Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop

Album: The Best of Little Anthony (1959)
Charted: 24
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This seemingly innocuous song became one of the first great earworms, with the chorus of "Shimmy, shimmy, ko-ko-bop, shimmy, shimmy, bop" burrowing into our brains and refusing to let go.

    Like many hits of this era aimed at teenagers, it's about a dance: the "ko-ko-bop." The third verse contains specific instructions:

    Left foot forward, right one back
    Bring them side by side
    Syncopate your last two steps
    Now you're gonna glide
  • The song is about a guy who is entranced by a "native" girl who shows him the dance.
  • This is based on a song called "(Shimmy Shimmy) Ko Ko Wop," which was released by a Pittsburgh group called the El Capris in 1956. That song was written by group members James Scott, James Ward and Leon Gray; it takes place on an island and has a Polynesian rhythm.

    The Little Anthony & the Imperials version is a not-so-subtle rewrite, with just a tweak to the title and a change of setting for the verses. This version is credited as written by Bob Smith.
  • Various "Shimmy" songs followed: in 1960 "(I Do The) Shimmy Shimmy" by Bobby Freeman went to #37 US; "Shimmy Like Kate" by The Olympics made #42 that same year; and in 1962 James Brown hit #61 with "Shout And Shimmy."
  • This was the first uptempo hit for Little Anthony & the Imperials, who were known for their ballads "Tears On My Pillow" and "So Much."
  • Little Anthony did not like this song, and would often disparage it on stage before performing it.

Comments: 3

  • Harland Camley Jr from West Haven, Ct What year was Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop, the Little Anthony & The Imperials version released? A lie telling me 1987 was given. I heard it around 1963. Let me know please.
  • Jeanne from FranceThis song inspired "Ko Ko Bop", a song recorded by South Korean–Chinese boy band Exo for their fourth studio album The War. It was released in Korean and Chinese versions by SM Entertainment on July 18, 2017, and the song goes like this : "Shimmie Shimmie Ko Ko Bop I think I like it".

    Lee Dong Wook asked EXO member Chanyeol what exactly “Kokobop” meant during his V Live stream. Chanyeol explained that there wasn’t a fixed definition for the term, as it was a combination of two words.
    “There’s no real correct answer, but ‘koko’ is a fun word, and ‘bop’ refers to dance, so we combined it to mean ‘fun dancing’. The composer came up with the title.” — EXO’s Chanyeol (2017)

    Label SM Entertainment
    Songwriters Kim Jong-dae Park Chanyeol Byun Baek-hyun JQ Hyun Ji-won Tay Jasper Shaylen Carroll
    Producers Styalz Fuego
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 12th 1960, Little Anthony & the Imperials were one of the acts* appearing at the Apollo Theatre in the Harlem section of New York City...
    At the time the group's "Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop" was at #24 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, that was also its peak position of the chart and it stayed on the Top 100 for 16 weeks...
    It reached #14 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Between 1958 and 1974 the Brooklyn-area quintet had nineteen Top 100 records; three made the Top 10, "Tears On My Pillow" {#4 in 1958}, "Goin' Out of My Head" {#6 in 1964}, and "Hurts So Bad" {#10 in 1965}...
    One Billboard's R&B Singles chart they had five Top 10 hits, with two reaching #2, "Tears On My Pillow" and "So Much"...
    Lead singer Jerome 'Little Anthony' Gourdine celebrated his 75th birthday one month ago on January 8th {2016}...
    * Other acts on the Apollo Theatre bill were Chuck Berry, Baby Washington, and the Mello-Kings.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Emilio Castillo from Tower of Power

Emilio Castillo from Tower of PowerSongwriter Interviews

Emilio talks about what it's like to write and perform with the Tower of Power horns, and why every struggling band should have a friend like Huey Lewis.

Part of Their World: The Stories and Songs of 13 Disney Princesses

Part of Their World: The Stories and Songs of 13 Disney PrincessesSong Writing

From "Some Day My Prince Will Come" to "Let It Go" - how Disney princess songs (and the women who sing them) have evolved.

Laura Nyro

Laura NyroSongwriting Legends

Laura Nyro talks about her complex, emotionally rich songwriting and how she supports women's culture through her art.

Carl Sturken

Carl SturkenSongwriter Interviews

Hitmaker Carl Sturken on writing and producing for Rihanna, 'N Sync, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Donny Osmond, Shakira and Karyn White.

Jesus Christ Superstar: Ted Neeley Tells the Inside Story

Jesus Christ Superstar: Ted Neeley Tells the Inside StorySong Writing

The in-depth discussion about the making of Jesus Christ Superstar with Ted Neeley, who played Jesus in the 1973 film.

What Musicians Are Related to Other Musicians?

What Musicians Are Related to Other Musicians?Song Writing

A big list of musical marriages and family relations ranging from the simple to the truly dysfunctional.