The Punchline

Covering ‘the Rainbow’

Katharine Crnko Feb 11, 2011

According to the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment of the Arts , no song better defines the 20th century than the iconic ballad, “Over the Rainbow.” Written for 1939 feature film The Wizard of Oz , with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg, the American standard was originally recorded by Judy Garland. She was 16-years-old when she recorded “Over the Rainbow,” and the song would later define her career.

“Over the Rainbow” won the 1939 Academy Award for Best Song, and is Number One on The American Film Institute’s “100 years…100 Songs” — a list of the top 100 songs in American cinema. But more importantly, “Over the Rainbow” became a standard in American pop and jazz, and is one of the most frequently covered songs of all time.

Here is a a selection of videos of various performances of “Over the Rainbow.”

Judy Garland’s original performance of “Over the Rainbow” in the seminal classic The Wizard of Oz.

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Over the Rainbow” features the ukelele.

Released after her death in 1996, Eva Cassidy’s cover of “Over the Rainbow” was released on her compliation album Songbird.

Doo-wop group The Dimension’s version of “Over the Rainbow” reached Number 16 on Billboard Hot 100 in 1960.

Performed in Italian, Neil Sedaka recorded “Arcabaleno (Over the Rainbow)” in 1965.

The cast of Fox’s Glee cover Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s cover of “Over the Rainbow” in 2010.

What’s your favorite version of “Over the Rainbow?” Share it with us in the comments section!

And you can listen to Caitlan Carroll’s piece, “‘Over the Rainbow’ finds new life in Germany,” here.

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