Joy to the World (Three Dog Night song)

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"Joy to the World"
Joy to the World Three Dogs Night.jpg
1971 French release
Single by Three Dog Night
from the album Naturally
B-side "I Can Hear You Calling"
Released February 1971 (1971-02)[1]
Format 7" 45 RPM
Recorded 1970 at American Recording Co.
Genre Rock
Length 3:50 (album)
3:17 (single)
Label Dunhill
Songwriter(s) Hoyt Axton
Producer(s) Richard Podolor[1]
Three Dog Night singles chronology
"One Man Band"
"Joy to the World"
"One Man Band"
"Joy to the World"

"Joy to the World" is a song written by Hoyt Axton, and made famous by the band Three Dog Night. The song is also popularly known by its opening lyric, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog". Three Dog Night originally released the song on their fourth studio album, Naturally in November 1970 and subsequently released an edited version of the song as a single in February 1971.[1]

The song, which has been described by members of Three Dog Night as a "kid's song" and a "silly song",[2] topped the main singles charts in North America, was certified gold by the RIAA, and has since been covered by multiple artists.

The song is featured prominently in the film The Big Chill. It is sung by a child character at the beginning and the Three Dog Night recording is played over the end credits.

It is also played at the end of every Denver Broncos home victory. Notable playings of this song after Broncos victories included then-Chicago Bears head coach Abe Gibron's singing along with the song in 1973; and at the end of Super Bowl XXXII, played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. It was also played at the end of Super Bowl XXXIII at Pro Player (now Hard Rock) Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida and Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California.

Background and recording[edit]

Some of the words are nonsensical. Axton wanted to persuade his record producers to record a new melody he had written and the producers asked him to sing any words to the tune. A member of Three Dog Night said that the original lyrics to the song were "Jeremiah was a prophet" but "no one liked that".[3]

When Hoyt Axton performed the song to the group, two of the three main vocalists – Danny Hutton and Cory Wells – rejected the song, but Chuck Negron felt that the band needed a "silly song" to help bring the band back together as a working unit. Negron also felt that the song "wasn't even close to our best record, but it might have been one of our most honest."[2]

The song was recorded by Three Dog Night at American Recording Company, produced by Richard Podolor, and engineered by Bill Cooper.[1] Unlike most Three Dog Night songs recorded at that point, instead of having just the three main vocalists singing harmony, the song was recorded with all seven members of the band singing.[2] Drummer Floyd Sneed sings the deep lyric "I wanna tell you" towards the end of the song.

When the song hit number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1971, Axton and his mother, Mae Axton, became the first mother and son to each have written a number one pop single in the rock era. Mae Axton co-wrote "Heartbreak Hotel", which was the first number one hit for Elvis Presley.

In a 1994 case, David P. Jackson filed suit[4] claiming co-authorship of the song and alleging that Axton fraudulently claimed sole authorship. In the suit Jackson claimed that Axton regularly credited him with co-authorship.

Charts and awards[edit]

The single had been out less than two months, when on April 9, 1971, "Joy to the World" was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, for shipments of over 1,000,000 units across the United States.[15] The record was also given a Gold Leaf award by RPM magazine for sales of over a million units.[16] The record won the award for the Best Selling Hit Single Record by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers in March 1972.[17] It was also ranked by Billboard magazine as the year-end #1 pop single of 1971.[18]

The single went on to sell 5 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.[19]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston likes this song, which inspired his own character Jeremiah the bullfrog [20], whom he often draws in his artwork and advertisements. The frog is also featured on the cover of his album Hi, How Are You (1983) and has become an official music mascot for Johnston. [21]
  • It is sung by the son of one of the main characters at the start of the film The Big Chill (1983) and is featured on the soundtrack.
  • In The X-Files TV series (Detour - S05E04), Scully sings this song while she's lost in a forest with Mulder to show him she is awake and he can rest.
  • It is played during the end credits of the R-rated animated film, Sausage Party (2016).
  • It appears in 2017 and 2018 TV commercials for Big Lots[22].
Preceded by
"Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" by The Temptations
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
April 17, 1971 (six weeks)
Succeeded by
"Brown Sugar" by The Rolling Stones


  1. ^ a b c d Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story, 1965–1975 (CD liner). Three Dog Night. United States: MCA Records. 1993. pp. 27, 30, 31. MCAD2-10956. 
  2. ^ a b c Leaf, David (1993). Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story, 1965–1975 (CD liner). Three Dog Night. United States: MCA Records. p. 20. MCAD2-10956. 
  3. ^ "Three Dog Night Headlines the Fair Tonight". Bainbridge Island Review. Entertainment section. August 20, 2008. ISSN 1053-2889. Retrieved April 5, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Jackson v. Axton". Retrieved 2016-10-04. 
  5. ^ "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Archived from the original on 2016-10-20. Retrieved 2017-05-07. 
  6. ^ "100 Singles" (PHP). RPM. 15 (15). May 29, 1971. Retrieved April 5, 2011. 
  7. ^ " – Three Dog Night Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  8. ^ " – Three Dog Night – Joy To The World" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  9. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 31 May 1971
  10. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  11. ^ "Three Dog Night Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  12. ^ "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Archived from the original on 2016-10-20. Retrieved 2017-05-07. 
  13. ^ "100 Top Singles of '71" (PHP). RPM. 16 (20): 5. January 8, 1972. Retrieved April 5, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1971/Top 100 Songs of 1971". Retrieved 2016-10-04. 
  15. ^ "American single certifications – Three Dog Night – Joy to the World". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved April 8, 2013.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  16. ^ "Highlights of ABC/Dunhill Convention". Billboard. 83 (34): 50. August 21, 1971. Retrieved April 6, 2011. 
  17. ^ Sippel, John, ed. (March 18, 1972). "NARM Award Winners". Billboard. 84 (12): 12. Retrieved April 6, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Year End Charts - Year-end Singles - The Billboard Hot 100". Archived from the original on 2007-11-03. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  19. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2, illustrated ed.). Barrie & Jenkins. ISBN 0-214-20480-4. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Big Lots TV Commercial, 'Joy: Recliners' Song by Three Dog Night". Retrieved December 24, 2017. 

External links[edit]