Written by Neil Diamond, "I'm a Believer" was reportedly intended for country singer Eddy Arnold - you can imagine Diamond's surprise when the Monkees' version of the song launched instead into a pop sensation.
The Monkees producer Don Kirshner had heard Diamond's "Cherry Cherry" on the radio and realized that the friendly, fun loving riffs would fit the Monkees' vibe just right. Kirshner asked Diamond if he had any other tune like that in-store, and Diamond responded with "I'm a Believer."
Catchy, twangy and bursting at its seams with the irresistible energy of youthful love, Micky Dolenz delivered the song perfectly, filling the role of someone a desolate, disappointed loner whose world turns upside down as he falls in love at first sight - literally. Dolenz sang, "Then I saw her face, now I'm a believer. Not a trace, of doubt in my mind," with earnest marvel before swears, "I'm in love, and I'm a believer!"
With Diamond rocking out on the acoustic rhythm guitar and the other Monkees chiming in with an endearing "Ahh," Monkees fan (along with the rest of the nation) couldn't get enough of the song's ecstatic joy and the song became Monkees' second hit, following in the steps of "Last Train to Clarksville."
The song started its run on the Billboard chart throne in December 31, 1966, holding strong during a 7-week run into 1967 until The Buckinghams' "King of a Drag" briefly stole the spotlight.
Despite the song's remarkable success, it turns out not all Monkees were initial believers of the tune. Guitarist Michael Nesmith reportedly spat on the tune during the song's recording, claiming that the song was not fit to be a hit, which he claimed to discern being a songwriter himself.
According to legend, producer Jeff Barry kicked Nesmith out during the studio session while Dolenz recorded his vocal. Nesmith then faked his performance for "I'm a Believer" during four consecutive Monkees episode. Can you believe it?
Speaking of love and fairy tales, how could we not mention the song's inclusion in a soundtrack for a film as monstrous as the hit tune itself?! That would, of course, be the scene of Donkey singing the song after Fiona and Shrek get married. Performed by Smash Mouth, the song was included in the original Shreksoundtrack as well as the swamp party scene in Shrek Forever After.
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