Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

Album: As Time Goes By (1949)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song was written by Jule Styne and Leo Robin for the Broadway production of Gentleman Prefer Blondes and was first performed by Carol Channing in 1949. Ethel Merman, the actress and singer known for her vibrant voice and magnetic stage presence, recorded it the following year.
  • The most iconic performance of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" is undoubtedly Marilyn Monroe's in the 1953 film version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. As playgirl Lorelei Lee, Marilyn created an indelible image while draped in pink satin and diamonds surrounded by a group of dapper suitors. Her own sultry voice was used for most of the song, but some rough patches were dubbed over with Marni Nixon's vocals - specifically the high-pitched opening and the line "These rocks don't lose their shape, diamonds are a girl's best friend." Although if 20th Century-Fox had their way, Marilyn's vocals would have been entirely dubbed. Nixon told The New York Times in 2007 that the studio was unimpressed with the star's "silly" voice, but Nixon thought it was perfect for the character and the song.

    Nixon's soprano voice was a familiar one in Hollywood; she also dubbed vocals for Natalie Wood in West Side Story, Deborah Kerr in The King and I and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.
  • Several artists have emulated Marilyn's performance over the years. Madonna copied the attire and set design for her "Material Girl" video in 1984 but later claimed she had little in common with the icon. She told Smash Hits in 1992: "I don't think I'm like Marilyn Monroe in a lot of ways. The main thing that we have in common is that we bleach our hair. She's a 'sex symbol' and a 'sex goddess' and I can relate to that in terms of how many people like to see me."

    Anna Nicole Smith also channeled Marilyn for her "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" single in 1998 (and in 2004 dressed as Marilyn/Lorelai for a PETA ad campaign, stating "Gentlemen prefer fur-free blondes").

    Australian Pop singer Kylie Minogue covered the song in 1995 and then re-recorded it in 2004 for the film White Diamond.
  • Gossip Girl socialite Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) dreamed she was performing the song ala Marilyn Monroe in the show's 100th episode "G.G." while Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) appeared as a Breakfast at Tiffany's-inspired Audrey Hepburn.
  • Nicole Kidman sang a modified version of this song for Moulin Rouge! in 2001. Called "Sparkling Diamonds," the song eliminated any overt 1950s references - such as the names of jewelers or the modern Automat - to reflect the film's turn-of-the-20th-century time period.
  • The song has also been borrowed by many Jazz singers. Lena Horne included it on her 1958 album Give the Lady What She Wants, while Julie London recorded it in 1961, followed by Eartha Kitt in 1962.
  • Carol Channing sang this with Miss Piggy during a 1980 appearance on The Muppet Show.

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