You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

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"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is a Christmas song that was originally written and composed for the 1966 animated special Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.[1]


The lyrics were written by Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, the music was composed by Albert Hague, and the song was performed by Thurl Ravenscroft. The song's lyrics describe the Grinch as being unpleasant, foul-smelling, bad-mannered, despicable, and diabolical, using increasingly creative put-downs, metaphors, similes and off-hand comments by the singer, beginning with the opening line "you're a mean one, Mr. Grinch".

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 was not a trained singer. Until Ravenscroft was publicly credited, Tennessee Ernie Ford was also speculated to be the voice behind the song.[2]

The soundtrack to the special won the Grammy Award for Best Album for Children at the 10th Annual Grammy Awards.

The song has been incorporated into most other adaptations of the story. In the 2000 live-action film, Jim Carrey performs the song in character as the Grinch, singing about himself. The stage musical adaptation included the song in the score, among several other original numbers composed specifically for that production. The 2018 CGI animated film features a substantially updated version of the song from Tyler, the Creator.[3]

The song was also covered by New Jersey alternative rock band the Whirling Dervishes.[4] Writer Chris Jordan of the Asbury Park Press called their version "wonderfully depraved in the best of holiday ways" and noted that their version had "become a Jersey classic."[5]


Glee Cast version[edit]

Chart (2010–11) Peak
US Holiday Digital Songs (Billboard)[6] 45

Thurl Ravenscroft version[edit]

Chart (2019–2020) Peak
Global 200 (Billboard)[7] 90
US Billboard Hot 100[8] 32
US Holiday 100 (Billboard)[9] 14
US Rolling Stone Top 100[10] 24


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ McCracken, Elizabeth (December 25, 2005). "Our Cereal Hero". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 15, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2009.
  3. ^ Klinkenberg, Brendan (October 24, 2018). "Tyler, the Creator Updates 'You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch' and It's… Pretty Good?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  4. ^ Acampora, Rob. "Jersey Band Forever Tied to Character Who Turns 45 This Year". SoJO 104.9. Retrieved December 5, 2021.
  5. ^ "The 10 greatest Jersey Christmas songs of all time". Retrieved December 5, 2021.
  6. ^ "Glee Cast Chart History (Holiday Digital Song Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  7. ^ "Thurl Ravenscroft Chart History (Global 200)". Billboard. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  8. ^ "Thurl Ravenscroft Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  9. ^ "Thurl Ravenscroft Chart History (Holiday 100)". Billboard. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  10. ^ "Top 100 Songs". Rolling Stone. December 24, 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2020.

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