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"Sh-Boom (Life Could Be a Dream)"
Single by The Chords
Released 1954
Recorded 1954
Genre Vocal Pop, doo-wop, R&B, traditional pop music
Length 2:33
Label Cat Records
Writer(s) James Keyes, Claude Feaster & Carl Feaster, Floyd F. McRae, and James Edwards

"Sh-Boom" (sometimes referred to as "Life Could Be a Dream") is an early doo-wop song. It was written by James Keyes, Claude Feaster, Carl Feaster, Floyd F. McRae, and James Edwards, members of the R&B vocal group The Chords and published in 1954. It was a U.S. top ten hit that year for both The Chords (who first recorded the song) and The Crew-Cuts.[1]


The song was first recorded on Atlantic Records' subsidiary label Cat Records by The Chords on March 15, 1954[2] and would be their only hit song. "Sh-Boom" reached #2 on the Billboard R&B charts and peaked at #9 on the pop charts.[3] It is sometimes considered to be the first doo-wop or rock 'n' roll record to reach the top ten on the pop charts (as opposed to the R&B charts). This version was ranked #215 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is the group's only song on the list.

A more traditional version was made by The Crew-Cuts[4] for Mercury Records[5] and was #1 on the Billboard charts in for nine weeks during August and September 1954. The single first entered the charts on July 30, 1954 and stayed for 20 weeks.[6] The Crew-Cuts performed the song on Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town on December 12, 1954. On the Cash Box magazine best-selling record charts, where both versions were combined, the song reached #1.

Other recordings[edit]

A recording by Ken Mackintosh and His Orchestra (Vocalists: The Mackpies) was made in London on April 7, 1954. It was released by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalog number B 10698. British Doo-Wop revivalists Darts recorded "Sh-Boom" in the late 1970s, this time at a slower tempo. It was released as the B-side of the band's last charting single, reaching #48 in the UK charts in 1980.

The record for most recordings of "Sh-Boom" by a single group probably belongs to the Harvard Din & Tonics, an a cappella men's singing group that has featured the song on 12 of their 13 albums.[7] Their 1979 Crew-Cuts-style arrangement was so popular that the group began performing "Sh-Boom" as their signature song at all their concerts, bringing all their alumni onstage to perform it across the United States and through ten world tours.

The Fleetwoods released a cover version of the song. Children's entertainers Sharon, Lois & Bram covered the song on their 1995 album release titled Let's Dance!. Watkin Tudor Jones covered the song on his 2001 album, Memoirs Of A Clone. British doo-wop act The Overtones covered the song on their 2010 album Good Ol' Fashioned Love.

In the 1980's a parody of the song entitled "Dubuque" was featured in the Dubuque ham TV commercial, a midwestern-based meat packing company.

In popular culture[edit]

The song has appeared in the movie Clue (alternate recording only), Happy Days (alternate recording only), Liberty Heights (1999), The Sum of Us (1994), Cry-Baby featuring Johnny Depp (1990), Two of Us (2000), Road House (1989), and the mini-series Lipstick on Your Collar (1993). It was briefly featured in the HBO mini-series From the Earth To The Moon (1998) and the movie Hearts in Atlantis (2001). The Trevor Horn Orchestra covered the song for the Mona Lisa Smile (2003) soundtrack. Pixar's Cars used a long recording of the song (2006), and Disney California Adventure Park prominently incorporated it into the nightly neon lighting ceremony in the new Cars Land.[8] It is heard in the 2011 film Dolphin Tale.

A remixed version is featured in the video game Destroy All Humans!. New York television personality Clay Cole wrote about the early years of rock 'n' roll and live television in his memoirs, Sh-Boom! The Explosion of Rock 'n' Roll (1953–1968) published by Morgan James Books. "Sh-Boom" was parodied by Stan Freberg. Another parody, as a singing Lucky Strike cigarette commercial by the Sportsmen Quartet, appeared on the October 31, 1954, Jack Benny radio show. Comic Ronnie Golden wrote a parody, "Shoe Bomb," on the subject of the British terrorist Richard Reid. The song appeared in the video game Mafia 2 (2010).

Preceded by
Little Things Mean a Lot
Cashbox best-selling record chart
No. 1 record

August 7, 1954 – September 18, 1954
Succeeded by
Hey There


  1. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 4 - The Tribal Drum: The rise of rhythm and blues. [Part 2]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. 
  2. ^ Cat catalogue # 104, "B" Side: Cross Over The Bridge on the first issue, on the later issues the "B" Side is Little Maiden.
  3. ^ Joel Whitburn: Top Pop Records 1940-1955. Menomonee Falls/Wisconsin: Record Research, 1973, p. 12
  4. ^ with the David Carroll Orchestra
  5. ^ Mercury catalogue # 70404; "B" side: I Spoke Too Soon
  6. ^ Joel Whitburn: Top Pop Records 1940-1955. Menomonee Falls/Wisconsin: Record Research, 1973, p. 16
  7. ^ Harvard Din and Tonics History Retrieved 09-25-11
  8. ^ [1] Retrieved 06-20-2012