts on Madonna's cover, Phil Springer said he was happy she covered the original Kitt rendition instead of the revised "This Year's Santa Baby" from 1954. Randall Norberts from the Los Angeles Times insisted that "Madonna was the perfect adapter for the song when she recorded it in 1987", comparing the lyrical messages between "Santa Baby" and her 1985 single "Material Girl".[1] After the release of Madonna's "Santa Baby" in 1987, the song became licensed and was used in various theatrical releases and television series, such as Driving Miss Daisy (1989), The Sopranos (1999), and Elf (2003).[1]

Musical structure[edit]

In Madonna's version of "Santa Baby", the singer heightened her range by half of an octave in order to "reach the aggressively cutesy 'baby voice' that the song has come to be associated with".[85]

Critical reception[edit]

Madonna's cover of "Santa Baby" was met with divided opinions from music critics. The staff at BlackBook gave a positive review, finding Madonna's version to contain "a sense of humor she's long since replaced".[67] According to Framke from the A.V. Club wrote of the song: "There is no Christmas song more polarizing than 'Santa Baby'". She stated that part of the song's commercial appeal stems from its sexual implications and claimed that although Kitt's version contained sensual vocals, Madonna's version is what "cranked the sex appeal up to 11".[85] It was also reported by Framke that Kitt was displeased with Madonna's cover of her single. During a live performance of "Santa Baby" years after Madonna's version was released, Kitt was quoted saying: "I used to have a lot of fun with this song, and then Madonna sang it".[85]

Xavier Piedra from Billboard included Madonna's version in an unranked list of the top ten best covers of "Santa Baby". His review stated: "This cover from the legendary pop singer is guaranteed to be stuck in your head, and on your holiday playlist, for days."[86] Paris Close, also a writer for Billboard, included the cover in her list of "15 Songs For an LGBTQ Holiday Kiki" and claimed its sex appeal would be enough to "spice up any occasion".[87]

Chart performance[edit]

Many years after its initial release, Madonna's version of "Santa Baby" entered various holiday-centric charts in the United States. On the main Holiday 100 chart, it peaked at number 44 in December 2011 during its fourth and final week.[88] On the Holiday Airplay chart compiled by Billboard, it peaked at number 24 during the week ending December 12, 2003, marking Madonna's first entry on that chart. It spent a total of 11 non-consecutive weeks among the Holiday Airplay chart.[89] In the United States, "Santa Baby" did not enter Billboard's Digital Songs chart, but rather the Holiday Digital Song Sales component chart. In 2010, the song peaked at number 46; in total, her cover spent three weeks tallied on the chart.[90] Statista reported in 2014 that Madonna's cover of "Santa Baby" has sold 270,000 copies in the United States.[21]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2003–2011) Peak
position
US Holiday 100 (Billboard)[88] 44
US Holiday Airplay (Billboard)[89] 24
US Holiday Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[90] 46

Kylie Minogue version[edit]

"Santa Baby"
A purple background displaying the song's title in white and the song's artist in pink.
Promotional single by Kylie Minogue
A-side"Please Stay"
ReleasedDecember 2000 (2000-12)
FormatCD
Recorded2000
GenreChristmas
Length3:23
LabelParlophone
Songwriter(s)
  • Joan Javits
  • Philip Springer
Producer(s)Chong Lim

Kylie Minogue originally recorded a cover of "Santa Baby" in 2000. It was used as the B-side to her single "Please Stay", from her seventh studio album Light Years (2000), on select physical releases in 2000.[91] A promotional CD single for "Santa Baby" was distributed by Parlophone in the United Kingdom in December 2000, with "Please Stay" as a bonus track.[92] Minogue's version was produced by Chong Lim and credited Javits and Phillip Springer as the writers.[92] In November 2010, "Santa Baby" was included on Minogue's extended play A Kylie Christmas, alongside a newly-recorded cover of "Let It Snow".[93] She released a different holiday-themed extended play in Europe titled A Christmas Gift, which featured two tracks from her eleventh studio album Aphrodite (2010) and closed with "Santa Baby".[94]

On November 13, 2015, Minogue released her thirteenth studio album, and first Christmas album, titled Kylie Christmas.[95] Her cover of "Santa Baby" was included in the project's track listing with Steve Anderson, the album's executive producer, being attributed as an additional producer. The A.V. Club's Caroline Framke compared Minogue's cover to Madonna's, suggesting that they channel similar "inner pin-up girl[s]".[85]

Critical reception[edit]

In 2018, Billboard's Piedra from listed Minogue's cover in a list of the ten best covers of "Santa Baby", writing: "Kylie Minogue’s “Santa Baby” cover remains very true to the original track. [...] This cover truly is an updated version of the classic that will not disappoint."[86] The Herald Sun's Cameron Adams described Minogue's version as an "old school, feel-good festive fave".[96]

Commercial performance[edit]

In Australia, Minogue's cover spent one week on the ARIA Singles Chart. After the release of A Kylie Christmas, "Santa Baby" debuted at number 85 for the week of December 27, 2010; her cover of "Let It Snow", the other track on A Kylie Christmas, charted closely to "Santa Baby" at number 89.[97] In Germany, "Santa Baby" reached number 60 on the German Singles Chart.[98] It also appeared on the Dutch Single Top 100 chart in the Netherlands, where it peaked at number 68.[99] In Denmark, Minogue's cover did not reach the country's top 40 singles chart, but was issued a Gold certification from International Federation of the Phonographic Industry for shipments of 45,000 copies in that country.[100]

Minogue's version of "Santa Baby" attained most of its commercial success nearly two decades after its initial release, when it charted in countries such as Austria, Sweden, and Switzerland. Her cover achieved its highest peaking position in the United Kingdom during the 2017–2018 holiday season. On the UK Singles Chart, it debuted on the list dated December 16, 2007 at number 93, the same week that Kitt's original version entered at number 85.[101] Minogue's cover later peaked at number 38 during the week of December 29, 2017, becoming Minogue's fiftieth top 40 entry, collectively.[102] It went on to receive a Silver certification from the British Phonographic Industry, denoting combined sales and shipments figures of 200,000 copies.[103] As of December 2019, her cover has sold 330,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[104]

In Ireland, her cover charted at number 52 in 2017 on the country's official single chart. It reappeared at number 56 the following year, which led Jack White from the Official Charts Company to predict that it would reach the top 50 in Ireland during 2019.[105] It also entered the Ö3 Austria singles chart, peaking at number 67 during the chart dated January 4, 2019.[106] On the streaming component chart in Hungary, Minogue's cover of "Santa Baby" hit number 38.[107] In Switzerland and on Sweden's Heatseeker chart, the song peaked at numbers 57 and 17, respectively.[108][109]

Track listing[edit]

Promotional CD single[92]
No.TitleLength
1."Santa Baby"3:23
2."Please Stay"4:08

Charts[edit]

Chart (2000–2019) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[97] 85
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[106] 67
Germany (Official German Charts)[98] 60
Hungary (Stream Top 40)[107] 38
Ireland (IRMA)[105] 52
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[99] 68
Sweden Heatseeker (Sverigetopplistan)[109] 17
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[108] 57
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[102] 38
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[110]
with "Let It Snow" from A Kylie Christmas
188

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[100] Gold 45,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[103] Silver 200,000double-dagger / 330,000[104]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Taylor Swift version[edit]

"Santa Baby"
Song by Taylor Swift
from the EP The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection
ReleasedOctober 14, 2007 (2007-10-14)
Format
GenreChristmas
Length2:41
LabelBig Machine
Songwriter(s)
  • Joan Javits
  • Philip Springer
  • Tony Springer
Producer(s)Nathan Chapman

Taylor Swift recorded a cover of "Santa Baby" for her first extended play, The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection (2007).[111]

Reception[edit]

Dan MacIntosh from Country Standard Time liked Swift's cover, calling her version "sexy".[112]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2008–2015) Peak
position
US Country Airplay (Billboard)[113] 43
US Holiday 100 (Billboard)[114] 89
US Holiday Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[115] 42
US Ringtones (Billboard)[116] 37

Michael Bublé version[edit]

"Santa Buddy"
Song by Michael Bublé
from the album Christmas
ReleasedDecember 12, 2011 (2011-12-12)
Format
GenreChristmas
Length3:51
Label
Songwriter(s)
  • Joan Javits
  • Philip Springer
  • Tony Springer
Producer(s)

Michael Bublé recorded a cover of "Santa Baby" under the title "Santa Buddy" for his seventh studio album, Christmas (2011).

Composition and structure[edit]

According to Musicnotes.com, Bublé's version has a time signature with a 12/8 feel and has a moderately slow tempo of 96 beats per minute.[117] The key of the song is in F major, with Bublé's vocal range spanning from A3 to C5 in scientific pitch notation.[117] The song progresses in the chord progressions of F–F/A–C in the first verses, followed by F-F/A-G-C.[117]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2011–2019) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[118] 97
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[119] 192
US Holiday 100 (Billboard)[120] 34
US Holiday Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[121] 24
US Holiday Streaming Songs (Billboard)[122] 4

Ariana Grande version[edit]

"Santa Baby"
A white background displaying a blue Christmas ornament hanging from above with the song's title.
Single by Ariana Grande featuring Elizabeth Gillies
from the EP Christmas Kisses
ReleasedDecember 10, 2013 (2013-12-10)
Format
Recorded2013
GenreChristmas
Length2:51
Label Republic
Songwriter(s)
  • Joan Javits
  • Philip Springer
  • Tony Springer
Producer(s)
Ariana Grande singles chronology
"Snow in California"
(2013)
"Santa Baby"
(2013)
"Problem"
(2014)
Elizabeth Gillies singles chronology
"We Are Believix"
(2012)
"Santa Baby"
(2013)
"Animal"
(2014)

On November 6, 2013, Ariana Grande announced via Twitter she would be releasing new music each week leading up to Christmas. On the fourth and final week she released a cover of "Santa Baby", which features Grande's former Victorious co-star Elizabeth Gillies.[123] It was distributed to digital retailers such as Amazon Music on December 10, 2013.[124] It was then placed as the fourth and closing track to her first extended play, Christmas Kisses, which was released the same week.[125]

Critical reception[edit]

Grande's version of "Santa Baby" received largely positive reviews from music critics. Jocelyn Vena from MTV enjoyed Grande's take on "Santa Baby", comparing it with Kitt's original version.[126] Carolyn Menyes from Music Times ranked it as the best song on Christmas Kisses, awarding particular praise to its production and Grande and Gillies's chemistry. However, Menyes felt the mix of their vocals together could have been improved.[127] Billboard's Piedra described the collaboration as a "fun duet" and an "experience like no other".[86]

Chart performance[edit]

Grande's collaboration with Gillies enjoyed commercial success in several countries, reaching numbers 36 and 5 on the Holiday 100 and Holiday Digital Song Sales charts, respectively, in the United States.[128][129]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download[124]
No.TitleLength
1."Santa Baby" (featuring Elizabeth Gillies)2:51

Charts[edit]

Chart (2013–2019) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[130] 77
Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)[131] 76
Greece International Digital Singles (IFPI)[132] 90
Hungary (Stream Top 40)[133] 29
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[134] 53
Portugal (AFP)[135] 77
Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100)[136] 72
Sweden Heatseeker (Sverigetopplistan)[137] 16
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[138] 77
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[139] 155
US Holiday 100 (Billboard)[128] 36
US Holiday Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[129] 5

Trisha Yearwood version[edit]

"Santa Baby"
Song by Trisha Yearwood
from the album Christmas Together
ReleasedNovember 11, 2016 (2016-11-11)
Format
GenreChristmas
Length2:41
Label
Songwriter(s)
  • Joan Javits
  • Philip Springer
  • Tony Springer
Producer(s)Mark Miller

Trisha Yearwood recorded a cover of "Santa Baby" for her collaborative album with husband Garth Brooks, Christmas Together (2016).[140][141] The project was first unveiled in mid-October 2016 and was billed as the couple's first collaborative album, consisting of a combination of duets and solo works from both Yearwood and Brooks.[142][143] "Santa Baby" does not feature a guest performance from Brooks but Yearwood is joined by Tania Hancheroff, Jon Mark Ivey, Shane McConnell, Lisa Silver, and Kira Small who provide backing vocals.[140] Her cover, along with the rest of Christmas Together was released on November 11, 2016 by Gwendolyn Records and Brook's personal label, Pearl Records.[144]

Brooks' long-time collaborator Mark Miller produced the track.[140] Yearwood performed the track along with a cover of "Hard Candy Christmas" for the 2017 Christmas television special CMA Country Christmas.[145]

Reception[edit]

Entertainment Tonight's Raphael Chestang wrote that "Yearwood shines on 'Santa Baby'",[146] while a staff member at the Associated Press was glad that Yearwood had fun while recording the track.[147] A writer for KNCI provided a positive review of Yearwood's cover, calling it "fun and flirty".[148] MacIntosh from Country Standard Time agreed, lauding her vocals: "Yearwood sounds like a truly sexy hotty".[149] Christopher Bohlsen from Renowned for Sound, on the other hand, panned the track, claiming that "Yearwood makes the mistake of trying to make Christmas sexy".[150] He also compared it unfavorably to her cover of "Hard Candy Christmas" on Christmas Together, calling "Santa Baby" the weaker of the two songs.[150]

In the United States, Yearwood's version of "Santa Baby" reached Billboard's weekly Adult Contemporary chart, peaking at number 18 on January 6, 2017. It became her third entry on the chart and second-highest charting effort after her cover of "Broken" peaked at number 17 in 2016.[151] It also charted on Billboard's Country Airplay chart at number during that same week.[152]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2017) Peak
position
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[151] 18
US Country Airplay (Billboard)[152] 60

Gwen Stefani version[edit]

"Santa Baby"
A red background displaying the upper hand of Stefani holding a piece of mistletoe above her head.
Single by Gwen Stefani
from the album You Make It Feel Like Christmas
ReleasedDecember 8, 2017 (2017-12-08)
Format
Recorded2017
GenreChristmas
Length2:54
LabelInterscope
Songwriter(s)
  • Joan Javits
  • Philip Springer
  • Anthony Fred Springer
Producer(s)
Gwen Stefani singles chronology
"You Make It Feel Like Christmas"
(2017)
"Santa Baby"
(2017)
"Secret Santa"
(2018)

During the summer months of 2017, Gwen Stefani announced that she had plans to release newly-recorded music by the end of the year. She later confirmed that the new material was created for You Make It Feel Like Christmas, the singer's fourth studio album.[153] The cover was first announced on September 18, 2017, along with the rest of the parent album's track listing.[153] On September 29, Stefani's version of "Santa Baby" was released as a promotional single for the album and distributed to digital retailers as a paid download.[154] In Italy, it was released to radio stations on December 8, 2017 as the album's first single in that country and second overall, internationally.[155]

Stefani's version was produced by Busbee and Eric Valentine, with Javits, Philip Springer, and Tony Springer (credited as Anthony Fred Springer in the album's liner notes) were listed as the songwriters.[156] "Santa Baby" was engineered by Valentine and mixed by Dave Clauss. Jonathan Sterling served as assistant engineer whereas Busbee and Dave Way served as lead vocals engineers with assistance from Peter Chun. Laura Mace, Monet Owens, and Dolly Sparks provided background vocals for the track with arrangements from Grace Potter.[156] Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine described the style of Stefani's version as a hybrid of Kitt's original slow rendition and the revised uptempo one.[157] Regarding her decision to cover "Santa Baby" for You Make It Feel Like Christmas, Stefani explained: "I haven't done many covers in my career, but this song feels like a perfect fit. What an extraordinary talent Phil Springer is. Eartha Kitt is so full of personality. This song must have been unbelievably edgy when it came out, and it still is."[1]

Reception[edit]

Piedra from Billboard lauded Stefani's cover, stating that it "works perfectly with her incredibly unique voice". He also placed it within an unranked list of the ten best covers of "Santa Baby".[86] David Smyth, a writer for London's Evening Standard, enjoyed Stefani's version "Santa Baby" and highlighted it as one of the stronger offerings on You Make It Feel Like Christmas.[158] Roberts from the Los Angeles Times also approved of this version, calling it a "thoroughly modern take" and containing elements of both Kitt and Madonna's covers.[1]

Following its promotional release in the United States, "Santa Baby" did not enter Billboard's Digital Songs chart, but rather the Holiday Digital Song Sales component chart. On the edition for the week ending October 20, 2017, the song debuted and peaked at number 7, becoming the second highest new entry from Stefani on that particular chart. Overall, it was her third highest-peaking song and one of sixteen consecutive top 40 hits on the chart.[159] In Canada, Stefani's cover was sent to holiday radio playlists, allowing it to enter the country's Adult Contemporary chart in January 2018. It peaked at number 38, the same week that "You Make It Feel Like Christmas" and her covers of "Jingle Bells" and "White Christmas" peaked at positions 2, 5, and 39, respectively.[160]

Live performances[edit]

On November 20, 2017, Stefani served as a featured guest on Today and was interviewed about You Make It Feel Like Christmas in between her performances.[161] For the appearance, she wore a sleeveless white gown with a feather boa and sang "Santa Baby", "When I Was a Little Girl", and "Christmas Eve" from the parent album.[162] On her Christmas television special, Gwen Stefani's You Make It Feel Like Christmas, which was broadcast on NBC on December 12, 2017, she performed her version of "Santa Baby" to a live audience.[163] She wore a sparkly Santa Claus-inspired outfit and was joined by a Claus lookalike at the end of the performance.[164]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download[154]
No.TitleLength
1."Santa Baby"2:54

Charts[edit]

Chart (2017–2018) Peak
position
Canada AC (Billboard)[160] 38
US Holiday Digital Song Sales (Billboard)[159] 7

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United States[154] September 29, 2017 Digital download Interscope
Italy[155] December 8, 2017 Contemporary hit radio Universal Music Group

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