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

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"I Wan'na Be like You" is a song from Walt Disney's 1967 film The Jungle Book. The song was written by songwriters Robert and Richard Sherman and was performed by Louis Prima.[1]

Richard Sherman said he and his brother aimed for a jazz sound, with a Dixieland-like melody. He added that "When we first got an idea for 'I Wan'na Be Like You,' we said an ape swings from a tree, and he's the king of apes. We'll make him 'the king of the swingers.' That's the idea, we'll make him a jazz man." Once Prima was invited to do the song, he mockingly responded to the Shermans with "You want to make a monkey out of me? You got me!" 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][3]

Cover versions[edit]

Robbie Williams version[edit]

"I Wanna Be like You"
Song by Robbie Williams featuring Olly Murs
from the album Swings Both Ways
Length 3:31
Producer(s) Guy Chambers
Swings Both Ways track listing
"Go Gentle"
"I Wanna Be like You"
"Swing Supreme"

"I Wan'na 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)[7] 55
Germany (Official German Charts)[8] 85
Ireland (IRMA)[9] 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 voice-over saying, "If you smoke, your children are more likely to."
  • The Robbie Williams/Olly Murs collaborative cover appears in season 3, episode 9 of the TV drama Stella.
  • In 2015, "I Wanna Be like You" was featured in season 1, episode 7 of the TV drama Aquarius.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Jungle Book (1967)—Soundtracks from Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ Sherman, Richard. The Jungle Book audio commentary. The Jungle Book—Platinum Edition
  3. ^ I Wan'na Be like You: Richard Sherman shares story behind writing famous Jungle Book song
  4. ^ Kenny Ball 45rpm Discography at www.45rpm.org.uk
  5. ^ Kenny Ball—King Of The Swingers (1969) at Discogs
  6. ^ Rebecca Keegan (April 15, 2016). "'Jungle Book' director Jon Favreau keeps the 19th century Kipling tone but updates the classic for modern times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Robbie Williams feat. Olly Murs – I wanna Be like You" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  8. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Robbie Williams feat. Olly Murs – I wanna Be like You". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  9. ^ "Chart Track: Week 48, 2013". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 23 January 2014.