There's No Business Like Show Business

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"There's No Business Like Show Business"
Song by Ethel Merman
GenrePop standard
Composer(s)Irving Berlin

"There's No Business Like Show Business" is an Irving Berlin song, written for the 1946 musical Annie Get Your Gun and orchestrated by Ted Royal. The song, a slightly tongue-in-cheek salute to the glamour and excitement of a life in show business, is sung in the musical by members of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in an attempt to persuade Annie Oakley to join the production.[1] It is reprised three times in the musical.

In 1953, Ethel Merman sang the song before a live television audience of 60 million persons, broadcast live over the NBC and CBS networks, as part of The Ford 50th Anniversary Show.


The song is also featured in the 1954 movie of the same name, where it is notably sung by Ethel Merman as the main musical number.[2] The movie, in which she starred with Marilyn Monroe and was directed by Walter Lang, is essentially a catalog of various Berlin's pieces, in the same way that Singin' in the Rain—which starred Donald O'Connor as well—was a collection of Arthur Freed songs. There was also a disco version of the song made during the 1970s, with Merman reprising her singing role in The Ethel Merman Disco Album in 1979.[3] The song became one of Ethel Merman's standards and was often performed by her at concerts and on television.

Other recordings[edit]

"There's No Business Like Show Business"
Song by The Andrew Sisters featuring Bing Crosby and Dick Haymes
Composer(s)Irving Berlin

Other singers to have recorded the song include Judy Garland,[4] The Andrews Sisters (with Bing Crosby and Dick Haymes), Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr. (from Come by Me, 1999), Susannah McCorkle, Mary Hopkin, and Bernadette Peters.

The Andrews Sisters version with Bing Crosby and Dick Haymes was recorded on 19 March 1947[5] and was the only version to reach the Billboard charts, albeit briefly at No. 25.[6]

In his liner notes for Susannah McCorkle's version of the song on her Ballad Essentials album Scott Yanow writes "usually performed as a corny razzle-dazzle romp, that piece was drastically slowed down by Susannah who performed all of its known lyrics, including stanzas that show Irving Berlin's lyrics were actually quite touching and meaningful".

Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins did a rendition of the tune on his 1956 Prestige album, Work Time.

Popular culture[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Green, Kay (1996). Broadway Musicals, Show by Show. H. Leonard Publishing Corporation. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-7935-7750-7.
  2. ^ Sears, Benjamin (19 April 2012). The Irving Berlin Reader. Oxford University Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-19-538374-4.
  3. ^ Gamson, Joshua (30 July 2013). The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, the Music, the Seventies in San Francisco. Henry Holt and Company. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-4668-5016-3.
  4. ^ Flinn, Caryl (2007). Brass Diva: The Life and Legends of Ethel Merman. University of California Press. p. 441. ISBN 978-0-520-22942-6.
  5. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 113. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  7. ^ "Togetherness". Album of the Day. Rhino Records. 20 November 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  8. ^ "Allan Sherman – There's No Governor Like Our New Governor". Genius. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  9. ^ Sava, Olivia (30 October 2012). "RuPaul's Gaff-In". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  • America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley, Philip Furia, Michael L. Lasser. Routledge, 2006, ISBN 978-0-415-97246-8, p. 206