December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)

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"December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)"
Single by The Four Seasons
from the album Who Loves You
B-side "Slip Away"
Released December 1975
Format 7"
Recorded November 1975
Genre Dance-rock, disco
Length 3:36
3:20 (single version)
Label Warner / Curb
Writer(s) Bob Gaudio, Judy Parker
Producer(s) Bob Gaudio
Certification RIAA gold
The Four Seasons singles chronology
"Who Loves You"
(1975)
"December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)"
(1975)
"Silver Star"
(1976)

"December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" is a hit single by The Four Seasons, written by original Four Seasons keyboard player Bob Gaudio and his future wife Judy Parker, produced by Gaudio, and included on the group's 1975 album, Who Loves You.

The song features drummer Gerry Polci on lead vocals, with usual lead Frankie Valli singing the bridge sections and backing vocals.

Song origins[edit]

The song was originally about the repeal of Prohibition with the title of "December 5th, 1933,"[1] but the lyrics were changed at the urgings of Frankie Valli and lyricist Parker. The song became a nostalgic remembrance of a young man's first affair with a woman.

Composition[edit]

The song is an up-tempo, piano-led dance song with a distinct and easily recognizable opening drum and then piano riff. It is written in 4/4 and in the key of D-flat major.

1975 release[edit]

The single was released in December 1975 and hit number one on the UK Singles Chart on February 21, 1976.[2] It repeated the feat on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on March 13, 1976, remaining in the top spot for three weeks and one week on Cash Box. On April 10th of the same year, it topped the RPM National Top Singles Chart in Canada.[3] New drummer Gerry Polci and bassist Don Ciccone shared lead vocals with long-time frontman Frankie Valli.

1988 and 1993 remixes[edit]

In both 1988 and 1993, the song was remixed by Dutch deejay and producer Ben Liebrand and rereleased as a single.[4][5] The 1993 rerelease spent 27 weeks on the Hot 100 (matching the chart life of the original 1975 single). The peak position of the 1993 remix version was #14. Adding together the two 27-week chart runs for the 1975 original single and the 1993 remix version (for a combined total of 54 weeks, two more weeks than a full year) gave the song the longest tenure ever on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart up to that time. The tenure has since been surpassed many times.[6]

Music video[edit]

A music video was produced to accompany the original 1975 release.[7]

Charts[edit]

Peak positions[edit]

Chart (1976) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles Chart 1
Chart (1994) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 14

End of year charts[edit]

End of year chart (1976) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[8] 4
End of year chart (1994) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[9] 89

Cover versions[edit]

  • French singer Claude François covered the song on his album Le Vagabond[10] in 1975; his version was titled "Cette année-là" ("That Year"). Incorporating new lyrics reminiscing François' own beginnings in show business in 1962, the song became a hit in Europe.
  • Another French version, titled "Ces soirées-là" ("Those Nights"), was produced by Yannick in 2000. It was based on Claude François' song. It peaked at #1 in France and Belgium. The lyrics recount the fun had at a certain night club. This rap is featured at the beginning of the Broadway musical Jersey Boys.
  • Slovene singer Tomaž Domicelj covered the song on his album Na planini je živel; his version was titled "Jamajka" ("Jamaica"). Whether it is a cover of the original song or Claude François' is unclear.
  • The Fatback Band recorded a cover of the song for the closing track of their 1976 LP "Night Fever".
  • Change recorded a cover of the on their third album Sharing Your Love (1982) and released it as a single.
  • In 1996, British dance duo Clock took it to #13 in the UK chart.
  • Singer Vitamin C released her own version of the song in the late-1990s, which heavily sampled instrumentation and vocals—including those of Valli—from the original song, and removed most of the original lyrics. This version was used as a brand image theme by the American television network The WB in image spots, promos, and interstitials during the 2000-01 television season.
  • Wyclef Jean has done a hip-hop version of this song, titled "What a Night", about his journey as a hip-hop artist, released on the album Masquerade.
  • In 2001, Mr. Vegas (together with singer Jackie) did a cover of this song which was featured on his album Damn Right.
  • In 1998, Thomas Bangalter of house music duo Daft Punk fame sampled the bridge from the Claude François version of the song in his track "Colossus".
  • In 2006 Cam'ron sampled the song on a track called "Oh What A Night"... The full version was finally released in 2007 but never made a release album due to sample clearance issues.
  • In 2010, John Barrowman did a cover of this song which was featured on his album John Barrowman
  • In 2011, Football song parodist James Daly wrote a reworded version of this in reaction to Crystal Palace's 3-1 victory over fierce rivals Brighton and Hove Albion
  • In 2012, Ball Park Music covered the song during their set at Splendour in the Grass.

Contemporary usage[edit]

  • The song was parodied in the British TV advert for Vitalite from 1995 to 2001.
  • The song was used in promos for The WB from the 2000-01 season.
  • US Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney mentioned this song among his top 10 songs of all time in March 2012.[11]
  • The song was played at John Watson and Mary Morstan's wedding reception in the BBC drama Sherlock (second episode, third season) in 2014.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "December 1963 (Oh What a Night)". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 323. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  4. ^ "Frankie Valli & Four Seasons, The - December 1963 (Oh, What A Night) (Ben Liebrand Re-mix) (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  5. ^ "Four Seasons, The - December 1963 (Oh, What A Night) (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  6. ^ Billboard.com review of album "Oh, What a Night"[dead link]
  7. ^ "The Four Seasons - December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  8. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1976". Retrieved 2010-09-11. 
  9. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1994". Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  10. ^ "François". Rfimusique.com. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  11. ^ "Mitt Romney names the greatest tunes of all time". Politico. March 2012. 
Preceded by
"Forever and Ever" by Slik
UK number-one single
February 21, 1976 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"I Love to Love (But My Baby Loves to Dance)" by Tina Charles
Preceded by
"Love Machine" by The Miracles
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
March 13, 1976 - March 27, 1976
Succeeded by
"Disco Lady" by Johnnie Taylor
Preceded by
"All by Myself" by Eric Carmen
Cash Box Top 100 singles
March 20, 1976
Succeeded by
"Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright
Preceded by
"Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright
RPM number-one single (Canada)
April 10, 1976
Succeeded by
"Lonely Night (Angel Face)" by Captain and Tennille