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Friday, March 30, 2012

Six Karaoke Songs to Lure in Your Own Don Draper

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 3:25 PM


If you haven't heard enough of "Zou Bisou Bisou" this week, be prepared for an onslaught of especially terrible karaoke this weekend. But before you attempt to reel in your own Don Draper, allow us to provide a little backstory:

You know this much -- the fifth season of Mad Men has begun. And the critical darling has fans doing two things: celebrating the return of the most intellectually satisfying show since The Wire, and making a permanent space for actress Jessica Paré's scorching rendition of sixties French pop song "Zou Bisou Bisou" somewhere in their sonic memories.

Though associated with Anglo-Franco songstress Gillian Hills, "Zou Bisou Bisou" is an overtly sexual invitation-cum-confessional that was translated for American audiences by mid-century bombshell Sophia Loren, who recorded it for the 1960 film "The Millionairess."

On Mad Men, Mrs. Don Draper, played by the slinky Paré, channeled a version of "Zou Bisou Bisou" that melds the song's sinful solicitations with its overwrought, juvenile earnest. It a just as much "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" as it is Lord Byron for the teenage fangirl set.

But then what kind of music do you play for a guy like Don Draper? Something self-effacing and ironic; something you'd hear in a Chattanooga dive. He read a Frank O'Hara poem, for chrissakes, so we know he's some kind of miserable intellectual beneath the Macalister trench and the faint scent of eau de wood varnish.

It's for that kind of guy that we've compiled a playlist of miserably alluring songs to sing at karaoke. But if you're really aiming for your own Don Draper, you'll have to find a bar with these in the karaoke book:

1. Arthur Alexander, "You Better Move On"

This is the ballad of a lesser man, a lesser man with something to prove, but someone to love. This is the ballad of Dick Whitman. The 1964 track would later be covered by The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and even Dean Martin, but no one was buying it from them - Arthur Alexander's version is imploring and convincing in a way that a girl-crazed boy band could never understand. And in a way that might haunt Don Draper more than he cares to admit.

2. Marshall Crenshaw, "Cynical Girl"

Crenshaw covered one of Alexander's other hits, "Soldier of Love," so it's fitting that he'd find his way here. Crenshaw's "Cynical Girl," however, is decidedly more upbeat, like a new wave Buddy Holly. While Draper is both afraid of and in love with the 'cynical girl' archetype, this is more of an ode to protege Peggy -- oh protective, guarded, cynical Peggy.

3. The Gosdin Brothers, "There Must Be A Someone (I Can Turn To)"

Country-western vulnerability marked the Gosdin Brothers, who despite sharing bills with notable '60s wunderkinds like The Byrds never crossed over on their own. Who does Don turn to? Nobody.

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Shona Sanzgiri


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