I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)

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"I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)" is a song from Walt Disney's 1967 film, The Jungle Book. The song was written by songwriters Robert and Richard Sherman and was sung by Louis Prima.[1]

Richard Sherman said he and his brother aimed for a jazz sound, with a Dixieland-like melody. The instrumentals were originally recorded by Prima—who also played the trumpet—and his band, Sam Butera & The Witnesses, but the music was replaced by one written by the film's composer, George Bruns, and orchestrated by Walter Sheets. The "scat dialogue" between Baloo and King Louie was the result of two recording sessions. Louis Prima recorded first, with the intent that Baloo—played in his recording by Butera—would simply repeat what Louie scatted, but Phil Harris decided not to imitate Prima's recording and made up his own. The song was released the same date as the motion picture itself.[2]

Cover versions[edit]

Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen released a single of "I Wanna Be Like You" (without an apostrophe in the title) in 1968 [3] and it also featured on their 1969 album King Of The Swingers.[4] Pinky and Perky recorded a version for their Film Parade album in 1970 and also released the song as a single. On the 1990 collection "Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films," the song appears on "Medley Two" as recorded by Los Lobos, who play the song occasionally in their live shows. On 4 May 1994 Phish performed a truly Phish-styled version at The Metropolis Concert Hall in Montreal, Quebec. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy did a cover of this song on the Swingers soundtrack, even though the song does not appear in the film. The band later released the song on their 1999 album, This Beautiful Life. Voodoo Glow Skulls recorded a ska version of the song for the 2002 Japanese-Exclusive album Dive into Disney. The Jungle Book 2, released in 2003, featured the band Smash Mouth playing the song during the end credits of the film; the song also appeared on the film's soundtrack. In the Australian version, Nikki Webster covers the song, which is also featured on her Best of album. A version by the Turnpike Cruisers appeared on the second Blood on the Cats LP. The 2005 album En Vivo by Gabriel Ríos contains a cover of the song. In 2007, a pop rock cover was recorded by the Jonas Brothers for Disneymania 5. Los Lobos recorded a version for the tribute album Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films; this version also appeared on the compilation album Just Another Band From East L.A.—A Collection. British pop singer Paolo Nutini performed "I Wanna Be Like You" at the 2007 Glastonbury Festival. On 23 October 2010 X Factor contestant, Katie Waissel pleased the judges with her surprise selection of the song. Craig David sang a cover of the song for an award ceremony in the U.K; the video is on YouTube. In November 2013 The Overtones recorded a cover of the song as a mix with The Bare Necessities for their album Saturday Night at the Movies. In the movie Ooh, it's Captain Esthersword, Baloo, King Louie, Esther and her Maths team sing it. Robbie Williams and Olly Murs' version appears on the movie's soundtrack. Lucy Woodward recorded a version which appears on her album Hooked!.

Robbie Williams version[edit]

"I Wanna Be Like You"
Song by Robbie Williams featuring Olly Murs from the album Swings Both Ways
Length 03:31
Producer Guy Chambers
Swings Both Ways track listing
"Go Gentle"
"I Wanna Be Like You"
"Swing Supreme"

"I Wanna Be Like You" was covered by British recording artist Robbie Williams featuring British recording artist Olly Murs for his tenth studio album Swings Both Ways (2013). Production of their rendition was handled by Guy Chambers. However, in the liner notes Robbie Williams incorrectly attributes the original to Phil Harris, and says how much he admires Harris (p. 4 of notes in Deluxe Edition).

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2013) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[5] 55
Germany (Official German Charts)[6] 85
Ireland (IRMA)[7] 64

Uses in popular culture[edit]

  • In 2009, "I Wanna Be Like You" was used in a British anti-smoking public information film. It showed children copying everything their parents did (for example, boys putting shaving cream on their faces, girls dressing up in their mothers' best clothes and both genders washing the car), and "I Wanna Be Like You" is playing throughout the advertisement, but it stops when a girl puts a crayon to her mouth in imitation of her mother smoking. It stops with the voiceover saying, "If you smoke, your children are more likely to."
  • The Robbie Williams/Olly Murs collaborative cover appears in season 3, episode 9 of United Kingdom television drama, Stella.
  • In 2015, "I wanna be like you" was featured in season 1, episode 7 of the Aquarius television drama.


  1. ^ The Jungle Book (1967)—Soundtracks from Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ Sherman, Richard. The Jungle Book audio commentary. The Jungle Book—Platinum Edition
  3. ^ Kenny Ball 45rpm Discography at www.45rpm.org.uk
  4. ^ Kenny Ball—King Of The Swingers (1969) at Discogs
  5. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Robbie Williams feat. Olly Murs – I wanna Be Like You" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  6. ^ "Officialcharts.de – Robbie Williams feat. Olly Murs – I wanna Be Like You". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Chart Track: Week 48, 2013". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 23 January 2014.