“Tea for Two” by Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar

This is the 1920s’ equivalent of the kind of thing that would wind up in Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs, but because of its advanced age it is perceived for some reason to have some kind of vaguely-defined distinguished pedigree. As a result, critics (or at least the older ones) tend to give it much more leeway than similar annoying Pop tunes from the Sixties onward, or even equivalent songs from the Fifties such as “How Much Is That Doggie In the Window?” or “Oh, My Pa-Pa!”.

But the sad truth is, it’s not really a different phenomenon…there was puerile, overexposed Pop music in that era too. Yes, Vincent Youmans’ melody is both pretty and memorable, but this song is every bit as cloying as Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey”, and just as inane as Terry Jacks’ “Seasons in the Sun”, and the catchy melody only makes those qualities more insidious.

I honestly don’t see why people today can’t acknowledge this song for the insipid trash that it is; people at the time certainly had no trouble doing so (James Thurber devoted an entire chapter of his book Further Fables of Our Time to mocking it). The musical from which this song originally came, No, No, Nanette, actually contains a number of good songs. This is not one of them.

Verdict: Bad.

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