You're the Top
"You're The Top" is a Cole Porter song from the 1934 musical Anything Goes. It is about a man and a woman who take turns complimenting each other. The best-selling version was Paul Whiteman's Victor single, which made the top five.
The lyrics are particularly notable because they offer a snapshot as to what was highly prized in the mid-1930s and demonstrate Porter's rhyming ability.
Some of the lyrics were re-written by P. G. Wodehouse for the British version of Anything Goes.
People and items referenced in the song
The following is a list of many of the references made in the song:
- Louvre Museum
- Melody from a symphony by Strauss
- Bendel bonnet
- Shakespeare's sonnets
- Mickey Mouse
- The Nile
- The Leaning Tower of Pisa
- The smile on the Mona Lisa
- Vincent Youmans
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Napoleon Brandy
- Purple light of a summer night in Spain
- National Gallery
- Garbo's salary (alternately recorded as "Crosby's salary", a reference to Bing Crosby, who twice starred in film versions of Anything Goes)
- Turkey dinner
- The time of a Derby winner
- Arrow Shirts collar
- Coolidge Dollar (referencing the financial prosperity of the Roaring Twenties under US President Coolidge)
- Fred Astaire
- A drama by playwright Eugene O'Neill
- Whistler's Mother
- Dante's Inferno
- The nose of Jimmy Durante
- Irving Berlin
- A Dutch Master
- Dance in Bali
- Hot tamale
- A painting by Botticelli
- John Keats
- Percy Bysshe Shelley
- Boulder Dam
- The Moon
- Mae West's shoulder
- G.O.P. (U.S. Republican Party)
- Waldorf salad
- Berlin ballad
- Zuider Zee
- Lady Astor
- Steppes of Russia
- Ritz hot toddy
- Brewster body
- Bishop Manning
- Nathan panning
- A night at Coney
- The eyes of Irène Bordoni
- Tower of Babel
- Whitney stable
- Stein of beer
- A dress from Saks Fifth Avenue
- Next year's taxes
- Max Baer
- Rudy Vallee
- Phenolax (a 1930s laxative made from phenolphthalein)
- Drumstick lipstick
- Irish Sweepstakes
- The pants on a Roxy usher
- The nimble tread of the feet of Fred Astaire
P. G. Wodehouse anglicised it for the British version of Anything Goes. Amongst other changes, he altered two lines from "You’re an O’Neill drama / You’re Whistler’s mama!" to "You’re Mussolini / You’re Mrs Sweeny")
Versions of the song
- Ethel Merman sang it in the original 1934 production of Anything Goes.
- Barbra Streisand: In the 1972 film What's Up, Doc?. (The film also features several Porter compositions in the form of elevator music.)
- Diana Rigg: In the 1982 Agatha Christie Poirot film Evil Under the Sun.
- Ella Fitzgerald: In her Cole Porter songbook.
- Cole Porter: Over the end titles of the 2004 biopic De-Lovely. A different version, played by Hal Kemp's Orchestra, vocal: Skinnay Ennis, appears in the soundtrack to the 2007 video game BioShock.
- Patti LuPone: In the 1987 Broadway (Lincoln Center) revival of Anything Goes.
- Louis Armstrong: In the 1994 album Verve Jazz Masters 1.
- James Gillan in Easy Virtue
- Sutton Foster: In the 2011 Broadway revival of Anything Goes.
- In the third season episode "Heart" of the television show Glee, actors Jeff Goldblum and Brian Stokes Mitchell sang one of the verses to this song. However, a full version featuring both was released as a single.
- The "Washington vs. the Bunny" (season one, episode five) episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show features a version of the song performed for Laura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore) by her very young son Ritchie. In that version, Ritchie mistakenly alters the lyrics from "You're the Mona Lisa" to "You're the Mommy Lisa".
- The song played a major role in the M*A*S*H episode "The Joker Is Wild" whereupon the loser of a "jokeoff" in the 4077th had to sing the song without his bottoms (pants) in the mess hall. Alan Alda's character Hawkeye ultimately had to make good on said promise.
- Also sung as the introduction by Paul Jones and arranged by Richard Rodney Bennett for the ITV series The Charmer starring Nigel Havers. Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka did a version of the song at the 2011's gala of The Trevor Project
- A personalized version of this song was featured in season seven of Gilmore Girls, sung by Edward Herrmann and Kelly Bishop to their onscreen granddaughter played by Alexis Bledel in honor of her graduation from Yale. It features such lines as: "You're the top/You've graduated. You're the top/Your grandparents are elated."
- In 1985, a series of Heinz Tomato Ketchup commercials in Canada featured various cover versions of the song as their jingle.
- In John Mortimer's novel Paradise Postponed (1985) and the television series of the same name (Euston Films, 1986): A rendering of the song by a fictitious performer, Pinky Pinkerton, includes the line, "You're my Lady Grace", which signifies Lady Grace Fanner in the story.
Porter biographer William McBrien wrote that at the height of its popularity in 1934 to 1935 it had become a "popular pastime" to create parodies of the lyrics. Porter, who himself had called the song "just a trick" the public would get bored by was flooded with hundreds of parodies with one reportedly written by Irving Berlin. Despite the "ribald" nature of some of the parodies, McBrien believes few, including a "King Kong" parody, were written by Porter or Berlin.
- Redmond, James (1981). Drama, Dance and Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-521-22180-1.
- McBrien, William (1998). Cole Porter : a biography (1 ed.). New York: Knopf. pp. 169–171. ISBN 978-0-394-58235-1.
- "Mayfair, the Duchess of Argyll and the Headless Man polaroids". Another Nickel In The Machine. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- Hoge, Warren (16 August 2000). "London Journal; A Sex Scandal of the 60's, Doubly Scandalous Now". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- "NPH and David Burtka singing Your The Top At Trevor Live". YouTube. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- "1985 Canadian commercial - Heinz Ketchup - You're the Top". YouTube. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
- Mortimer, John (1985). Paradise Postponed. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 014009864X.
- Noah, Timothy (18 June 2005). "Farewell to Berlin". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- Explication of lyrics by Slate.com
- Additional Explanation of lyrics by Slate.com
- Explication of lyrics by Playbill
- Explication of lyrics by Playbill
- Library of Congress essay on Porter's version on the National Recording Registry.