A few months before the film version of “The Sound of Music” hit the silver screen, a song plugger working the catalog of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein approached label owner Dave Kapp with a plan to turn one of the songs from the score into a hit single, thinking it would boost the box office potential of the movie. That resulted in Jack Jones recording “My Favorite Things” for his first Christmas album, but the song did not become a hit. That song plugger’s dream finally comes true this week, some 54 years after the film’s release, as “My Favorite Things” debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, thanks to a reinterpretation by Ariana Grande on her new single, “7 Rings.”
Grande updated the lyrics of the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein classic after a shopping spree at Tiffany’s, transforming “Raindrops on roses/And whiskers on kittens/Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens/Brown paper packages tied up with strings/These are a few of my favorite things” into “Breakfast at Tiffany’s and bottles of bubbles/Girls with tattoos who like getting in trouble/Lashes and diamonds, ATM machines/Buy myself all of my favorite things.”
“The genius of Rodgers and Hammerstein is that their songs become a part of the DNA of the audience,” says Nicholas Hammond, who sang “My Favorite Things” in the 1965 film with his fellow cast members, including Julie Andrews. “Ariana is assuming her audience will be familiar with the original, and putting her own hip-hop take on it.” Hammond, who portrays director Sam Wanamaker in Quentin Tarantino’s new film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” tells Variety: “Ariana takes the same boast of money and possessions that male rap and hip-hop artists use and turns it into an all female declaration of material success. The contrast between the sweetness and simplicity of the original and the consumerism of her version to me is a comment on the world today. The fact that the R&H company chose to retweet her version shows they have no problem with it, either.”
Ted Chapin, chief creative officer of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, confirms to Variety, “We are always open to the notion of modern artists having a new look at Rodgers and Hammerstein and their work. ‘7 Rings’ is certainly far from ‘The Sound of Music,’ but it just shows how strong and resilient the songs written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II are.”
“7 Rings” marks the first time the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein has topped the Hot 100, although Rodgers had a No. 1 single in April 1961 with his previous writing partner, Lorenz Hart. “Blue Moon,” written in 1933, made it to pole position thanks to a doo-wop version by the vocal group the Marcels.
“7 Rings” is the fourth song with music from a stage musical to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100, following Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife” (1959) from “The Threepenny Opera,” Louis Armstrong’s “Hello, Dolly!” (1964) and the 5th Dimension’s medley of “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” (1969) from “Hair.”