Thursday, January 26, 2012

Standards: Minnie the Moocher

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy: Minnie the Moocher


Minnie the Moocher is the timeless tale of a good girl gone bad, prohibition style. The song was written by Cab Calloway, who first recorded it in 1932. Calloway was a great showman. His dance moves look impossible even now, and may have inspired James Brown. Minnie the Moocher has the famous hi-de-hi-de-hi call and response between Calloway and his band. He used to get his audiences to sing the responses, and then Calloway would sing more and more complicated strings of nonsense syllables, until the audience could follow him no longer. All in good fun, of course. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was part of the swing revival movement that broke out in the mid 1990s. Unlike many of their peers, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performed mostly original songs. Obviously, Minnie the Moocher was an exception, but, heard along side their originals, it served to validate just how good at writing these kinds of songs the band was.

As a bonus, I thought I would share something fun that I came across while researching this post: the Betty Boop cartoon Minnie the Moocher. The song comes in about half way through the cartoon, and the version you hear is by Cab Calloway and his band. The dance moves of the walrus-like ghost were taken from a rotoscope of Calloway’s stage moves.

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