"I'm a Believer" is a song composed by Neil Diamond and recorded by The Monkees in 1966 with the lead vocals by Micky Dolenz. The single, produced by Jeff Barry, hit the number one spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending December 31, 1966 and remained there for seven weeks, becoming the last No. 1 hit of 1966 and the biggest-selling record for all of 1967. Because of 1,051,280 advance orders, it went gold within two days of release. It is one of the fewer than forty all-time singles to have sold 10 million (or more) physical copies worldwide.
Neil Diamond had already recorded this song before it was covered by The Monkees, and it still sometimes appears in his live concerts. A revised recording by Neil Diamond, featuring additional lyrics, appears on the album September Morn, while his original recording appeared on the 1967 album Just for You. Neil Diamond also suggested it to The Fifth Estate who recorded it as a 1967 album cut to follow up their hit "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead". The Monkees' recording kept the novelty hit "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron", by The Royal Guardsmen, at number two for four weeks, from reaching the Hot 100's summit.
Session guitarist Al Gorgoni (who later played on "The Sound of Silence" and "Brown Eyed Girl") had worked on Diamond's "Cherry, Cherry" and also contributed to this song. Other personnel on the record include Sal Ditroia on guitar, Dick Romoff on bass, Artie Butler on organ, Jeff Barry on piano and tambourine, and Buddy Saltzman on drums.
Neil Diamond's version was featured in the Coen brothers' film Blood Simple in its US home video version, but was later[clarification needed] replaced by the Four Tops' "It's the Same Old Song", which was the original choice for the film.
In 2008, this song ranked No. 1 on Dallas station KLUV 98.7FM's Top 500 Memorial Day Countdown, as voted on by the listeners. The song is listed at No. 48 on Billboard's All Time Top 100.
A cover by British singer-songwriter Robert Wyatt was an unlikely hit in the UK in 1974, with a version featuring Fred Frith on violin, Andy Summers (later ofThe Police) on guitar, and drums by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, who also produced the recording. It was Wyatt's first recording after the accident which left him a paraplegic.
In 1995, British comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer teamed up with the band EMF for a version which reached No. 3 on the UK singles chart. Reeves & Mortimer's insertion of an "Oi!" after the first line of each verse has since become a regular feature of cover versions of the song.
This song was also covered by Smash Mouth and Eddie Murphy in 1999, as part of the soundtrack to the movie Shrek (the band also released the song on its self-titled album). Eddie Murphy, portraying the character "Donkey", also performed a rendition of the song in the film. The song was chosen for its opening line, "I thought love was only true in fairy tales," which matched the fairy tale theme of the film. Subsequently, the song was played as exit music for the Broadway musical adaptation of the film, for comic effect. A year into the show's run, it was inserted into its finale.
A nod to the version by Reeves & Mortimer with EMF is included in Shrek; though the "Oi!" does not appear in any album version of Smash Mouth's cover, it is inserted into the song when it is played in the film's finale, shouted by Snow White's Seven Dwarfs. A different cover, by Weezer, appears in Shrek Forever After.
In 2010, Neil Diamond recorded a stripped down, slow tempo version of the song on his Dreams album, and Paije Richardson performed an I'm a Believer/Hey Ya! mash-up on series seven of The X Factor. In 2012, the group Emblem3 performed an uptempo version on The X Factor to mixed reviews from the judges.
In 2005 former The Saddle Club stars Sophie Bennett and Kia Luby covered "I'm a Believer" for their CDs "Raw Beauty" and "Raw Beauty Acoustic Sessions".
It is performed in Shrek The Musical from October 2009-Now
- 1966: "The Monkees" single, also on the 1967 album More of The Monkees
- 1967: The Fifth Estate on the album Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead.
- 1967: The Four Tops on the album Reach Out
- 1967: The Ventures on the album Guitar Freakout
- 1967: Neil Diamond on the album Just for You, reissued on the 1983 album Classics: The Early Years
- 1967: Caterina Caselli single, sung in Italian with the title "Sono bugiarda" ('I am a liar')
- 1974: Robert Wyatt single, also on the album His Greatest Misses (2004)
- 1979: Bram Tchaikovsky on the album Strange Man, Changed Man
- 1979: Neil Diamond on the album September Morn (with new lyrics)
- 1979: Tin Huey on the album Contents Dislodged During Shipment
- 1985: Barbara Mandrell on the album Get to the Heart
- 1990: Lulu Santos (in Portuguese) on the album Honululu
- 1992: The Frank and Walters on the charity album Ruby Trax
- 1992: Popinjays on 12" Vinyl, 7" single, CD, cassette
- 1995: Reeves & Mortimer with EMF, non-album track (No. 3 UK Singles Chart)
- 1996: Bobo the Bear and Micky Dolenz on an episode of Muppets Tonight
- 1996: Neil Diamond on the album In My Lifetime
- 1999: Smash Mouth on the Shrek soundtrack and on their self-titled album Smash Mouth (low pitched in the Shrek movie.)
- 1999: Eddie Murphy on the Shrek soundtrack
- 2001: Cadet on the album Cadet
- 2002: The Kidz Bop Kids on the album Kidz Bop 2, and on the compilation More Kidz Bop Gold (2006)
- 2005: Sophie and Kia on their final CDs "Raw Beauty" and "Raw Beauty Acoustic Sessions".
- 2005: Daniel O'Donnell on his Rock n' Roll Tour
- 2008: Brooke White during the Top 5 Neil Diamond week in season 7 of American Idol
- 2008: Broadway cast of Shrek the Musical on the soundtrack.
- 2010: Weezer on the Shrek Forever After soundtrack
- 2010: Neil Diamond on the album Dreams
- 2012: Madsen on the single Love Is A Killer