I heard it in the couple movies and podcasts, and was able to trace it to the Cole Porter song "You Do Something to Me" from 1929. I think it's where it came from, but I just want to be sure. Also, how popular it is among native speakers/Americans, and what group of people using it the most? Age, race, gender, type of a person if possible.

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    You're right that Cole Porter wrote the song in 1929, but it obviously didn't catch on for a long time. The earliest instance of that voodoo that you do in Google Books is 1954, and it doesn't turn up again for another 10 years. Realistically though, I'd say it's known to many, but actually used by very few. Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 19:14

6 Answers 6


It was created by Cole Porter, a songwriter who was known particularly for his exceptionally clever and inventive wordplay. This phrase is just one example.

It is not, however, a commonly used phrase. I find that references to it really are only making allusions to the original source. It isn't in common speech at all. It is and was just a clever line from a lovely song.

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    Given how long ago it was actually "coined", it was effectively hopelessly passé long before it even became well-known. Besides which, to me at least, this particular form of words sounds even more "nerdy" today than The Force is strong with this one. But I guess that doesn't really matter, since it's unlikely to be used in anything other than a facetious manner. Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 20:42
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    Interesting. I had the impression that this phrase is more common, for example among the old people, trying to be charming and young hipsters, who using it ironically :) Thank you for the answer. Commented Sep 29, 2013 at 6:40

The phrase "do that voodoo that you do so well" has been used in two films other than the films that the song has appeared in. Most know it was spoken by Harvey Korman in the movie "Blazing Saddles", but it was also spoken by Col. Sherman Potter in the "MAS*H series, Season 8/Episode 24, "Back Pay", March, 1980, six years after Blazing Saddles was released.

Blazing Saddles. For the Mash Episode, the script is here.

  • Can you support your answer with links and sources? Answers without them usually get dismissed, by people who visit this post, for have no backup or proof that the statements are true.
    – Hank
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 14:07
  • I added sources. For the MASH episode, I didn't have the patience to read through the entire script to find the phrase, so I can't vouch for it.
    – ab2
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 22:04
  • MASH episode: "Wu, do that voodoo that you do so well." (@ab2 use Ctrl+F and type "voodoo")
    – Mazura
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 2:05

Let's not lose sight of the underlying meaning. When she sings Youdoo voodoo youdoo, she is saying a few things aside from silly wordplay. She is hinting, strongly for the times, that she wants him to do more of the magic that he 'does' to her.

You do something to me = You turn me on.
Something that simply mystifies me = You turn me on.
You have the power to hypnotize me = You turn me on.
Let me live 'neath your spell = You turn me on, and the position suggested is not accidental.

For clarification, listen as Marlene Dietrich sings it.


I know this is an old answer and you probably don't care anymore, but while the expression is not exactly popular, I wouldn't say the expression is totally unused, either. Probably because of the movie Blazing Saddles, I think it is used occasionally by people - and neither ironically nor charmingly, but simply jovially. Google ngrams shows an increased usage starting around 2010, and clicking through shows it being used in several books. In some cases, they are references to the original song, but in other cases not. Here's an example from "Bombshell: A Novel" in 2013:

“Hell, I'll do whatever voodoo that you do, Nona."

It's fiction, but I think that's a pretty accurate example of how somebody might use it. I know I will use it occasionally just as a joking reference, because I know my audience will understand it because of the movie.


The song line has not just one "do" but two: "Do do that voodoo that you do so well." The wordplay is brilliant. First the use of the command "do" followed by the ordinary verb "do," and the rhyme with voodoo. It's one of the cleverest lines in all of songdom, and very very famous; it's so incredibly sad that so many of you didn't seem to know the song and had to research it. Suggest you listen to other Cole Porter songs too ("You're the Top," "Anything Goes," "Let's Do It," "Let's Misbehave," "Live and Let Live" just a few examples) and make them part of your body of knowledge. The reference in Blazing Saddles is simply to the song; it prompts the audience to laugh because presumably they know the song.

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    This is more of an analysis of the phrase and less of an answer to the question though.
    – Jim
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 0:14

A slight difference of phrasing, perhaps - but "that's the only voodoo I do" is a line spoken by Othello, in Shakespeare's play of c.1603! Othello, of course, being a character constantly referred to by his race.

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    It might improve the answer if you include a full citation for the quoted line. Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 9:43
  • This answer is nonsense. Othello says no such thing. Commented Nov 4, 2020 at 23:53

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