In 1960 there were many wonderful songs topping the charts. Elvis had a hit with “It’s Now or Never” and two different versions of “Mack the Knife” were making the rounds (one by Ella Fitzgerald and one by Bobby Darin). But, there was one song which people couldn’t get out of their heads that summer: “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini” by Brian Hyland.
Even though bikinis has been around since the 1940s, they weren’t all that popular until the 1960s. This is because most people thought of them as far too scandalous to wear in public. Many a young woman was told “no” to a bikini by her mother. So when the song came out in 1960 it really spoke to young people. Although, the two-piece swimsuits back then were nothing so revealing as many bikinis are today.
The catchy melody was enough to make it a #1 hit, though many younger generations may know the tune as the jingle for Van De Camp’s Beenie Weenies in 1980s and 1990s. But, for many people who remember the 1960s it conjures up memories of the era of beach films like Where the Boys Are and Beach Blanket Bingo.
The song tells the story of a girl who is shy at the beach in her two-piece, something many girls could relate to- once they were allowed to wear bikinis that is. Hear this wonderful tune again in the American Bandstand clip from 1960 below.