Don't Worry, Be Happy

"Don't Worry, Be Happy" is a song by American musician Bobby McFerrin released in September 1988. It was the first a cappella song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart which it held for two weeks.

"Don't Worry, Be Happy"
Single by Bobby McFerrin
from the album Simple Pleasures
A-side"Don't Worry Be Happy"[1]
    • 12" maxi
    • 7" promo
    • 7" single
    • CD single
Length4:50 (album version)
4:03 (music video)
3:50 (radio edit)
LabelEMI-Manhattan Records[1]
Songwriter(s)Bobby McFerrin[1]
Producer(s)Linda Goldstein[1]
Music video
"Don't Worry, Be Happy" on YouTube


Indian mystic Meher Baba (1894–1969) often used the expression "Don't worry, be happy" when cabling his followers in the West,[3] and the expression was printed on inspirational cards and posters during the 1960s. In 1988, McFerrin noticed a similar poster in the apartment of jazz duo Tuck & Patti in San Francisco, and he was inspired by the expression's charm and simplicity. He wrote the song that was included in the soundtrack of the movie Cocktail and became a hit single the next year.[4]


The "instruments" in the a cappella song are entirely overdubbed voice parts and other sounds made by McFerrin, using no instruments at all; McFerrin also sings with an affected accent.[5]

Music video

The comedic original music video for the song stars McFerrin, Robin Williams, and Bill Irwin,[6] and is somewhat shorter than the album version.

Chart performance

Originally released in conjunction with the film Cocktail in 1988, the song originally peaked at No. 88 on the Billboard Hot 100.[7] The song was re-released the same year and peaked at No. 1 on September 24, 1988[7] displacing "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns N' Roses.[8]

The song also peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Tracks chart[9] and No. 7 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.[7] The song was also a hit in the United Kingdom and on the UK Singles Chart, the song reached number 2 during its fifth week on the chart (kept from the top spot by Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time").[10]

In Canada, the song reached No. 1 on its 8th week.[11]

The song is the first a cappella song to reach the Billboard Hot 100 chart and one critic noted it is a "formula for facing life's trials."[12]


The song is ranked No. 31 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s and also appears on Rolling Stone's list of the 15 Best Whistling Songs of All Time.[20] At the 1989 Grammy Awards, "Don't Worry, Be Happy" won the awards for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.


Chart (1988–89) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[21] 1
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[22] 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[23] 2
Canadian RPM 30 Retail Singles[24] 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles[25] 1
France (SNEP)[26] 29
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 10)[27] 1
Irish Singles Chart[28] 3
Italy (FIMI)[29] 18
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[30] 2
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[31] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[32] 2
Norway (VG-lista)[33] 5
South African Chart[34] 4
Spain (AFYVE)[35] 5
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[36] 2
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[37] 2
UK (Official Charts Company)[38] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[39] 1
US Billboard Adult Contemporary[39] 7
US Hot R&B Singles[39] 11
West Germany (Official German Charts)[40] 1
Chart (2016) Peak
Poland (Polish Airplay Top 100)[41] 75


Region CertificationCertified units/sales
Germany (BVMI)[42] Platinum 500,000^
United States (RIAA)[43] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Cover versions

Versions of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" have been recorded by several artists. The Katsimiha Brothers made a Greek cover of the song with original lyrics, and Montenegrin musician Rambo Amadeus made a parody titled "Don't Happy, Be Worry", as a critique to the optimism of the music scene in the former Yugoslavia in the face of war and economic depression. In addition, the lyrics of "Fight the Power" by hip hop artists Public Enemy refer critically to "Don't Worry, Be Happy". A version of this song sung by The Hit Crew is also added into the Big Mouth Billy Bass, a very popular animatronic singing toy. Hermes House Band covered the song on their Rhythm of the Nineties album in 2009. Reggae artist Cas Haley covered the song as a hidden bonus track on his Favorites album (together with former Jah Roots lead singer, Josh Heinrichs). Also in 1989 Dutch rock DJ Alfred Lagarde recorded a version in Dutch with a heavy Surinam accent under the name Johnny Camaro. Spanish Ska band The Locos covered this song in a similar style, ska.


  1. "Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry Be Happy". Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  2. SPIN june 1989 (PDF). SPIN Media LLC. 1989. p. 66. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  3. Bhau Kalchuri (1986). 'Meher Prabhu: Lord Meher, The Biography of the Avatar of the Age, Meher Baba. Manifestation, Inc. pp. 5134, 5770, 5970, 6405, 6742.
  4. Fessier, Bruce (1988). Interview. USA Weekend magazine, 1988.
  5. Saunders, Michael. "'Don't Worry, Be Happy'--It's Catching" Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Sun-Sentinel:1988.
  6. Heldenfels, Rich (June 27, 2012). "Mailbag: Mr. Noodle explained". Akron Beacon-Journal. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  7. "The Hot 100: The Week of September 24, 1988". Billboard.
  8. Holden, Stephen (September 29, 1988). "Don't Worry, Be Happy: Bobby Mcferrin Has A No. 1 Hit". New York Times News Service. Retrieved June 9, 2014. McFerrin's hit is earning the superb vocal improviser a mass audience, as his album, Simple Pleasures leaps from No. 20 to No. 12 on the album chart.
  9. "Bobby McFerrin Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  10. "Official Singles Chart Top 100 | Official Charts Company". Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  11. Don't Worry, Be Happy. B Happy – Benny to Beyonce, 2012
  12. Carlin, George (2001). Napalm and Silly Putty.
  13. ""Don't Worry, Be Happy", Bobby McFerrin". VH1's Pop-up Video. 1997.
  14. O'Sullivan, Helen. "Revd Helen OSullivan on Don't Worry Be Happy" (PDF). Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  15. Cohen, Barry (December 11, 2013). "Don't Worry, Be Happy 5.4 Project". Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  16. Mondo Club – Don't Worry Be Happy
  17. "[Official Video] Winter Wonderland/Don't Worry Be Happy – Pentatonix (ft Tori Kelly)". YouTube. November 4, 2014.
  18. "Kermit Ruffins • Irvin Mayfield – A Beautiful World". Basin Street Records. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  19. Murphy, Kate (September 30, 2011). "The 15 Best Whistling Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  20. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  21. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  22. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  23. "Don't Worry, Be Happy in Canadian 30 Retail Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on June 21, 2017. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  24. "Don't Worry, Be Happy in Canadian Top Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on June 21, 2017. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  25. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy" (in French). Les classement single.
  26. "Íslenski Listinn Topp 10 (14. október 1988)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir. Retrieved July 23, 2018. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  27. "Don't Worry, Be Happy in Irish Chart". IRMA. Archived from the original on June 3, 2009. Retrieved June 5, 2013. Only one result when searching "Don't worry be happy"
  28. "The best-selling singles of 1989 in Italy". HitParadeItalia (it). Retrieved June 5, 2013.
    97. Don't Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin [#18, 1988/89]
  29. "Nederlandse Top 40 – Bobby McFerrin" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  30. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  31. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". Top 40 Singles.
  32. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". VG-lista.
  33. John Samson. "Don't Worry, Be Happy in South African Chart". Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  34. "LISTAS DE AFYVE – Singles 1988" (in Spanish). Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  35. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". Singles Top 100.
  36. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". Swiss Singles Chart.
  37. "1988 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive – 22nd October 1988". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  38. "Bobby McFerrin awards on Allmusic". All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  39. " – Bobby McFerrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  40. "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  41. "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Bobby McFerrin; 'Don't Worry, Be Happy')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  42. "American single certifications – Bobby Mc Ferrin – Don't Worry, Be Happy". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved March 26, 2016. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
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