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Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini


Brian Hyland

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This song about a bashful girl in a tiny bikini was written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss. Vance was inspired after watching his 2-year-old daughter Paula at the beach in her new bikini. Brian Hyland was a 16-year-old High school sophomore at the time of this recording.
In 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, Brian Hyland says: "Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss had shown this song to a lot of singers but no one wanted to do it. Kapp (the owner of Brian's record label) thought it was right for me and got really excited about it. It was a number one in America which meant that I could stop riding on the subway and buy some Martin guitars."
In 1990 the UK children's entertainer Timmy Mallet recorded a cover version taking it to the top of the UK charts. His version was produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and it was released under the name of Bombalurina (the name of one of the characters in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats).
This song was used in two prominent ad campaigns: more recently by Yoplait in a series of commercials showing a woman trying to lose weight in order to fit into her "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini," and back in the late-'80s/early-'90s by Van De Kamp's for their line of canned beenie-weenies, but with slightly altered lyrics sung by a group of kids. (thanks, Patrick - Tallapoosa, GA)
For most of his adult life, a man named Paul Van Valkenburgh claimed that he wrote this under the name Paul Vance, and that he sold the rights to it when he was young. Even his wife, who he was married to for 40 years, believed him. When Valkenburgh died in 2006, his obituary reported that he wrote the song, and relatives of the real Paul Vance received condolences, only to find out that Vance was very much alive and had the royalty checks to prove that he really did write the song. According to Vance, he has no ill feelings toward Valkenburgh, and claims that the song has made him several million dollars.
This was used in the movies Sister Act 2 and Revenge Of The Nerds 2.
When this took off in 1960, several other versions of the song popped up. The German banjo act Jan & Kjeld recorded it as "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Honolulu Strand-Bikini," as did Laurie London. Homer & Jethro did a hillbilly version produced by Chet Atkins, the French artists Dalida and Johnny Hallyday each did it as "Itsi Bitsi Petit Bikini," and Jeri Lynn Foster recorded an answer song called "Poor Begonia Caught Pneumonia."
Brian Hyland
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Comments (5):

On July 19th 1960, Brian Hyland performed "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
At the time of this appearance on 'Bandstand' the song was at #10 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and three weeks later on August 8th, 1960 it peaked at #1 (for 1 week) and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100...
It reached #2 on the Australian RPM 100 Singles chart...
Between 1960 and 1971 he had twenty-two Top 100 records; with three making the Top 10, his two other Top 10 records both peaked at #3, "Sealed with A Kiss" (1962) and "Gypsy Woman" (1970)...
Mr. Hyland will celebrate his 71st birthday in four months on November 12th, 2014.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
On July 5th 1946, the bikini bathing suit made its debut at a fashion show at the Piscine Molitor (a public pool in Paris, France)...
It was the creation of Louis Reard, who named it after Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean...
Former Casino de Paris nude dancer Micheline Bernardini was chosen to model the two-piece outfit.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
Just a very cute sound from the early 60's and part of what I enjoyed about this era!..
- steve dotstar, los angeles, CA
This song was an utter sensation when it came out. Everyone did parodies of it, on every TV show, for months.
- Mark, Lancaster, OH
This song was actually written by Peter Udell -- and BTW, he also wrote [among others] Sealed With A Kiss.
- Sandy, Wellington, FL
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