Jump to content

'Tain't What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"'Tain't What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It)" is a song written by jazz musicians Melvin "Sy" Oliver and James "Trummy" Young. It was first recorded in 1939 by Jimmie Lunceford, Harry James, and Ella Fitzgerald,[1] and again the same year by Nat Gonella and His Georgians. The "shim sham" is often danced to the Lunceford recording of this song.

Fun Boy Three with Bananarama version[edit]

"It Ain't What You Do...."
Single by Fun Boy Three with Bananarama
from the album Fun Boy Three
B-side"The Funrama Theme"
Released29 January 1982[2]
GenrePop, ska, new wave[3]
Songwriter(s)Sy Oliver
Trummy Young
Producer(s)Dave Jordan, Fun Boy Three
Fun Boy Three singles chronology
"The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)"
"It Ain't What You Do...."
"Really Saying Something"
Bananarama singles chronology
"Aie a Mwana"
"It Ain't What You Do...."
"Really Saying Something"

The jazz tune was transformed into a pop/new wave song with ska elements in 1982. With the title slightly altered to It Ain't What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It) (and shown on the single sleeve as It Ain't What You Do....), it was recorded by Fun Boy Three and Bananarama, and it was included on the former's self-titled debut album, but it was not available on a Bananarama album until 1988's Greatest Hits Collection.

Terry Hall of Fun Boy Three owned a copy of Bananarama's previous single "Aie a Mwana", and, after seeing an article about the trio in The Face, he decided he wanted them to sing background vocals on the song, solely based on the fact that he liked their look. "It Ain't What You Do...." became a big hit in the UK, climbing to number four in the UK Singles Chart,[4] and achieving a Silver certification from the British Phonographic Industry.[2] The success of the single also prompted Bananarama to return the favour and have Fun Boy Three sing on their next single, "Really Saying Something".

Media appearances[edit]

  • In 2012, the cover version was used in a commercial for Hewlett-Packard's color printers, which aired in the United States.
  • Throughout the early-mid 2010s, English DIY retailer B&Q used Fun Boy Three's version of the song.
  • Fun Boy Three's version of the song was also used in another television advertisement for the Chrysler PT Cruiser in the United Kingdom in the early 2000s.
  • Is part of the sound track of the film "Lolita" (1998) sung by Ella Fitzgerald.
  • The Lunceford version of the song appeared in several episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
  • In the 2009 film Youth in Revolt this song was used.

Track listings[edit]

7" single
  1. "It Ain't What You Do (It's The Way That You Do It)" 2:54
  2. "The Funrama Theme" 2:56 +
12" single
  1. "It Ain't What You Do..." / "Just Do It" (Extended Version) 5:55 ++
  2. "The Funrama Theme" (Extended Version) 5:55 +

+ A remix of "The Funrama Theme" with overdubbed brass, titled "Funrama 2", appears on The Fun Boy Three's album The Fun Boy Three.

++ The first 2:52 of the 12" version is the standard album version of the song, which is different from the 7". Some reissues of the album also include the "Just Do It" section as a separate track.


Chart (1982) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[5] 55
Belgium (Ultratop Flanders)[6] 3
Irish Singles Chart[7] 5
Netherlands (MegaCharts)[8] 3
New Zealand (RIANZ Singles Chart)[9] 37
UK Singles Chart[4] 4
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[citation needed] 49


  1. ^ "Ella Fitzgerald Discography - Discography - Part 1". Archived from the original on 2016-08-08. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
  2. ^ a b "BPI > Certifications > Search results for 'Fun Boy Three' (from bpi.co.uk)". Imgur.com (original source published by British Phonographic Industry). Retrieved 2016-07-31.
  3. ^ "Top 20 80s Collaborations". Classic Pop. May 27, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Official Charts > Bananarama". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2016-07-31.
  5. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). Sydney: Australian Chart Book. p. 25. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between 1983 and 26 June 1988.
  6. ^ "Fun Boy Three with Bananarama – It Ain't What You Do..." (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2016-07-31.
  7. ^ "The Irish Charts – All there is to know > Search results for 'It Ain't What You Do' (from irishcharts.ie)". Imgur.com (original source published by Fireball Media). Retrieved 2016-07-31.
  8. ^ "Fun Boy Three with Bananarama – It Ain't What You Do..." (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2016-07-31.
  9. ^ "charts.nz > Fun Boy Three with Bananarama – It Ain't What You Do... (song)". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2016-07-31.