Is it too late to ask? Or too early? Or…

“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” by Frank Loesser, sung by Barbra Streisand:

Video posted by ChristmasCottage’s channel

According to the Songfacts blog, this is the second most popular song for the end of the year, and it is “the kind of ballad that is usually sung in a melancholy tone because the singer instinctively knows the answer (you’re probably busy).” Fits.

So let’s undercut the melancholy with this playful version sung by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt:

Video by HelloGiggles/Zooey Deschanel

Maybe it’s that they’re clearly having so much fun, or maybe it’s that it’s a duet, but one way or another, that doesn’t sound sad or wistful to me at all–they sound like the answer they’re expecting is, “Spending it with you, you idiot!”

Deschanel is wrong about one thing, though–the original isn’t by Nancy Wilson, whose recording of the song came out in 1965. The song was written by Frank Loesser (about whom I have already written this year) in 1947 as an independent song,

(Which leads me to believe that Gordon-Levitt has a penchant for Loesser’s music–which is not a complaint, just an observation!)

and it was first recorded by The Orioles a couple of years later.

So let’s have a little more about Loesser. In addition to the two Tonys for Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed, he won a Pulitzer for How To Succeed and picked up another two Tony nominations along the line; and in addition to the Oscar for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” he picked up another 4 Oscar nominations for Best Original Song, including one for “Thumbelina” from Hans Christian Anderson, for which he wrote the score.

Video posted by GrownUpKidsChannel

Nevertheless, the members of his immediate family were far more annoyed than pleased with Frank’s success–his father was a piano teacher and his older brother was a well-known pianist and music critic, and they were, as Loesser’s daughter put it, “very snobbish German lovers of classical music. They thought that popular music was trash.” But, she hastened to add, they loved him anyway, and he them. They just didn’t think much of his career–but how lucky we are that he chose to go his own way!