Something's Happening was a slogan used on the ABC television network for three years, spanning the 1987, 1988 and 1989 seasons. Like many campaign slogans that have a lengthy run, each year of the campaign had different graphic presentations, musical melodies and motifs. These few seasons marked the time where ABC began to rejuvenate itself after a slight dry spell of hit series it ran into during the mid-1980s. Family-oriented comedies made a comeback on the network, while dramadies such as thirtysomething and Hooperman were hallmarks of their programming. Something's Happening was the second major advertising effort using the direction of ABC's owner of the time, Capital Cities. In 1995, ABC was sold to the Disney empire.
The inaugural season of the Something's Happening campaign assembled thousands of residents of every major city in the United States together for a variety of :30 and 1:00 promos. Scenes of daily life, and people having fun, in their city were also part of the promos, mixed in with clips from new and returning shows. The assembled people would all sing along, in unison to the season's jingle, while holding up banners or signage that represented their city or state. ABC stars would also appear together, in front of a dark studio backdrop, posing and exclaiming "Something's Happening!" after every few city and show scenes. Another noticeable detail is what both townspeople and celebrities are wearing in the promos: red and white ABC pins on their lapels.
The original CGI graphic motif consisted of the network's slogan, in what appears to be an italicized Impact font, traveling horizontally among multi-colored shooting lines (very similar to the CBSpirit graphic look of the same season) in capitalized text. The view then turns slightly, as the shooting lines then become more vertical and shoot over the circle of the ABC logo, revealing the lettered portion of the logo. The slogan, in the same font but now in lowercase, is shot like a laser over the ABC logo. The entire graphic presentation is in shades of gray, silver, and chrome.
The basic chorus of the 1987-88 Something's Happening jingle consists of this:
Something's happening, and good is goin' on Something's happening...
I still believe.. Something's happening to you and me Something's Happening, on ABC
Elements of the jingle, and the slogan itself, were based on "Happening '68", a 1968 rock hit by Paul Revere & the Raiders.
For season two of Something's Happening, ABC continued to adapt the campaign to classic pop songs, reworking Martha and the Vandellas' 1964 hit "Dancing in the Street" for the 1988 version. Unlike the previous year's campaign, a full-length promo (over 2 minutes long) made a comeback, exclusively using the ABC stars. The motif for the second season was the use of a then-growing popular American convention: the personal camcorder. The main promo began with many ABC stars gathering together in a theatre hall for a recording session of the network's version of "Dancing in the Street". Howard Hesseman, who was currently starring on Head of the Class, was seen in a control room mixing and recording the track. Kirk Cameron is also seen playing a piano. As the stars sing the song together in the hall, others begin to pick up hand-held camcorders and shoot each other dancing and singing, both in the hall and outside in a parking lot. The scene then goes back and forth between the activity in the theatre and a separate dance room, where stars such as Judith Light and Alan Thicke are dancing together.
Finally, these scenes fade into the view of an empty, unidentified American street at night, where a huge mob of network stars, mostly the ones coming from the theatre, run out and start a block party. Once everyone takes to the street, Linda Evans of Dynasty gets out of a stretch limo, while other assorted stars are seen getting out of cars. The party gets underway, with continued dancing and singing to the song, while others start to play instruments, take pictures, and even continue to use their camcorders to capture the event. Additional ABC stars even appear out of windows and balconies in the townhouses, while the same ones seen in the dance room earlier remain there, intermixed with the street scenes. As the promo winds down, following some individually impressive dance numbers, a full overhead view of the street crowd appears while the scripted-style Something's Happening logo is written out across the screen, in an orange hue. The scrpited logo then leads into the ABC ident of the season; the ABC logo, amid an orange and brown backdrop of light bursts, positions itself while an imprint of the Something's Happening script appears below the ABC lettering. At the same time, three more light bursts shoot through the A, B and C.
This network version of "Dancing in the Street" was performed by Bill Champlin and Jill Colucci. For Colucci, who had just gained recognition for lending her vocals to the soundtrack of the hit 1988 film Mystic Pizza, this was the first of three ABC image campaigns she would sing for. While the reference to ABC was thrown in a few times early in the song, custom lyrics and a short add-on melody were added at the end, in which Champlin and Colucci sing "Something's Happening on ABC!".
Some bits of trivia: Full House star John Stamos was seen at one point playing drums in the promo after the street party began. This was a nod to Stamos' drum playing on both the 1988 track and video of The Beach Boys hit single "Kokomo", which was released at about that time; it hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 5, 1988. Subsequently, The Beach Boys would go on to make many guest appearances on Full House. Also, Roseanne Barr and John Goodman of Roseanne show up dancing together in both dance room and street scenes; in the dance room, Roseanne is also given a camcorder to capture Goodman doing crazy dance moves. This was despite the fact that Roseanne had not yet even premiered; usually, fall campaign promos do not prominently feature stars of new series, but those who star in shows returning from the previous year. This was the indication that ABC had such high hopes forRoseanne, due to Barr's rising fame; needless to say, the show was an instant hit and ran on ABC for nine seasons.
One of the famous Olsen twins, though it is hard to tell which one, also makes an appearance in a street scene, in the arms of Bob Saget. Saget and "Michelle" (the role that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen shared on Full House) both wave to someone's camcorder screen.
All My Children star Susan Lucci makes a cameo appearance in the street and dances with the crowd. This is one of the rare instances of a daytime soap star joining in on an image campaign, since nearly all focus on primetime series only. A similar occurrence would happen the following year, where a few daytime stars would show up in the 1989 Something's Happening main promo.
A few animated characters, such as Winnie the Pooh, are also seen dancing in the street.
Something's Happening returned for a third season with yet another original theme: a behind the scenes look at the production of ABC shows. Primetime shows weren't the only ones featured: daytime shows, as well as ABC News programs, were also included. The whole tone of the full-length promo for 1989-90 was decidedly more wacky, as the next-generation of family comedies, the network's main programming niche, were back in full swing. The funny yet uplifting jingle had stars sometimes singing along, but since footage was taken from actual visits to the set of shows when they were actually in production, the outtakes - and giddy emotions - were real. In some segments, stars would purposely stage pranks and pratfalls for the camera, just to add to the atmosphere. The middle portion of the full-length promo utilized the prominent multi-layered graphic design to display the new fall lineup by showing clips or character headshots from each show, grouped by night. The part of the jingle that played out during this was an instrumental of the chorus. The final part had a more soothing, gospel sound to the jingle, as candid slow-motion shots of the stars ran, finishing up with a shot of John Stamos kissing an Olsen twin (as Michelle Tanner) on the forehead. The Something's Happening logo of the season, with one word stacked on top of the other, comes trickling down a translucent CGI wall (or "shower") and is copied repeatedly. The wall then turns around, revealing the ABC logo wrapped in a swirl sphere (that closely resembles the swirled globe logo of AT&T). The view of the logo is then seen through a TV; the TV moves to the bottom right corner of the screen, as we see a large, black and white shot of Roseanne Barr's face. As the music fades, Barr gives her trademark laugh (as she always did at the end of Roseanne's opening credits).
The jingle for the campaign's third season was a composite of two classic songs from different eras: it contained elements of the Isley Brothers hit "Shout!" and Carly Simon & James Taylor's 1974 hit "Mockingbird". For the second year in a row, it was performed by Jill Colucci, however by herself this time. The beginning of the song was emulated straight from "Mockingbird"; the original lyrics, which went "Mock - YEAH! - ing - YEAH! - bird - YEAH! Mockingbird, now.." was substituted with "A - YEAH! - B - YEAH! - C! - YEAH!, yeahhhh hey!" for the jingle. The rest of the song then adapted a melody based on "Shout!", but instead of the parts where ''You know it makes me wanna shout!" would be sung, the verse would go like this (sample):
A - Anybody B - be somebody C - Come on now..'YEAH! Sing the song now.. YEAH! In the daytime All night long now Something good is happening to me (last line in this chorus would then be substitutred for Something's Happening, here on ABC).
All the "yeahs" the main parts of the song were sung exactly in place of the word "shout". A different star would be seen every time saying "yeah!", while the word "YEAH!" in capital letters would sometimes scroll across or down over the screen.
While there were shorter variants of this Something's Happening promo, special stand-alone ones were made to include all ABC day parts in that year's campaign. A few were made for such ABC News programs as Good Morning America, but also for the daytime soap operas, which at the time included General Hospital, One Life to Live, All My Children and Loving. The same behind-the-scenes look was used for these promos, with the stars exclaiming "yeah!" after every verse.
Elements of the image campaign worked so well with both ABC and viewers that year that, when the brass decided to retire theSomething's Happening slogan for the upcoming 1990 season, the melody of the 1989-90 jingle, along with Jill Colucci and parts of the graphics package, were retained for the new campaign America's Watching ABC which started that next season. While the tune remained the same, the lyrics were re-written to fit the modified promo setup and slogan, but it was otherwise a continuation. See the separate listing of America's Watching ABC for more details.
Jill Colucci, by this time, had become such an integral part of ABC's on-air image that she was additionally hired to sing the theme song for the brand-new series America's Funniest Home Videos, which debuted during the last Something's Happening season. Although she lent her vocals to other advertising clients such as Toyota and The Disney Channel, Colucci is probably best remembered for her work on ABC.