What the World Needs Now Is Love” is a 1965 popular song with lyrics by Hal David and music composed by Burt Bacharach. First recorded and made popular by Jackie DeShannon, it was released on April 15, 1965, on the Imperial label after a release on sister label Liberty records the previous month was canceled. It peaked at number seven on the US Hot 100 charts in July of that year. In Canada, the song reached number one.
The song was originally offered to Dionne Warwick, who turned it down at the time, though she later recorded it for her album Here Where There Is Love. (Warwick also recorded a second version in 1996, which scraped the lower reaches of the US Hot 100.) Bacharach initially did not believe in the song, and was reluctant to play it for DeShannon.DeShannon’s version was recorded on March 23, 1965, at New York’s Bell Sound studios.
In 1968, The Supremes recorded the song for their album Reflections.
It has been recorded or performed live by over 100 artists, including Cilla Black, Carla Thomas, Tom Clay, The Staple Singers, Judy Garland, The Chambers Brothers, Merrilee Rush, McCoy Tyner, Barry Manilow, Jad Fair with Daniel Johnston, Ed Ames, Johnny Mathis, Zwan, Steve Tyrell, Luther Vandross, Andrea Ross, Aimee Mann, Rigmor Gustafsson, Stacey Kent, Mr. Bungle, The Young Americans, Rick Astley, Coldplay, My Morning Jacket at the Lockn Music Festival in Arrington,Virginia and most recently by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in 2016. It even made the country charts in a version by a little-known singer/songwriter, Ron Shaw, on the Pacific Challenger label in the late 1970s.
In 2011, Ronan Keating recorded the song for his album When Ronan Met Burt.
Kree Harrison, in 2013, made a cover of the song in the 12th season of American Idol. The studio version was recorded by Idol Studio Recordings.
On June 15, 2016, the song was recorded by Broadway for Orlando, with all proceeds going to the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.
On Dec. 22, 2016 the Mighty Mighty Bosstones announced the upcoming release of their version of the song.