Theme from New York, New York

"Theme from New York, New York", often abbreviated to just "New York, New York", is the theme song from the Martin Scorsese film New York, New York (1977), composed by John Kander, with lyrics by Fred Ebb. It was written for and performed in the film by Liza Minnelli and was nominated for the year's Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. It remains one of the best-known songs about New York City, and in 2004, it ranked #31 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.

"Theme from New York, New York"
US vinyl label
Single by Liza Minnelli
from the album New York, New York
B-side"Hazoy" (Ralph Burns and His Orchestra)
ReleasedJune 21, 1977
LabelUnited Artists
Composer(s)John Kander
Lyricist(s)Fred Ebb
Producer(s)Ralph Burns
"Theme from New York, New York"
Single by Frank Sinatra
from the album Trilogy: Past Present Future
B-side"That's What God Looks Like to Me"
ReleasedApril 1980
RecordedSeptember 19, 1979
Songwriter(s)Fred Ebb, John Kander
Producer(s)Sonny Burke
Frank Sinatra singles chronology
"Night and Day"
"Theme from New York, New York"
"You and Me (We Wanted It All)"

History edit

Composer John Kander and Lyricist Fred Ebb stated on the A&E Biography episode about Liza Minnelli, that they attribute the song's success to actor Robert De Niro, who rejected their original theme for the film because he thought it was "too weak". The song did not become a popular hit until it was picked up in concert by Frank Sinatra during his performances at Radio City Music Hall in October 1978.

In 1979, "Theme from New York, New York" was recorded by Frank Sinatra for his album Trilogy: Past Present Future (1980), and became closely associated with him as one of his signature songs. Don Costa received a Grammy nomination for the energetic orchestration.[1] Sinatra occasionally performed the song live with Minnelli as a duet. Sinatra recorded it a second time for his 1993 album Duets, with Tony Bennett.

Sinatra's recording peaked at #32 in June 1980, becoming his final Top 40 hit. It was also an Adult Contemporary hit, reaching #10 in the US[2] and #2 in Canada.[3] The song made a minor showing in the UK (#59); however, it recharted several years later and reached #4 in 1986. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Sinatra made two more studio recordings of the song in 1981 (for his NBC TV special The Man and His Music) and 1993 (for Capitol Records). From the latter, an electronic duet with Tony Bennett was produced for Sinatra's Duets album.

The lyrics of the Sinatra versions differ slightly from Ebb's original lyrics. Notably, the phrase "A-number-one", which does not appear at all in the original lyrics, is sung twice at the song's rallentando climax. (Ebb has said he "didn't even like" Sinatra's use of "A-number-one".)[4] The phrase is both the first and fourth on a list of three superlative titles the singer strives to achieve — "A-number-one, top of the list, king of the hill, A-number-one" — where Ebb's original lyrics (performed by Minnelli) were "king of the hill, head of the list, cream of the crop, and the top of the heap", rhymed with "the city that doesn't sleep".

The first line of the song is:

Start spreadin' the news, I'm leavin' today
I want to be a part of it: New York, New York.

The song concludes with the line:

If I can make it there, I'm gonna make it anywhere,
It's up to you, New York, New York.

Minnelli's original recording of the song (also used in the Tony Bennett version in Duets) uses the following closing line:

If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere,
Come on, come through, New York, New York.

Liza Minnelli performed the song live during the July 4, 1986 ceremony marking the rededication of the Statue of Liberty after extensive renovations.[5][6] She also sang it in the middle of the seventh inning at Shea Stadium during a New York Mets game, the first pro sports event in the metro area after the September 11, 2001 attacks.[7]

Charts edit

Liza Minnelli version
Chart (1977) Peak
US Billboard Bubbling Under the Hot 100[8] 104
Frank Sinatra version

Certifications edit

Certifications for Frank Sinatra version
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[15] Gold 500,000

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

In popular culture edit

The song has been embraced as a celebration of New York City, and is often heard at New York City social events, such as weddings and bar mitzvahs. Many sports teams in New York City have played this song in their arenas/stadiums, but the New York Yankees are the most prominent example. It has been played over the loudspeakers at both the original and current Yankee Stadiums at the end of every Yankee home game since July 1980. Originally, Sinatra's version was played after a Yankees win, and the Minnelli version after a loss.[16] However, due to a complaint from Minnelli, the Sinatra version is now heard regardless of the game's outcome.[17]

Liza Minnelli performed it live on September 21, 2001 at Shea Stadium during the seventh inning stretch which was the first game in New York after the attacks on the World Trade Center. The Mets beat the Braves with a dramatic home run by Mike Piazza. It is known as the "9/11 game".

From the 2005 season until 2020, at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark following Staten Island Yankees games, the Sinatra version was heard regardless of the game's outcome, and was formerly done at Shea Stadium at the end of New York Mets games after the September 11, 2001 attack. Previously, Mets fans felt it was a "Yankee song", and began booing it when it was played. It actually first had snippets of the song played after World Series home runs by Ray Knight and Darryl Strawberry during Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. The song is also sometimes played at New York Knicks games. The Sinatra version is played at the end of every New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. It was played at the opening faceoff of Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals at the Garden.[18] The song has also been the post parade song for the Belmont Stakes from 1997 to 2009,[19] and since 2011.[20] Sinatra's version of the song has been played at the end of all four Super Bowls that the New York Giants have won to date, as well as before kickoff of Super Bowl XLVIII, while Minnelli's version was heard after the Giants' Super Bowl XXXV loss.

The song was the musical basis for Jimmy Picker's 1983 three-minute animated short, Sundae in New York, which won the Oscar for Best Short Film (Animated) that year, with a likeness of then-mayor Ed Koch somewhat stumbling through the song, with clay caricatures of New York-based celebrities (including Alfred E. Neuman) and finishing the song with "Basically, I think New York is very therapeutic. Hey, an apple a day is... uh... great for one's constitution!" and burying his face in a big banana split with "THE END" written on his bald head. (Koch used the same rallentando climax Sinatra used, albeit with one big difference: "A-number one, top of the list, king of the hill..." followed by his impression of Groucho Marx completing, "...and incidentally a heckuva nice guy!")[21]

An instrumental version of the song is used as the main theme music for NBC's broadcasts of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Since 2001, The Frank Sinatra version is also played during the annual Times Square New Year's Day celebrations, immediately after the first verse of "Auld Lang Syne" and the ball drop that signifies the new year.[22]

Mexico's top singer José José recorded the song in Spanish.

Queen covered the song for the 1986 fantasy film Highlander. Unlike the other songs recorded for the film, it has never appeared on a Queen album.

in the 1985 Albert Brooks comedy Lost in America, the Frank Sinatra version of the song was featured during the final montage of the film as Albert’s character and his wife make a mad dash from Arizona to New York in an RV in pursuit of a job his character had turned down initially with many derisive comments about New York.

The song is performed by Brain Gremlin (voice provided by Tony Randall) in the 1990 sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch.

Tiny Tim recorded the song with Brave Combo on what would be his final recording,[23] the 1996 album Girl.[24]

The song is performed during the end credits "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson", the first episode of the ninth season of The Simpsons.

In Arrested Development episode 8 of season 2, which originally aired in January 2005, Tobias, played by David Cross, starts singing the song in his club. Lucille 2, played by Liza Minnelli, is in the audience and remarks "Everyone thinks they're Frank Sinatra."

In DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar (2005), the song is introduced in Central Park Zoo, and Marty later sings the song in the midst of Alex the Lion's delirium.[25]

In the series premiere of the popular CBS crime-drama series Blue Bloods, back in 2010, the song is playing while Jamie is walking out in front of his family while about to graduate from the police academy and when they throw their hats.

The song is covered in the heavy metal compilation album album Sin-Atra, featuring Canadian musician Devin Townsend as the vocalist.[26]

In the 2011 film Shame, Sissy Sullivan, played by Carey Mulligan, sings a slower version of this song at a bar.

In 2013, the song was played at the funeral of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.[27]

Pop singer Lady Gaga briefly covered the song in a mashup with her song Applause during her opening sketch on an episode of Saturday Night Live in November 2013. She has since then performed the song as part of the encore of her Las Vegas jazz residency and other various events.

The song was also featured in the James Bond film Spectre, during the car chase in Rome, much to Bond's annoyance.

In 2016, the American filmmaker and YouTube personality Casey Neistat published a viral video titled "Snowboarding with the NYPD" which was set to the song.[28][29]

The song is referenced in Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, a 3D motion-simulator at Universal Studios Florida. At one point in the ride, Jimmy Fallon sings the lyrics "Start spreading the news, I'm winning the race", a play on the song.

The song was played widely in New York City during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic by residents expressing pride and solidarity.[30]

The song is regularly played at parties and events to signal the final song of the night.

It is also commonly played at England's AESSEAL New York Stadium, home of football team Rotherham United, following a win. The stadium is built on the former site of a factory that built fire hydrants for New York City.

The song was sung by Canada's leader of the Opposition Pierre Poilievre during a discussion on Federal Workers Strike and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's trip to New York.

Parodies edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Don Costa". Grammy Awards. Recording Academy. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 221.
  3. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". July 5, 1980. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  4. ^ "'New York, New York'".
  5. ^ Munzenrieder, Kyle (April 13, 2020). "Liza Minnelli Belting "New York, New York" in 1986 Will Enliven Your Spirit". W Magazine. Archived from the original on April 16, 2020. Retrieved September 6, 2023.
  6. ^ Goldman, John J.; Mehren, Elizabeth (July 7, 1986). "A Glitzy Finale : Cast of 8,000 Performs in Liberty Fete". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 6, 2023. Retrieved September 6, 2023.
  7. ^ Fanuzzi, Robert; Wolfe, Michael (April 23, 2014). Recovering 9/11 in New York. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-4438-5959-2. Retrieved September 6, 2023.
  8. ^ a b Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  9. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". July 5, 1980. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  10. ^ "IRMA". Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  11. ^ "Official Charts Company". Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  12. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, July 5, 1980". Archived from the original on August 12, 2018. Retrieved August 11, 2018.
  13. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – New York, New York". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  14. ^ "Official Charts Company". February 22, 1986. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  15. ^ "British single certifications – Frank Sinatra – New York New York". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved January 19, 2024.
  16. ^ "Stadium Songs: New York Yankees". July 20, 2012. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  17. ^ "10 Facts About Yankee Stadium". September 23, 2008. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  18. ^ McKinley, Michael (2012). Hockey Night in Canada 60 Seasons. Toronto: Penguin Group. p. 233. ISBN 978-0670066988.
  19. ^ "Belmont Stakes Traditions". June 15, 2010. Archived from the original on May 16, 2010. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  20. ^ "Sinatra's voice returns to Belmont Stakes". Associated Press. June 4, 2011. Archived from the original on January 18, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  21. ^ "Sundae in New York video". Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  22. ^ Ball Drop 2011 on YouTube
  23. ^ "RSD '22 Special Release: Tiny Tim & Brave Combo - Girl", Record Store Day, retrieved August 20, 2023
  24. ^ "Tiny Tim With Brave Combo - Girl", Discogs, 1996, retrieved August 20, 2023
  25. ^ Laurie, Timothy (2015), "Becoming-Animal Is A Trap For Humans", Deleuze and the Non-Human eds. Hannah Stark and Jon Roffe.
  26. ^ "Sin-atra (2011, CD)". Discogs. March 29, 2011. Retrieved January 22, 2024.
  27. ^ "Ed Koch funeral: Former mayor's coffin exits to 'New York, New York'". February 4, 2013.
  28. ^ "Snowboarding With The NYPD". The State Times. February 10, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  29. ^ "SNOWBOARDING WITH THE NYPD". Archived from the original on December 12, 2021. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  30. ^ "NYC Sings 'New York, New York' After Nightly Clapping Salute to Medical Workers". NBC News. April 17, 2020.
  31. ^ New York, New York ft. Johnny T, archived from the original on December 12, 2021, retrieved August 9, 2020

External links edit