Islands in the Stream (song)

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"Islands in the Stream"
Single by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
from the album Eyes That See in the Dark
ReleasedAugust 15, 1983
RecordedMay 1983, Middle Ear Studios, Miami Beach
Lion Share Recording Studios and Ocean Way Recording, Los Angeles
GenreSoft rock,[1] country pop
LabelRCA Nashville
Songwriter(s)Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb
Kenny Rogers singles chronology
"You Were a Good Friend"
"Islands in the Stream"
"This Woman"
Dolly Parton singles chronology
"Potential New Boyfriend"
"Islands in the Stream"
"Save the Last Dance for Me"

"Islands in the Stream" is a song written and later recorded by the Bee Gees. It was sung by American country music artists Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. It was released in August 1983 as the first single from Rogers's album Eyes That See in the Dark. Named after the Ernest Hemingway novel, it was originally written for Marvin Gaye in an R&B style, only later to be changed for the Kenny Rogers album.[2]

The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, giving both Rogers and Parton their second pop number-one hit (after Rogers's "Lady" in 1980 and Parton's "9 to 5" in 1981). It also topped the Country and Adult Contemporary charts. It has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over two million physical copies in the US.[3] In 2005 the song topped CMT's poll of the best country duets of all time; Parton and Rogers reunited to perform the song on the CMT special.

Rogers and Parton went on to record a Christmas album together, and had an additional hit with their 1985 duet "Real Love"..

Due to licensing reasons, this song wasn't included in digital release of Eyes That See in the Dark from Capitol Records Nashville. Sony Music, the current owner of RCA Records, protected copyrights for this recording, and is digitally available only in various compilations from Sony Music, especially those of Dolly Parton.

Musical structure[edit]

The song is sung in C major moderate 4
, with Rogers and Parton alternating lead vocals. Their version features a key change from C major to A-flat major.[4]

Commercial performance[edit]

It knocked Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" out of No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, also topping the Country and Adult Contemporary listings. In December of that year, it was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over two million physical copies in the US.[3] After becoming available for digital download, it had sold a further 834,000 digital copies in the US, as of January 2019.[5]

In Australia, the song was number one for one week in December 1983 and became one of the highest selling singles of 1984.

The song reached a peak of No. 7 in the UK singles chart in 1983. As of July 2014, it had also sold 245,577 digital copies in the UK .[6] As of 2017, it had racked up 287,200 downloads and 4.83 million streams in the UK.[7]

In popular media[edit]

In April 2008, South Bend, Indiana, radio station WZOW played the song continuously for several days on end,[8] a stunt drawing attention to the station's format change from alternative rock to adult contemporary.

The song was used as a karaoke song in two season 2 episodes of ABC's The Good Doctor, "Islands Part One" and "Tough Titmouse".[9]

The song was used in the American Horror Story: Double Feature

Charts and certifications[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

  • Danish blues-rock singer Peter Thorup and pop singer Anne Grete Rendtorff had great success with a version with Danish lyrics in 1984 callet Skibe uden Sejl (Ships without Sails). The song was used as title track for the Danish TV series Måske i morgen (maybe tomorrow) shown on Danish national television DR.
  • The chorus of the 1998 hip-hop song "Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)" is an interpolation of the chorus of "Islands in the Stream".

Bee Gees' recorded version[edit]

"Islands in the Stream"
Song by Bee Gees
from the album Their Greatest Hits: The Record
Released20 November 2001
GenreRhythm and blues
Songwriter(s)Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
Producer(s)Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb

The Bee Gees performed their version live at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on 14 November 1997, which was released a year later on One Night Only, with solo vocal by Barry Gibb. A studio version was recorded for their 2001 retrospective Their Greatest Hits: The Record, which has since featured on the 2004 Number Ones and on the 2010 Mythology box set.[37] The chorus of Pras' 1998 hit "Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)", which in turn is a reworking of the original Rogers and Parton release, replaces the final chorus in the studio recording. The live version of the song appears on their Love Songs compilation.

Personnel (studio version)

Personnel (live version)


Comic Relief version[edit]

"(Barry) Islands in the Stream"
Single by Vanessa Jenkins, and Bryn West featuring Tom Jones and Robin Gibb
from the album Islands in the Stream
ReleasedMarch 8, 2009
GenreCountry, comedy
Songwriter(s)Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb
Producer(s)Hugh Padgham
Robin Gibb singles chronology
"Too Much Heaven"
"(Barry) Islands in the Stream"
"I've Gotta Get a Message to You"

On March 8, 2009, Welsh actors Ruth Jones and Rob Brydon, in character as Vanessa Jenkins and Bryn West from the hit BBC sitcom Gavin & Stacey, released a version of the song as a single for Comic Relief. Sir Tom Jones also features on the song, performing the final verse and chorus, whilst Robin Gibb appears on the single as a backing vocalist.

Re-titled "(Barry) Islands in the Stream", in reference to the Barry Island setting of Gavin & Stacey,[38] it entered at the top of the UK Singles Chart on March 15, 2009—for the week ending date March 21, 2009. This meant the Gibb Brothers had achieved number one songs in five successive decades, the first songwriters to achieve this feat. It also made Tom Jones, at the age of 68, the oldest person to have a UK number one song, until he was beaten in 2020 by Captain Tom Moore for his involvement in "You'll Never Walk Alone" at the age of 99.[39]

The video was filmed in Barry Island, Las Vegas and the Nevada desert, with both Gibb and Jones appearing in the video alongside Jones and Brydon. Nigel Lythgoe also makes a cameo appearance as a talent competition judge.

Track listing[edit]

  • CD single
  1. "(Barry) Islands in the Stream" – 3:56
  2. "Wisemen" – 3:14
  3. "Somethin' Stupid" – 2:48
  4. "Islands in the Stream" (music video) – 4:21
  • DVD single
  1. "(Barry) Islands in the Stream" (full-length video) – 8:56
  2. "(Barry) Islands in the Stream" (making of the video) – 14:30


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Peak
Scotland (OCC)[40] 1
UK Singles (OCC)[41] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[42] 108

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Robin Gibb, RIP: Hear the Bee Gee's Legacy in 15 Tracks". May 21, 2012.
  2. ^ Johnny Walker interview with Robin and Barry Gibb BBC Radio 2 30 August 2010 17:00
  3. ^ a b "American single certifications – Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream". Recording Industry Association of America.
  4. ^ "'Islands in the Stream' sheet music". May 4, 2015. Archived from the original on November 13, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  5. ^ Bjorke, Matt (January 15, 2019). "Top 30 Digital Singles: January 15, 2019". RoughStock. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  6. ^ "Country Bites News snippets June 30 - July 6, 2014". Country Routes News. July 13, 2014. Archived from the original on July 23, 2014.
  7. ^ "Happy Birthday Dolly Parton! Her most downloaded songs in the UK revealed". Archived from the original on March 22, 2017.
  8. ^ :Indiana Aiwaves: Archived July 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Caputo, Denise (January 10, 2018). "'The Good Doctor' Episode Recap - 'Islands Part One'". FanFest. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  10. ^ "Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  11. ^ Lwin, Nanda (2000). Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide (1st ed.). Canada: Music Data Research. ISBN 1-896594-13-1.
  12. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  13. ^ "Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream". Top 40 Singles.
  14. ^ "Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream". VG-lista.
  15. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  16. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  17. ^ "Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream". Singles Top 100.
  18. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  19. ^ "Kenny Rogers Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  20. ^ "Kenny Rogers Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  21. ^ "Kenny Rogers Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  22. ^ " – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved April 30, 2020.
  23. ^ David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992" Archived March 5, 2016, at
  24. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada".
  25. ^ "The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  26. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1983". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
  27. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 436. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  28. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1984". Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  29. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1984/Top 100 Songs of 1984". Archived from the original on May 30, 2016.
  30. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  31. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2020 Singles" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  32. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream". Music Canada. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  33. ^ "Danish single certifications – Kenny Rogers feat. Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
  34. ^ "British single certifications – Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers – Islands in the Stream". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 20, 2019.Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Islands in the Stream in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  35. ^ "American single certifications – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  36. ^ "Gold & Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  37. ^ "Gibb Songs : 2001". Archived from the original on December 4, 2013.
  38. ^ "What's On". Archived from the original on February 20, 2012.
  39. ^ "Captain Tom Moore claims Number 1 victory on the Official Chart". Official Charts Company. April 24, 2020. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  40. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  41. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  42. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart 2009" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved July 10, 2018.

External links[edit]