That Thing You Do (song)

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"That Thing You Do"
Single by The Wonders
from the album That Thing You Do!: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  • "Voyage Around the Moon (The Saturn 5)" (cassette)
  • "Dance with Me Tonight" (45)
  • "All My Only Dreams" (fictitious 45 from the film)
ReleasedSeptember 24, 1996[1]
FormatCassette single, vinyl single
GenrePower pop[2]
Songwriter(s)Adam Schlesinger

"That Thing You Do" is a 1996 song that appears in the film That Thing You Do! The song is performed by the fictional 1960s band The Wonders, who are the focus of the film.

In the film[edit]

In 1964, an Erie, Pennsylvania band named "The One-ders" (later known as The Wonders) goes from a college talent show to climbing up the Billboard charts thanks to the song "That Thing You Do". Written by guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Mattingly II, it was originally crafted as a ballad. During the performance at the talent show, drummer Guy Patterson produces a much more up-tempo beat and the rest of the band follow suit, turning the song into an upbeat, Beatles-esque rock number. The song is a hit with the audience, and they win the talent show. From there, the band is picked up by a local manager who helps them get more shows in the area, and eventually the song receives radio airplay. The band is then signed to Play-Tone Records, under Mr. White's guidance, and the song climbs up the Billboard Hot 100, starting at #93, then #71, #49, and #21. The following week, "That Thing You Do" climbs to #7, becoming the quickest charting song ever on Play-Tone Records. However, Jimmy walks out on the band before they can produce another record, so they eventually become one-hit wonders.

Early in the film, when Jimmy and Lenny are asking Guy to join them at the talent competition at the college, Jimmy mentions they'll perform a song he wrote. Lenny takes offense to that by slapping Jimmy on the arm. Jimmy begrudgingly corrects himself by saying, "We wrote." Later, when the vinyl 45 is officially released, the label states: Written by James Mattingly II. Later still, when being interviewed live on radio station KJZZ, Jimmy says of the song, "We wrote it in my garage back in Erie, PA".

In the film, the song is performed by James "Jimmy" Mattingly II on lead vocals and guitar, Leonard "Lenny" Haise on lead guitar and backing vocals, "T.B. Player" on bass and backing vocals (as a running gag, the bass player in the film is unnamed), and Guy "Shades" Patterson on drums. For their live performance of the song on The Hollywood Television Showcase, studio bassist Scott "Wolfman" Pell replaced T.B. Player on bass and backing vocals.

In the fictitious "mockumentary" liner notes from the soundtrack CD, "That Thing You Do" peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the summer of 1964.

In reality[edit]

The song was written by Adam Schlesinger, the bassist of the alternative rock group Fountains of Wayne. Schlesinger did not expect his song to be chosen, but tried as "a personal exercise." Performers include Mike Viola on vocals with Schlesinger on backup vocals.[3]

The song was released as a single, and although not as successful as was depicted in the film, the track still did moderately well in the US, peaking at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100. (It also reached #22 on the Adult Contemporary chart, #18 on the Adult Top 40, and #24 on the Top 40 Mainstream chart.)[3] The song also reached #50 in Australia.

The song was a bigger hit outside of the US, reaching #31 in Canada in December 1996,[4] and #22 on the UK Singles Chart in February 1997.[5] The song was nominated for Best Original Song at the 69th Academy Awards as well as Best Original Song at the 54th Golden Globe Awards, losing out on both occasions to Madonna's "You Must Love Me" (written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber) from the musical Evita.[6]

On April 25, 2017, three quarters of the actors who played The Wonders—Tom Everett Scott (Guy "Shades" Patterson), Johnathon Schaech (Jimmy Mattingly II) and Ethan Embry ("T.B. Player")—performed the song live during a surprise appearance at the Roxy in Los Angeles.[7] The occasion was the Goddamn Comedy Jam, a live show series in which comedians tell funny stories about a meaningful song and then perform it with a live band.[8] Comedian and show creator Josh Adam Meyers persuaded the actors to perform the song with him. After initial hesitation on Scott's part, Meyers managed to persuade him with help from The After Jam producer Jason Gallagher, who happened to be Scott's brother-in-law. The other actors soon followed suit, with Gallagher helping them learn how to play the instruments. Steve Zahn (Lenny Haise) was unable to participate due to living in Kentucky; comedian Jeremiah Watkins took his place on lead guitar while wearing a cut-out mask of Zahn's face.[9] On April 10, 2017, Embry posted a video of himself playing the song's bass line; it is now apparent that the video was a teaser for the event two weeks later.[10]

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ That Thing You Do: The Wonders: Music
  2. ^ Borack, John (2006). Shake Some Action. Fort Collins, CO: Not Lame Recording Company. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-9797714-0-8.
  3. ^ a b That Tune You Do- Writing The Music For THAT THING YOU DO Archived 2007-11-27 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 610. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. ^ "Golden Globes, USA (1997)". IMDB. Retrieved December 6, 2010.
  7. ^ Romano, Nick (April 26, 2017). "The Wonders reunite to perform 'That Thing You Do!' in L.A." Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  8. ^ "Goddamn Comedy Jam". Comedy Central. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  9. ^ Pitchel, Samantha (April 26, 2017). "Here's how "That Thing You Do" band The Wonders ended up reuniting on The Goddamn Comedy Jam". The Laugh Button. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  10. ^ Embry, Ethan (April 10, 2017). "I try and try to forget my childhood, but it's just so hard to do..." Twitter. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  11. ^ Schadelbauer, Rick (September 1998). "Doug Fieger: The Circle Goes Back to the Beginning". Amplifier Vol. 3 No. 3. Archived from the original on 2006-10-27. Retrieved May 13, 2009.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Shaul, Aaron (February 2008). "Bubblegum Lemonade Ten Years Younger EP". Music Reviews. Ink 19. Retrieved May 13, 2009.
  14. ^ Fringemunks website
  15. ^ Robbins, Caryn (December 31, 2014). "VIDEO: Pentatonix Pay Tribute to Tom Hanks with 'That Thing You Do' Performance on KENNEDY CENTER HONORS". Retrieved January 2, 2015.