Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini

"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"
Single by Brian Hyland
from the album The Bashful Blond
Released June 1960
Genre Bubblegum Pop
Length 2:19
Label Kapp Records
Writer(s) Paul Vance
Lee Pockriss
Brian Hyland singles chronology

"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"
"Four Little Heels (The Clickety Clack Song)"

"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" is a novelty song telling the story of a shy girl wearing a revealing polka dot bikini at the beach. It was written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss and first released in June 1960 by Brian Hyland with orchestra conducted by John Dixon.

Hyland's version hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 8, 1960[1] and also made the top 10 in other countries, including #8 on the UK Singles Chart.[2]

The story told through the three verses of the song is as follows: (1) the young lady is too afraid to leave the locker where she has changed into her bikini; (2) she has made it to the beach but sits on the sand wrapped in a blanket; and (3) she has finally gone into the ocean, but is too afraid to come out, and stays immersed in the water – despite the fact that she's "turning blue" – to hide herself from view.

Trudy Packer recited the phrases "One, two, three, four/Tell the people what she wore", heard at the end of each verse before the chorus; and "Stick around, we'll tell you more", heard after the first chorus and before the start of the second verse.[3]

Ownership controversy

In September 2006, the song's co-writer Paul Vance read his own mistaken obituary.[4] The obituary was of another man, Paul Van Valkenburgh, who claimed to have written the song under the name Paul Vance. The impostor explained his lack of royalty payments for the song by claiming that he'd sold the rights as a teenager. Vance, the song's true co-author, has earned several million dollars from the song since 1960, describing it as "a money machine."

In other media

The song was featured in the 1961 Billy Wilder film comedy One, Two, Three – in a key scene, the character Otto (Horst Buchholz), suspected of being a spy, is being tortured by East German police playing the song to him repetitively, eventually with the record off-center to create a weird howling variation of pitch. The actual recording was re-released in 1962 to capitalize on the film's success, but it did not rechart.

A faster version of the song appears on North American commercials for Yoplait Light yogurt in 2006.[5] The song is also used in a television commercial for the YWCA, and in films such as Sister Act 2 and Revenge of the Nerds II.

Mud recorded the song in 1982

The song was also featured in the 1981 Aparna Sen film 36 Chowringhee Lane.

At the beginning of 2006 this song was also used in an advert for TV Easy magazine.

A French version of the song, by the French singer Richard Anthony, is used in the last shots and credits of the movie A Good Year.


At a time when bikini bathing suits were still seen as too risqué to be mainstream, the song prompted a sudden takeoff in bikini sales and is credited as being one of the earliest contributors to the acceptance of the suit in society. The early 1960s saw a slew of surf movies and other film and television productions that rapidly built on the song's momentum.[6]

Cover versions and parodies

"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"
Bombalurina with Timmy Mallett
from the album Huggin An'a Kissin'
Released 1990
Format CD single, cassette single
Genre Pop
Label Polydor Records/Carpet Records
Producer Timmy Mallet
Bombalurina with Timmy Mallett singles chronology

"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"
"Seven Little Girls"

There have been cover versions in many languages, for example, a French and Italian version ("Pezzettini di bikini") by Dalida in 1960. It has also been sung in German with Club Honolulu (Caterina Valente & her brother Silvio Francesco) the same year. It was also remade in 1990 by Bombalurina which featured Timmy Mallett, star of then-popular United Kingdom children's television show, Wacaday. The song reached #1 in the UK Singles Chart on August 19, 1990, and stayed at the position for three weeks.[7] The song was released around the world and topped the charts in over a dozen countries, selling more than a million copies. Another version was made by Devo on the CD Pioneers Who Got Scalped. The video featured Timmy Mallett along with two dancers, Dawn and Annie. Dawn later went onto marry Gary Barlow of Take That fame. The Devo version of the song had appeared in the film Revenge of the Nerds II, but was unavailable on CD until the release of the Pioneers album. Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy covered the song for the 1993 album Muppet Beach Party. Ray Stevens, in 2012, covered the song on his 9-CD Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music project.

The French singer Richard Anthony released a French language cover titled "Itsy bitsy petit bikini" in 1960.

A Brazilian version, a little faithful to the original, titled "Biquíni de Bolinha Amarelinha Tão Pequenininho," (LP Ronnie Cord, Copacabana CLP 11.164, outubro de 1960) was a hit in 1960 when it was sung by Ronnie Cord,[8] and had some re-recordings, as Blitz's 1983 version.[9]

In 1983, the British group Echo & The Bunnymen composed and recorded the song Do It Clean, released on Porcupine album, which lyric lines were inspired by the Hyland's hit: "Iszy bitzy witzy itzy everywhere / I've been here and I've been there".

A Bulgarian version called Tulip Themed Bathing Suit (Бански на лалета) sung by the children group Sparrows (Врабчета) contains kids-friendly comic lyrics. In the lyrics a girl falls in love with a boy impressed by his tulip themed swimming suit among other things.[10]

Another interesting cover version is El Cohete Americano, a Cuban propaganda song sung by Las D'Aida in Album de la Revolucion Cubana (2000).

A Finnish version, titled "Pikku pikku bikinissä" was sung by Pirkko Mannola in 1961.

In Greek, it was sung by Polina (Πωλίνα), with the title "Το ροζ μπικίνι" (Roz Bikini). In Serbian, it was sung by Ljiljana Petrović with the title "Bikini sa žutim tačkicama". In Croatian, there is a cover by the group Trio Tividi, titled simply "Bikini".

A Spanish version, titled "Bikini Amarillo," very faithful to the original, was an enormous hit for Mexican singer Manolo Muñoz in the 1960s.

A parody of the song was used for a TV Easy magazine advert entitled 'I need an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie TV Easy Magaziney'.

"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Honolulu-Strand-Bikini"
Never Mind the Hosen, Here's Die Roten Rosen
Released 1987
Genre Punk rock
Length 1:54
Label Virgin Records
Writer(s) Paul Vance
Lee Pockriss
Club Honolulu
Die Roten Rosen singles chronology

"Das Altbier Lied"
"Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Honolulu-Strand-Bikini"
"Im Wagen vor mir"

German punk band Die Toten Hosen covered the Club Honolulu version (in German) on their 1987 cover album Never Mind the Hosen, Here's Die Roten Rosen. It was released as a promo single under the alias Die Roten Rosen. Also, on the 2007 re-release, the English version was added as a bonus track.

With lyrics in Swedish by Karl-Lennart, Lill-Babs recorded the song.[11]


See also

  • List of Hot 100 number-one singles of 1960 (U.S.)
  • List of number-one singles from the 1990s (UK)
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