Mony Mony

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"Mony Mony"
Mony Mony - Tommy James & the Shondells.jpg
Single by Tommy James and the Shondells
from the album Mony Mony
B-side"One Two Three and I Fell"
ReleasedMarch 1968
GenreGarage rock
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"

"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]

Track listings and format[edit]

  • Vinyl
  1. "Mony Mony" – 2:45
  2. "One Two Three and I Fell" – 2:32

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1968–69) Peak
Austria[5] 4
Belgium (Flemish)[6] 7
Belgium (Wallonia)[7] 3
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[8] 3
Ireland (IRMA)[9] 2
New Zealand (Listener)[10] 11
Norway[11] 8
South Africa (Springbok)[12] 5
Switzerland[13] 2
UK Singles (OCC)[14] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[15] 3
West Germany (Official German Charts)[16] 3

Billy Idol version[edit]

"Mony Mony"
Billy Idol - Mony Mony 1981 single.png
Single by Billy Idol
from the album Don't Stop
B-side"Baby Talk"
ReleasedAugust 1981
Length5:01 (Full studio version)
3:23 (Single edit)
  • Tommy James
  • Bo Gentry
  • Ritchie Cordell
  • Bobby Bloom
Producer(s)Keith Forsey
Billy Idol singles chronology
"Dancing with Myself"
"Mony Mony"
"Hot in the City"
"Mony Mony (Live)"
Mony Mony Live.jpg
Single by Billy Idol
from the album Vital Idol
B-side"Shakin' All Over"
ReleasedOctober 2, 1987
  • Tommy James
  • Bo Gentry
  • Ritchie Cordell
  • Bobby Bloom
Producer(s)Keith Forsey
Billy Idol singles chronology
"Soul Standing By"
"Mony Mony (Live)"
"Cradle of Love"
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 No. 7 on the Billboard dance chart.[18] 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 No. 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) variation of a particular phrase in the two measures following each line, for example, "Hey, say what… get laid get fucked!" Or "Hey, motherfucker… get laid get fucked!"[19] This led to the song being banned at high-school dances across North America,[20] although the custom continues at Idol concerts & sporting events today.[21] 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. The full 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 was sampled by Australian Seven Network to promote its 1992 (jobs) "Yeah!" campaign.[22] This sample was also used by the Seven-affiliated regional TV network Prime Television (now Prime7).[23]

"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.

A cover version of the song appeared in Malcolm in the Middle Season 7 Episode 2 Health Insurance (2005) when Craig (David Anthony Higgins) threw a breakroom party for Lois (Jane Kaczmarek) celebrating her 10th anniversary at Lucky Aide; the show's fictional grocery store.[24] Despite obvious changes to the lyrics, the cover otherwise followed the same melody as Idol's version with "Mony Mony" most notably replaced with "Lois Lois".

The song is also a part of the NHL 12 video game soundtrack.

Track listings and formats[edit]

  • (1981) US 7" vinyl
  1. "Mony Mony" (Single Edit) 3:23
  2. "Baby Talk" 3:10
  • (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]

Original version

Chart (1981–82) Peak
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[25] 7

Live version

Chart (1987–88) Peak
Australia (Australian Music Report)[26] 8
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[27] 1
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[28] 89
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[29] 13
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[30] 2
UK Singles (OCC)[31] 7
US Billboard Hot 100[32] 1
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[33] 27
West Germany (Official German Charts)[34] 38
Year-end chart (1987) Position
US Top Pop Singles (Billboard)[35] 19


  1. ^ a b c d e f 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. ^ Norwegian Charts site
  6. ^ Norwegian Charts site as above
  7. ^ Norwegian Charts site as above
  8. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5831." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  9. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Mony Mony". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  10. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 6 September 1968
  11. ^ Norwegian Charts site as above
  12. ^ "SA Charts 1965 – March 1989". Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  13. ^ Norwegian Charts site as above
  14. ^ "Tommy James and the Shondells: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  15. ^ "Tommy James Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  16. ^ " – Tommy James and the Shondells – Mony Mony". GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved December 19, 2020. To see peak chart position, click "TITEL VON Tommy James and the Shondells"
  17. ^ a b Wawzenek, Bryan (November 22, 2017). "30 Years Ago: Billy Idol Rides 'Mony Mony' to No. 1". Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  18. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974–2003. Record Research. p. 126.
  19. ^ 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 April 17, 2016.
  20. ^ Greene, Bob (May 8, 1989). "The dirty 'Mony' mystery is solved". Chicago Tribune. p. B1.
  21. ^ "Metroactive Music | The Rock Show". Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  22. ^ "7 Network 1992 line up promo". YouTube. September 19, 2012. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  23. ^ "Prime Television 1991 "Yeah" promo & Olympic Games ident". YouTube. December 29, 2013. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  24. ^ "Malcolm in the Middle: Health Insurance". IMDB. October 7, 2005. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  25. ^ "Billy Idol Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  26. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  27. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0893." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  28. ^ "Billy Idol – Mony Mony (Live)" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  29. ^ "Billy Idol – Mony Mony (Live)". Swiss Singles Chart.
  30. ^ "Billy Idol – Mony Mony (Live)". Top 40 Singles.
  31. ^ "Billy Idol: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  32. ^ "Billy Idol Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  33. ^ "Billy Idol Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  34. ^ " – Billy Idol – Mony Mony (Live)". GfK Entertainment charts.
  35. ^ "1987 The Year in Music & Video: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. 99 (52). December 26, 1987.