With "Santa Baby", Emergency Tiara Updates a Classic Just in Time for the Holidays (premiere)

Photo: Lisa Richov

J-pop meets vintage girl group in Emergency Tiara's smart, sassy cover of the Eartha Kitt Christmas standard, "Santa Baby".

If your holiday music playlist needs a good kick in the pants, look no further than Tokyo – by way of New York City. Emergency Tiara, the art-pop vocal band led by vocalist/ringleader Juri Jinnai, have just thrown their Santa hat in the ring with a smart, jazzy cover of the classic "Santa Baby", made famous by Eartha Kitt in 1953 but subsequently covered by everyone from Madonna to Kylie Minogue to Ariana Grande.

Emergency Tiara, whose debut album, Unsophisticated Circus, was released in September, seems almost destined to cover the song, as it fits in well with their 1960s girl-group vibe. They manage to infuse an almost space-age lounge buzz to the song, as Jinnai's vocals are filtered through mysterious distortion and playful organ chords give it a mid-century jazz feel. It's reminiscent of similar retro-leaning female vocal groups like the Pipettes and the Puppini Sisters in that it's a nod to the past but with a sincerity that prevents it from being overly derivative. Jinnai admits that – growing up in Tokyo – she'd never heard the song until she moved to the States, but it seems fitting for her band. "Cheeky, needy, flirty and sweet," she calls the song in the press release. "When I first heard the song, I felt like I was seen."

Jazzy, soulful, and with a buzz not unlike a good hit of eggnog, Emergency Tiara takes a decades-old classic and makes it seem fresh and new.





Learning to Take a Picture: An Interview With Inara George

Inara George is unafraid to explore life's more difficult and tender moments. Discussion of her latest music, The Youth of Angst, leads to stories of working with Van Dyke Parks and getting David Lee Roth's musical approval.


Country Westerns Bask in an Unparalleled Sound and Energy on Their Debut

Country Westerns are intent on rejecting assumptions about a band from Nashville while basking in an unparalleled sound and energy.


Rediscovering Japanese Director Tomu Uchida

A world-class filmmaker of diverse styles, we take a look at Tomu Uchida's very different Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji and The Mad Fox.


The Charlatans' 'Between 10th and 11th' Gets a Deluxe Edition

Not even a "deluxe" version of Between 10th and 11th from the Charlatans can quite set the record straight about the maligned-but-brilliant 1992 sophomore album.


'High Cotton' Is Culturally Astute and Progressive

Kristie Robin Johnson's collection of essays in High Cotton dismantle linear thinking with shrewdness and empathy.


Lianne La Havas Is Reborn After a Long Layoff

British soul artist Lianne La Havas rediscovers herself on her self-titled new album. It's a mesmerizing mix of spirituality and sensuality.


PC Nackt Deconstructs the Classics with 'Plunderphonia'

PC Nackt kicks off a unique series of recordings dedicated to creating new music by "plundering" unexpected historical sources such as classical piano pieces or chamber orchestra music.


Counterbalance 24: The Doors - 'The Doors'

Before you slip into unconsciousness, Counterbalance has put together a few thoughts on the Doors' 1967 debut album. It's number 24 on the Big List.

Reading Pandemics

Parable Pandemics: Octavia E. Butler and Racialized Labor

Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, informed by a deep understanding of the intersectionality of dying ecologies, disease, and structural racism, exposes the ways capitalism's insatiable hunger for profit eclipses humanitarian responses to pandemics.


'Tiger King' and the Post-Truth Culture War

Tiger King -- released during and dominating the streaming-in-lockdown era -- exemplifies in real-time the feedback loop between entertainment and ideology.


GOD's 'God IV - Revelation' Is a Towering Feat of Theologically-Tinged Prog Metal (album stream)

GOD's God IV - Revelation is beautiful and brutal in equal measure. It's a masterful series of compositions. Hear it in full today before tomorrow's release.


Ivy Mix's 'Spirits of Latin America' Evokes the Ancestors

A common thread unites Ivy Mix's engaging Spirits of Latin America; "the chaotic intermixture between indigenous and European traditions" is still an inextricable facet of life for everyone who inhabits the "New World".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.