You're the Top

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"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.

It was the most popular song from Anything Goes at the start with hundreds of parodies.[1][2]

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[edit]

The following is a list of many of the references made in the song:

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")[3][4]

Versions of the song[edit]

  • 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.
  • 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 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.[8]


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.[2] Porter, who himself had called the song "just a trick" the public would get bored by[2] was flooded with hundreds of parodies with one reportedly written by Irving Berlin.[2] Despite the "ribald" nature of some of the parodies, McBrien believes few, including a "King Kong" parody, were written by Porter or Berlin.[10]


  1. ^ Redmond, James (1981). Drama, Dance and Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-521-22180-1. 
  2. ^ a b c d McBrien, William (1998). Cole Porter : a biography (1 ed.). New York: Knopf. pp. 169–171. ISBN 978-0-394-58235-1. 
  3. ^ "Mayfair, the Duchess of Argyll and the Headless Man polaroids". Another Nickel In The Machine. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ "It's De Lovely - The Authentic Cole Porter Collection". Retrieved 2015-11-14. 
  6. ^ "NPH and David Burtka singing Your The Top At Trevor Live". YouTube. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "1985 Canadian commercial - Heinz Ketchup - You're the Top". YouTube. Retrieved 18 October 2013. 
  8. ^ Mortimer, John (1985). Paradise Postponed. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 014009864X. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Noah, Timothy (18 June 2005). "Farewell to Berlin". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 

External links[edit]