You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
The lyrics were written by Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, the music was composed by Albert Hague, and the song was performed by Thurl Ravenscroft, best known as the voice of Tony the Tiger and numerous voices throughout Disney films and theme park attractions such as The Haunted Mansion. The song's lyrics describe the Grinch as being foul, bad-mannered and sinister using increasingly creative put-downs, metaphors and synonyms, beginning with the opening line "you're a mean one, Mister Grinch". The song has seven verses.
Because Ravenscroft was not credited in the closing credits of the special, it is often mistakenly attributed to Boris Karloff, who served as narrator and the voice of the Grinch in the special but who himself could not sing. After becoming aware of the oversight, Seuss himself called Ravenscroft and apologized profusely, and later wrote letters to columnists nationwide telling them that it was Ravenscroft who provided the song.
Ravenscroft recorded two versions of the selection, one version for the television special and the other version for the soundtrack. The two versions differ in the order of the verses; in the instrumentation: the soundtrack version's accompaniment is more straightforward, and features fewer instruments and "sound effect" musical events than the version heard during the special; the nature of singing (Ravenscroft uses more sprechgesang in the version heard on TV than the soundtrack version, which is mostly sung straight and in rhythm) and the transitions between verses: the soundtrack's transitions are shorter and less abrupt.
Due to the song's popularity, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" has been covered by a number of other artists:
- The Airmen of Note, the premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force, recorded a big-band instrumental arrangement by Bob Thurston on their 2005 CD, "A Holiday Note from Home".
- Asylum Street Spankers, on the album A Christmas Spanking.
- Suzy Bogguss covered the song on her 2nd Christmas CD, I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas, released November 28, 2010.
- Tracy Bonham.
- Bus Stop, entitled "Grinch", on the album Miracle Time!.
- Canadian Brass, entitled "Christmastime Is Here", on Opening Day Entertainment Group label.
- Jim Carrey, for the 2000 live-action version of the film, in which he portrayed The Grinch, who sings the song himself while preparing for his burglary.
- Ian Casselman, Marianas Trench (band).
- Slaid Cleaves, on the Holiday Samper EP.
- The Coats, on the album On Christmas Time.
- Electric Six, for The A.V. Club's Holiday Undercover series in November 2011.
- Flipmode Squad featuring Jim Carrey, a rap version where Carrey, rapping as the Grinch, collaborates with Busta Rhymes.
- Cee Lo Green, on his Christmas album Cee Lo's Magic Moment, along with Straight No Chaser.
- Fareed Haque.
- The Heebee-jeebees, a capella, on the album Christmas Crackers!, with additional music and dialogue describing a duel between The Grinch and Santa Claus.
- Gary Hoey, guitar instrumental, on the album Where Are You Now?.
- Doug Lacy covered the song and parodied it for the 2010 Christmas special for The Angry Video Game Nerd, entitled "You're a Mean One, Mr. Nerd".
- Bob Malone.
- Aimee Mann, on the album One More Drifter in the Snow.
- Mannheim Steamroller, on their album Christmasville, sung by Jeffrey Morrow.
- The Misfits covered the song for their Horror Xmas EP.
- Matthew Morrison and k.d. lang, on Glee The Music: The Christmas Album.
- NewSong, on their album The Christmas Shoes.
- Mojo Nixon & Toadliquors, entitled "Mr. Grinch", on the Horny Holidays album.
- Queens Club covered the song for the Happy Christmas 5 compilation.
- Red Wanting Blue, an indie rock & roll band from Columbus, Ohio.
- Busta Rhymes. The only part of the original song heard is the first verse during the chorus.
- Si Robertson from the A&E reality television series Duck Dynasty, covered the song for the 2013 Holiday Album, Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas.
- Rockapella, a cappella.
- Darius Rucker, on his album Home for the Holidays.
- RuPaul, on the 1997 album Ho, Ho, Ho.
- Brian Setzer Orchestra, from the Dig That Crazy Christmas album.
- Sixpence None the Richer.
- Straight No Chaser covered the song on their album Christmas Cheers, released November 3, 2009.
- Take 6, on their album The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
- Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, live in 2006 at a Guns N' Roses concert in Los Angeles.
- That Handsome Devil covered the song, entitled as "Mr. Grinch", as a 2008 Christmas single.
- VAST.
- The Venetia Fair covered the song originally as a standalone single, and then included it on their album The Pits.
- VersaEmerge.
- Whirling Dervishes, on the 1992 "Wish It Would Snow" EP and the 1995 "Grinch" EP.
- Dweezil Zappa, on his album Automatic.
- Tay Zonday.
- Jane Lynch covered the song for a Glee episode
- Matthew Taranto wrote the parody song "You're a Mean King, Dedede!" for his webcomic Brawl in the Family.
- Comedy website CollegeHumor wrote the parody song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Trump", parodying real estate mogul, television personality, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Comedy musician brentalfloss wrote a similar song called "How the Trump Stole Christmas".
- Green, Joey (2012). Weird and Wonderful Christmas: Curious and Crazy Customs and Coincidences from Around the World. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-57912-924-8.
- McCracken, Elizabeth (2005-12-25). "Our Cereal Hero". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-27.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 20, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
- "Electric Six covers "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch"". Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- "AllMusic". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
- "DUCK THE HALLS: A ROBERTSON FAMILY CHRISTMAS RELEASES SOON!". UMG Nashville. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
- "Lyrics and Video for Venetia Fair Cover". lyricsmania.com. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
- "AllMusic". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
- Pereira, Hugo H. (2014-06-29). "Conheça Brawl in the Family: Volume 1 e sua coleção de hilárias tirinhas" (in Portuguese). Nintendo Blast.
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- Lyrics to "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (TV version)
- Lyrics to "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (Soundtrack version)