Saturday, July 3, 2021

YouTube Spotlight: Ethel Merman, Disco Queen

When we first stumbled upon this video, it was bizarre, nonsensical, and inexplicable: Ethel Merman performing a disco version of Alexander's Ragtime Band to a live and TV audience of children:

However, now that we know Ethel starred in Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July, as we discuss on the podcast this week, and that this performance took place not too long before that special was in production...

Nah, sorry, it's still bizarre, nonsensical, and inexplicable. And I love every second of it!

The song was a little--I don't like to use the word "dated" on a site devoted to classic television, so let's say it was a little traditional even in 1978. Even the hearty discofication of it can't change the fact that, "the bestest band what am, oh, my honey lamb," isn't gonna sound cutting edge. I doubt it did when it was written.

Ethel gives this her all, though, and if you look hard enough, you can see, or at least imagine, genuine enthusiasm from an appreciative disco-and-ragtime-crazy cross-section of America's youth. The playlist for the podcast features her singing this on The Tonight Show, but this performance is even more amazing. What better way is there to celebrate this Independence Day weekend than to celebrate Ethel Merman's attempt to cash in on watching this again and again and again...

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