Get out the bongos for this request from my friend Rose, who snaps as she sits out a writers' strike in Hollywood.
You know the story of this song, don't you? Maybe you don't. It was a hit for Little Willy John in nineteen fifty-six, but you probably wouldn't remember it if not for how, two years later, Peggy Lee stripped it down, punched it up, added some verses of her own, and purred it into a microphone.
Wait, let's back up a bit. Do you know the story of Peggy Lee? You should look it up if you don't. She's best known for being one of the foremost vocalists of the twentieth century, but she was also a songwriter and Oscar-nominated actor. She also made legal history in the nineties, when she successfully sued Disney for royalties on Lady and the Tramp videotapes. (The good songs? She wrote those. She was also the Siamese cats, among others.) Basically, she's what Madonna wishes she could be – and no offense, Madge, but just covering "Fever" doesn't make you Peggy Lee.
Though "Fever" has been covered by approximately ninety zillion people, Peggy Lee's is as close to a definitive version as you're going to get. Besides its history, there are two things you should know about it:
1. It has the most seductive beat of any pop song of the Western canon.
2. Vocally, it is almost impossible to screw up.
It is, in short, the karaoke song most likely to get you laid.
It's not a guarantee, of course. But if you're a woman, and there's someone in the room that catches your fancy, sign up for this song. Don't worry about not knowing the words, or about looking any sillier than you normally do. Just relax and breathe your way through. Slink a little. Throw in some high notes at the very end. Put down the microphone, slowly sashay over to the object(s) of your affection, lower your eyelids and your voice, and ask the object(s) what they thought of your performance. If they have any interest in you, odds are that at least one of you will be sleeping in an unfamiliar bed tonight. If they don't have any interest in you, look around. Because somewhere, someone is drooling.
In the right hands, "Fever" could work for a guy. Unfortunately, I have never seen this possibility borne out. It turns out that the only thing more powerful than the male sex drive is the male drive to impersonate Elvis.