Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today’s song, “Minnie the Moocher,” is a jazz classic first recorded in 1931 by Cab Calloway and His Orchestra, and reprised for a new generation by American Idol finalist Tamyra Gray during the hit show’s first season in 2002.
In the song, Minnie dreams about the King of Sweden gifting her with things that she was needin’. On her list is a “home built of gold and steel,” as well as a “diamond car with platinum wheels.”
The song is famous for its nonsensical ad-libbed “scat” lyrics, such as “Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-hi.” In his club performances, Calloway would challenge his audience to repeat each increasingly difficult scat phrase, often resulting in a comical exchange.
Despite being 82 years old, the song continues to be covered by artists as diverse as Oingo Boingo and Wyclef Jean. The song also has been performed on the silver screen in The Blues Brothers (1980) and The Cotton Club (1984).
Gray performed an abbreviated, but powerful, version of “Minnie the Moocher” during American Idol’s “Big Band” night. Although she eventually finished fourth in the first season of the popular music competition, Idol judge Simon Cowell was famously disappointed when Gray was voted off the show and felt she could have won.
We hope you enjoy Gray’s version of “Minnie the Moocher.” The lyrics are below if you want to try to keep up with the tricky scat.
“Minnie the Moocher”
Written by Cab Calloway and Irving Mills. Performed by Tamyra Gray.
Hey, folks here’s a story ’bout Minnie the Moocher
She was a low down hoochie coocher.
She was the roughest toughest frail,
but Minnie had a heart as big as a whale.
She had a dream about the king of Sweden
He gave her things that she was needin’.
Gave her a home built of gold and steel,
a diamond car with the platinum wheels.
Scoodly-boo scoodly-boo scoodly-boodly-boodly boo
Ditta-ditta-didly skitta-didly bitta-didly skitta zoy!
They took her where they put the crazies,
Now poor Min, she’s kicking up daisies,
You’ve heard my story, this ends my song,
She was just a good gal, but they done her wrong.
Poor Min! Poor Min!