Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dance Moves: Bossa Nova Baby

Tippie and the Clovers: Bossa Nova Baby


Bossa Nova Baby has been unjustly regarded by some as a bit of a displeasing novelty number from an Elvis movie (1963’s Fun In Acapulco). Even Elvis is said to have been embarrassed by it. If so, he had no cause: it may not be a bossa nova — it’s too fast for that — but it has a infectious tune and a genius keyboard riff which begs to be sampled widely. Perhaps it was the lyrics which had Elvis allegedly shamefaced, but the lines, “she said, ‘Drink, drink, drink/Oh, fiddle-de-dink/I can dance with a drink in my hand’”, are not much worse than some of the doggerel our man was forced to croon in his movie career as singing racing driver/pineapple heir/bus conductor. Or perhaps Elvis was embarrassed by the idea of including a notional bossa nova number in a movie set in Mexico. So here we won’t revisit Elvis’ version of the song, but the original.

Tippie and the Clovers, who were signed to Leiber and Stoller’s Tiger label, recorded the song first in 1962 to cash in on the bossa nova craze. Apparently the composers preferred the Clovers’ version of Elvis’. These were the same Clovers, incidentally, who had scored a #23 hit with Love Potion No. 9 (also written by Leiber & Stoller and later covered to greater chart effect by the Searchers) on Atlantic in 1959.

(photo from

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