Tuesday, June 01, 2010

“She Was Afraid That Somebody Could See”

It’s June 1, and that means it’s time for young men’s fancies to turn to ... bikinis! Believe it or not, it was 50 years ago this month that the novelty number “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” was released. As Wikipedia explains, that song tells
the story of a shy girl wearing a revealing polka dot bikini bathing suit at the beach, who in the first verse is too afraid to leave the locker where she has changed into the aforementioned swimwear; in the second, she has made it to the beach but sits on the sand wrapped in a blanket; and in the closing verse,
she has finally gone into the ocean, but is too afraid to come out, and stays immersed in the water--despite the fact that she’s “turning blue,” to quote the song’s lyrics--to hide herself from view. It was written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss and first released in June 1960 by Brian Hyland with orchestra conducted by John Dixon as “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini.” Hyland’s version hit number one 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. Trudy Packer recited the phrases beginning with “One, two, three, four”--i.e., “Tell the people what she wore,” heard at the end of each verse before the chorus; and “Stick around, we’ll tell you more,” heard after the first chorus and before the start of the second verse.
A number of singers have recorded “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” over the decades, some cheesier than others. Pop vocalist Connie Francis did a respectable early version of the piece, which I have embedded on the right. But just to prove that this sprightly number maintains its great audience appeal, even six decades after being introduced, at the top of this post you will find a 2006 commercial for Yoplait Light yogurt that makes good comic use of an abbreviated version of “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.” By the way, the woman trying so desperately to hide her fetching form behind an inflatable raft is actress Sarah Kozinn, who has also appeared in the TV series Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Ah, summer!

READ MORE:Lee Pockriss, Songwriter Behind ‘Itsy Bitsy’ Bikini, Dies at 87,” by Anita Gates (The New York Times).


Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini is also the song the East German police use to torture Horst Buchholz in One, Two, Three (1961). (And rather appropriate, IMHO.)

Snidely Whiplash said...

I think it's only 50 years and the commercial butchers the lyrics.
Great song

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Hey, Snidely:

Thanks for pointing out the typo. It has now been fixed.