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"
ReleasedMarch 1968
GenreGarage rock
Length2:45
LabelRoulette
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"
(1968)
"Mony Mony"
(1968)
"Somebody Cares"
(1968)
"Get Out Now"
(1968)
"Mony Mony"
(1968)
"Somebody Cares"
(1968)

"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] and No. 3 in the U.S. 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 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. In 1986 it was covered by Amazulu, who gave it a ska rendition.

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 song's title was 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 James said 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 was made featuring the band performing the song amidst psychedelic backgrounds. A decade and a half later, it would receive some play on MTV.[4]

The song has been covered by many artists, including Billy Idol, Amazulu, Status Quo, the Scenics, the Wigs and the Beach Boys, who recorded the song on March 15, 1976. Coincidentally, Idol's 1987 version replaced another Tommy James hit at No. 1 on the 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
position
Canadian Singles Chart 3
UK Singles Chart[1] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[6] 3

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"
Released1981 (original version)
October 2, 1987 (live version)
Format7", 12"
Recorded1981 (original version), 1985 (live version)
GenreRock
Length5:01 (on Don't Stop)
5:02 (on Vital Idol)
4:00 (live version)
LabelChrysalis
Songwriter(s)Tommy James, Bo Gentry, Ritchie Cordell, and Bobby Bloom
Producer(s)Keith Forsey
Billy Idol singles chronology
"Dancing with Myself"
(1981)
"Mony Mony"
(1981)
"Hot in the City"
(1982)
"Dancing with Myself"
(1981)
"Mony Mony"
(1981)
"Hot in the City"
(1982)

Soul Standing By
(1987)

Mony Mony (live version)
(1987)

Cradle of Love
(1990)
Alternative cover
12" single for original release
12" single for original release
Music video
"Mony Mony" (Live) on YouTube

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 #7 on the Billboard dance chart.[7] A live recording of the song became a hit for Idol in 1987 as well, while promoting his then-forthcoming compilation work Vital Idol. The live version was released as a single and went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, coincidentally displacing Tiffany's cover of another Tommy James song, "I Think We're Alone Now", from the top spot. It also finished directly behind the Tiffany song at #19 in the 1987 year-end Billboard chart.

Idol's version gave rise to an interesting custom. When the song was performed live in concert or played at a club or dance, people would shout a certain formulaic (and usually obscene) phrase in the two measures following each line, for example, "Hey motherfucker, get laid, get fucked!"[8] This led to the song being banned at high-school dances across North America,[9] although the custom continues at Idol concerts today.[10] It became so widespread that Idol would eventually commit the lyrics to record in the "Idol/Stevens Mix" of the song on the 2018 remix album Vital Idol: Revitalized.

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 James tune specifically praised.

Uses in popular culture[edit]

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

The song was sampled by Australian Seven Network to promote its 1992 (jobs) "Yeah!" campaign.[11] This sample was also used by the Seven-affiliated regional TV network Prime Television (now Prime7).[12]

"Weird Al" Yankovic wrote a parody of this song from his album Even Worse, entitled "Alimony" (based on the live Idol version, complete with a live audience). It is 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 (Incorrectly listed as)(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
position
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[13] 7
Chart (1987-1988) Peak
position
Canadian RPM 100 Singles Chart 1
Germany (Official German Charts)[14] 38
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[15] 89
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[16] 13
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[17] 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[18] 7
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 1
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[20] 27

References[edit]

  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. ^ "Tommy James Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 126.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Greene, Bob (1989-05-08). "The dirty 'Mony' mystery is solved". Chicago Tribune. p. B1.
  10. ^ "Metroactive Music | The Rock Show". Metroactive.com. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  11. ^ "7 Network 1992 line up promo". YouTube. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Prime Television 1991 "Yeah" promo & Olympic Games ident". YouTube. 29 December 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Billy Idol Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  14. ^ "Musicline.de – Billy Idol Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  15. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Billy Idol – Mony Mony (Live)" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  16. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Billy Idol – Mony Mony (Live)". Swiss Singles Chart.
  17. ^ "Charts.nz – Billy Idol – Mony Mony (Live)". Top 40 Singles.
  18. ^ "Billy Idol: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  19. ^ "Billy Idol Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  20. ^ "Billy Idol Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved September 14, 2018.

External links[edit]