If You Wanna Be Happy

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"If You Wanna Be Happy"
Single by Jimmy Soul
B-side Don't Release Me
Released 1963
Format 7" vinyl
Genre Doo-wop
Length 2:14
Label S.P.Q.R./London Records
Writer(s) Joseph Royster
Carmella Guida
Frank Guida

"If You Wanna Be Happy" is a song recorded by Jimmy Soul, written by Joseph Royster, Carmella Guida and Frank Guida.


"If You Wanna Be Happy" is based on the song "Ugly Woman" by the Trinidadian calypsonian Roaring Lion recorded in 1934. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on May 18, 1963, as well as the R&B singles chart.[1] It was issued on Guida's S.P.Q.R. label and distributed by London Records, and in the United Kingdom on EMI's Stateside label.

The original single lists a running time of 2:14; some later releases are slightly longer due to a longer fade-out. The song was banned on many radio stations, due to the use of the words "Ugly Girl/ Woman." Towards the end of the song, a brief dialogue takes place between Soul and a backup singer, based on Bo Diddley's song "Say Man": "Say Man!!"/ "Hey baby"/ "I saw your wife the other day."/ "Yeah??"/ "Yeah, and she's ugly-y-y-y-y!!!"/ "Yeah, she's ugly, but she sure can cook, baby"./ "Yeah, alright."/ Soul's counterpoint melody in a falsetto is heard as the song fades out.

Popular culture[edit]

The song is featured in the films Clean and Sober (1988), Chances Are (1989), Mermaids (1990) and on the soundtrack of My Best Friend's Wedding (1997). The song, or possibly Roaring Lion's version, can also be heard in Tiger Bay (1959) sung by a group of street musicians at a wedding. It was also heard in the 2014 short film Rocky and Bullwinkle. The song has also been used as background music for the shock site Lemonparty.



  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 803. 
Preceded by
"I Will Follow Him" by Little Peggy March
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
May 18, 1963 – May 25, 1963
Succeeded by
"It's My Party" by Lesley Gore
Preceded by
"I Will Follow Him" by Little Peggy March
Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single
June 1, 1963
Succeeded by
"Another Saturday Night" by Sam Cooke