You're the Top
|"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 the references used in the version recorded by Cole Porter on November 26, 1934:
- Louvre Museum
- Melody from a symphony by Strauss
- Bendel bonnet
- Shakespeare's sonnets
- Mickey Mouse
- The Nile
- The Tower of Pisa
- The smile on the Mona Lisa
- 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 collar
- Coolidge Dollar (referencing the financial prosperity of the Roaring Twenties under US President Coolidge)
- The nimble tread of the feet of Fred Astaire
- O'Neill drama
- Whistler's Mother
- Dante's Inferno
- The nose of Jimmy Durante
- Waldorf salad
- Berlin ballad
- A Dutch Master
- Mrs. Astor: Lady Astor, Caroline Schermerhorn Astor, or Ellen Tuck French
- Steppes of Russia
- The pants on a Roxy usher
Additional references in other versions of the song:
- 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)
- Zuider Zee
- Broccoli (which had only recently become well-known in the US)
- 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
- Vincent Youmans
P. G. Wodehouse anglicised it for the British version of Anything Goes. Among 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.
- Bing Crosby sang it with Ethel Merman in the 1936 film version of Anything Goes. He also sang in the 1956 film with Mitzi Gaynor, Donald O'Connor and Jeanmaire. He and Gaynor also recorded it separately for Decca Records for inclusion in the soundtrack album.
- Ella Fitzgerald: In her Cole Porter songbook.
- Louis Armstrong: On his 1957 album World on a String.
- Edd Byrnes released a version of the song as the B-side to his 1959 hit "Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)".
- 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".
- Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal: In the 1972 film What's Up, Doc?. (The film also features several Porter compositions in the form of elevator music.)
- Diana Rigg and Maggie Smith: In the 1982 Agatha Christie Poirot film Evil Under the Sun.
- Rosemary Clooney: In her 1982 album Rosemary Clooney Sings the Music of Cole Porter.
- 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.
- Ana Belén (Spanish singer): In her 1983 album Veneno para el corazón sings a version called 'Basta ya'.
- 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.
- Patti LuPone: In the 1987 Broadway (Lincoln Center) revival of Anything Goes.
- 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.
- In the 1992 film Passed Away, Father Hallahan (Patrick Breen) sings this song during a wake.
- Bobby Short sang a cover of the song in 1998 to promote the World Trade Center. There was also a commercial featuring a piano cover of the song at Ground Zero featured on the main homepage for the original World Trade Center, but the homepage was removed after the September 11th attacks.
- Cole Porter sang his own composition accompanying himself on piano in 1934. It appears over the end titles of the 2004 biopic De-Lovely.
- In 2003, American jazz singer Stacey Kent covered the song on her album The Boy Next Door.
- 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."
- 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.
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. The American Cabaret Theatre biographical musical Cole & Noel (2001) had the line "I'm talkin' King Kong's penis" in the performance of the song.
- 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.
- Noah, Timothy (June 9, 2005). "A skeleton key to "You're the Top."". Slate. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
- Day to Day. June 10, 2005. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
- Botto, Louis (December 10, 1997). "A User's Guide to Cole Porter's "You're the Top". Playbill. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
- "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.
- "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
- "1985 Canadian commercial – Heinz Ketchup – You're the Top". YouTube. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
- Mortimer, John (1985). Paradise Postponed. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 014009864X.
- "NPH and David Burtka singing Your The Top At Trevor Live". YouTube. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- "It's De Lovely – The Authentic Cole Porter Collection". Retrieved 2015-11-14.
- Stacey Kent - You're the top, retrieved 2021-04-28
- Noah, Timothy (18 June 2005). "Farewell to Berlin". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 13 February 2012.