The Jeweler Blog Presents… Jewelry Sounds of the Fifties

Welcome back to the best of The Jeweler Blog and more hits from our Music Friday entries. This time, we return to the romantic fifties, where diamond rings seemed to be on almost everybody’s mind! Remember, to be considered for a Music Friday entry, a song needs to mention jewelry, gems or precious metal in the lyrics or title.

DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND

Artist: Marilyn Monroe (written by Jule Styne and Leo Robin)
Year: 1953

An iconic member of our Music Friday list, “Diamonds Are Girl’s Best Friend” was introduced to America via the 1949 Broadway debut of the musical, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The singer was Carol Channing, and while I still hear that voice every time this song runs through my head, it’s Marilyn Monroe’s sultrier version (even it does have a little dubbing of high notes) from the 1953 movie version that garnered the most attention and the most knockoffs. Singers from Lena Horne to Christina Aguilera have covered the song. Madonna’s “Material Girl,” a song of similar sentiments, prompted a video that parodied Marilyn’s scene from the movie. Since music lovers of any age can at least hum a few bars, it’s no wonder the American Film Institute named this the 12th most important film song of all time.

WEAR MY RING AROUND YOUR NECK

Artist: Elvis Presley (written by Bert Carroll and Russell Moody)
Year: 1958

After 10 consecutive number-one hits for Elvis Presley, the highest-selling individual artist of all time (and only the Beatles, a group, have sold more records), came 1958’s “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck,” which only peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The song asks a mystery girl to wear the singer’s ring around her neck — on a chain as was the custom in the fifties — to signify they are going steady. No doubt countless teen girls of the era imagined the King was singing to them, and hearts broke across the country when Presley married Priscilla Wagner in 1967. Sadly, Presley died suddenly a decade later.

SANTA BABY

Artist: Eartha Kitt (written by Joan Javits and Philip Springer)
Year: 1953

Reportedly one of only two Christmas hits penned by a woman, “Santa Baby” was released by RCA Records in 1953. Another song echoing the sentiments of “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Santa Baby” features a girl looking directly to Santa Claus for the finer things in life — a sable, convertible, yacht, Tiffany baubles, and “a ring.” The original was sung by the late Eartha Kitt, who enjoyed the attention that comes with having a blockbuster hit; it’s her version that appears on the 2010 Elf soundtrack.  Since 1953, the song has been covered by dozens of artists, from Madonna to Miss Piggy—and even Michael Bublé, who chose to address his benefactor as Santa Buddy.

THE ELEMENTS

Artist: Tom Lehrer
Year: 1959

When song lyrics comprise all the known elements of the 1959 periodic table, we certainly have our precious metal bases covered. Written and sung by musical humorist and Harvard mathematics lecturer Tom Lehrer, “The Elements” isn’t intended as a learning tool, given that the elements are song out of order and more in accordance with meter and rhyme than any arrangement in the table, e.g. “And argon, krypton, neon, radon, xenon, zinc, and rhodium; and chlorine, carbon, cobalt, copper, tungsten, tin, and sodium.” (How convenient that some of the elements rhyme!) Sung to the tune of the fast-paced “Major-General’s Song” from the Pirates of Penzance, Lehrer manages to sing the whole table in just 85 seconds, marking gold at :22, silver at :34, and platinum at :53. How fast can you sing it?

GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY

Artist: Little Richard (written by John Marascalco and Robert Blackwell)
Year: 1958

This is one of our treasure finds, a song with such a tangential jewelry/precious metal reference, we’re lucky to have found it at all, but here it is: “Goin’ to the corner, gonna buy a diamond ring. When she hugs me, her kissin’ make me ting-a-ling-a-ling.” Deep, huh? It’s okay; we’re not picky. And the song, after all, is a bona fide hit, ranking #94 on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Songs of All Time list and racking up hundreds of rock and roll covers, including versions from rock and roll stalwarts Jerry Lee Lewis and Bruce Springsteen, who still throws it out there at encore time. Interestingly, the song was first released by the Valiants, but it wasn’t until Little Richard’s version came out that it became a hit.

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