I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)

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"I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)"
Single by Donald Fagen
from the album The Nightfly
B-side "Walk Between Raindrops"
Released September 1982
Format 7"
Genre R&B, jazz-rock
Length 6:03 (album)
4:56 (single)
Label Warner - 29900
Writer(s) Donald Fagen
Producer(s) Gary Katz
Donald Fagen singles chronology
"I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)"
"New Frontier"

"I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)" is a song written and performed by American songwriter, singer and musician Donald Fagen. It was the first track of his debut solo album The Nightfly, and was released in September 1982 as its first single, charting on the Billboard Hot 100, Mainstream Rock, R&B Singles and Adult Contemporary charts.


Fagen, along with musician Walter Becker, led the rock band Steely Dan during the 1970s. Between 1972 and 1981, Steely Dan had ten Top-40 singles, including the top-ten hits "Do It Again" (1972), "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" (1974) and "Hey Nineteen" (1980).[1]:600 In 1981, Becker and Fagen parted ways. Fagen's first album as a solo artist, The Nightfly, was released the next year.[2]


Title and lyrics[edit]

The "I.G.Y." of the title refers to the "International Geophysical Year", an event that ran from July 1957 to December 1958.[1]:217 The I.G.Y. was an international scientific project promoting collaboration among the world's scientists. Fagen's lyrics reference, from the point of view of that time, an optimistic vision of futuristic concepts such as solar-powered cities, a transatlantic tunnel, permanent space stations,[3] and spandex jackets.

Chart performance and cover versions[edit]

"I.G.Y." debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 9, 1982 at number 56. It reached the top 40 on October 30 and eventually peaked at number 26 on November 27, 1982.[4][1]:217 It also reached number 8 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, number 17 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, and number 54 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart. It was Fagen's only solo Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[5] It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1983,[6] losing to "Always on My Mind".[7]

"I.G.Y." has been covered by artists such as British singer and musician Howard Jones, who included a version on his 1993 greatest hits album The Best of Howard Jones.[8]

The gospel a cappella group Take 6 covered "I.G.Y." as the title track on their 2002 release Beautiful World. The lyrics of Fagen's original song were modified to recast the song with a gospel message.[9]

In 2004, Marcia Hines recorded a version for her album Hinesight.

The song was also used in a scene from the Simpsons episode "Future Drama" where Homer and Bart are flying around in the 'imperfect Hovercar.'


  1. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (8th Edition). Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7499-4. 
  2. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Steely Dan biography". allmusic. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  3. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Song review: Donald Fagen: I.G.Y.". allmusic. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  4. ^ https://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100/1982-11-27
  5. ^ "Donald Fagen: Billboard Singles". allmusic. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  6. ^ Hilburn, Robert (February 21, 1983). "Grammys could gain needed respectability by honoring Nelson". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Johnny Christopher Grammy awards". allmusic. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  8. ^ DeGagne, Mike. "The Best of Howard Jones". allmusic. Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  9. ^ Edelstein, Paula. "Beautiful World - Take 6". allmusic. Retrieved March 28, 2011.