Who's Johnny

Album: El DeBarge (1986)
Charted: 60 3
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Songfacts®:

  • This song was written by the husband-and-wife team Peter and Ina Wolf for Short Circuit, a 1986 sci-fi comedy about an experimental military robot named Number 5 who goes on the run after a lightning strike gives him the gift of human intelligence. The music video follows the robot's trial, with El DeBarge singing on the witness stand and some of the movie's cast members in attendance, including Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg (well, a cardboard cutout of Guttenberg). The movie's producers loved this song so much that they wrote in a scene where Number 5 adopted the name "Johnny."
  • This was El DeBarge's first single after leaving his family's group, DeBarge, earlier that year. He was concerned that the song was too different from his usual work, but was encouraged to give it a shot because a film tie-in could bring positive publicity to his debut album. The song was his first and only #1 hit (on the US R&B Charts) as a solo artist.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic spun this song into a Tonight Show-themed parody called "Here's Johnny," a reference to announcer Ed McMahon's famous introduction for former host Johnny Carson. It's featured on his 1986 album, Polka Party!.
  • Peter Wolf didn't even have to drag himself out of bed to write this song. "I wrote the song one morning, literally lying in bed. I woke up and I was toying with the idea and the whole thing was right there, chorus and all." he said in a Billboard interview. Peter also co-wrote Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" and Starship's "We Built This City," among other hits. He and his then-wife Ina collaborated on Kenny Loggins' "Playing With the Boys" for the movie Top Gun.

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