Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"You Look Marvelous" by Billy Crystal

Song#:  2405
Date:  07/27/1985
Debut:  82
Peak:  58
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Novelty, Comedy

Pop Bits:  By the time comedian Crystal was asked to join the cast of the tenth season (1984-85) of Saturday Night Live, he was already a star who had hosted the show twice in its previous season. SNL was going through some growing pains during this time period and it was decided that the show might benefit from adding established stars to the cast. Along with Martin Short, Crystal was brought in to write and perform on the show. One of the most popular recurring sketches from the season was Fernando's Hideaway, in which Crystal portrayed actor Fernando Lamas as a talk show host. Crystal's parody of the sexy Latin playboy was an instant hit that contributed two catchphrases to 80s pop culture: "It is better to look good than to feel good" and "You look mahvelous!" With Crystal's star high in the sky, he decided to make his first (and only) comedy album. Titled Mahvelous!, the LP featured portions of Crystal's stand-up act along with a couple of songs that featured characters he did on SNL. This dance track, co-written with Paul Shaffer, centered on Crystal's Fernando character and it was issued out as a single. The song's associated video became popular on MTV and soon the single was climbing the Pop chart. It nearly reached the Top 50, which wasn't a bad showing for a novelty tune. It also got to #27 at Dance. In turn, the album sold pretty well and made it to #65. Crystal would later receive a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy Recording for the song. By the time the album and single were released, Crystal had already finished up his first and only season as a cast member of SNL (the show revamped again the next season and Crystal was not asked back). Oddly, he would never return to the show as a host.

ReduxReview:  I don't care all that much for novelty tunes and I'm not a fan of impressionists. This tune combines both, which I would normally abhor and ignore, yet I can't help but like what Crystal did here. I remember watching Crystal on SNL back in the day and loving the Fernando sketches. I was also familiar with Fernando Lamas, so that made them even funnier. I never would have thought that a song could be created from the sketch, but Crystal and Paul Shaffer were able to spin it into something interesting. Although there are dated references in the track, Crystal tosses out some hilarious lines and successfully maintains the character. The track is actually kind of catchy and it sounds great thanks to production by Arthur Baker. Of course, the video was terrific and even had a cameo by Sting! Now, do I want to hear this on a regular basis? Nope. Maybe once every decade is fine. However, I wouldn't immediately hit skip if the song came up in a playlist, which is saying something. As novelty songs go, Crystal came up with something that worked and I gotta give some props for that. And yes, I do look mahvelous, darling.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Crystal's Fernando character was so strong that for many younger fans of the show, they didn't realize it was based on a real person - actor Fernando Lamas. For those who were familiar with Lamas, it made the sketch even funnier. Originally from Buenos Aires, Lamas was an actor who starred in several Argentine films throughout the 1940s. In 1950, Hollywood called and Lamas co-star in an American film titled The Avengers (a swashbuckling film, not the British TV show or comic book Avengers). He signed on with MGM and several films followed that had him playing sexy Latin lovers. Later on in the 60s and 70s, he acted in many TV shows and began directing episodes as well. He even directed episodes of the hit 80s nighttime soap Falcon Crest, which starred his son, Lorenzo Lamas. Apparently, Crystal got the idea to do the Fernando character when he saw Lamas as a guest on Johnny Carson's show where Lamas said the line "it's better to look good than to feel good." According to Lorenzo, his dad loved Crystal's exaggerated impression. Crystal's character wasn't the only one inspired by Lamas. Actor Jonathan Goldsmith used Lamas as inspiration for his "most interesting man in the world" character he did in ads for Dos Equis beer from 2007 to 2015. Goldsmith and Lamas were good friends for many years prior to Lamas' death in 1982.


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