Mony Mony

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"Mony Mony"
Single by Tommy James and the Shondells
from the album Mony Mony
B-side "One Two Three and I Fell"
Released March 1968
Genre Rock, pop rock
Length 2:45
Label Roulette
Songwriter(s) Tommy James, Bo Gentry, Ritchie Cordell, and Bobby Bloom[1]
Producer(s) Bo Gentry, Ritchie Cordell[1]
Tommy James and the Shondells singles chronology
"Get Out Now"
"Mony Mony"
"Somebody Cares"
"Get Out Now"
"Mony Mony"
"Somebody Cares"

"Mony Mony" is a 1968 single by American pop rock band Tommy James and the Shondells,[2] which reached No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart[1] while also getting serious airplay in the U.S. and Canada. Written by Bobby Bloom, Ritchie Cordell, Bo Gentry, and Tommy James, the song has appeared in various film and television works such as the Oliver Stone drama Heaven & Earth.[3] It was also notably covered by English singer-songwriter Billy Idol in 1981. Idol's version, which took in more of a Rock sound, became an international top 40 hit and additionally revived public interest in the original garage rock single.

Tommy James and the Shondells version[edit]

Background and release[edit]

"Mony Mony" was credited to Tommy James, Bo Gentry, Ritchie Cordell, and Bobby Bloom.[1] The title of the song is said to have been inspired by Tommy James' view of the M.O.N.Y. sign atop the Mutual of New York Building on the New York City skyline from his Manhattan apartment.[1] As Tommy James says in a 1995 interview in Hitch magazine:

True story: I had the track done before I had a title. I wanted something catchy like "Sloopy" or "Bony Maroney," but everything sounded so stupid. So Ritchie Cordell and I were writing it in New York City, and we were about to throw in the towel when I went out onto the terrace, looked up and saw the Mutual of New York building (which has its initials illuminated in red at its top). I said, "That's gotta be it! Ritchie, come here, you've gotta see this!" It's almost as if God Himself had said, "Here's the title." I've always thought that if I had looked the other way, it might have been called "Hotel Taft".[4]

"Mony Mony" was the only song by the group to reach the top 20 in the United Kingdom; it reached No. 1 in the UK,[1] No. 3 on the Hot 100, and No. 1 on WLS, two years to the day after the similarly sounding title "Monday, Monday" reached No. 1 there. A music video of it was made at the time featuring the band performing the song amidst psychedelic backgrounds, dated in showing love beads, but a decade and half later would receive some play on MTV.[4]

The song "Mony Mony" has been covered by many artists, including Billy Idol, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Amazulu, Status Quo, the Scenics, the Wigs, and the Beach Boys who recorded the song on March 15, 1976. In a peculiar twist, in 1987 Billy Idol's version of the song replaced another Tommy James hit at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 — "I Think We're Alone Now", covered by Tiffany.[5]

Track listings and format[edit]

  • vinyl
  1. "Mony Mony" - 2:45
  2. "One Two Three and I Fell" - 2:32

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1968-1969) Peak
Canadian Singles Chart 3
UK Singles Chart[1] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 3
Preceded by
"I Pretend" by Des O'Connor
UK number-one single
(Tommy James and the Shondells version)

3 August 1968 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Fire" by Crazy World of Arthur Brown
Preceded by
"Fire" by Crazy World of Arthur Brown
UK number-one single
(Tommy James and the Shondells version re-top)

21 August 1968 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Do It Again"* by The Beach Boys

Billy Idol version[edit]

"Mony Mony"
Mony Mony Live.jpg
Live version
Single by Billy Idol
from the album Don't Stop and Vital Idol
B-side "311 Man"
Released 1981 (original version)
October 2, 1987 (live version)
Format 7", 12"
Recorded 1981 (original version), 1985 (live version)
Genre Hard rock, new wave, power pop
Length 5:01 (on Don't Stop)
5:02 (on Vital Idol)
4:08 (45 version)
Label Chrysalis
Songwriter(s) Tommy James, Bo Gentry, Ritchie Cordell, and Bobby Bloom
Producer(s) Keith Forsey
Billy Idol singles chronology
"Dancing with Myself"
"Mony Mony"
"Hot in the City"
"Dancing with Myself"
"Mony Mony"
"Hot in the City"

"Sweet Sixteen"
(1987) Sweet Sixteen1987

"Mony Mony (live version)"
(1987) Mony Mony (live version)1987

"Cradle of Love"
Alternative cover
12" single for original release
12" single for original release
Cradle of Love1990

Background and release[edit]

British rock artist Billy Idol released a cover version in 1981 (on the Don't Stop EP). Along with the track, "Baby Talk", Idol's version of "Mony Mony" went to number seven on the Billboard dance chart.[6] A live recording of the song became a hit for Idol in 1987 as well.

Idol's version of the song gave rise to an interesting custom in the 1980s. When the song was performed live in concert or played at a club or dance, people would shout a certain formulaic (and usually obscene) sentence in the two measures following each line. One example is: "Hey, hey what? Get laid, get fucked!"[7] This custom led to the song being banned at high school dances across North America,[8] although it continues at Idol concerts today.[9]

Billy Idol's version was recorded on two separate occasions. The original 1981 studio recording is the most common version heard on rock radio stations across the globe.[citation needed] However, Idol released a live version as a single in 1987, while promoting his then-forthcoming compilation work Vital Idol. It was the live version that went to No. 1, coincidentally displacing Tiffany's cover of another Tommy James song, "I Think We're Alone Now", from the top spot.

As stated before, Idol revived interest in the original garage rock song. His original studio version can be found on Idol's Greatest Hits compilation album, a 2001 Capitol Records release. That album has received positive critical reviews, with Idol's cover of the Tommy James tune specifically praised.

The 1987 version was released as a vinyl 45, and it was not available in a digital format until 2009 as a download in the iTunes store although it was available on the 11 of the Best compilation CD issued in the UK.

Uses in popular culture[edit]

The song appears in the 2011 video game NHL 12. It appears in a 2014 TV commercial for the Nissan Sentra, advertising the Bose sound system.

"Weird Al" Yankovic wrote a parody of this song from his album Even Worse, entitled "Alimony" (based on the Billy Idol version). It was about a recently divorced man complaining about his ex-wife taking everything he owns away from him in alimony payments.

Track listings and formats[edit]

  • (1981) UK 7" vinyl (33⅓ rpm) & 12" vinyl (45rpm)
  1. "Mony Mony"
  2. "Baby Talk"
  3. "Untouchables"
  4. "Dancing With Myself"
  • (1987) UK 7" vinyl
  1. "Mony Mony (Live)"
  2. "Shakin' All Over (Live)"
  • (1987) US 12" vinyl
  1. "Mony Mony (Hung Like a Pony Remix)" 6:59
  2. "Mony Mony (Steel-Toe Cat Dub)" 6:50
  3. "Mony Mony (Live) 4:00"
  4. "Mony Mony (Single Edit)" 5:01
  • (1987) UK 12" vinyl
  1. "Mony Mony (Hung Like a Pony Remix♰)"
  2. "Shakin' All Over (Live)"
  3. "Mony Mony (Live)"

♰Mixed by – Tom Lord-Alge

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1981-1982) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 7
U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles 107
Chart (1987-1988) Peak
Canadian RPM 100 Singles Chart 1
German Singles Chart 38
Swiss Singles Chart 13
UK Singles Chart[10] 7
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[10] 1
U.S. Billboard Album Rock Tracks 27
Preceded by
"I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
(Billy Idol version)

November 21, 1987
Succeeded by
"(I've Had) The Time of My Life" by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. pp. 118–9. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  2. ^ Tommy James & The Shondells: Mony Mony at Discogs (list of releases)
  3. ^ Heaven & Earth Soundtrack Retrieved February 7, 2015
  4. ^ a b Lott, Rod. "Crystal Blue Conversation" on Angelfire)
  5. ^ Steve Kurutz (2004-04-13). "Ritchie Cordell | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 126. 
  7. ^ Cross, Alan. "MAJOR UPDATE! Where Did the Special Lyrics in Billy Idol’s Version of "Mony Mony" Come From?". A Journal of Musical Things. Retrieved 2016-04-17. 
  8. ^ Greene, Bob (1989-05-08). "The dirty 'Mony' mystery is solved". Chicago Tribune. p. B1. 
  9. ^ "Metroactive Music | The Rock Show". Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  10. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 266. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]