Don't Worry, Be Happy

"Don't Worry, Be Happy" is a song by American musician Bobby McFerrin released in 1988. It was the first a cappella song to reach number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a position it held for two weeks. Originally released in conjunction with the film Cocktail, the song peaked at No. 1 on September 24, 1988,[3] displacing "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns N' Roses.[4]

"Don't Worry, Be Happy"
DontWorryBe.jpg
Single by Bobby McFerrin
from the album Simple Pleasures
A-side"Don't Worry Be Happy"[1]
B-side
    • 12" maxi
    • 7" promo
    • 7" single
    • CD single
Released1988
Recorded1988
Genre
Length4:54 (album version)
4:03 (music video)
3:50 (radio edit)
LabelEMI-Manhattan[1]
Songwriter(s)Bobby McFerrin[1]
Producer(s)Linda Goldstein[1]
Music video
"Don't Worry, Be Happy" on YouTube

The song also peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart[5] and No. 7 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.[3] The song was also a hit in the United Kingdom, reaching number 2 during its fifth week on the UK Singles Chart.[6] In Canada, the song reached No. 1 in its eighth week.[7] One critic noted it as a "formula for facing life's trials".[8]

BackgroundEdit

 
Meher Baba, who often used the phrase "Don't worry, be happy"

Indian mystic Meher Baba (1894–1969) often used the expression "Don't worry, be happy" when cabling his followers in the West,[9] and the expression was printed on inspirational cards and posters during the 1960s. In 1988, McFerrin noticed a similar poster in the apartment of jazz duo Tuck & Patti in San Francisco,[citation needed] and he was inspired by the expression's charm and simplicity.[10] He wrote the song that was included in the soundtrack of the movie Cocktail and became a hit single the next year.[11]

CompositionEdit

The "instruments" in the a cappella song are entirely overdubbed voice parts and other sounds made by McFerrin, using no instruments at all; McFerrin also sings with an affected accent, though he stated that "I hate to go so far as to say it's Jamaican. It was heavily influenced by Juan's Mexican Restaurant, which was just around the corner from the studio."[12] "Don't Worry, Be Happy" is written in the key of B major.[13]

Music videoEdit

The comedic original music video for the song stars McFerrin, Robin Williams, and Bill Irwin,[14] and is somewhat shorter than the album version.

AwardsEdit

At the 1989 Grammy Awards, "Don't Worry, Be Happy" won the awards for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

Critical receptionEdit

The song is ranked No. 31 on VH1's "100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the '80s" and also appears on Rolling Stone's list of the 15 Best Whistling Songs of All Time.[15][16] It was also featured at #301 in the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts' 'Songs of the Century' in 2001.[17]

However, in 2011, "Don't Worry, Be Happy" was named as the worst song of all time by Village Voice critic Michael Musto,[18] and it topped Q100 DJ Bert Weiss's list of tracks he would forever ban from radio.[19] In the "50 Worst Songs Ever", Blender said that "it's difficult to think of a song more likely to plunge you into suicidal despondency than this", and also lambasted its "appalling" lyrics.[20]

Kieran McCarthy of Allmusic expected the song would "probably remain prevalent in pop culture as long as humans speak English and play music."[21]

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[55] Gold 45,000 
Germany (BVMI)[56] Platinum 500,000^
Sweden (GLF)[57] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[58] Silver 200,000 
United States (RIAA)[59] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Usage in popular cultureEdit

Cover versionsEdit

Versions of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" have been recorded by several artists. The Katsimiha Brothers made a Greek cover of the song with original lyrics, and Montenegrin musician Rambo Amadeus made a parody titled "Don't Happy, Be Worry", as a critique to the optimism of the music scene in the former Yugoslavia in the face of war and economic depression. In addition, the lyrics of "Fight the Power" by hip hop artists Public Enemy refer critically to "Don't Worry, Be Happy". A version of this song sung by The Hit Crew is also added into the Big Mouth Billy Bass, a very popular animatronic singing toy. Hermes House Band covered the song on their Rhythm of the Nineties album in 2009. Reggae artist Cas Haley covered the song as a hidden bonus track on his Favorites album (together with former Jah Roots lead singer, Josh Heinrichs). Also in 1989 Dutch rock DJ Alfred Lagarde recorded a version in Dutch with a heavy Surinam accent under the name Johnny Camaro.

Confusion with Bob MarleyEdit

Contrary to popular belief, the famous reggae musician Bob Marley never recorded a version of "Don't Worry, Be Happy", as he died seven years before the song was written. (Marley's own hit song "Three Little Birds" includes a similar lyric in its chorus: "Don't worry about a thing, every little thing's gonna be all right.")[citation needed] Despite this, a video on YouTube attributing "Don't Worry, Be Happy" to Marley gained over 100 million views.[69]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e "Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry Be Happy". Discogs. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  2. ^ "SPIN june 1989" (PDF). Spin. SPIN Media LLC: 66. 1989. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "The Hot 100: The Week of September 24, 1988". Billboard.
  4. ^ Holden, Stephen (September 29, 1988). "Don't Worry, Be Happy: Bobby Mcferrin Has A No. 1 Hit". New York Times News Service. Retrieved June 9, 2014. McFerrin's hit is earning the superb vocal improviser a mass audience, as his album, Simple Pleasures leaps from No. 20 to No. 12 on the album chart.
  5. ^ "Bobby McFerrin Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  6. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100 | Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Don't Worry, Be Happy. B Happy – Benny to Beyonce, 2012
  9. ^ Bhau Kalchuri (1986). 'Meher Prabhu: Lord Meher, The Biography of the Avatar of the Age, Meher Baba. Manifestation, Inc. pp. 5134, 5770, 5970, 6405, 6742. ASIN B000UGTLKE.
  10. ^ Jackson, B. (2010, 07). Bobby McFerrin: "DON'T WORRY BE HAPPY". Mix, 34, 40. ProQuest 928937465
  11. ^ Fessier, Bruce (1988). Interview. USA Weekend magazine, 1988.
  12. ^ Saunders, Michael. "'Don't Worry, Be Happy'--It's Catching" Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Sun-Sentinel:1988.
  13. ^ Bobby, McFerrin (July 20, 2009). "Don't Worry, Be Happy". Musicnotes.com. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  14. ^ Heldenfels, Rich (June 27, 2012). "Mailbag: Mr. Noodle explained". Akron Beacon-Journal. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  15. ^ Ali 5/2/2013, Rahsheeda. "100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the '80s". VH1 News. Retrieved June 26, 2021.
  16. ^ Murphy, Kate (September 30, 2011). "The 15 Best Whistling Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  17. ^ http://edition.cnn.com/2001/SHOWBIZ/Music/03/07/list.top.365.songs/
  18. ^ Musto, Michael (17 October 2011). "The Seven Worst Songs of All Time". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 3 January 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  19. ^ Weiss, Bert (2015). "The Songs YOU Would Ban Forever If You Could". The Bert Show. Q100. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  20. ^ Run for Your Life! It's the 50 Worst Songs Ever!, Blender, May 2004. Wayback Machine archive of 24 January 2005. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  21. ^ McCarthy, Kieran. "Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin". Allmusic. Netaktion LLC. Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  22. ^ "Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
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  27. ^ Danish Singles Chart 18 November 1988
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  29. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 10 (14. október 1988)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir. Retrieved July 23, 2018. {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
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  63. ^ Sonsky, Steve (January 1, 1989). "3 million TV viewers affected". The Miami Herald. Knight Ridder. p. 1A-25A. Retrieved April 3, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
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  67. ^ "[Official Video] Winter Wonderland/Don't Worry Be Happy – Pentatonix (ft Tori Kelly)". YouTube. November 4, 2014. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021.
  68. ^ "Kermit Ruffins • Irvin Mayfield – A Beautiful World". Basin Street Records. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
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External linksEdit