If You Wanna Be Happy

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"If You Wanna Be Happy"
Single by Jimmy Soul
from the album If You Wanna Be Happy
B-side"Don't Release Me"
Format7" vinyl
LabelS.P.Q.R./London Records
Songwriter(s)Joseph Royster
Carmella Guida
Frank Guida

"If You Wanna Be Happy" is a 1963 song recorded by Jimmy Soul, written by Joseph Royster, Carmella Guida and Frank Guida.


"If You Wanna Be Happy" is based on the song "Ugly Woman" by the Trinidadian calypsonian Roaring Lion recorded in 1934. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on May 18, 1963, as well as the R&B singles chart.[1] It was issued on Guida's S.P.Q.R. label and distributed by London Records, and in the United Kingdom on EMI's Stateside label.

The original single lists a running time of 2:14; some later releases are slightly longer due to a longer fade-out. The song was banned on many radio stations, due to the use of the words "Ugly Girl/ Woman." Towards the end of the song, a brief dialogue takes place between Soul and a backup singer, based on Bo Diddley's song "Say Man": "Say Man!!"/ "Hey baby"/ "I saw your wife the other day."/ "Yeah??"/ "Yeah, and she's ugly-y-y-y-y!!!"/ "Yeah, she's ugly, but she sure can cook, baby"./ "Yeah, alright."/ Soul's counterpoint melody in a falsetto is heard as the song fades out.

In popular culture[edit]

The song is featured in the films Clean and Sober (1988), Chances Are (1989), Mermaids (1990) Rocky and Bullwinkle (2014) and on the soundtrack of My Best Friend's Wedding (1997). The song, or possibly Roaring Lion's version, can also be heard in Tiger Bay (1959) sung by a group of street musicians at a wedding.

The famous shock site Lemonparty uses this song as its background music.


  • In the wake of the original version, Netherlands-based Surinamese singer Max Woiski Jr. recorded the song as "Want je bent nog niet gelukkig met een mooie vrouw".
  • Former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman released a version on his solo album Stone Alone, in 1976.
  • Joe Dolce released a version in 1981 as the follow-up to his international hit single "Shaddap You Face". It reached the top 40 in New Zealand and no. 7 in Austria.
  • The band Rocky Sharpe and the Replays released a cover version of the song in 1983.
  • Hong Kong singer George Lam covered this song in Cantonese in 1984. The song is called "丫嗚婆".
  • Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Racey, The Skatalites and Barnes & Barnes have also released cover versions of the song.
  • French singer Claude François recorded an adaptation of the song in French as "Si tu veux être heureux" (June, 1963).
  • Philadelphia group The Dovells recorded and released the song on a 12" split with The Orlons (1963).
  • Robert Mitchum did a version of the song on Calypso — Is Like So...! entitled "From a Logical Point of View" (1957).
  • The song was also sampled by Canadian synthpop group Kon Kan in the track "(Could've Said) I Told You So", taken from their second album Syntonic.
  • The song was parodied by the rap duo of Cash Money and Marvelous titled "Find An Ugly Woman" from the album Where's The Party At? (1988).


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 803.