Sunny (A Song History Lesson)

I was watching the Grammys this Sunday–which, by the way, was not that bad this year (especially when you DVR it and fast-forward through all the boring crap)–and for some reason I can’t explain I decided to go back and watch the In Memoriam segment. It was in watching that segment that I heard a song instantly familiar to me, and yet totally foreign. It should be no surprise to anyone now that dance and hip-hop music frequently sample older songs and I’m always excited to discover these original samples to newer songs I’m more familiar with, so it was with great joy that I finally figured out who originally wrote the song ‘Sunny’. For a while I’ve been a big fan of the Boogie Pimps’ song and video, which you can see right here. Roller disco has never been sexier.

The song was originally written by Bobby Hebb in 1966, in response to the Kennedy assassination and his brother’s murder, which happened right around the same time. Instead of slipping into a great fit of depression, the guy decided to right a really catchy uplifting tune to cheer himself up.

Upon further investigation I discovered that the Boogie Pimps didn’t just rerecord this song, but actually sampled another version of it. In fact it turns out that ‘Sunny’ is actually one of the most covered songs in pop music. Everyone from James Brown to Cher did a version. The most famous version though, outside of the original, is Boney M.’s, which is the one that was actually sampled by the Boogie Pimps. In 1977 they decided it would make for a great disco tune, and I was kind of surprised at how similar it is to the Boogie Pimps’ version.

No matter what version you prefer, they’re all guaranteed to make you feel better on a shitty day, so take a listen and enjoy.

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