So Many Ways to Get Under Your Skin

Katherine McPhee(
Katherine McPhee(
Sunday night, March 8, at 7:00 p.m. Central on NPT, famed trumpeter Chris Botti is joined by a wealth of guests, and the Boston Pops, in Chris Botti: Live in Boston. One of the guests is American Idol alum Katherine McPhee, who duets with Botti on the Cole Porter classic “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Her performance is sweet, and she interprets the song almost shyly, as if she’s a little embarrassed that she’s got you under her skin. It works, and is an interesting interpretation of the song. It got me thinking about some of the other ways this jazz standard has been interpreted.

So many artists have done it, I can’t list them all (try for that), but there are a couple that pop into my head. There is of course Tony Bennett‘s version. Bennett, arbiter of cool, delivers it with a pizazz that says, “Yeah, I’ve got you under my skin, but it’s cool. I can handle it. Let’s have a good time with it. I may even grow to like it.”

Then there’s Frank Sinatra‘s iconic version. Sinatra delivers it completely differently to my ears, alternating between aggravation, frustration and resignation. Getting under his skin means you’ve got to him, and he’s not sure he likes it. When he sings, “Don’t you know you fool, you never can win. Use your mentality, wake up to reality” it’s completely believable that there’s a voice in Sinatra’s head trying to smack some sense into him. But he ain’t going out without a fight.

Diana Krall‘s version is sultry and steamy, as if you’ve gotten under her skin and it just might be the end of both of you. It’s all your fault. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons‘ version comes off like Valli is still trying to win you over. Getting under his skin isn’t enough. He wants to marry you. Louis Prima and Keely Smith have a great time with it. Smith takes the lead, but really she’s just playing with Prima, dangling his effect on her over him, as if, “Oh, you’ve really gotten under my skin, really, I’m serious, I’m not kidding. Look what you’ve done to me.” It’s quite wonderful.

I could go on. Have a favorite interpretation? Let me know.

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