Photo: Lisa Richov

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

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.