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"Sh-Boom" (sometimes referred to as "Life Could Be a Dream") is an early doo-wop song. It was written by James Keyes, Claude Feaster, Carl Feaster, Floyd F. McRae, and James Edwards, members of the R&B vocal group the Chords and published in 1954. It was a U.S. top ten hit that year for both the Chords (who first recorded the song) and the Crew-Cuts.[1]


The song was first recorded on Atlantic Records' subsidiary label Cat Records by the Chords on March 15, 1954[2] and would be their only hit song. "Sh-Boom" reached #2 on the Billboard R&B charts and peaked at #9 on the pop charts.[3] It is sometimes considered to be the first doo-wop or rock 'n' roll record to reach the top ten on the pop charts (as opposed to the R&B charts). This version was ranked #215 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is the group's only song on the list.[]

A more traditional version was made by a Canadian group, the Crew-Cuts (with the David Carroll Orchestra), for Mercury Records[4] and was #1 on the Billboard charts for nine weeks during August and September 1954.[] The single first entered the charts on July 30, 1954 and stayed for 20 weeks.[5] The Crew-Cuts performed the song on Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town on December 12, 1954. On the Cash Box magazine best-selling record charts, where both versions were combined, the song reached #1.[]

Other recordings

Stan Freberg recorded a combined spoof of 'Sh-boom' and Marlon Brando because he felt that they both mumbled, in 1954. It reached number 14 in the US and 15 in the UK. The Billy Williams Quartet released a version in 1954 on Coral Records which reached #21 on the Billboard Hot 100,[6] with orchestra directed by Jack Pleis.[7] A recording by Ken Mackintosh and His Orchestra (vocalists: the Mackpies) was made in London on April 7, 1954. It was released by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalog number B 10698.

The record for most recordings of "Sh-Boom" by a single group probably belongs to the Harvard Din & Tonics, an a cappella men's singing group that has featured the song on 12 of their 13 albums. Their 1979 Crew-Cuts-style arrangement was so popular that the group began performing "Sh-Boom" as their signature song at all their concerts, bringing all their alumni onstage to perform it across the United States and through ten world tours.[]

The British Doo-Wop revivalists, Darts, recorded "Sh-Boom" in the late 1970s, this time at a slower tempo. It was released as the B-side of the band's last charting single, reaching #48 in the UK charts in 1980.[8]

The reggae crooner Alton Ellis recorded a cover entitled "She Boom" for Studio One some time in the 1970s; the EP has been pressed at various times by various distributors.[9]

In the 1980s a parody of the song entitled "Dubuque" was featured in the Dubuque ham TV commercial, a midwestern-based meat packing company.[]

German rock-and-roll band Spider Murphy Gang adapted the song into a Bavarian version, ''s Leben is wiar a Traum', which they released as a single in 1985.

The Fleetwoods released a cover version of the song. Canadian children's entertainers Sharon, Lois & Bram covered the song on their 1995 album release titled Let's Dance!. Watkin Tudor Jones covered the song on his 2001 album, Memoirs Of A Clone. British doo-wop act the Overtones covered the song on their 2010 album Good Ol' Fashioned Love.[] The song was covered in 1955 by Enoch Light And His Light Brigade Orchestra, released in the UK on His Master's Voice, and appears on their album 'Little Things Mean A Lot' from Jasmine Records.

In popular culture

Alternate recordings based on the Crew Cuts' recording were heard in the TV series Happy Days (1974-84) and in the film Clue (1985). The original Chords' recording was featured in The Super (1991), Liberty Heights (1999), The Sum of Us (1994), Cry-Baby featuring Johnny Depp (1990), Two of Us (2000), Road House (1989), and the mini-series Lipstick on Your Collar (1993). It was briefly featured in the HBO mini-series From the Earth To The Moon (1998) and the movie Hearts in Atlantis (2001). The Trevor Horn Orchestra covered the song for the Mona Lisa Smile (2003) soundtrack. Pixar's Cars used a long recording of the song (2006), and Disney California Adventure prominently incorporated it into the nightly neon lighting ceremony in the new Cars Land.[10] It is heard in the 2011 film Dolphin Tale.[] The song is briefly featured in a Nexgard Chewables for Dogs commercial.

A remixed version by Junkie XL is featured in the video game Destroy All Humans!. New York television personality Clay Cole wrote about the early years of rock 'n' roll and live television in his memoirs, Sh-Boom! The Explosion of Rock 'n' Roll (1953-1968) published by Morgan James Books. "Sh-Boom" was parodied by Stan Freberg. Another parody, as a singing Lucky Strike cigarette commercial by the Sportsmen Quartet, appeared on the October 31, 1954, Jack Benny radio show. Comic Ronnie Golden wrote a parody, "Shoe Bomb," on the subject of the British terrorist Richard Reid. The song appeared in the video game Mafia II (2010).[]

The Crew Cuts version was heard in the game show Trapped! (TV series) in the challenge Wicked Wardrobes.


  1. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 4 - The Tribal Drum: The rise of rhythm and blues. [Part 2]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  2. ^ Cat catalogue #104, "B" Side: Cross Over The Bridge on the first issue, on the later issues the "B" Side is Little Maiden.
  3. ^ Whitburn 1973, p. 12.
  4. ^ Mercury catalogue # 70404; "B" side: I Spoke Too Soon
  5. ^ Whitburn 1973, p. 16.
  6. ^ "Song title 116 - Sh-Boom (Life Could Be a Dream)". Retrieved .
  7. ^ Ruppli, Michael, ed. (1996). The Decca Labels: The Eastern Sessions (1943-1956). Greenwood Press. p. 678.
  8. ^ British Hit Singles & Albums 18th edition, Guinness World Records 2005, page 135
  9. ^ "Don Drummond / Alton Ellis - Scandal / She Boom". Discogs. 2018. Retrieved .
  10. ^ MacDonald, Brady (June 13, 2012). "Review: Disney's Cars Land feels like walking into a movie". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved .


  • Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940-1955. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research.

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