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That Bad Eartha

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Album Review

Like its predecessor, RCA Victor Presents Eartha Kitt, Eartha Kitt's second album, That Bad Eartha, also released in 1953, became a Top Five hit in a year when the curiosity about this exotic creature seemed to be limitless. Although she was actually from South Carolina by way of Harlem, Kitt came across as an international chanteuse, which spending a few years in Paris, among other places, will do for you. Her recording of "C'est Si Bon (It's So Good)," included here, had reached the Top Ten in August, preceded by a minor chart entry in "Uska Dara — A Turkish Tale" and followed by another, "I Want to Be Evil." Both were also included. In addition to French and Turkish, Kitt sang in Spanish and Swahili, which was more than enough to justify her image as a classy import. Another part of that image was her somewhat predatory sex appeal, which was explored fully in "I Want to Be Evil" and two Cole Porter favorites, "Let's Do It" and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." Of course, there was sleight-of-hand going on there, too, but Kitt didn't suffer from having a wholly contrived persona, because she let her listeners in on the joke. It wasn't accidental that the title of the album had quotes around it. And in the same way, her relatively limited vocal range didn't matter because she acted her way through her performances as if they were short plays. The only problem, in fact, was that Kitt defined herself so well she was ultimately one-dimensional. It was not surprising when the hits dried up within a year, since she came across on records as a novelty act; but she had developed an act she could keep playing for the rest of her life. And that's exactly what she did.


Born: 17 January 1927 in Columbia, SC

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Eartha Kitt epitomized the idea of the sex-kitten chanteuse, rising to fame with a nightclub act centered on her slinky stage presence and her throaty purr of a voice. As much as she enjoyed vamping it up, she also projected the image of an exotic international sophisticate, especially since she sang in several different languages. She brought a definite zest to her torch songs, and favored lyrics that painted her as the Material Girl of her time. Kitt's persona was so vivid and well-developed that...
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That Bad Eartha, Eartha Kitt
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