Baby Got Back

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"Baby Got Back"
Single by Sir Mix-a-Lot
from the album Mack Daddy
B-side "Cake Boy"/"You Can't Slip"
Released May 7, 1992
Format 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl, cassette single, CD single
Recorded 1991
Genre Hip hop, dirty rap
Length 4:22
Label Def American
Writer(s) Sir Mix-a-Lot
Producer(s) Sir Mix-a-Lot
Sir Mix-a-Lot singles chronology
"One Time's Got No Case"
(1991)
"Baby Got Back"
(1992)
"Swap Meet Louie"
(1992)
Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" from Mack Daddy

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"Baby Got Back" is a song written and recorded by American artist Sir Mix-a-Lot, from his album Mack Daddy. The song samples the 1986 electro single "Technicolor" by Channel One.

At the time of its original release, the song caused controversy with its outspoken and blatantly sexual lyrics about women, as well as specific references to the female anatomy which some people found objectionable. The video was briefly banned by MTV.[1] "Baby Got Back" has remained popular and even anthemic since it was originally featured on the album Mack Daddy in 1992.

It was the second best-selling song in the US in 1992, behind Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You", with sales of 2,392,000 physical copies that year.[2] In 2008, it was ranked number 17 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.[3]

Synopsis[edit]

The first verse begins with "I like big butts and I cannot lie", and most of the song is about the rapper's attraction to large buttocks. The second and third verse challenge mainstream norms of beauty: "I ain't talkin' 'bout Playboy / 'Cause silicone parts are made for toys" and "So Cosmo says you're fat / Well I ain't down with that!". Sir Mix-a-Lot commented in a 1992 interview: "The song doesn't just say I like large butts, you know? The song is talking about women who damn near kill themselves to try to look like these beanpole models that you see in Vogue magazine." He explains that most women respond positively to the song's message, especially black women: "They all say, 'About time.'"[4]

Also brought to the forefront of pop culture by this song is a generally accepted white standard of beauty — a skinny body lacking in "voluptuous" curves[citation needed]. In the prelude that opens the song there is a conversation between two (presumably) thin, white valley girls, where one girl remarks to her friend, "Oh, my God, Becky, look at her butt! It is so big [...] She's just so ... black!", to which Sir Mix-a-Lot, representing the African-American subculture's view, says: "You other brothers can't deny" and "Take the average black man and ask him...".[5] However, Sir Mix-a-Lot follows this in later verse with "Even white boys got to shout," indicating that it is not only African-American men who are attracted to curvy women (an aspect which was referenced in an extensive retrospective two decades later).[6]

The dialogue of British actress Papillon Soo Soo saying "Me so horny" is sampled from the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket to complete Sir Mix-a-Lot's lyric, "that butt you got makes..." It is one of two popular rap songs of the era (along with 2 Live Crew's "Me So Horny") in which her dialogue from the film is featured.

In June 2014, the Seattle Symphony debuted an orchestral rendition of the song, arranged by composer Gabriel Prokofiev.[7]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Baby Got Back" (album version) 4:25
2. "Cake Boy"   4:12
3. "You Can't Slip"   5:05
4. "Baby Got Back" (Tekno-Metal Edit) 4:20
5. "Baby Got Back" (Hard B.W.B. Hip Hop Mix) 4:35
6. "Baby Got Back" (Hurricane Mix) 5:04

Chart performance and awards[edit]

Sir Mix-a-Lot's best known song, "Baby Got Back" reached number 1 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 chart for five weeks in the summer of 1992, and won a 1993 Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. For almost two decades following the song's release on the album Mack Daddy, it has continued to appear in many movies, shows, music videos, and even commercials, see Covers and Parodies for more information. It was number 6 on VH1's Greatest Songs of the '90s, and number 1 on VH1's Greatest One Hit Wonders of the '90s.

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1992–93) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[8] 8
Germany (Media Control Charts)[9] 25
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[10] 31
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[11] 3
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[12] 39
Canada (The Record)[13] 5
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 56
US Billboard Hot 100[14] 1
US R&B/Hip-Hop Songs[15] 27
US Dance/Club Play Songs[16] 5

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1992) Position
US Billboard Hot 100[17] 2

Jonathan Coulton cover / Glee cover[edit]

Jonathan Coulton released a cover of "Baby Got Back" during his Thing a Week project in October 2005, with the song being released as part of the first Thing A Week compilation album the next year.[18]

In late January 2013, a preview of the television show Glee included a cover of "Baby Got Back" that would be part of an upcoming episode. Many, including Coulton, noted that the backing music was extremely similar to his recorded version; Coulton reported that he had not been contacted by the Fox Broadcasting Network about this song, but at the time could only suppose that the Glee version was similar to his own.[19] Coulton had tried to contact Fox for additional details prior to the episode's airing. The episode with the song, "Sadie Hawkins", aired unchanged on January 24, 2013; further analysis of the aired version showed the Glee cover appeared to use Coulton's original musical arrangement as it included Coulton's original melody and a changed line in Coulton's version ("Johnny C's in trouble" instead of the original "Sir Mix-A-Lot's in trouble").[20] Coulton's agents were later contacted by Fox, claiming, in his words, "they're within their legal rights to do this, and that [Coulton] should be happy for the exposure", even though Coulton is not credited within the episode.[20] Coulton has been exploring legal options; while musical covers do not have copyright legal protection in the United States, Coulton may have legal rights if the Glee version is found to have used his audio track or original composition directly.[21] Coulton has since released his cover of "Baby Got Back" to iTunes, what he calls "a cover of Glee's cover of my cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot's song", with proceeds going to charity.[22] Coulton's experience has led other artists who believe that Glee used their cover arrangements as backing within the show to step forward with similar claims.[23]

Related songs and allusions[edit]

In a 2000 interview, Sir Mix-a-Lot reflected: "There's always butt songs. Hell, I got the idea sitting up here listening to old Parliament records: Motor Booty Affair. Black men like butts. That's the bottom line."[24] The song is part of a tradition of 1970s-90s African-American music celebrating the female posterior, including "Da Butt", "Rump Shaker", and "Shake Your Groove Thing".[25]

Spoken word duo Athens Boys Choir has a parody of the song on their album Rhapsody in T called "Tranny Got Pack".[citation needed] An alternate version was performed at a 2006 Washington Mutual retreat in Hawaii.[26] It was spoofed in an episode of In Living Color, "Baby Got Snacks," featuring Jamie Foxx as the lead singer.[citation needed] In 2008, the movie Another Cinderella Story used a parody of the song, entitled "Baby Got Bacne," in the scene in which "Cinderella's" mother is in an advertising campaign. There was also a 2009 controversial Burger King commercial promoting SpongeBob SquarePants Kid's Meal toys, which used a parody called "I Like Square Butts".[27][28] Another parody includes "Baby Likes Fat" sung by Mix-a-Lot himself, which is used in The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror XVII". It was also parodied on the "Buoyancy" episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy with "Bill's Got Boat". It was also parodied in the Robot Chicken episode "Chirlaxx" with the song "Table Be Round" sung by Sir-Mix-a-Lot.

In the TV show Friends, Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston) and Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) sing the song to their baby in the Season 9 episode "The One with Ross's Inappropriate Song", and the encounter with Rachel's sister Amy in "The One With Rachel's Other Sister."

The song is played during the credit sequence of the video game Fat Princess while the player is attacking the staff with a scythe.[29]

The song was featured in the first Jackass movie during the skateboard stunt called "Sweaty Fat Fucks". The movies Shark Tale and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed both briefly feature the song being played on a record player.

A portion of the song was referenced in the end of the home video release for the 2001 movie Shrek, during the Karaoke dance party.

The beginning of the song words, "Oh my god Becky, look at her butt" was used in "The Motto" by Drake and Lil Wayne.[citation needed]

In an episode of the cartoon Futurama, which is set in the year 3000, the song is referred to as "classical music".

The song was occasionally used by Joe Louis Arena PA announcers in tribute to forward Tomas Holmstrom at Detroit Red Wings games during the 2010-2011 NHL season, in reference to Holmstrom's preferred method of goal screening (positioning himself just outside the goal crease and using his buttocks to obscure the goaltender's view of incoming pucks).

The song's opening lyric is referenced in the video game Dragon Age II, in which companion character Isabella is offered her own pirate ship in exchange for betraying player character Hawke. In accepting the offer, she states, "I like big boats. I cannot lie."

This song is used in one of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon's sketches aired on June 16, 2014. Clips of NBC Nightly News anchor, Brian Williams, reading the news are edited to look like he is singing the lyrics[30]

Nicki Minaj's song "Anaconda" heavily samples the song in its chorus.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Baby Got Back Songfacts". Songfacts. Archived from the original on 19 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  2. ^ Paul Grein (May 8, 2013). "Week Ending May 5, 2013. Songs: Macklemore Pulls A Gaga". Yahoo Music (Chart Watch). Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  3. ^ Andrew Winistorfer (2008-09-29). "VH1's 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs". Prefixmag. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  4. ^ Keizer, Brian (September 1992). "Big Buts". Spin 8 (6): 87–88 
  5. ^ Crawley, Sara L.; Foley, Lara J.; Shehan, Constance L. (2008). Gendering Bodies. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-0-7425-5956-1 
  6. ^ http://www.vulture.com/2013/12/sir-mix-a-lot-baby-got-back-video-oral-history.html
  7. ^ Miriam Coleman, Rolling Stone (June 8, 2014), Sir Mix-a-Lot Takes 'Baby Got Back' Classical With Seattle Symphony
  8. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Sir Mix-A-Lot – Baby Got Back". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  9. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  10. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Sir Mix-A-Lot search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  11. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Sir Mix-A-Lot – Baby Got Back". Top 40 Singles.
  12. ^ "Sir Mix-A-Lot – Baby Got Back – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart.
  13. ^ Lwin, Nanda, Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide, 2000
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ [3]
  17. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 - 1992". Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  18. ^ Doctorow, Cory (2005-10-15). "Nerd folksinger covers Baby Got Back". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  19. ^ Eakin, Marah (2013-01-18). "Jonathan Coulton says Glee ripped off his cover of "Baby Got Back"". A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  20. ^ a b Landau, Elizabeth (2013-01-26). "Singer alleges 'Glee' ripped off his cover song". CNN. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  21. ^ Zakarin, Jordan (2013-01-26). "Musician Claims 'Glee' Stole His Version of 'Baby Got Back'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  22. ^ Cantalano, Michele (2013-01-27). "Jonathan Coulton vs. Glee: It's About the Ethics". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  23. ^ Hudson, Laura (2013-01-25). "Jonathan Coulton Explains How Glee Ripped Off His Cover Song — And Why He's Not Alone". Wired. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  24. ^ Sir Mix-a-Lot; Caramanica, Jon (October 2000). "Still Bumpin'". Vibe 8 (8): 82 
  25. ^ Aubry, Erin J. (2003). "The butt: its politics, its profanity, its power". In Edut, Ophira. Body outlaws: rewriting the rules of beauty and body image (2nd ed.). Seal Press. p. 30. ISBN 1-58005-108-1 
  26. ^ EAMON JAVERS. "WaMu lenders sang 'I like big bucks' - Eamon Javers". Politico.com. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 
  27. ^ Feldman, Claudia (16 April 2009). "Burger King's whopper of an ad". Houston Chronicle 
  28. ^ Video on YouTube
  29. ^ "Fat Princess Credits". Youtube.com. 2009-08-07. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  30. ^ "Brian Williams Raps "Baby Got Back"". Youtube.com. 2014-06-16. Retrieved 2014-06-16. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"I'll Be There" by Mariah Carey
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
July 4, 1992 – August 1, 1992
Succeeded by
"This Used to Be My Playground" by Madonna