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Story Behind the Song: 'Santa Baby' Made Censors Blush in 1953

With all due respect to the always great televised performances of Little Big Town and the genre-blurring team of Darius Rucker and Lindsey Stirling, the highlight of 2020's CMA Country Christmas came when Kelsea Ballerini performed "Santa Baby," an always playful selection from the 20th century's holiday songbook.

Its lyrics tell of a woman with lofty dreams of what her partner (she's not literally dating Santa Claus, right?) should fit under the Christmas tree, from a diamond ring to a yacht. And of course, the tree in question is decorated with high-end ornaments from Tiffany's.

The light-hearted take on extravagance and sensuality was written with Eartha Kitt in mind by Joan Javits and Philip Springer (under the pseudonym Tony Springer). Kitt first recorded the song in 1953 with Henri Rene and His Orchestra. Despite boycotts over the song's suggestive tone, it became the top-selling Christmas song of 1953.

"Quite a number of people were upset because it was the first sexy Christmas record," Springer told Billboard while discussing radio DJs' outrage over the song's lyrics and Kitt's vocal delivery.

Springer wrote the music to "Santa Baby" in about 10 minutes. He didn't consider it to be anything special and had no idea the song would have enough staying power to eventually enter the catalogs of Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande (feat. Elizabeth Gillies), Michael Bublé, the Pussycat Dolls, Robbie Williams, LeAnn Rimes, Kellie Pickler and others.

"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," Springer told the L.A. Times in 2017. "The answer has to be that 'Santa Baby' has a magic that goes beyond a composer's plans."

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The closest thing to a recent shocking moment involving a now-tame Christmas song came on a 2018 episode of the Tonight Show when Miley Cyrus altered Kitt's wish list to include equal pay for women. Cyrus' skit included show host Jimmy Fallon and musical collaborator Mark Ronson.

"Santa Baby" Lyrics

Santa baby, just slip a sable under the tree for me
Been an awful good girl
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, a '54 convertible too, light blue
I'll wait up for you, dear
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the fun I've missed
Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed
Next year, I could be just as good
If you check off my Christmas list

Santa baby, I want a yacht and really that's not a lot
Been an angel all year
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa honey, one little thing I really need, the deed
To a platinum mine
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex and checks
Sign your "X" on the line
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With some decorations bought at Tiffany
I really do believe in you
Let's see if you believe in me

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ring
I don't mean on the phone
Santa baby, so hurry down my chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry, tonight

Now Watch: Country Music's Best Holiday Songs

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Story Behind the Song: 'Santa Baby' Made Censors Blush in 1953