When You Wish upon a Star

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"When You Wish Upon a Star"
Single by Cliff Edwards
from the album Pinocchio
Released 1940 (1940)
Genre Soundtrack
Length 03:16
Label Victor, EMI
Writer(s) Leigh Harline
Ned Washington

"When You Wish Upon a Star" is a song written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney's 1940 adaptation of Pinocchio.[1] The original version was sung by Cliff Edwards in the character of Jiminy Cricket,[1] and is heard over the opening credits and in the final scene of the film. The song has since become the representative song of The Walt Disney Company. The recording by Cliff Edwards and Chorus was released by Victor Records as catalogue number 261546 and 26477A (in USA) and by EMI on the His Master's Voice Label as catalogue number BD 821.

Edwards recorded another version in 1940 for an American Decca Records "cover version" of the score of Pinocchio, conducted by Victor Young and featuring soprano Julietta Novis and The King's Men. It was first released on a 4-record 78-RPM album set, and years later as one side of an LP, backed by selections from The Wizard of Oz. A recording with Christian Rub (with Mister Geppetto's voice), Cliff Edwards and Chorus was released by Victor Records as catalogue number 26479B (in USA) and by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalogue number BD 823. It won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Original Song.[1] It was also the first Disney song to win an Oscar.


The American Film Institute ranked "When You Wish Upon a Star" seventh in their 100 Greatest Songs in Film History, the highest ranked Disney animated film song, and also one of only four Disney animated film songs to appear on the list, the others being "Someday My Prince Will Come" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ranked at #19, "Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast ranked at #62, and "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King, ranked at #99.

The song reached the top one in Billboard's Record Buying Guide, a predecessor of the retail sales chart. Popular versions included Glenn Miller, Guy Lombardo, Horace Heidt and Cliff Edwards.

In Japan, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, the song has become a Christmas song, often referring to the Star of Bethlehem. The Swedish language version is called Ser du stjärnan i det blå, roughly translated: "do you see the star in the blue(sky)", and the Danish title is "Når du ser et stjerneskud", which translates as "When you see a shooting star". In Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway the song is played on television every Christmas Eve in the traditional Disney one-hour Christmas cabaret, and the gathering of the entire family to watch this is considered a Scandinavian tradition.

In 1955, Jack Pleis recorded it for his album, Music from Disneyland.

KISS bassist Gene Simmons recorded it for his 1978 eponymous solo album. Simmons said that he covered "When You Wish Upon a Star" because he related to the song and was a fan of Disney movies. "When I first heard that song I could barely speak English but I knew the words were true. Anybody can have what they want, the world and life can give its rewards to anyone".[2]

In 1986, Linda Ronstadt recorded the classic song for her Platinum-certified album For Sentimental Reasons. Released as the album's first single, it peaked at #32 in Billboard Magazine at year's end.

In 1988, Such loved Musical entertainers Sharon, Lois & Bram recorded this loved classic to one of their albums. It also appeared on Sharon, Lois & Bram's T.V Show and performed live. It was a Hit.

Billy Joel performed the song in the 1991 direct-to-video special Simply Mad About the Mouse: A Musical Celebration of Imagination and its soundtrack. A video was produced with Joel featuring as an animated character interacting with famous Disney characters. [3]

In 1995, Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Chipettes recorded a cover as the final track to their Disney-themed album When You Wish Upon a Chipmunk.

'N Sync recorded a cover for Disneymania (2002), Ashley Gearing covered the song for Disneymania 2 (2003), Jesse McCartney covered it for Disneymania 3 (2005), and Kate Voegele performed it for Disneymania 6 (2008).

Mannheim Steamroller covered the song on their 1999 album, Mannheim Steamroller Meets the Mouse.

In 2009, Meaghan Jette Martin recorded a cover for the DVD release from Disney's 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition of Pinocchio.

The Library of Congress deemed the song "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and preserved it into the National Recording Registry in 2009.

Brian Wilson admits that the melody of The Beach Boys hit song, "Surfer Girl", which has the same AABA form,[4] is loosely based on the Dion and the Belmonts version of "When You Wish Upon A Star".[5][6][7][8] Wilson also covered it on his album In the Key of Disney, which was released on October 25, 2011.

In 2012, Rod Stewart made it a Christmas song by recording it on his Christmas album Merry Christmas, Baby. Idina Menzel also recorded the song for her 2014 Christmas album Holiday Wishes.

In 2015, On season 20 of ABC's Dancing With The Stars, Patti Labelle danced a waltz to When You Wish Upon A Star during Disney night.

"When You Wish" was the corps song of the Star of Indiana Drum and Bugle Corps. In addition, it was the first musical chart in Star's first competitive program in 1985 (as the entire musical book was drawn from Disney properties).

Disney icon[edit]

"When You Wish Upon a Star", along with Mickey Mouse, has become an icon of The Walt Disney Company. In the 1950s and 1960s, Walt Disney used the song in the opening sequences of all the editions of the Walt Disney anthology television series. It has also been used to accompany the Walt Disney Pictures opening logos – including the present-day logo – since the 1980s. The ships of the Disney Cruise Line use the first seven notes of the song's melody as their horn signals. Additionally, many productions at Disney theme parks – particularly fireworks shows and parades – employ the song.


The piece has become a jazz standard.[9] It has been performed by artists including Louis Armstrong, June Christy, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Glenn Miller, Joe Pass, the Keith Jarrett Trio, The Manhattan Transfer, Sun Ra, Jason Becker and Bill Evans.

With the exception of two measures in the bridge of the song, this song uses the same chord structure as I'm in the Mood for Love, the jazz standard written by Jimmy McHugh.


The owner of the rights to the song, Bourne Co. Music Publishers, sued Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Fox Broadcasting Company, Fuzzy Door Productions, Cartoon Network, Walter Murphy and Seth MacFarlane to try to stop distribution of a 2003 Family Guy episode entitled "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein" that parodies the song in a version called I Need a Jew. A federal judge ruled against Bourne Co, stating that a parody of the song did not infringe on the company's copyright.[10]


  1. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 134. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ http://www.kissfaq.com/KissFAQ-wiki/index.php?title=Gene_Simmons_Album_-_When_You_Wish_Upon_A_Star
  3. ^ YouTube
  4. ^ Philip Lambert, Inside the Music of Brian Wilson: The Songs, Sounds, and Influences of the Beach Boys' Founding Genius (Continuum, 2007):28.
  5. ^ Brian Wilson, in @BrianWilsonLive, February 16, 2011: "We're doin' "When You Wish Upon A Star" for the new album. It kinda inspired "Surfer Girl." – Brian".
  6. ^ Philip Lambert, Inside the Music of Brian Wilson: The Songs, Sounds, and Influences of the Beach Boys' Founding Genius (Continuum, 2007):27.
  7. ^ Jim Fusilli, Pet Sounds, Volume 19 of 33 1/3 (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005):23.
  8. ^ Domenic Priore, Smile: The Story of Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece (Sanctuary, 2005):32.
  9. ^ "When You Wish Upon A Star". Jazz Standards.com. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Owner of Wish Upon A Star Son Loses Lawsuit Yahoo News, March 16, 2009

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