When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going (song)

"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going"
Single by Billy Ocean
from the album The Jewel of the Nile Soundtrack and Love Zone
Released 15 November 1985 (US)
January 1986 (UK)
Format 7", 12" single
Recorded 1985
Genre R&B, funk
Length 5:44 (album version)
4:08 (radio edit)
Label Jive
Writer(s) Wayne Anton Brathwaite, Barry James Eastmond, Mutt Lange, Billy Ocean
Producer(s) Barry Eastmond, Wayne Brathwaite
Billy Ocean singles chronology
"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going"
"There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)"
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"When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" is a song co-written and originally recorded by English singer Billy Ocean in 1985.

Written by Wayne Brathwaite, Barry Eastmond, Robert John "Mutt" Lange and Billy Ocean, the song was used as the theme song for the Michael Douglas film, The Jewel of the Nile, the sequel to the hit blockbuster film, Romancing the Stone. The saxophone solo is by Vernon Jeffrey Smith.[1]

Aided by a video featuring Michael Douglas and co-stars Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito as lip-synching backup singers, the song became a major international hit reaching number one on the UK Singles Chart for four weeks in February 1986,[2] and number two on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, stalling behind "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston.

12" track listing

A1 "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" (extended version) – 5:43
A2 "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" (7" version) – 4:08
B1 "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" (club mix) – 7:35
B2 "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" (instrumental) – 5:12[3]
Other Versions

Chart performance

Chart (1986) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[4] 1
Austrian Singles Chart 8
Belgian Singles Chart 1
Canadian Singles Chart 1
Dutch Singles Chart 1
French Singles Chart 6
German Singles Chart 2
Irish Singles Chart 1
New Zealand Singles Chart 3
Norwegian Singles Chart 1
Spain (AFYVE)[5] 2
Swedish Singles Chart 2
Swiss Singles Chart 2
UK Singles Chart[6] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Billboard Hot Soul Singles 6
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary 2
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 31

Boyzone version

"When the Going Gets Tough"
Single by Boyzone
from the album By Request
Released 1 March 1999
Genre Pop
Length 5:44 (album version)
4:08 (UK radio edit))
2:59 (US radio edit)
Label Universal
Writer(s) Billy Ocean
Producer(s) Mike Mangini, Trevor Steel, Carl Sturken, Nigel Wright, Absolute, Jim Steinman, Ian Curnow, Mark Hudson
Boyzone singles chronology
"I Love the Way You Love Me"
"When the Going Gets Tough"
"You Needed Me"

The Irish boyband Boyzone recorded a cover version for the 1999 Comic Relief telethon, shortening the title to "When The Going Gets Tough". Their version reached number #1 on the UK Singles Chart.[6] The song received a platinum certification in the UK.[7] The video included Graham Norton, Jo Brand, Phill Jupitus, Mel Smith, Davina McCall, Harry Hill, Steve Collins, John McCririck, Jimmy White, Mystic Meg, Will Mellor, James Dreyfus, the cast of Emmerdale, Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish, and Ulrika Jonsson and Saracen from Gladiators.

Track listing

  1. "When The Going Gets Tough" - 3:35
  2. "What A Wonderful World" (Featuring Alison Moyet) - 4:00
  3. "Love Can Build A Bridge" - 3:59
CD2 (Limited Edition Pop Up Red Nose Digipak)[8]
  1. "When The Going Gets Tough" - 3:35
  2. "I'll Never Not Need You" - 4:07


Chart (1999) Peak
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[9] 7
French Singles Chart[10] 71
Irish Singles Chart[11] 2
Japanese Singles Chart[12] 91
Scottish Singles Chart[13] 1
UK Singles Chart[14] 1

Year-end charts

Chart (1999) Position
UK Singles Chart 10


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[15] Platinum 600,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Usage in media

In 1994, the song was used for a clip of the 1986 edition of the BBC documentary The Rock 'n' Roll Years featuring coverage of the People Power Revolution in the Philippines. Three years later, it was also used as a background song in the 1985-86 football season edition of Match of the 80s, during coverage of the challenge Kenny Dalglish faced on his appointment as player-manager of Liverpool F.C..

In the 2008 film Easy Virtue a cover version, in 1920's faux-jazz style, featured in the closing credits performed by Colin Firth, Ben Barnes, Jessica Biel, and Andy Caine.

The song was used in the film Keith Lemon: The Film (2012), as an ongoing theme, highlighting the claim that Billy Ocean was Lemon's father. Ocean himself appears in a cameo role.

In 1986, during the shows Superstars of Wrestling (and occasionally Prime Time Wrestling), the WWE (then called the WWF - World Wrestling Federation) would sometimes play the introduction part of the song while it would show a replay of a finishing move during a wrestling match.


  1. "V. JEFFREY SMITH (TORS-Producer/Sound Engineer)... - The Outlet Radio Show". Theoutletradioshow.tumblr.com. 15 March 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  2. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 458–9. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. "Billy Ocean - When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  4. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St. Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 221. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between mid 1983 and 19 June 1988.
  5. Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  6. 1 2 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 631. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  7. "British certifications – When the Going Gets Tough". British Phonographic Industry. Enter When the Going Gets Tough in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Click Search
  8. "Boyzone When The Going Gets Tough - Pop Up France CD single (CD5 / 5") (142509)". Eil.com. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  9. Nielsen Business Media, Inc (1999-03-20). "Billboard".
  10. Steffen Hung. "Boyzone - When The Going Gets Tough". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  11. https://web.archive.org/web/20131018042138/http://www.irishcharts.ie/search/placement?page=2. Archived from the original on October 18, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2012. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. "Boyzone ...By Request". Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  13. "Official Scottish Singles Chart Top 100: 07 March 1999 - 13 March 1999". Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  14. "ChartArchive - The Chart Archive". Chartstats.com. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  15. "British single certifications – Boyzone – When the going gets tough". British Phonographic Industry. Enter When the going gets tough in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search

External links

Preceded by
"The Sun Always Shines on T.V." by a-ha
UK number-one single (Billy Ocean version)
8 February 1986 - 8 March 1986
Succeeded by
"Chain Reaction" by Diana Ross
Preceded by
"...Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears
Scottish Singles Chart (Boyzone version)
7 March 1999 - 28 March 1999
Succeeded by
"Flat Beat" by Mr. Oizo
Preceded by
"...Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears
UK number-one single (Boyzone version)
7 March 1999 - 14 March 1999
Succeeded by
"Blame It on the Weatherman" by B*Witched
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