What Every Girl Should Know

by: Doris Day

When Doris Day entered the recording studio to make her annual LP in December 1959, she was arguably at her peak as a movie star, having seen the release two months earlier of Pillow Talk, the first of the frothy comedies she would make in the late '50s and early '60s. But as a recording artist, she seemed to be in trouble. Since 1957, when both Day by Day and the soundtrack to The Pajama Game, in which she starred, made the Top Ten, she had not cracked the album charts, failing with Day by Night (1958) and Cuttin' Capers (1959). Unfortunately, What Every Girl Should Know was not the album to reverse this pattern. The concept, as expressed in Robert Wells and David Holt's 1954 title song, was the offering of advice to females, much of it, as it happened, written by men. The heart of the album was three Rodgers & Hammerstein classics: "A Fellow Needs a Girl" from Allegro, "What's the Use of Wond'rin'" from Carousel, and "Something Wonderful" from The King and I. All counseled patience and fidelity in the face of male failings. Elsewhere, things alternated between the dire (Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo") and the cheery ("When You're Smiling"). Day brought her usual measured conviction and precise phrasing to every song, whether it was a classic or, especially toward the end of the disc, a mediocre obscurity. As the acceptable roles of women changed over the years, the album dated to the point of being embarrassing, but audiences didn't respond to it at first, either. It was another commercial failure from an artist audiences were more than happy to watch on the big screen, but increasingly indifferent toward on the hi-fi. ~ William Ruhlmann

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