Who's Johnny

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"Who's Johnny"
Single by El DeBarge
from the album El DeBarge
Released 1986
Format 12", CD single
Genre Dance-pop
Length 4:08
6:24 (12" version)
Label Gordy
Writer(s) Peter Wolf, Ina Wolf
Producer(s) Peter Wolf
El DeBarge singles chronology
"Who's Johnny"
"Love Always"

"Who's Johnny" is a hit recorded by El DeBarge. Released in 1986 off the Gordy label, the single was used for the film Short Circuit and reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Hot R&B Singles chart.[1] It was the only solo number 1 single DeBarge released after he left his surname-based family group in the same year.

"Weird Al" Yankovic recorded a parody for his Polka Party! album called "Here's Johnny" about The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson announcer Ed McMahon.

Music video[edit]

The video features El Debarge singing in a courtroom, where a judge is presiding over the trial of Johnny 5 (the robotic protagonist of Short Circuit). A representative of NOVA, the government defense contractor that created Johnny, sits at the prosecutor's table as El Debarge sings his testimony from the witness stand. Stephanie Speck (Ally Sheedy) and a cardboard cutout of Newton Graham Crosby, Ph.D. (Steve Guttenberg) are also in attendance as adversarial witnesses for the prosecution, implying that El Debarge is playing the co-lead role of Ben Jabituya, played by Fisher Stevens in the film. The prosecutor's sole question during these examinations is the titular line of the song "Who is Johnny?" She plays a VHS tape, labeled "Short Circuit," containing various clips from the movie. Meanwhile, Number 5 wreaks havoc in the courtroom (only his robotic hand is visible to the viewer) with various hijinks, including giving the prosecuting attorney a pair of funny nose glasses, turning up the ceiling fan to create a windstorm of papers, swapping the judge's gavel for an exploding one and calling the fire department, resulting in the judge being sprayed with water. Stephanie and El Debarge sneak out of the courtroom at the end, covering the camera with a slate on their way out. The prosecutor, still wearing the trick glasses, pops up to deliver the last "Who's Johnny?"


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 150. 
Preceded by
"I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz
Canadian RPM number-one single
July 16, 1986
Succeeded by
"Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel
Preceded by
"There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)" by Billy Ocean
Billboard Hot Black Singles number-one single
July 12, 1986 - July 18, 1986
Succeeded by
"Rumors" by Timex Social Club