Joy to the World (Three Dog Night song)
|"Joy to the World"|
1971 French release
|Single by Three Dog Night|
|from the album Naturally|
|B-side||"I Can Hear You Calling"|
|Format||7" 45 RPM|
|Recorded||1970 at American Recording Co.|
3:17 (remixed version)
|Three Dog Night singles chronology|
"Joy to the World" is a song written by Hoyt Axton, and made famous by the band Three Dog Night. The song is also popularly known by its opening lyric, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog". Three Dog Night originally released the song on their fourth studio album, Naturally in November 1970 and subsequently released an edited version of the song as a single in February 1971.
The song, which has been described by members of Three Dog Night as a "kid's song" and a "silly song", topped the main singles charts in North America, was certified gold by the RIAA, and has since been covered by multiple artists.
The song is featured prominently in the film The Big Chill. It is sung by a child character at the beginning and the Three Dog Night recording is played over the end credits. It is also featured in the end credits of the 2016 adult animated comedy film Sausage Party.
It is also played at the end of every Denver Broncos home victory. Notable playings of this song after Broncos victories included then-Chicago Bears head coach Abe Gibron's singing along with the song in 1973; and at the end of Super Bowl XXXII, played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
Background and recording
Some of the words are nonsensical. Axton wanted to persuade his record producers to record a new melody he had written and the producers asked him to sing any words to the tune. A member of Three Dog Night said that the original lyrics to the song were "Jeremiah was a prophet" but "no one liked that".
When Hoyt Axton performed the song to the group, two of the three main vocalists – Danny Hutton and Cory Wells – rejected the song, but Chuck Negron felt that the band needed a "silly song" to help bring the band back together as a working unit. Negron also felt that the song "wasn't even close to our best record, but it might have been one of our most honest."
The song was recorded by Three Dog Night at American Recording Company, produced by Richard Podolor, and engineered by Bill Cooper. Unlike most Three Dog Night songs recorded at that point, instead of having just the three main vocalists singing harmony, the song was recorded with all seven members of the band singing. Drummer Floyd Sneed sings the deep lyric "I wanna tell you" towards the end of the song.
When the song hit #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1971, Axton and his mother, Mae Axton, became the first mother and son to each have written a number one pop single in the rock era. Mae Axton co-wrote "Heartbreak Hotel", which was the first number one hit for Elvis Presley.
In a 1994 case, David P. Jackson filed suit claiming co-authorship of the song and alleging that Axton fraudulently claimed sole authorship. In the suit Jackson claimed that Axton regularly credited him with co-authorship.
Charts and awards
The single had been out less than two months, when on April 9, 1971, "Joy to the World" was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, for shipments of over 1,000,000 units across the United States. The record was also given a Gold Leaf award by RPM magazine for sales of over a million units. The record won the award for the Best Selling Hit Single Record by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers in March 1972. It was also ranked by Billboard magazine as the year-end #1 pop single of 1971.
The single went on to sell 5 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.
- An episode of Sex and the City is named after this song, and features the main character, Carrie Bradshaw, singing it to her boyfriend.
- The fact this song shares its title with the Christmas carol "Joy to the World" has led to numerous artists combining the two songs in various ways. In the 1990s, Chuck Negron recorded the carol and playfully included a few lyrics from the Three Dog Night/Hoyt Axton song — coming to a full stop in mid-song for the line "Jeremiah was a bullfrog." The refrain of Axton's song was also included in Mariah Carey's recording of the carol for her 1994 Merry Christmas album.
- The Supremes and Four Tops recorded a duet version of the song in 1971, yet it remained unreleased until 2009.
- Little Richard covered the song on 1971's The King of Rock and Roll
- Nardcore punk band Ten Foot Pole covered the song for their debut album, Swill.
- Eurodance crew Orlando covered the song for the 2002 Dancemania compilation Speed 10.
- Straight No Chaser, a US a cappella group, covered the song for their 2010 album With a Twist, along with other covers.
- Sharon, Lois & Bram covered the song in 1987 in their television show, Sharon, Lois & Bram's Elephant Show.
- Disco band Eruption covered it in their 1983 album Our Way.
- David Alan Grier sang the song for a sketch in Amazon Women on the Moon.
- Country singer Lynn Anderson cut the song for her You're My Man album in 1972.
- Chandler Bing (Friends episode "The One Where Monica Sings") 2003
- The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus and the Choir of St. Jean Baptiste performed a rendition on the 24 September 2015 episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to celebrate Pope Francis's trip to the US.
"Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" by The Temptations
|Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
April 17, 1971 (six weeks)
| Succeeded by|
"Brown Sugar" by The Rolling Stones
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- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2, illustrated ed.). Barrie & Jenkins. ISBN 0-214-20480-4.
- Dreier, Peter (28 September 2015). "Good luck, Trevor Noah: Stephen Colbert just raised the bar very, very high". Salon.com. Retrieved 29 September 2015.