"The Harder They Come" is a reggae song by the Jamaican singer Jimmy Cliff. It was first recorded for the soundtrack of the movie by the same name, in which it is supposed to have been written by the film's main character, Ivanhoe Martin.

"The Harder They Come" has been covered by many artists and was ranked No. 341 on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".

The song is the entrance music for heavyweight boxer Samuel Peter and was played live by Jimmy Cliff on an episode ofThe Colbert Report.


 [hide*1 Joe Jackson version

Joe Jackson version[edit]Edit

"The Harder They Come"
Single by Joe Jackson Band
B-side "Out of Style"


Released June 1980
Format 7" vinyl12" vinyl
Genre ReggaeRock
Length 3:50
Label A&M
Writer(s) Jimmy Cliff
Producer(s) Joe Jackson
Joe Jackson Band singles chronology
"Kinda Kute"


"The Harder They Come"


"Mad at You"


Joe Jackson recorded "The Harder They Come" with his band and released it as a single in 1980. It did not chart in the UK.

Track listing[edit]Edit

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "The Harder They Come"   Jimmy Cliff 3:50
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
2. "Out of Style"   Joe Jackson 2:55
3. "Tilt"   Jackson 2:41

Chart performance[edit]Edit

Chart (1980) Peak


Dutch GfK chart[1] 34
Dutch Top 40[2] 35
Swedish Singles Chart[3] 18

Rockers Revenge version[edit]Edit

"The Harder They Come"
Single by Rockers Revenge featuringDonnie Calvin
Released 1983
Format 7" vinyl12" vinyl
Genre Electro
Length 3:37
Label London
Writer(s) Jimmy Cliff
Producer(s) Arthur Baker

Chart performance[edit]Edit

Chart (1983) Peak


US Billboard Club Play Singles[4] 13
Irish Singles Chart[5] 30
UK Singles Chart[6] 30

Madness version[edit]Edit

"The Harder They Come"
Single by Madness
from the album Madstock!
Released 1992
Format CD
Recorded 1992
Genre Pop/Ska
Length 3:27
Label Go Discs
Writer(s) Jimmy Cliff
Producer(s) Clive Langer

Alan Winstanley

Madness singles chronology
"My Girl"

(1992, reissue)

"The Harder They Come"


"Night Boat to Cairo"

(1993, reissue)

"The Harder They Come" was released as a single by the band Madness in 1992 after a successful reunion concert held at London's Finsbury Park. The single was recorded live at the event along with its B-sides. Although in 1992 Madness had success with reissues of "It Must Be Love" and "My Girl", their version of "The Harder They Come" failed to make the top 40 in the UK Singles Chart; it peaked at #44.[7]

Track listing[edit]Edit

CD Single No. 1
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "The Harder They Come"   Jimmy Cliff 3:27
2. "Land of Hope and Glory" (Live) Chris ForemanLee Thompson 3:33
3. "Tomorrow's (Just Another Day)(Live) Mike BarsonCarl Smyth 3:23
4. "Take It or Leave It" (Live) Barson, Thompson 3:51
CD Single No. 2
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "The Harder They Come"   Cliff 3:27
2. "Embarrassment(Live) Barson, Thompson 3:12
3. "Grey Day(Live) Barson 4:53
4. "Baggy Trousers(Live) Graham McPherson, Foreman 2:42

Chart performance[edit]Edit

Chart (1992) Peak




UK Singles Chart[8] 44 3

Other cover versions[edit]Edit

"The Harder They Come" has also been covered by:

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