If you’re a fan of contemporary music as well as the classic hits, then you’re surely aware of the hottest song in the country, Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” Having already spent seven weeks at the top of the Billboard 100 charts, the Academy Award-nominated song from the animated film “Despicable Me 2” shows no signs of slowing down.
But it’s not the first song to capitalize on the word ‘happy’ (it just happens to be the only one which simply kept it at one word)!
So here’s a look back at some of the happiest songs in the history of pop music.
1. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”- Bobby McFerrin
Similarities to Pharrell’s “Happy” are obvious in this whistling tune by GRAMMY Award-winner Bobby McFerrin. It was the very first a cappella tune to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, where it stayed for two weeks in September of 1988. It was originally heard in the soundtrack to the Tom Cruise film Cocktail.
2. “The Happiest Girl In The Whole U.S.A.”- Donna Fargo
It was a country cross over in 1972, becoming a huge hit (and eventually the signature song) for country songstress Donna Fargo. Fargo’s debut single hit #1 on the Billboard country charts in the spring of 1972 and eventually rose to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
3. “Happy Days”- Pratt & McClain
While a re-recorded version of Bill Haley & The Comets’ “Rock Around The Clock” was initially used as the theme for the 70s sitcom Happy Days, during the third season the show began using the theme song we’ve come to know as Happy Days. In 1976 a recording by Pratt & McClain (who had also been known in the past as Brother Love) was released, reaching as high as #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
4. “Happy Together”- The Turtles
The title track of the 1967 album from The Turtles, “Happy Together” was the group’s only chart topper, knocking The Beatles and “Penny Lane” out of the #1 slot for three weeks.
5. “Happy Anniversary”- Little River Band
This 1977 hit from Australian rockers Little River Band, which quickly became a favorite for couples celebrating anniversaries, made it to #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978. Can you hear the Bee Gees inspiration in the song?
6. “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”- Blood, Sweat & Tears
First recorded and released by one of the song’s composers, Motown artist Brenda Holloway, “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” really took off once Blood, Sweat & Tears and frontman David Clayton Thomas got their hands on it. In 1967, Holloway’s version hit #39 on the Billboard Hot 100, but B,S&T took it to #2 in 1969.
7. “Oh Happy Day”- The Edwin Hawkins Singers
Based on an 18th century hymn, the gospelized version by The Edwin Hawkins Singers, released in 1969, became a huge hit, reaching #4 on the charts. Later generations became aware of the song from movies such as Sister Act 2, Big Momma’s House, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps and Secretariat.
8. “Shiny Happy People”- R.E.M.
The R.E.M. hit from 1991 featured a cameo from B-52’s Kate Pierson, who can also be seen featured prominently in the video below. It was the last single from R.E.M. to reach the top 10, peaking at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
9. “If It Makes You Happy”- Sheryl Crow
The lead single from Crow’s 1996 self-titled album, “If It Makes You Happy” won Crow the Best Female Rock Vocal Performance award at the 1997 GRAMMYs. It topped out on the Billboard Hot 100 at #10.
10. “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You”- The Beatles
Not one of the better known tunes from The Beatles, this song from their first feature film, A Hard Day’s Night, has never-the-less taken on a “happy” life of its own.
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