December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)

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"December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)"
December 1963 oh what a night.JPG
Single by The Four Seasons
from the album Who Loves You
B-side "Slip Away"
Released December 1975
Format 7"
Recorded November 1975
Genre Dance-rock, disco
Length 3:36
3:20 (single version)
Label Warner / Curb
Writer(s) Bob Gaudio, Judy Parker
Producer(s) Bob Gaudio
Certification RIAA gold
The Four Seasons singles chronology
"Who Loves You"
(1975)
"December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)"
(1975)
"Silver Star"
(1976)

"December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" is a song by the Four Seasons, written by original Four Seasons keyboard player Bob Gaudio and his future wife Judy Parker, produced by Gaudio, and included on the group's album, Who Loves You (1975).

The song features drummer Gerry Polci on lead vocals, with the usual lead Frankie Valli singing the bridge sections and backing vocals, and bass player Don Ciccone (former lead singer of The Critters) singing the falsetto part (And I felt a rush like a rolling bolt of thunder / Spinning my head around and taking my body under).

Song origins[edit]

According to the co-writer and longtime group member Bob Gaudio, the song was originally set in 1933 with the title "December 5th, 1933," and celebrated the repeal of Prohibition,[1] but the lyrics were changed at the urgings of Frankie Valli and lyricist Parker to reposition the song as a nostalgic remembrance of a young man's first affair with a woman, and, more specifically, Gaudio's courtship with his wife, Judy Parker.[2]

Composition[edit]

The song is an up-tempo, piano-led dance song with a distinct and easily recognizable opening drum and then piano riff. It is written in 4/4 and in the key of D-flat major.

1975 release[edit]

The single was released in December 1975 and hit number one on the UK Singles Chart on February 21, 1976.[3] It repeated the feat on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on March 13, 1976, remaining in the top spot for three weeks and one week on Cash Box. Billboard ranked it as the No. 4 song for 1976. On April 10 the same year, it topped the RPM National Top Singles Chart in Canada.[4] Drummer Gerry Polci sang lead with bassist Don Ciccone and long-time frontman Frankie Valli singing the bridge and refrain. It was the Four Seasons' final song, as a group, to reach number one. (Valli would have one final chart-topper as a solo act in 1978 with the theme song to the film Grease.)

1988 and 1993 remixes[edit]

In both 1988 and 1993, Dutch DJ and producer Ben Liebrand remixed the song and rereleased it as a single.[5][6] The 1993 rerelease spent 27 weeks on the Hot 100 (matching the chart life of the original 1975 single). The peak position of the 1993 remix version was #14. Adding together the two 27-week chart runs for the 1975 original single and the 1993 remix version (for a combined total of 54 weeks, two more weeks than a full year) gave the song the longest tenure ever on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart up to that time. The tenure has since been surpassed many times.[7]

Music video[edit]

A music video was produced to accompany the original 1975 release.[8] The video used the edited single version, which had a Phaser effect during Frankie's vocals, not heard on any other version of the song.

Charts[edit]

Peak positions[edit]

Chart (1976) Peak
position
Canada 1
United Kingdom 1
USA 1
New Zealand 2
Australia 3
Belgium 3
Netherlands 3
Norway 6
Sweden 11
Germany 16
Ireland 18
Chart (1994) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 14

End of year charts[edit]

End of year chart (1976) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[9] 4
End of year chart (1994) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[10] 89

Cover versions[edit]

(Chronological)

  • The Fatback Band recorded a cover of the song for the closing track of their LP Night Fever (1976).
  • Change recorded a cover of the song on their third album Sharing Your Love (1982) and released it as a single.
  • In 1995 the Mexican banda group Banda Vallarta Show recorded a Spanish version called Diciembre del '63 for their last album La Fiesta.
  • In 1996, British dance duo Clock took it to #13 in the UK chart.[citation needed]
  • Singer Vitamin C released her own version of the song in the 1999 which heavily sampled instrumentation and vocals—including those of Valli—from the original song and removed most of the original lyrics. This version was used as a brand image theme by the American television network The WB in image spots, promos, and interstitials during the 2000-01 television season.
  • Slovene singer Tomaž Domicelj covered the song on his album Na planini je živel; his version was titled "Jamajka" ("Jamaica"). Whether it is a cover of the original song or Claude François' is unclear.[citation needed]
  • Mr. Vegas (together with singer Jackie) did a cover of this song which was featured on his album Damn Right (2001).
  • Wyclef Jean produced a hip-hop version of this song, titled "What a Night", about his journey as a hip-hop artist, released on the album Masquerade (June 18, 2002).
  • In 2006 Cam'ron sampled the song on a track called "Oh What A Night"... The full version was finally released in 2007 but never made a release album due to sample clearance issues.
  • John Barrowman covered this song, which was featured on his album John Barrowman (2010).
  • In 2011, Football song parodist James Daly wrote a reworded version of this in reaction to Crystal Palace's 3-1 victory over fierce rivals Brighton and Hove Albion.[citation needed]
  • In 2012, Ball Park Music covered the song during their set at Splendour in the Grass.
  • In the 2014 film Jersey Boys, the cast sings the song during the closing credits.

French version as "Cette année-là"[edit]

  • French singer Claude François covered the song on his album Le Vagabond (1976); his version was titled "Cette année-là" ("That Year"). Incorporating new lyrics reminiscing François' own beginnings in show business in 1962, the song became a hit in Europe.[11]
  • In 2000, rapper Yannick produced another French version, titled "Ces soirées-là" ("Those Nights"), based on Claude François' song. It peaked at #1 in France and Belgium. The lyrics recount the fun had at a certain night club. This rap is featured at the beginning of the Broadway musical Jersey Boys.
  • In 1998, Thomas Bangalter, of house music duo Daft Punk fame, sampled the bridge from Claude François' version of the song in his track "Colossus".
  • In 2003, singers of musical Belles belles belles covered Claude François' song.
  • In 2016, the French singer M. Pokora released a remake of the French language version originally done by Claude François in 1976. Pokora's version known as "Cette année-là (2016)" charted on SNEP, the official French Singles Chart peaking at number 7.[12]

Contemporary usage[edit]

Advertising and promotion[edit]

  • The song was parodied in the British TV advert for Vitalite from 1995 to 2001.
  • The song was used in promos for The WB from the 2000-01 season.

Favorites[edit]

  • In March 2012, U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney listed "December 1963" as one of his favorite songs.[13]

Inspirations[edit]

  • The members of the jam band Phish have described this Four Seasons hit as the musical inspiration for their song "Weekapaug Groove", with which it shares a distinctive guitar and vocal riff.

Television[edit]

  • The song was played at John Watson and Mary Morstan's wedding reception in the BBC drama Sherlock (Episode 2, Season 3), in 2014.

Podcasts[edit]

Sport[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "December 1963 (Oh What a Night)". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  2. ^ "Gaudio put words in Valli's mouth". Sun-setinel.com. Retrieved 2014-12-16. 
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 323. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  5. ^ "Frankie Valli & Four Seasons, The - December 1963 (Oh, What A Night) (Ben Liebrand Re-mix) (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  6. ^ "Four Seasons, The - December 1963 (Oh, What A Night) (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  7. ^ Billboard.com review of album "Oh, What a Night"[dead link]
  8. ^ "The Four Seasons - December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  9. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1976". Longboredsurfer.com. Retrieved 2010-09-11. 
  10. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1994". Longboredsurfer.com. Archived from the original on 2009-03-01. Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  11. ^ "François". Rfimusique.com. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  12. ^ Steffen Hung. "M. Pokora - Cette année-là". Lescharts.com. Retrieved 2016-10-10. 
  13. ^ "Mitt Romney names the greatest tunes of all time". Politico. March 2012. 
Preceded by
"Forever and Ever" by Slik
UK number-one single
February 21, 1976 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"I Love to Love (But My Baby Loves to Dance)" by Tina Charles
Preceded by
"Love Machine" by The Miracles
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
March 13, 1976 - March 27, 1976 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"Disco Lady" by Johnnie Taylor
Preceded by
"All by Myself" by Eric Carmen
Cash Box Top 100 singles
March 20, 1976 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright
Preceded by
"Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright
RPM number-one single (Canada)
April 10, 1976 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Lonely Night (Angel Face)" by Captain and Tennille