Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive
"Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" is a popular song which was published in 1944. The music was written by Harold Arlen and the lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The song was nominated for the "Academy Award for Best Original Song" at the 18th Academy Awards in 1945 after being used in the film "Here Come the Waves". It is sung in the style of a sermon, and explains that accentuating the positive is key to happiness. In describing his inspiration for the lyric, Mercer told the Pop Chronicles radio documentary "[my] publicity agent ... went to hear Father Divine and he had a sermon and his subject was 'you got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.' And I said 'Wow, that's a colorful phrase!'"
Mercer recorded the song, with The Pied Pipers and Paul Weston's orchestra, on October 4, 1944, and it was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 180. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on January 4, 1945 and lasted 13 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 2. The song was number five on Billboard's Annual High School Survey in 1945.
On March 25, 2015, it was announced that Mercer's version will be inducted into the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry for the song's "cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation’s audio legacy".
Within a matter of weeks, several other recordings of the song were released by other well-known artists:
- Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters made a recording on December 8, 1944 with Vic Schoen and his Orchestra, which was released by Decca Records as catalog number 23379. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on January 25, 1945 and lasted nine weeks on the chart, peaking at number 2.
- Kay Kyser made a recording on December 21, 1944, with Dolly Mitchell and a vocal trio. This was released by Columbia as catalog number 36771.
- Dinah Washington recorded the song with Lionel Hampton on live broadcast on March 8, 1945.
- A recording by Artie Shaw was released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-1612. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on January 25, 1945 and lasted five weeks on the chart, peaking at number 5.
Connie Francis added the song in 1960 to her "Swinging Medley" (sometimes also referred to as "Gospel Medley"), where she combined it with three other songs: "Yes, indeed", "Amen", and "Lonesome Road". Three versions of this medley were recorded on different occasions in 1960. The first recording was broadcast in a mock-live radio show of National Guard Radio early that year. The two other recordings were intended for release on Francis's label MGM Records but remained unreleased until 1996 on Bear Family Records.
The song was included by Roy Hamilton on his 1960 album Come Out Swingin'. Ella Fitzgerald included the song on her 1961 double album "Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Harold Arlen Songbook" on Verve Records.
The song has twice been recorded by Perry Como: once on February 19, 1958 and later in July, 1980. Both were primarily made for albums. Neither version was released as a single in the United States, though the 1958 version was released in Germany by RCA as a single (catalog number 47-9243-A).
Aretha Franklin recorded it for The Electrifying Aretha Franklin album for Columbia Records in 1962, and it features in her many re-releases on that label. Soul great Sam Cooke recorded it for his Encore album.
John Boutte of New Orleans also released a version of this song.
Singer Al Jarreau released a version of this song on his 2004 album, Accentuate the Positive.
The song has been used for many years as the theme for the television program Faithville, in a version by the Spitfire Band.
Billy Gorilly released a recording of the song as a single in January 2012. This version was used as the soundtrack for the animated children's cartoon music video released in October 2012.
In popular culture
- The song was written for Here Come the Waves (1944), starring Bing Crosby and Betty Hutton and directed by Mark Sandrich.
- Dean Martin and Leslie Uggams performed the song on The Dean Martin Show, episode 0718, originally aired January 12, 1967.
- The Bing Crosby/Andrews Sisters recording of the song appears in the 1986 BBC serial The Singing Detective.
- The song was used in the 1991 film Bugsy.
- The song was used in Coronation Street in 2010 as one of the songs played at Blanche Hunt's funeral.
- The song featured in the BBC TV Series Casualty on the 9th October 2010, involving Lenny Lyons and a patient with a brain tumour, who could hear the song in her head when she was about to have a seizure.
- The American cable television network The Family Channel (now Freeform) used a reworked version of this song as part of its on-air imaging in the early 1990s, to emphasize the station's "positive," family-friendly image.
- The song was covered by Dr. John for the 1992 movie The Mighty Ducks.
- The original Johnny Mercer recording of the song features in the 1997 American police drama L.A. Confidential
- The song appears in the final episode of time-travel television series Quantum Leap. It is also part of the soundtrack for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, where it is covered by Clint Eastwood.
- The Perry Como version was featured in the 1999 film Blast from the Past.
- As sung by Jack Sheldon, it was also the theme song for the U.S. TV series Homefront.
- It was also used in commercials for Australian health insurance provider HBF in the early 2000s, and UK gas and electricity provider npower in 2008.
- In April 2011, the first episode of the second season of Treme was called Accentuate the Positive, with several performances of this song.
- Stephen Colbert sang the song with Julie Andrews on the April 24, 2012 episode of The Colbert Report.
- The Bing Crosby & Andrews Sisters version features in the 1995 crime thriller Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead.
- Bethesda Softworks' 2015 video game, Fallout 4, features a clip of the song from a 1945 broadcast of Bing Crosby's Kraft Music Hall with John Scott Trotter and his orchestra.
- The last episode of the World War 2 sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart was titled "Accentuate the Positive" in a reference to this song.
- Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854. Tape 1, side B.
- MacKenzie, Bob (1972-10-29). "'40s Sounds Return to Radio" (PDF). Oakland Tribune. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-09. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
- Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940–1955. Record Research.
- Smith, Kathleen E.R. God Bless America: Tin Pan Alley Goes to War. The University Press of Kentucky. p. 167. ISBN 0-8131-2256-2.
- "National Recording Registry To "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive"". the Library of Congress. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
- "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive (cartoon video)". Flying Kitten Music / Kingman Publishing. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
- "Here Come the Waves (1944)". IMDb. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Music of Homefront". Homefrontondvd.com. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
- Macleod, Duncan (2005-09-26). "MBF Says Accentuate The Positive". The Inspiration Room Daily. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
- Macleod, Duncan (2005-09-27). "MBF Accentuate The Positive". Postkiwi Duncan Macleod. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
- "npower Residential – nPower Topsy Turvy". visit4info. 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
- "Music from Adverts & Commercials from UK TV". Song of the Salesman. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
- Walker, Dave (April 24, 2011). "'Treme' explained: 'Accentuate the Positive'". nola.com. Retrieved May 5, 2011.