What a Wonderful World
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2013)|
|"What a Wonderful World"|
|Single by Louis Armstrong|
|from the album What a Wonderful World|
|Released||October 18, 1967|
|Recorded||August 16, 1967|
|Label||ABC 10982, HMV|
George David Weiss
|Louis Armstrong singles chronology|
"What a Wonderful World" is a song written by Bob Thiele (as "George Douglas") and George David Weiss. It was first recorded by Louis Armstrong and released as a single in 1967. Thiele and Weiss were both prominent in the music world (Thiele as a producer and Weiss as a composer/performer). Armstrong's recording was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. The publishing for this song is controlled by Memory Lane Music Group, Carlin Music Corp. and BMG Rights Management.
Intended as an antidote for the increasingly racially and politically charged climate of everyday life in the United States, the song also has a hopeful, optimistic tone with regard to the future, with reference to babies being born into the world and having much to look forward to. The song was initially offered to Tony Bennett, who turned it down. Thereafter, it was offered to Louis Armstrong. George Weiss recounts in the book Off the Record: Songwriters on Songwriting by Graham Nash that he wrote the song specifically for Louis Armstrong. Weiss was inspired by Armstrong's ability to bring people of different races together. The song was not initially a hit in the United States, where it sold fewer than 1,000 copies because ABC Records head Larry Newton did not like the song and therefore did not promote it, but was a major success in the United Kingdom, reaching number one on the UK Singles Chart. In the US, the song hit #116 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Chart. It was also the biggest-selling single of 1968 in the UK where it was among the last pop singles issued by HMV Records before becoming an exclusive classical music label. The song made Louis Armstrong the oldest male to top the UK Singles Chart, at sixty-six years and ten months old. Armstrong's record was broken in 2009 when a cover version of "Islands in the Stream" recorded for Comic Relief—which included the 68-year-old Tom Jones—reached number one in that chart. Tony Bennett did go on to cover "What A Wonderful World" several times, as in 2003 with K.D. Lang, paying homage to Bennett's friend Armstrong.
ABC Records' European distributor EMI forced ABC to issue a What a Wonderful World album in 1968 (catalogue number ABCS-650). It did not chart in the US, due to ABC's not promoting it, but charted in the UK where it was issued by Stateside Records with catalogue number SSL 10247 and peaked on the British chart at No. 37.
The song gradually became something of a standard and reached a new level of popularity. In 1978, Armstrong's 1967 recording was featured in the closing scenes of the first series of BBC radio's cult hit, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and was repeated for BBC's 1981 TV series of the same. In 1988, Armstrong's recording was featured in the film Good Morning, Vietnam, in which a DJ played it on the radio in 1965—two years before it was recorded—and was re-released as a single, hitting #32 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1988. The single charted at number one for the fortnight ending June 27, 1988 on the Australian chart. It is also the closing song for the 1995 movie 12 Monkeys.
(More Film and Television appearances of the song can be found in the Appearances in Film and Television section below.)
On November 23, 1999 the TV show The PJs an American stop-motion animated television series, created by Eddie Murphy, Larry Wilmore, and Steve Tompkins aired a version of the song that was sung at the conclusion of the 5th episode in the series entitled "Rich Man, Porn Man".
In 2001, rappers Ghostface Killah, Raekwon and The Alchemist released "The Forest," a song that begins with three lines of lyric adapted from "What a Wonderful World", altered to become "an invitation to get high" on marijuana. The rappers and their record company, Sony Music Entertainment, were sued by the owners of "What a Wonderful World," Abilene Music. The suit was thrown out of court after Judge Gerard E. Lynch determined that the altered lyric was indisputably a parody, transforming the uplifting original message to a new one with a darker nature.
As of April 2014, Louis Armstrong's 1967 recording has sold 2,173,000 downloads in the US after it was released digitally.
Charts and certifications
|Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)||1|
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||6|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||6|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||15|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||7|
|U.S. Adult Contemporary (Billboard)||12|
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||7|
|Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders)||1|
|Canada (RPM Magazine)||13|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||5|
|U.S. Adult Contemporary (Billboard)||7|
|U.S. (Radio & Records)||37|
|U.S. (Rock on the Net - ARC Weekly Top 40)||28|
- 1967: Louis Armstrong, million selling original version
- 1968: Eddy Arnold, B side of his single "They Don't Make Love Like They Used To"
- 1989: Roy Clark covered this song on his album of the same name. His version peaked at number 73 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.
- 1993: Israel Kamakawiwo'ole: Hawaiian ukulele version (medley with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow") on the album Facing Future. It has sold over 2.5 million copies in the United States and Canada alone
- 1999: Anne Murray, on her platinum release of the same name, which also spawned a book and video. The album reached number one on the US Contemporary Christian charts, number 4 on the US Country charts, and number 38 on the top 200.
- 2001: Anne Murray included the song yet again, this time on the reissue her children's album There's a Hippo in My Tub.
- 2002: Joey Ramone's posthumuous version was used for the ending credits of Michael Moore's film Bowling for Columbine and then for the 2003 remake of Freaky Friday. Also released that year was a cover by Beatbox vs. DJ Miko on Dancemania EX 1. This version is one of the new songs in the 2006 video game Dance Dance Revolution SuperNova. The game's two subsequent sequels, Dance Dance Revolution SuperNova 2 (2007) and Dance Dance Revolution X (2008), also featured this track.
- 2007: Katie Melua: singing with Eva Cassidy's version to raise money for the Red Cross. This version reached #1 in the UK chart in December 2007.
- 2012: Pat Byrne reached number 3 in the Irish Singles Chart after appearing on The Voice of Ireland.
- 2015: Tiago Iorc's version was recorded to be used as the opening theme of the Brazilian telenovela Sete Vidas. The Clarks' cover was featured in the end credits for The Simpsons' season 27 premiere.
Appearances in Film and Television
|Mein Salzburg||Louis Armstrong||2015||1|
|Back to the Sea||Louis Armstrong||2012||1|
|New Year's Eve||Louis Armstrong||2011||1|
|Head Over Heels||Louis Armstrong||2010||1|
|Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay||Louis Armstrong||2008||1|
|Swing Girls||Louis Armstrong||2004||1|
|Bowling for Columbine||Louis Armstrong||2002||1|
|Wrestling with Alligators||Louis Armstrong||1998||1|
|Twelve Monkeys||Louis Armstrong||1995||1|
|The Kennedy Years (JFK Remembered)||Louis Armstrong||1993||1|
|Ciao, Professore!||Louis Armstrong||1992||1|
|Good Morning, Vietnam||Louis Armstrong||1987||1|
|The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (trailer only)||Louis Armstrong||2005||1|
|Strictly Come Dancing||Week 9 Results||Louis Armstrong||2014||1|
|Inspector George Gently||The Lost Child||Louis Armstrong||2012||1|
|The Mentalist||Blinking Red Light||Louis Armstrong||2011||1|
|An Idiot Abroad||Karl Comes Home||Louis Armstrong||2010||1|
|So You Think You Can Dance (Canada)||Top 8 Perform||Louis Armstrong||2009||1|
|The Simpsons||The Good, the Sad and the Drugly||Louis Armstrong||2009||1|
|20 to 1||Greatest Songs of All Time||Louis Armstrong||2006||1|
|Life on Mars||#1.6||Louis Armstrong||2006||1|
|House, MD||DNR||Louis Armstrong||2005||1|
|Hinter Gittern||Fahrte aufgenommen||Louis Armstrong||2004||1|
|Lust & Suhne||Louis Armstrong||2001||1|
|Hahn im Korb||Louis Armstrong||1999||1|
|Die Lugners||#1.9||Louis Armstrong||2003||1|
|Dawson's Creek||Hopeless||Louis Armstrong||2001||1|
|Gilmore Girls||Rory's Birthday Parties||Louis Armstrong||2000||1|
|The King of Queens||Head First||Louis Armstrong||1998||1|
|Cybill||Cybill Discovers the Meaning of Life||Louis Armstrong||1995||1|
|Florida Lady||Lauf dem Leben nicht davon||Louis Armstrong||1994||1|
|Twin Peaks||#2.7||Louis Armstrong||1990||1|
|The Green Man||Louis Armstrong||1990||1|
|Moonlighting||A Womb with a View||Louis Armstrong||1988||1|
|The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy||#1.6||Louis Armstrong||1981||1|
1. Internet Movie Database
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- "Sundance Channel : Video: : SPECTACLE: Season 1 - Episode 5 (clip)". SundanceChannel.com. Archived from the original on 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
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- "Go-Set Australian Charts". Go-Set. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
- "Austriancharts.at – Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
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Hoogste notering in de top 30 : 1
- "Rock on the Net". Retrieved 9 August 2014.
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- How political is What A Wonderful World? BBC News article about history and meaning of song
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
- Barrueco & Balles Music play What a Wonderful World
"Congratulations" by Cliff Richard
|UK number one single
Louis Armstrong version
24 April 1968 (for 4 weeks)
"Young Girl" by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
"Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis
|UK Singles Chart number-one single
(Katie Melua & Eva Cassidy version)
December 16, 2007 - December 22, 2007
"When You Believe" by Leon Jackson