Sheet music of the melody to "I Feel Pretty".

"I Feel Pretty" is a song written by Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein from the 1957 musical West Side Story.


The New York Times explained that "Mr. Sondheim…has said he was never particularly fond of his lyrics in 'West Side Story,' especially 'I Feel Pretty'", later expressing that "The idea of the song is so simple".[1]

The original stage version of the lyrics was changed in the making of the 1961 movie version of West Side Story due to a change in the scene's occurrence. Making 'I feel pretty and witty and bright/And I pity/Any girl who isn't me tonight' into 'I feel pretty, and witty and gay/And I pity/Any girl who isn't me today'. In the movie this night scene was changed to the daytime, so the rhyming words "bright" and "tonight" were changed to "gay" and "today".[2][3] The lyrics were changed back to their original form for the 2021 film version.[4]

The song was cut from the 2019 Broadway revival in order to streamline the plot and condense it to a 90-minute intermissionless show.

Steven Spielberg and Sondheim initially wanted to cut the song from the 2021 film, with the former questioning whether the upbeat song would still work without an intermission between it and the rumble.[5] It was ultimately due to the intervention of Tony Kushner that the song remained, as Spielberg later explained, "Tony [Kushner] explained to me, and then I explained to Stephen... that this is the first time in our story that the entire audience is ahead of Maria's story. And the audience will feel very protective of her because we know she’s about to find out."[6]


In the musical and 2021 film version, Maria is not yet aware that her love, Tony, has just killed her brother Bernardo, while in the 1961 film version, the song occurs before Bernardo's death. In the bridal shop where she works (in the 1961 film; Gimbels in the 2021 film), Maria sings about being happy and feeling beautiful because she is "loved by a pretty wonderful boy", while her coworkers tease her about her silly behavior. Robert Cummings of AllMusic comments that the song "features one of Bernstein's more memorable melodies: its first four notes, deliciously rhythmic in their rising contour, repeat, then are reduced to three, then to two. …Bernstein's instrumentation colors the music with a Latin character…and so does the girls' chorus that enters midway through. Stephen Sondheim's lyrics deftly capture Maria's bliss and newfound sense of confidence".[7]


Birmingham Mail described the song as "delightful",[8] while The Tab deemed it a "classic".[9] Applause Meter called it "sweetly charming"[10] and VCOnStage called it "operatic".[11]

Cover versions

The song has been covered by many artists,[12] including Annie Ross and Julie Andrews. Little Richard covered the song as part of the 1996 RCA Victor tribute album The Songs of West Side Story.[13]

The song was mashed up with the song "Unpretty" by TLC in a Glee episode to create "I Feel Pretty/Unpretty", a duet that attempts to show the irony in people feeling pretty on the outside but unpretty on the inside.[citation needed]



  1. ^ "Same City, New Story". The New York Times. March 29, 2009 [March 15, 2009]. Retrieved 2017-02-05.
  2. ^ "The Official West Side Story Site -- Lyrics -- I Feel Pretty". Archived from the original on 2018-01-11. Retrieved 2017-10-02.
  3. ^ "West Side Story (1961) - IMDb". Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  4. ^ Bouzereau, Laurent (2021). West Side Story the Making of the Steven Spielberg Film. ISBN 9781419750632.
  5. ^ Cristi, A.A. "Steven Spielberg Wanted to Cut 'I Feel Pretty' from WEST SIDE STORY". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  6. ^ "West Side Story: Steven Spielberg Reveals He Wanted to Cut 'I Feel Pretty'". 24 February 2022.
  7. ^ Cummings, Robert. "Leonard Bernstein: 'I Feel Pretty', song", Allmusic, accessed February 12, 2016
  8. ^ "Review: West Side Story at the New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham - Roz Laws". 2014-04-03. Retrieved 2015-05-04.
  9. ^ "Review: West Side Story". 2014-02-03. Archived from the original on 2015-05-05. Retrieved 2015-05-04.
  10. ^ "West Side Story – Review". 12 February 2014. Retrieved 2015-05-04.
  11. ^ "Theater League's 'West Side Story' – A Revival of Rumbles and Romance". Retrieved 2015-05-04.
  12. ^ "I Feel Pretty",, accessed February 12, 2016
  13. ^ "The Songs Of West Side Story", Amazon, accessed March 25, 2017
  14. ^ "Sesame Street - I Feel Yucky". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-14. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Homer's Food Song". Wikisimpsons. Retrieved 2017-06-14.
  16. ^ "Anger Management". 11 April 2003. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  17. ^ "Anger Management - I Feel Pretty". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-14. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  18. ^ "Zach Braff and Donald Faison on Their 'Scrubs' Reunion for T-Mobile's Super Bowl Ad". The Hollywood Reporter. 16 February 2022.
Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's West Side Story (1957)