Wednesday, April 7, 1999

50 Years Ago Today: South Pacific opened on Broadway (April 7, 1949)

First posted 4/7/2012; updated 3/30/2019.

South Pacific (cast/soundtrack)

Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II (composers)

Opened on Broadway: 4/7/1949

Cast Album Charted: 5/21/1949

Soundtrack Released: 5/19/1958

U.S. Peak: #169-C, 131-S

UK Peak: #1115-S

U.S. Sales (in millions): 3.0 c, 8.0 s

UK Sales (in millions): -- c, 1.8 s

Total Sales (in millions): 3.0 c, 9.8 s

Genre: show tunes

C cast, S soundtrack

Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Overture
  2. Dites-Moi
  3. A Cockeyed Optimist
  4. Twin Soliloquies
  5. Some Enchanted Evening (#1 US, Perry Como, 1949)
  6. Bloody Mary
  7. My Girl Back Home **
  8. There Is Nothin’ Like a Dame
  9. Bali Ha’i (#5 US, Perry Como, 1949)
  10. I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair
  11. A Wonderful Guy (#12 US, Margaret Whiting, 1949)
  12. Younger Than Springtime (#30 US, Gordon MacRae, 1949)
  13. Happy Talk
  14. Honey Bun
  15. You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught
  16. This Nearly Was Mine
  17. Finale: Dites-Mo (Reprise)

Above track listing based on 2000 Decca reissue. Songs with an asterisk (*) are on original 1946 cast album.

c Songs unique to cast album.


Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s South Pacific is considered “one of the greatest Broadway musicals” W-C and “one of the most beloved musicals ever to hit the stage.” AZ It was a massive hit, running 1,925 performances on Broadway AMG-C and another 802 in London. MK Its nearly five-year Broadway run was “longer than any musical before it except Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!.” AMG-C “The appeal is simple: a collection of stunning compositions…and characters with a simple though cohesive through-line.” AZ

At the time, a critic for the New York Daily Mirror wrote that it was “likely to establish a new trend in musicals” W-C and that “every number is so outstanding that it is difficult to decide which will be the most popular.” W-C The New York World-Telegram review said it was “the ultimate modern blending of music and popular theatre to date, with the finest kind of balance between story and song, and hilarity and heartbreak.” W-C

Joshua Logan, a stage and film director and also a World War II veteran, read James Michener’s 1947 novel Tales of the South Pacific and decided to adapt it for the stage; he wound up as the musical’s director and producer. Rodgers & Hammerstein were tapped to write.” W-C Initially, “the musical was to center on the story ‘Fo’ Dolla’, about a love affair between a Polynesian girl and a stuffy American officer.” MK As Rogers recounted, however, he and Hammerstein decided that it “would look too much like a rehash of Madame ButterflyMK and opted to make it secondary to “another story from the book, ‘Our Heroine,’ about a nurse from Arkansas who falls in love” MK with “an expatriate French plantation owner with a dark past.” W-C To add “comic leavening” MK alongside these “wartime romances complicated by racial issues,” AMG-C R&H added a third story, “A Boar’s Tooth,” MK about “Luther Billis, a womanizing sailor.” W-C

“The dashing former Metropolitan Opera bass Ezio Pinza” AZ was tapped to play the role of Emile deBecque, the French plantation owner.” W-C Of his eventual South Pacific performance, The New York Times’ Brooks Atkinson said, “Mr. Pinza’s bass voice is the most beautiful that has been heard on a Broadway stage for an eon or two.”

Filling the role of “the heartily feminine American nurse” AZ is “the lovely, girlish Mary Martin” AZ who was “a musical comedy star…[and] a Broadway favorite” MK noted for performances in Peter Pan and Annie Get Your Gun. AZ The New York Post’s Richard Watts, Jr. said this of her performance in South Pacific: “Nothing I have ever seen her do prepared me for the loveliness, humor, gift for joyous characterization, and sheer lovableness of her portrayal of Nellie Forbush…Hers is a completely irresistible performance.” W-C

“The issue of racial prejudice is sensitively and candidly explored in several plot threads.” W-C “Nellie struggles to accept Emile’s mixed-race children. Another American serviceman, Lieutenant Cable, struggles with the prejudice that he would face if he were to marry an Asian woman.” W-C The song You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught “attacks the issue with a vehemence never before (and seldom since) seen on the stage.” MK It was initially “criticized as too controversial for the musical stage and called indecent and pro-communist.” W-C

“Critical response to the Broadway opening, April 7, 1949, at the Majestic Theater, was probably as uniformly ecstatic as for any show in history.” MK “Acclaim heaped up: nine Tony awards, including Musical, Book, Score, and Direction, along with acting kudos for Martin, Pinza, Myron McCormick (who played Billis) and Juanita Hall (Bloody Mary). Nine Donaldson awards. The New York Drama Critics Circle award for Best Musical. And the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.” MK

The accompanying cast album tapped Pinza and Martin and other cast members. It proved immensely successful, spending 69 weeks atop the Billboard charts – the most weeks spent at #1 in the chart’s history. When the soundtrack to the 1958 film was released, it accomplished a similar feat by becoming the most successful #1 album in the history of the U.K. charts – with 115 weeks on top. Collectively, the cast album and soundtrack have sold nearly 13 million worldwide.

Review Source(s):

Awards C+S:

Awards C:

Awards S:

Sunday, April 4, 1999

BBC 100 Favourite Songs of the Century

image from

Paul Gambaccini invited the public and music personalities to submit their choices for the best songs of the century and then broadcast the results over BBC Radio 2 over Easter weekend, 1999. The list only lists song titles. The DMDB has included the act for the highest-ranked version of the song according to the DMDB.

1. Yesterday…The Beatles (1965)
2. Star Dust…Artie Shaw (1941)
3. Bridge Over Troubled Water…Simon & Garfunkel (1970)
4. White Christmas… Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers (1942)
5. Unchained Melody…The Righteous Brothers (1965)
6. Imagine…John Lennon (1971)
7. My Way…Frank Sinatra (1969)
8. Summertime…Billie Holiday (1936)
9. Over the Rainbow… Judy Garland (1939)
10. As Time Goes By…Dooley Wilson (1943)

11. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes…Paul Whiteman with Bob Lawrence (1933)
12. You’ll Never Walk Alone…Frank Sinatra (1945)
13. Candle in the Wind 1997 (Goodbye England’s Rose)…Elton John (1997)
14. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer…Gene Autry (1949)
15. Hey Jude…The Beatles (1968)
16. In the Mood…Glenn Miller (1939)
17. Alexander’s Ragtime Band…Arthur Collins with Byron Harlan (1911)
18. Bohemian Rhapsody…Queen (1975)
19. (We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock…Bill Haley & the Comets (1954)
20. Ol’ Man River…Paul Robeson (1928)

21. Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye…Benny Goodman with Peggy Mann (1945)
22. Blowin’ in the Wind…Bob Dylan (1963)
23. We’ll Meet Again…Vera Lynn (1954)
24. I Heard It Through the Grapevine…Marvin Gaye (1968)
25. When I Fall in Love…The Lettermen (1961)
26. Heartbreak Hotel…Elvis Presley (1956)
27. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’…The Righteous Brothers (1964)
28. A Whiter Shade of Pale…Procol Harum (1967)
29. My Heart Will Go On…Celine Dion (1997)
30. St. Louis Blues…Bessie Smith with Louis Armstrong (1925)

31. My Blue Heaven…Gene Austin (1927)
32. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town…Bing Crosby with the Andrews Sisters (1947)
33. Night and Day…Fred Astaire with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra (1932)
34. September Song…Walter Huston (1939)
35. Stairway to Heaven…Led Zeppelin (1971)
36. Moonlight Serenade…Glenn Miller (1939)
37. What a Wonderful World…Louis Armstrong (1967)
38. I Will Always Love You…Whitney Houston (1992)
39. Let It Be…The Beatles (1970)
40. There’ll Be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover…Kay Kyser (1941)

41. Begin the Beguine…Artie Shaw (1938)
42. American Pie…Don McLean (1971)
43. Moon River…Henry Mancini with Audrey Hepburn (1961)
44. Always on My Mind…Willie Nelson (1982)
45. Without You…Harry Nilsson (1971)
46. Hound Dog…Elvis Presley (1956)
47. Unforgettable…Natalie Cole with Nat “King” Cole (1991)
48. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face…Roberta Flack (1970)
49. The Little Drummer Boy…Harry Simeone Chorale (1958)
50. Baker Street…Gerry Rafferty (1978)

51. Tennessee Waltz…Patti Page (1950)
52. Hotel California…Eagles (1976)
53. Lili Marlene…Perry Como (1944)
54. Mack the Knife…Bobby Darin (1959)
55. I Only Have Eyes for You…The Flamingos (1959)
56. I’ve Got You Under My Skin…Ray Noble (1936)
57. Someone to Watch Over Me…Gertrude Lawrence (1927)
58. The Power of Love…Celine Dion (1993)
59. God Only Knows…The Beach Boys (1966)
60. I Believe…Frankie Laine (1953)

61. I Just Called to Say I Love You…Stevie Wonder (1984)
62. Crazy…Patsy Cline (1961)
63. Deep Purple…Larry Clinton with Bea Wain (1939)
64. Wind Beneath My Wings…Bette Midler (1989)
65. Strawberry Fields Forever…The Beatles (1967)
66. It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary…John McCormack (1915)
67. Blue Moon…Glen Gray with Kenny Sargent (1935)
68. All the Things You Are…Tommy Dorsey with Jack Leonard (1939)
69. Like a Rolling Stone…Bob Dylan (1965)
70. Singin’ in the Rain…Cliff Edwards (1929)

71. Nights in White Satin…The Moody Blues (1967)
72. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction…The Rolling Stones (1965)
73. Send in the Clowns…Judy Collins (1975)
74. What’s Going On…Marvin Gaye (1971)
75. Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin’ All the Time)…Ethel Waters (1933)
76. Walk on By…Dionne Warwick (1964)
77. The Folks Who Live on the Hill…Guy Lombardo (1937)
78. Keep the Home Fires Burnin’…James F. Harrison (1915)
79. Every Breath You Take…The Police (1983)
80. Winter Wonderland…Guy Lombardo (1934)

81. Killing Me Softly with His Song…Roberta Flack (1973)
82. Some Enchanted Evening…Perry Como (1949)
83. Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay…Otis Redding (1968)
84. Roses of Picardy…Lambert Murphy (1918)
85. I Say a Little Prayer…Aretha Franklin (1968)
86. Let Me Call You Sweetheart…Peerless Quartet (1911)
87. Everything I Do I Do It for You…Bryan Adams (1991)
88. Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?...Rudy Vallee (1932)
89. The Way We Were…Barbra Streisand (1973)
90. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square…Glenn Miller with Ray Eberle (1940)

91. Somewhere…Marni Nixon (1961)
92. Tea for Two…Marion Harris (1925)
93. Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina…Madonna (199)
94. Something…The Beatles (1969)
95. The Way You Look Tonight…Fred Astaire (1936)
96. MacArthur Park…Richard Harris (1968)
97. Georgia on My Mind…Ray Charles (1960)
98. Sweet Adeline (You’re the Flower of My Heart)…Haydn Quartet (1904)
99. Take Five…Dave Brubeck Quartet (1999)
100. Stand by Me…Ben E. King (1961)

Resources and Related Links: