Suvarna Garge (Editor)

That Thing You Do (song)

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Released  September 24, 1996
Length  2:46
Genre  Power pop
Label  Playtone/Epic
B-side  "Voyage Around the Moon (The Saturn 5)" (cassette) "Dance with Me Tonight" (45) "All My Only Dreams" (fictitious 45 from the film)
Format  Cassette single, vinyl single

"That Thing You Do" is a 1996 song that appears in the film That Thing You Do! The song is performed by the fictional 1960s band The Wonders, who are the focus of the film.


In the film

In 1964, an Erie, Pennsylvania band named "The One-ders" (later known as The Wonders) goes from a college talent show to climbing up the Billboard charts thanks to the song "That Thing You Do". Written by guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Mattingly II, it was originally crafted as a ballad. During the performance at the talent show, drummer Guy Patterson produces a much more up-tempo beat and the rest of the band follow suit, turning the song into an upbeat, Beatles-esque rock number. The song is a hit with the audience, and they win the talent show. From there, the band is picked up by a local manager who helps them get more shows in the area, and eventually the song receives radio airplay. The band is then signed to Play-Tone Records, under Mr. White's guidance, and the song climbs up the Billboard Hot 100, starting at #93, then #71, #49, and #21. The following week, "That Thing You Do" climbs to #7, becoming the quickest charting song ever on Play-Tone Records. However, Jimmy walks out on the band before they can produce another record, so they eventually become one-hit wonders.

Early in the film, when Jimmy and Lenny are asking Guy to join them at the talent competition at the college, Jimmy mentions they'll perform a song he wrote. Lenny takes offense to that by slapping Jimmy on the arm. Jimmy begrudgingly corrects himself by saying, "We wrote." Later, when the vinyl 45 is officially released, the label states: Written by James Mattingly II. Later still, when being interviewed live on radio station KJZZ, Jimmy says of the song, "We wrote it in my garage back in Erie, PA".

In the film, the song is performed by James "Jimmy" Mattingly II on vocals and guitar, Leonard "Lenny" Haise on lead guitar, "T.B. Player" on bass (as a running gag, the bass player in the film is unnamed) and Guy "Shades" Patterson on drums. For their live performance of the song on The Hollywood Television Showcase, studio bassist Scott "Wolfman" Pell replaced T.B. Player on bass.

In the fictitious "mockumentary" liner notes from the soundtrack CD, "That Thing You Do" peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the summer of 1964.

In Reality

The song was written by Adam Schlesinger, the bassist of the alternative rock group Fountains of Wayne. Schlesinger did not expect his song to be chosen, but tried as "a personal exercise". Performers include Mike Viola on vocals with Schlesinger on backup vocals.

The song was released as a single, and although not as successful as was depicted in the film, the track still did moderately well in the US, peaking at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100. (It also reached #22 on the Adult Contemporary chart, #18 on the Adult Top 40, and #24 on the Top 40 Mainstream chart.)

The song was a bigger hit outside of the US, reaching #31 in Canada in December 1996, and #22 on the UK Singles Chart in February 1997. The song was nominated for Best Original Song at the 69th Academy Awards as well as Best Original Song at the 54th Golden Globe Awards, losing out on both occasions to Madonna's "You Must Love Me" (written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber) from the musical Evita.

Cover versions

  • The Knack recorded the song for their 1998 hits collection, Proof: The Very Best of the Knack.
  • 'N Sync performed the song during their 1999 tour, as part of a '60s segment.
  • New Found Glory did a cover of this song for their EP, From the Screen to Your Stereo in 2000.
  • Japanese ska band Shaka Labbits included a cover of the song on their 2004 live album Burning Cylinder.
  • Scottish band Bubblegum Lemonade included the song on their 2008 EP Ten Years Younger.
  • In 2010, the song was parodied by The Fringemunks to recap Fringe episode 3.03, "The Plateau."
  • Day6's Jae Park performed it on the South Korean reality show K-pop Star in 2012.
  • Pentatonix performed the song at the 2014 Kennedy Center Honors, paying tribute to Tom Hanks, the writer and director of the song's feature film by the same name.
  • References

    That Thing You Do (song) Wikipedia

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