Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive

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"Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive"
Single by Johnny Mercer and The Pied Pipers with Paul Weston Orchestra
B-side"There’s a Fellow Waiting in Poughkeepsie"
Released1944 (1944)
RecordedOctober 4, 1944

"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!'"[1][2]

Chart performance[edit]

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.[3] On the Harlem Hit Parade chart, it went to number four.[4] The song was number five on Billboard's Annual High School Survey in 1945.[5]

On March 25, 2015, it was announced that Mercer's version would 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".[6]

Other recordings[edit]

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.[3]
  • 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.[3]

A few months later, another version was recorded by Johnny Green in the United Kingdom on April 6, 1945, and released by Parlophone Records as catalog number F-2069.

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 Song Book 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 1962 album The Electrifying Aretha Franklin for Columbia Records, and it features in her many re-releases on that label.

Sam Cooke recorded it for his Encore album in 1958.

Dave Van Ronk covered this song on his 1971 album, Van Ronk.

A cover of the song was included by Susannah McCorkle on her 1993 album From Bessie to Brazil.

The American rock band NRBQ made another version of this song.

The Vindictives, a Chicago punk band, released a version on their 1999 album Hypno-Punko.

John Boutte of New Orleans also released a version of this song.[citation needed]

Kelly Hogan sings a version on Jon Rauhouse's Steel Guitar Air Show (2002).

Al Jarreau released a version of this song on his 2004 album Accentuate the Positive.[citation needed]

The song has been used for many years as the theme for the Christian children's television program Faithville, in a version by the Spitfire Band.

Cliff Richard recorded this song on his 2010 album Bold as Brass.

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.[7]

Paul McCartney covered it on his 2012 album Kisses on the Bottom.[8]

Jools Holland covered this on his 2012 album The Golden Age Of Song with Rumer on vocals.[citation needed]

Barry Manilow covered the song on his 2014 studio album Night Songs.

The British swing girl group The Puppini Sisters recorded and covered the song for their 5th studio album, The High Life.

A version by Peggy Lee recorded in the early 1950s on a radio program she hosted was released on the 2021 album Something Wonderful: Peggy Lee Sings the Great American Songbook.[9]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 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.
  2. ^ MacKenzie, Bob (October 29, 1972). "'40s Sounds Return to Radio" (PDF). Oakland Tribune. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 9, 2012. Retrieved April 3, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940–1955. Record Research.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 395.
  5. ^ Smith, Kathleen E.R. (March 28, 2003). God Bless America: Tin Pan Alley Goes to War. The University Press of Kentucky. p. 167. ISBN 0-8131-2256-2.
  6. ^ "National Recording Registry To "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive"". the Library of Congress. March 25, 2015. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  7. ^ "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive (cartoon video)". Flying Kitten Music / Kingman Publishing. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  8. ^ Kott, Crispin (February 6, 2012). "Paul McCartney: Kisses on the Bottom". PopMatters. Retrieved December 18, 2022.
  9. ^ Amorosi, A.D. (May 5, 2021). "Peggy Lee: Something Wonderful: Peggy Lee Sings the Great American Songbook (Omnivore)". JazzTimes. Retrieved December 8, 2022.
  10. ^ "Here Come the Waves (1944)". IMDb. Retrieved July 30, 2015.
  11. ^ "Original Soundtrack - Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil", AllMusic, retrieved December 18, 2022
  12. ^ "Music of Homefront". Archived from the original on July 12, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  13. ^ Macleod, Duncan (September 26, 2005). "MBF Says Accentuate The Positive". The Inspiration Room Daily. Retrieved April 3, 2009.
  14. ^ Macleod, Duncan (September 27, 2005). "MBF Accentuate The Positive". Postkiwi Duncan Macleod. Retrieved April 3, 2009.
  15. ^ "npower Residential – nPower Topsy Turvy". visit4info. January 30, 2008. Retrieved April 3, 2009.
  16. ^ "Music from Adverts & Commercials from UK TV". Song of the Salesman. Archived from the original on August 9, 2009. Retrieved April 3, 2009.
  17. ^ Walker, Dave (April 24, 2011). "'Treme' explained: 'Accentuate the Positive'". Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  18. ^ Rooney, David (January 4, 2023). "'M3GAN' Review: Allison Williams Tangles With a Rogue Robot in Fun AI Horror That's Equal Parts Campy and Creepy". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 28, 2023. That's before things get really gruesome at home, where she makes her presence known to Gemma with a few bars at the piano and later sings a chorus of Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive to a panicked Cady.