Islands in the Stream (song)

This article is about the song. For other uses, see Islands in the Stream.
"Islands in the Stream"
Single by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
from the album Eyes That See in the Dark
B-side "I Will Always Love You" (US)
"Midsummer Nights" (UK)
Released July 1983 (US)
Recorded May 1983, Middle Ear, Miami Beach
Lion Share Recording Studios and Ocean Way Recording, Los Angeles
Genre Country pop
Length 4:08
Label RCA Nashville
Writer(s) Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb
Producer(s) Gibb-Galuten-Richardson
Certification Platinum (US)
Kenny Rogers singles chronology
"You Were a Good Friend"
"Islands in the Stream"
"This Woman"
Dolly Parton singles chronology
"Potential New Boyfriend"
"Islands in the Stream"
"Save the Last Dance for Me"

"Islands in the Stream" is a song written by the Bee Gees and sung by American country music artists Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Named after the Ernest Hemingway novel, it was originally written for Marvin Gaye in an R&B style, only later to be changed for the Kenny Rogers album.[1] It was released in August 1983 as the first single from Rogers' album Eyes That See in the Dark.

The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, giving both Rogers and Parton their second pop number-one hit (after Rogers' "Lady" in 1980 and Parton's "9 to 5" in 1981). It also topped the Country and Adult Contemporary charts. It has been certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over two million physical copies in the US.[2] In 2005 the song topped CMT's poll of the best country duets of all time; Parton and Rogers reunited to perform the song on the CMT special.

Rogers and Parton went on to record a Christmas album together, and had an additional hit with their 1985 duet "Real Love".

Musical structure

The song is sung in C major moderate 4/4 time, with Rogers and Parton alternating lead vocals, and in two-part harmony. Their version features a key change from C major to A-flat major. By contrast the Bee Gees' recorded version has no key change, and is sung throughout as a solo lead vocal with three-part harmony on the final chorus.

In both versions the chorus is syncopated, with the phrase starting one quaver (eighth note) before the 4th beat of the bar.

Commercial performance

It knocked Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" out of No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100, also topping the Country and Adult Contemporary listings. In December of that year it was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over two million physical copies in the US.[2] It has also sold 569,000 digital copies in the US as of November 2013.[3] While the song was at the very top of the country charts, another of Rogers' singles "Scarlet Fever" reached #5.

In Australia the song was number one for one week in December 1983 and became one of the highest selling singles of 1984.

The song reached a peak of No. 7 in the UK singles chart in 1983. Since then it has also sold 245,577 digital copies in the UK as of July 2014.[4]

In April 2008 South Bend, Indiana, radio station WZOW played the song continuously for several days on end,[5] a stunt drawing attention to the station's format change from alternative rock to adult contemporary.

In September 2016, in Supergirl (TV Serie), the song was played at the alien bar in the episode "Welcome to Earth".


Chart performance

Weekly singles charts

Chart (1983-84) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report) 1
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[6] 1
Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders) 4
Canada Adult Contemporary Tracks (RPM) 1
Canada Country Tracks (RPM) 1
Canada Top Singles (RPM) 1
Germany (Official German Charts)[7] 25
Ireland (IRMA) 2
Italy (Musica e dischi) 49
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[8] 4
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[9] 2
Norway (VG-lista)[10] 2
Spain (AFYVE)[11] 28
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[12] 3
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[13] 2
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[14] 7
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[15] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[16] 1
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[17] 1
US Cash Box Top 100 1

Year-end charts

Chart (1983) Rank
Australia [18] 40
Canada Top Singles [19] 15
New Zealand [20] 40
US Cash Box [21] 11
Chart (1984) Rank
US Billboard Hot 100 [22] 56

Chart successions

Preceded by
"True" by Spandau Ballet
Billboard Adult Contemporary (chart) number-one single
October 15, 1983 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"All Night Long (All Night)" by Lionel Richie
Preceded by
"Total Eclipse of the Heart"
by Bonnie Tyler
Billboard Hot 100
number-one single

October 29 – November 5, 1983
Succeeded by
"All Night Long (All Night)"
by Lionel Richie
Preceded by
"Lady Down on Love"
by Alabama
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single

October 29 – November 5, 1983
Succeeded by
"Somebody's Gonna Love You"
by Lee Greenwood
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

November 12 – 19, 1983
Succeeded by
"One of a Kind Pair of Fools"
by Barbara Mandrell

Cover versions

Bee Gees' recorded version

"Islands in the Stream"
Song by Bee Gees from the album Their Greatest Hits: The Record
Released November 2001
Format 7", CD
Recorded September 2001
Middle Ear, Miami Beach, Florida
Genre Pop, hip hop
Length 4:22
Label Polydor (UK)
Universal (US)
Writer(s) Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Pras Michel
Language English
Producer(s) Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb
Their Greatest Hits: The Record track listing

"Islands in the Stream"
"You Win Again

The Bee Gees recorded a new version for their retrospective 2001 compilation Their Greatest Hits: The Record, with solo vocal by Robin Gibb; it also appeared on their 2004 Number Ones and on the 2010 Mythology box set.[26] The chorus of Pras' 1998 hit "Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)", which in turn is a reworking of the original Rogers and Parton release, replaces the final chorus in the studio recording. The Bee Gees "live" version of the song appears on their One Night Only album as well as the compilation Love Songs.


Barry Gibb's demo version

"Islands in the Stream"
Song by Barry Gibb from the album The Eyes That See in the Dark Demos
Released November 2006
Format Digital download
Recorded May 1983
Miami Beach, Florida
Genre Pop, country
Length 3:59
Label iTunes
Language English
The Eyes That See in the Dark Demos track listing

"Buried Treasure
"Islands in the Stream"
"Living with You"

Barry Gibb's demo for Kenny Rogers had previously been bootlegged but was officially released in November 2006. It features Barry Gibb on solo vocal, with 3-part harmony on the chorus.[27]


Comic Relief version

"(Barry) Islands in the Stream"
Single by Vanessa Jenkins, Bryn West & Sir Tom Jones and Robin Gibb
from the album Islands in the Stream
Released March 8, 2009
Format Digital download, CD single, DVD single
Genre Country, comedy
Writer(s) Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb
Producer(s) Robin Gibb
Robin Gibb singles chronology
"Too Much Heaven"
"(Barry) Islands in the Stream"
"I've Gotta Get a Message to You"
Tom Jones singles chronology
"Stoned In Love"
"(Barry) Islands in the Stream"

On March 8, 2009, actors Ruth Jones and Rob Brydon, in character as Vanessa Jenkins and Bryn West from the hit BBC sitcom Gavin & Stacey, released a version of the song as a single for Comic Relief. Sir Tom Jones also features on the song, performing the final verse and chorus, whilst Robin Gibb appears on the single as a backing vocalist. Re-titled "(Barry) Islands in the Stream", in reference to the Barry Island setting of Gavin & Stacey,[28] it entered the UK Singles Chart at no. 1 on March 15, 2009. By peaking at no. 1, this meant the Gibb Brothers had achieved number 1 songs in five successive decades, the first songwriters to achieve this feat. It also made Sir Tom Jones, at the age of 68, the oldest person to have a UK number one. The video was filmed in Barry Island, Las Vegas and the Nevada desert, with both Gibb and Jones appearing in the video alongside Jones and Brydon. Nigel Lythgoe also makes a cameo appearance as a talent competition judge.

Track listing

  1. "(Barry) Islands in the Stream" – 3:56
  2. "Wisemen" – 3:14
  3. "Somethin' Stupid" – 2:48
  4. "Islands in the Stream" (music video) – 4:21
  1. "(Barry) Islands in the Stream" (full-length video) – 8:56
  2. "(Barry) Islands in the Stream" (making of the video) – 14:30
Preceded by
"Right Round" by Flo Rida featuring Kesha
UK Singles Chart number-one single
(Vanessa Jenkins and Bryn West Comic Relief version)

March 15, 2009
Succeeded by
"Poker Face" by Lady Gaga

See also


  1. Johnny Walker interview with Robin and Barry Gibb BBC Radio 2 30 August 2010 17:00
  2. 1 2 "American single certifications – Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  3. Bjorke, Matt (November 13, 2013). "Country Chart News – The Top 30 Digital Singles – November 13, 2013: CMA Awards Drive Sales; Eric Church "The Outsiders" #1; Taylor Swift "Red" #3". Roughstock. Archived from the original on April 21, 2014.
  4. "Country Bites News snippets June 30 - July 6, 2014". Country Routes News. 13 July 2014.
  5. :Indiana Aiwaves: Archived July 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. " – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  7. " – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  8. "Nederlandse Top 40 – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  9. " – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream". Top 40 Singles.
  10. " – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream". VG-lista.
  11. Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  12. " – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream". Singles Top 100.
  13. " – Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream". Swiss Singles Chart.
  15. "Kenny Rogers – Chart history" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Kenny Rogers.
  16. "Kenny Rogers – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Kenny Rogers.
  17. "Kenny Rogers – Chart history" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Kenny Rogers.
  18. David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992" Archived March 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 29, 2013. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
  23. Information at Svensk mediedatabas
  24. The Greatest Songs of the Eighties at AllMusic
  25. "It Takes Two – Nianell & Dozi". Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  26. Gibb Songs : 2001
  27. Gibb Songs : 1983
  28. What's On
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