I Get a Kick Out of You

Reviewed by mojo

Mojo is going to not focus so much on Ella this song--what can I say? She's at the top of her game, here! Superlative!--and instead use this song to point out how Cole Porter here is teaching all you wannabes an Important Lesson in Crafting Song Lyrics.

First off, while it might sound sort of like it, this isn't your typical "list song"--like, say, "You're the Top". It is a list, but it's much more conversational. And this conversationality is the key that distinguishes GREAT lyric writing from the ho-hum. And I think "I Get a Kick Out of You" is a prime example of just how perfect a lyricist can get it.

As is usually the case with songs, there are two things a lyricist must look out for. It's flat-out gotta rhyme, for starters. At least ONCE IN A WHILE. This song is throwing in rhymes and assonance practically every other word--but it does so so very casually often you're not aware of it. There's not a FORCED RHYME in the whole song. You know a forced rhyme when you hear it--for example, the lyricist might switch around the usual subject-verb-object structure of the sentence to make the line end with a rhyme, and it ends up sounding like Yoda's singing it. Not cool. If you plan on becoming a professional lyricist take Mojo's advice and NEVER DO THAT.

Cole Porter doesn't do that very often, and he REALLY doesn't do it in this song. You could speak the entire song without people looking at you funny. And yet he crams it full of rhymes--"I'm sure that if I took even one sniff that would bore me terrifically too", for example, or, a little further on, "Flying too high with some guy in the sky is my i-dea of nothing to do". Sheer brilliance.

Secondly, there's no need for any awkward stressing of words or syllables. It SCANS correctly. Gilbert and Sullivan--perhaps the first masters of witty wordplay in musical theater--would occasionally flub this, but they were always so tongue-in-cheek anyway it's hard to say whether or not they're doing it on purpose, for comic effect. (Certainly the actors often play up these instances, and mug the audience while they're singing, which is part of the fun of a G&S operetta.) And, also, Ella was always a master of perfect timing and phrasing. (I don't say this as a goofy fangirl, but as a simple Absolute Fact. Industry professionals over and over will back me up on this, if you don't trust Mojo's imperfect ears, or your own sense of what's right when you listen to something.)

But above and beyond the Perfection That is Ella, you have these gloriously arranged words, falling perfectly on the beats. Porter never tries to cheat here and throw in an extra syllable now and then like a hack might do, or chop a multisyllabic word up from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. No, he gets it right. The result is an ultra-smooth flow, where the singer can pause where it's natural to pause, speak where one should speak, and all the stresses land perfectly on all the beats. Ahhhh.

Enough blathering and picking it apart. Just enjoy the whole thing sometime, okay? Like, how about today? Good choice!

I Get a Kick Out of You (1956)

in
Click below to hear a sample--or scroll down for associated media: 
Disc Number: 
1
Composer: 
Cole Porter
Lyricist: 
Cole Porter
Time: 
4:00

From Wikipedia:

 

I Get a Kick Out of You" is a song by Cole Porter, originally featured in the Broadway musical Anything Goes and the movie of the same name.

Originally sung by Ethel Merman, it has been covered by performers including Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee, Marlene Dietrich, Cesare Siepi, Dinah Washington, Bobby Short, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Martin, Anita O`Day, Rosemary Clooney, Margaret Whiting, Django Reinhardt, Gary Shearston, Jamie Cullum, The Living End, Dolly Parton, Dwele, Joan Morris, Shirley Bassey, The Gutter Twins and Lisa Ekdahl.

  Alterations to the song

The lyrics were first altered shortly after being written. The last verse originally went as follows:

I get no kick in a plane
I shouldn't care for those nights in the air
That the fair Mrs. Lindbergh goes through
But I get a kick out of you.

After the Lindbergh kidnapping, Porter changed the second and third lines to:

Flying too high with some guy in the sky
Is my idea of nothing to do

In the 1936 movie version, alternate lyrics in the second verse were provided to replace a reference to the drug cocaine, which were not allowed due to the Hays Code.

The original verse goes as follows:

Some get a kick from cocaine
I'm sure that if
I took even one sniff
That would bore me terrifically, too
Yet, I get a kick out of you

Porter changed the first line to:

Some like the perfume in Spain

One alternative version popularised by Alyson Ottaway changes the verse to:

Some like the bop-type refrain
I'm sure that if
I heard even one riff
It would bore me terrifically, too
Yet, I get a kick out of you

It should be noted that Sinatra recorded both post-Hayes versions: the first in 1953 and the second in 1962. On a recording live in Paris in 1962, Sinatra sings the original version, but with the first line as Some like the perfume from Spain. Other Porter-approved substitutes include "whiff of Guerlain." All three of the above alternatives are mentioned in the liner notes to Joan Morris and William Bolcom's CD, "Night and Day," but on the recording, Morris sings the original second verse.

Trivia

In the film, Blazing Saddles, Bart (Cleavon Little) and his fellow workers are urged to sing a "N***** work song." They then commence a rendition of "I Get a Kick out of You" instead, using the "cocaine" lyric. However, Sheriff Lyle then interrupts and suggests the "Camptown Ladies" is a better work song.

In the TV series Frasier, Ronee Lawrence (Wendie Malick) sings her altered version of the song, in "The Babysitter" episode from the 11th season:

I think you're cute, Marty Crane
I think that if your poor hip wasn't stiff
You could dance just terrifically too
And I get a kick out of you

In the Australian film, Children of the Revolution, a somewhat unorthodox and much abridged rendition of the song is given by F. Murray Abraham in the role of Joseph Stalin, backed by Paul Livingston and Dennis Watkins as Lavrentiy Beria and Nikita Khrushchev respectively.

In the television series, Cleopatra 2525, Cleopatra (Jennifer Sky) sings the song at a karaoke bar using the "perfume from Spain" line during the episode, "Noir Or Never."

In the television series Sesame Street a parody of the song "I Get A Kick Out Of You" was sung by 'Miss Ethel Mermaid' (actually performeed by Louise Gold).

In the film The Secret of My Succe$s, the character Vera Prescott (Margaret Whitton) sings the first few lines of the song to her nephew / love pursuit Brantley Foster (Michael J. Fox).

The off-Broadway show Forbidden Broadway has a version of the song in which Patti Lupone, who starred as Reno in the 1987 revival of Anything Goes, swoons over herself:

Some snort cocaine when they're low,
I need no sniff, 'cause I think what's the diff,
I'm already terrific to see,
And I get a kick out of me.