I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)

"I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)" is a song written and performed by American songwriter, singer and musician Donald Fagen. It was the first track of his platinum-certified debut solo album The Nightfly, and was released in September 1982 as its first single. It charted well on the Billboard Hot 100, Mainstream Rock, R&B Singles and Adult Contemporary charts.

"I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)"
Donald Fagen - IGY.jpg
Single by Donald Fagen
from the album The Nightfly
B-side"Walk Between Raindrops"
ReleasedSeptember 1982
GenreJazz rock, jazz-funk, R&B
Length6:03 (album version)
4:56 (7" single)
LabelWarner Bros. - 29900
Songwriter(s)Donald Fagen
Producer(s)Gary Katz
Donald Fagen singles chronology
"I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)"
"New Frontier"


Fagen, along with musician Walter Becker, led the rock band Steely Dan during the 1970s. Between 1972 and 1981, Steely Dan had ten Top-40 singles, including the top-ten hits "Do It Again" (1972), "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" (1974) and "Hey Nineteen" (1980).[1]:600 In 1981, Becker and Fagen parted ways. Fagen's first album as a solo artist, The Nightfly, was released the next year.[2]


Title and lyricsEdit

The "I.G.Y." of the title refers to the "International Geophysical Year", an event that ran from July 1957 to December 1958.[1]:217 The I.G.Y. was an international scientific project promoting collaboration among the world's scientists. Fagen's lyrics sarcastically discuss the widespread optimistic vision of the future at that time, including futuristic concepts such as solar-powered cities, a transatlantic tunnel, permanent space stations,[3] and spandex jackets. The song criticizes this vision and offers a humorous critique on the naïveté of postwar optimism in America and the Western world.

The "76" referred to in the song is 1976, the U.S. Bicentennial year.[4].

Chart performance and cover versionsEdit

"I.G.Y." debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 9, 1982 at number 56. It reached the top 40 on October 30 and eventually peaked at number 26 on November 27, 1982.[5][1]:217 It also reached number 8 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, number 17 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, and number 54 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart. It was Fagen's only solo Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[6] "I.G.Y." has been covered by artists such as British singer and musician Howard Jones, who included a version on his 1993 greatest hits album The Best of Howard Jones.[7]

The gospel a cappella group Take 6 covered "I.G.Y." as the title track on their 2002 release Beautiful World. The lyrics of Fagen's original song were modified to recast the song with a gospel message.[8]

In 2004, Marcia Hines recorded a version for her album Hinesight.[9]


It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1983,[10] losing to "Always on My Mind".[11]

In popular cultureEdit

The song was also used in a scene from the Simpsons sixteenth season episode "Future Drama" when Homer and Bart are flying around in the 'imperfect Hovercar'.[12]

French DJ Producer Alan Braxe sampled this song for the remix on Benjamin Diamond's "In Your Arms (We Gonna Make It)".[13]


Chart (1982–83) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[14] 53
Canada 50 Singles (RPM)[15] 36
Canada Contemporary Adult (RPM)[16] 2
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[17] 46
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[18] 8
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 26
US Rock Albums & Top Tracks (Billboard)[20] 17

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (8th Edition). Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7499-4.
  2. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Steely Dan biography". AllMusic. Retrieved November 1, 2010.
  3. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Song review: Donald Fagen: I.G.Y." AllMusic. Retrieved November 1, 2010.
  4. ^ Aaron, S. Victor (2012-07-08). "Steely Dan Sunday: "I.G.Y." (1982)". somethingelsereviews.com. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  5. ^ "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart". Billboard.com. 1982-11-27. Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  6. ^ "Donald Fagen: Billboard Singles". AllMusic. Retrieved November 1, 2010.
  7. ^ DeGagne, Mike. "The Best of Howard Jones". AllMusic. Retrieved November 1, 2010.
  8. ^ Edelstein, Paula. "Beautiful World - Take 6". AllMusic. Retrieved March 28, 2011.
  9. ^ Hinesight - Marcia Hines|AllMusic
  10. ^ Hilburn, Robert (February 21, 1983). "Grammys could gain needed respectability by honoring Nelson". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved November 1, 2010.
  11. ^ "Johnny Christopher Grammy awards". AllMusic. Retrieved November 1, 2010.
  12. ^ "The Simpsons" Future-Drama (TV Episode 2005) - Soundtracks - IMDb
  13. ^ Benjamin Diamond's 'In Your Arms (We Gonna Make It Mix by Alex Braxe)' sample of Donald Fagen's 'I.G.Y. (International Geophysical Year)' on WhoSampled
  14. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  15. ^ "RPM 50 Singles" (PDF). RPM. Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada. 37 (17). December 11, 1982. OCLC 352936026. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
  16. ^ "RPM Contemporary Adult" (PDF). RPM. Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada. 37 (20). January 15, 1983. OCLC 352936026. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
  17. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Donald Fagen – New Frontier" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  18. ^ "Billboard Top 50 Adult Contemporary Survey for Week Ending 3/19/83". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 95 (11): 23. March 19, 1983. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  19. ^ "Donald Fagen Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  20. ^ "Billboard Rock Albums & Top Tracks Survey for Week Ending 12/4/82". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 94 (48): 20. December 4, 1982. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved November 29, 2016.

External linksEdit