When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going (song)

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"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going"
Standard picture sleeve
Single by Billy Ocean
from the album The Jewel of the Nile Soundtrack and Love Zone
ReleasedNovember 15, 1985 (US)
January 1986 (UK)
Format7", 12" single
GenreDance-pop, R&B, funk
Length5:44 (Album Version)
4:08 (Radio Edit)
Songwriter(s)Wayne Anton Brathwaite, Barry James Eastmond, Mutt Lange, Billy Ocean
Producer(s)Barry Eastmond, Wayne Brathwaite
Billy Ocean singles chronology
"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going"
"There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)"
Audio sample
"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going"

"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" is a 1985 song co-written and originally recorded by English singer Billy Ocean in 1985.

Written by Wayne Brathwaite, Barry Eastmond, Mutt Lange and Billy Ocean, the song was used as the theme song for the Michael Douglas film, The Jewel of the Nile. The saxophone solo is by Vernon Jeffrey Smith.[1]

Aided by a video featuring Douglas and co-stars Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito as lip-synching backup singers, as well as DeVito miming the saxophone solo, the song became a major international hit reaching number one on the UK Singles Chart for four weeks in February 1986,[2] and number two on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, stalling behind "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston.

12" track listing[edit]

A1 "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" (Extended Version) – 5:43
A2 "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" (7" Version) – 4:08
B1 "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" (Club Mix) – 7:35
B2 "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" (Instrumental) – 5:12[3]
Other Versions
  • 7th Heaven Club Mix - 6:44
  • 7th Heaven Radio Edit - 4:22

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1986) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[4] 1
Austrian Singles Chart 8
Belgian Singles Chart 1
Canadian Singles Chart 1
Dutch Singles Chart 1
French Singles Chart 6
German Singles Chart 2
Irish Singles Chart 1
New Zealand Singles Chart 3
Norwegian Singles Chart 1
Spain (AFYVE)[5] 2
Swedish Singles Chart 2
Swiss Singles Chart 2
UK Singles Chart[6] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Billboard Hot Soul Singles 6
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary 2
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 31

Boyzone version[edit]

"When the Going Gets Tough"
Single by Boyzone
from the album By Request
Released1 March 1999
Length5:44 (Album Version)
4:08 (UK Radio Edit))
2:59 (US Radio Edit)
Songwriter(s)Billy Ocean, Barry Eastmond, Wayne Brathwaite, Mutt Lange
Producer(s)Steve Mac
Boyzone singles chronology
"I Love the Way You Love Me"
"When the Going Gets Tough"
"You Needed Me"

The Irish boyband Boyzone recorded a cover version for the 1999 Comic Relief telethon, shortening the title to "When The Going Gets Tough". Their version reached number #1 on the UK Singles Chart for two weeks, becoming their fifth chart-topper.[6] The song received a platinum certification in the UK.[7] The video included Graham Norton, Jo Brand, Phill Jupitus, Mel Smith, Davina McCall, Harry Hill, Steve Collins, John McCririck, Jimmy White, Mystic Meg, Will Mellor, James Dreyfus, the cast of Emmerdale, Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish, and Ulrika Jonsson and Saracen from Gladiators.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "When the Going Gets Tough" - 3:35
  2. "What a Wonderful World" (Featuring Alison Moyet) - 4:00
  3. "Love Can Build a Bridge" - 3:59
CD2 (Limited Edition Pop Up Red Nose Digipak)[8]
  1. "When the Going Gets Tough" - 3:35
  2. "I'll Never Not Need You" - 4:07


Chart (1999) Peak
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[9] 7
French Singles Chart[10] 71
Irish Singles Chart[11] 2
Japanese Singles Chart[12] 91
Scottish Singles Chart[13] 1
UK Singles Chart[14] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1999) Position
Romania (Romanian Top 100)[15] 35
UK Singles Chart[citation needed] 10


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[16] Platinum 600,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Usage in media[edit]

In 1994 the song was used for a clip of the 1986 edition of the BBC documentary The Rock 'n' Roll Years featuring coverage of the People Power Revolution in the Philippines. Three years later, it was also used as a background song in the 1985-86 football season edition of Match of the 80s, during coverage of the challenge Kenny Dalglish faced on his appointment as player-manager of Liverpool F.C..

In the 2008 film Easy Virtue a cover version, in 1920s faux-jazz style, featured in the closing credits performed by Colin Firth, Ben Barnes, Jessica Biel, and Andy Caine.

The song was used in the film Keith Lemon: The Film (2012), as an ongoing theme, highlighting the claim that Billy Ocean was Lemon's father. Ocean himself appears in a cameo role.

In 1986, during the shows Championship Wrestling, Superstars of Wrestling and occasionally Prime Time Wrestling, the WWE (then called the WWF - World Wrestling Federation) would sometimes play the opening part of the song during a replay of a wrestling finishing move.


  1. ^ "V. JEFFREY SMITH (TORS-Producer/Sound Engineer)... - The Outlet Radio Show". Theoutletradioshow.tumblr.com. 15 March 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 458–9. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ "Billy Ocean - When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  4. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St. Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 221. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between mid 1983 and 19 June 1988.
  5. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  6. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 631. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  7. ^ "British certifications – When the Going Gets Tough". British Phonographic Industry. Type When the Going Gets Tough in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  8. ^ "Boyzone When The Going Gets Tough - Pop Up France CD single (CD5 / 5") (142509)". Eil.com. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  9. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (1999-03-20). "Billboard". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ Steffen Hung. "Boyzone - When The Going Gets Tough". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  11. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20131018042138/http://www.irishcharts.ie/search/placement?page=2. Archived from the original on October 18, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Boyzone ...By Request". Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  13. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Chart Top 100: 07 March 1999 - 13 March 1999". Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  14. ^ "Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  15. ^ "Romanian Top 100: Top of the Year 1999" (in Romanian). Romanian Top 100. Archived from the original on January 22, 2005.
  16. ^ "British single certifications – Boyzone – When the going gets tough". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type When the going gets tough in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]