Back in March, which is NOT bikini weather in the US Northeast, I was asked by a friend of mine, “What color is the bikini in the song, “Itsy bitsy teenny weeny yellow polkadot bikini”? Is the bikini yellow? If so, what color are the dots? Or are the polka dots yellow, in which case, what is the color of the rest of the bikini?”

One theory is that if the songwriter meant the former, it should be “itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow bikini with polkadots”, which admittedly is not as catchy.

I was of the position that the bikini is yellow, and the polka dots default to white, which would make the description correct.

My friend asked someone else and she told me to Google “yellow polka dots.” In Google, it goes both ways. As he rightly noted, “I’m sensing that this is a very important debate.”

The song was written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss and first released in June 1960 by Brian Hyland. Trudy Packer did the spoken voice part.

From the Wikipedia:
“Hyland’s version hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 8, 1960 and also made the top 10 in other countries, including #8 on the UK Singles Chart. It also reached #1 in New Zealand…

“At a time when bikini bathing suits were still seen as too risqué to be mainstream, the song prompted a sudden take off in bikini sales and is credited as being one of the earliest contributors to the acceptance of the bikini in society. The early 1960s saw a slew of surf movies and other film and television productions that rapidly built on the song’s momentum.”

It was covered, a lot.

Listen to Itsy bitsy teenny weeny yellow polkadot bikini

Brian Hyland
Connie Francis
Sha na na
Bombalurina
Devo

One Response to “Itsy bitsy teenny weeny yellow polkadot bikini”

  • CGHill says:

    When Hyland’s next single went nowhere — “Four Little Heels,” aka “The Clickety-Clack Song,” another Vance-Pockriss tune — died at #73, and the B-side finished at #74, Hyland’s brain trust, or somebody, ordered up something that sounded exactly like that bikini thing. Thus was born “Lop-Sided, Over-Loaded, And It Wiggled When We Rode It,” not written by Vance-Pockriss but you couldn’t prove it by me, which bubbled under at #105 — four spots below “I Gotta Go (‘Cause I Love You),” a John D. Loudermilk special. After that, Hyland went looking for a new label, and went more or less hitless for a year until “Sealed With a Kiss” broke through.

    Still, my favorite Hyland waxing came out in 1970: a cover of the Impressions’ “Gypsy Woman,” produced by Del Shannon, who turned up the menace level to, if not 11, certainly ten and a fraction.

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