Don't Worry, Be Happy

This article is about the song by Bobby McFerrin. For other uses, see Don't Worry, Be Happy (disambiguation).
"Don't Worry, Be Happy"
Single by Bobby McFerrin
from the album Simple Pleasures
A-side "Don't Worry Be Happy"[1]
B-side "Good Lovin'"
"Simple Pleasures" (optional)
Released September 1988, 1989, 2000
Recorded 1988
Length 4:50 (album version)
4:03 (music video)
3:50 (radio edit)
Label EMI-Manhattan Records[1]
Writer(s) Bobby McFerrin[1]
Producer(s) Linda Goldstein[1]
Certification Various (see)
Music sample
Don't Worry, Be Happy

"Don't Worry, Be Happy" is a popular worldwide hit song by musician Bobby McFerrin. Released in September 1988, it became the first a cappella song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a position it held for two weeks. The song's title is taken from a famous quotation by Meher Baba. 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.[3] The comedic original music video for the song stars McFerrin, Robin Williams, and Bill Irwin,[4] and is considerably shorter than the album version.


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

The Indian mystic and sage Meher Baba (1894–1969) often used the expression "Don't worry, be happy" when cabling his followers in the West.[5]

In the 1960s, the expression was printed up on inspirational cards and posters of the era. In 1988, McFerrin noticed a similar poster in the apartment of the jazz duo Tuck & Patti in San Francisco. Inspired by the expression's charm and simplicity, McFerrin wrote the now famous song, which was included in the soundtrack of the movie Cocktail, and became a hit single the next year. In an interview by Bruce Fessier for USA Weekend magazine in 1988 McFerrin said, "Whenever you see a poster of Meher Baba, it usually says 'Don't worry, be happy,' which is a pretty neat philosophy in four words, I think."[6]

Linda Goldstein, the song's producer, said the song gave McFerrin "the freedom to explore," adding, "He is a man of infinite, unfathomable, boundless voices and everything he has ever heard has gone into his brain, from the Mickey Mouse Club theme to the Metropolitan Opera."[7]

Chart performance

Originally released in conjunction with the film Cocktail in 1988, the song originally peaked at No. 88 on the Billboard Hot 100.[8] The song was re-released the same year and peaked at No. 1 on September 24, 1988[8] displacing "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns N' Roses which had previously held the No. 1 spot.[9]

The song also peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Tracks chart[10] and No. 7 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.[8] The song was also a hit in the United Kingdom and on the UK Singles Chart, the song reached number 2 during its fifth week on the chart (kept from the top spot by Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time").[11]

The song is the first a cappella song to reach the Billboard Hot 100 chart and one critic noted it is a "formula for facing life's trials."[12]

While the song reached No. 1 on the charts, its album Simple Pleasures reached No. 12 on the album charts after starting out at No. 20 when it was first released.[9]

Usage in popular culture


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.[19] 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.


Chart (1988–89) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[20] 1
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[21] 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[22] 2
Canadian RPM 30 Retail Singles[23] 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles[24] 1
France (SNEP)[25] 29
Germany (Official German Charts)[26] 1
Irish Singles Chart[27] 3
Italy (FIMI)[28] 18
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[29] 2
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[30] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[31] 2
Norway (VG-lista)[32] 5
South African Chart[33] 4
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[34] 2
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[35] 2
UK (Official Charts Company)[36] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[37] 1
US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary[37] 7
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles[37] 11
Chart (2016) Peak
Poland (Polish Airplay Top 100)[38] 75


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Germany (BVMI)[39] Platinum 500,000^
United States (RIAA)[40] Gold 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Cover versions

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 entitled "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". This song 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. Spanish Ska band The Locos covered this song in a similar style, Ska. In 2015, Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Chipettes covered the song for the live stage tour Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Musical.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry Be Happy". Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  2. SPIN june 1989 (PDF). SPIN Media LLC. 1989. p. 66. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  3. Saunders, Michael. "'Don't Worry, Be Happy'--It's Catching" Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Sun-Sentinel:1988.
  4. Heldenfels, Rich (June 27, 2012). "Mailbag: Mr. Noodle explained". Akron Beacon-Journal. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  5. 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.
  6. "'USA Weekend Magazine". October 21, 1988. In an interview by Bruce Fessier for USA Weekend magazine in 1988 McFerrin said, "Whenever you see a poster of Meher Baba, it usually says 'Don't worry, be happy
  7. "Bobby McFerrin Extended Interview" (Video Interview). Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  8. 1 2 3 Billboard (magazine) Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. 1 2 Holden, Stephen (Sep 29, 1988). "Don`t Worry, Be Happy: Bobby Mcferrin Has A No. 1 Hit". New York Times News Service. Retrieved 9 June 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.
  10. "Bobby McFerrin Awards". All Media Network, LLC. March 11, 1950. Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  11. "Official Singles Chart Top 100 | Official Charts Company". Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  12. Don't Worry, Be Happy. B Happy - Benny to Beyonce, 2012 -
  13. Carlin, George (2001). Napalm and Silly Putty.
  14. ""Don't Worry, Be Happy", Bobby McFerrin". VH1's Pop-up Video. 1997.
  15. O'Sullivan, Helen. "Revd Helen OSullivan on Don't Worry Be Happy" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-06-09.
  16. Cohen, Barry (Dec 11, 2013). "Don't Worry, Be Happy 5.4 Project". Retrieved 2014-06-09.
  17. Mondo Club – Don't Worry Be Happy
  18. "[Official Video] Winter Wonderland/Don't Worry Be Happy - Pentatonix (ft Tori Kelly)". YouTube. November 4, 2014.
  19. Murphy, Kate (Sep 30, 2011). "The 15 Best Whistling Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
  20. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  21. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  22. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  23. "Don't Worry, Be Happy in Canadian 30 Retail Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  24. "Don't Worry, Be Happy in Canadian Top Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  25. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy" (in French). Les classement single.
  26. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  27. "Don't Worry, Be Happy in Irish Chart". IRMA. Retrieved 2013-06-05. Only one result when searching "Don't worry be happy"
  28. "The best-selling singles of 1989 in Italy". HitParadeItalia (it). Retrieved 2013-06-05.
    97. Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin [#18, 1988/89]
  29. "Nederlandse Top 40 – Bobby McFerrin search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  30. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  31. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". Top 40 Singles.
  32. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". VG-lista.
  33. John Samson. "Don't Worry, Be Happy in South African Chart". Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  34. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". Singles Top 100.
  35. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". Swiss Singles Chart.
  36. "1988 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive - 22nd October 1988". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  37. 1 2 3 "Bobby McFerrin awards on Allmusic". All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  38. "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  39. "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Bobby McFerrin; 'Don't Worry, Be Happy')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  40. "American single certifications – Bobby Mc Ferrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH

External links

Preceded by
"Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns N' Roses
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
September 24, 1988 – October 1, 1988
Succeeded by
"Love Bites" by Def Leppard
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