Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

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"Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"
Single by Brian Hyland
from the album The Bashful Blond
Released June 1960
Genre Bubblegum pop
Length 2:19
Label Kapp Records
Writer(s) Paul Vance
Lee Pockriss
Brian Hyland singles chronology
"Rosemary"
(1959)
"Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"
(1960)
"Four Little Heels (The Clickety Clack Song)"
(1960)

"Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" is a novelty song telling the story of a shy girl wearing a revealing polka dot bikini at the beach. It was written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss and first released in June 1960 by Brian Hyland with orchestra conducted by John Dixon.

History and lyrics[edit]

Hyland's version hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 8, 1960[1] and also made the top 10 in other countries, including #8 on the UK Singles Chart.[2]

The story told through the three verses of the song is as follows: (1) the young lady is too afraid to leave the locker where she has changed into her bikini; (2) she has made it to the beach but sits on the sand wrapped in a blanket; and (3) she has finally gone into the ocean, but is too afraid to come out, and stays immersed in the water – despite the fact that she's "turning blue" – to hide herself from view.

Trudy Packer recited the phrases "One, two, three, four / Tell the people what she wore", heard at the end of each verse before the chorus; and "Stick around, we'll tell you more", heard after the first chorus and before the start of the second verse.[3]

Ownership controversy[edit]

In September 2006, the song's co-writer Paul Vance read his own mistaken obituary.[4] The obituary was of another man, Paul Van Valkenburgh, who claimed to have written the song under the name Paul Vance. The impostor explained his lack of royalty payments for the song by claiming that he'd sold the rights as a teenager. Vance, the song's true co-author, has earned several million dollars from the song since 1960, describing it as "a money machine."

Impact[edit]

At a time when bikini bathing suits were still seen as too risqué to be mainstream, the song prompted a sudden take off in bikini sales and is credited as being one of the earliest contributors to the acceptance of the suit in society. The early 1960s saw a slew of surf movies and other film and television productions that rapidly built on the song's momentum.[5]

In other media[edit]

The song was featured in the 1961 Billy Wilder film comedy One, Two, Three – in a key scene, the character Otto (Horst Buchholz), suspected of being a spy, is being tortured by East German police playing the song to him repetitively, eventually with the record off-center to create a weird howling variation of pitch. The actual recording was re-released in 1962 to capitalize on the film's success, but it did not rechart.

A faster version of the song appears on North American commercials for Yoplait Light yogurt in 2006.[6] The song is also used in a television commercial for the YWCA, and in films such as Sister Act 2 and Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise.

The song was also featured in the 1981 Aparna Sen film 36 Chowringhee Lane.

Cover versions and parodies[edit]

"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"
Single by Bombalurina with Timmy Mallett
from the album Huggin An'a Kissin'
Released 1990
Format CD single, cassette single
Genre Pop
Label Polydor Records /[Carpet Records
Producer(s) Timmy Mallet
Bombalurina with Timmy Mallett singles chronology
"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"
(1990)
"Seven Little Girls"
(1990)
"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Honolulu-Strand-Bikini"
Single by Die Roten Rosen
from the album Never Mind the Hosen, Here's Die Roten Rosen
Released 1987
Genre Punk rock
Length 1:54
Label Virgin Records
Writer(s) Paul Vance
Lee Pockriss
Club Honolulu
Die Roten Rosen singles chronology
"Das Altbier Lied"
(1986)
"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Honolulu-Strand-Bikini"
(1987)
"Im Wagen vor mir"
(1987)

There have been cover versions in many languages.

  • A French ("Itsy Bitsy Petit Bikini") and Italian version ("Pezzettini di bikini") by Dalida in 1960. French version reached no. 1 in France in 1960/1961.
  • Another French version of the song, by the French singer Richard Anthony titled "Itsy Bitsy Petit Bikini" in 1960. This version is used in the last shots and credits of the movie A Good Year.
  • German version with Club Honolulu (Caterina Valente & her brother Silvio Francesco) in 1960.
  • Ray Stevens, in 2012, covered the song on his 9-CD Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music project.
  • Mud recorded the cover version in 1982.
  • A Brazilian version, a little faithful to the original, titled "Biquíni de Bolinha Amarelinha Tão Pequenininho", (LP Ronnie Cord, Copacabana CLP 11.164, outubro de 1960) was a hit in 1960 when it was sung by Ronnie Cord,[8] and had some re-recordings, as Blitz's 1983 version.[9]
  • A Spanish version, titled "Bikini Amarillo", very faithful to the original, was an enormous hit for Mexican singer Manolo Muñoz in the 1960s.[citation needed]
  • A Finnish version, titled "Pikku pikku bikinissä" was sung by Pirkko Mannola in 1961.
  • A Serbian version was sung by Ljiljana Petrović in 1962, with the title "Bikini sa žutim tačkicama".
  • In 1983, the British group Echo & The Bunnymen composed and recorded the song "Do It Clean", released on Porcupine album, which lyric lines were inspired by the Hyland's hit: "Iszy bitzy witzy itzy everywhere / I've been here and I've been there".
  • In 1987, it was sung in Greek by Polina (Πωλίνα), with the title "Το ροζ μπικίνι" (English: "The Pink Bikini"), in her album "Πάμε για τρέλλες στις Σεϋχέλλες" ("Pame gia trelles stis Seychelles").
  • A Bulgarian version called "Tulip Themed Bathing Suit" ("Бански на лалета") sung by the children group Sparrows (Врабчета) contains kids-friendly comic lyrics. In the lyrics a girl falls in love with a boy impressed by his tulip themed swimming suit among other things.[10]
  • In Croatian, there is a cover by the group Trio Tividi, titled simply "Bikini".
  • With lyrics in Swedish by Karl-Lennart, Lill-Babs recorded the song.[11]
  • At the beginning of 2006 a parody of the song was used for a TV Easy magazine advert entitled "I need an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie TV Easy Magaziney".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of #1 Hits, 5th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 72.
  2. ^ "ChartArchive - The Chart Archive". Chartstats.com. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 297.
  4. ^ Leeds, Jeff (28 September 2006). "Itsy-Bitsy Bikini, Big Mistake: Paul Vance Is Alive and Well". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ James Rothaar, "Bikinis Exposed: Happy 60th Anniversary!" at the Wayback Machine, JustLuxé, LuxeMont, 2004
  6. ^ "Yoplait Light – Raft – Yellow Polka Dot Bikini". splendAd. 
  7. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 517–8. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  8. ^ "Muito mais que um site oficial". Jovem Guarda. 2007-01-11. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  9. ^ "Cliquemusic : Disco : RADIOATIVIDADE". Cliquemusic.uol.com.br. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  10. ^ Бански на лалета on YouTube
  11. ^ "Svensk mediedatabas". Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
Preceded by
"Tu t'laisses aller" by Charles Aznavour
French IFOP number-one single
(Dalida version)

November 7, 1960 - December 26, 1960 (eight weeks)
Succeeded by
"Itsy Bitsy Petit Bikini" by Richard Anthony
Preceded by
"I'm Sorry" by Brenda Lee
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
(Brian Hyland version)

August 8, 1960 (one week)
Succeeded by
"It's Now or Never" by Elvis Presley
Preceded by
"Turtle Power" by Partners in Kryme
UK Singles Chart number-one single
(Bombalurina with Timmy Mallett version)

August 19, 1990 - September 2, 1990 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"The Joker" by Steve Miller Band