Pretty Wings

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"Pretty Wings"
Single by Maxwell
from the album BLACKsummers'night
B-side "Cold"
Released April 28, 2009
Format CD single, Digital
Recorded 2008
Genre R&B, neo soul
Length 5:09
Label Columbia
Producer(s) Maxwell, Hod David Marcus Hill
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Maxwell singles chronology
"This Woman's Work"
"Pretty Wings"
"Bad Habits"

"Pretty Wings" is a single by American singer-songwriter Maxwell's fourth studio album BLACKsummers'night. It was written and produced by Maxwell and Hod David.

The song won the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and was nominated at the 52nd Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best R&B Song.


Maxwell described "Pretty Wings" to MTV as "a bittersweet love song about meeting the right girl at the wrong time". The single is his first in seven years (previous single being the cover of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" in 2002). On further details of the song, Maxwell also told Billboard Magazine: "I met this girl who I still respect very much, and although it didn't work out, I got lots of inspiration from it. This track speaks of my time with her. "[1]

The lyrics of the song express "pretty wings" as a metaphor; "If I can't have you, let love set you free to fly your pretty wings around."

Music video[edit]

The music video was first released on YouTube on May 1 via Maxwell's own YouTube account and has, to date, received over 14 million views.[2] The music video takes place in a dim household and some scenes of the video shows five separate women in their beds sleeping. Maxwell served as an Incubus who is in bed with the women in their own scenes. In the final couple minutes of the video the women all levitate above their beds after reaching a state of euphoria by the Incubus. The final shot is Maxwell leaving one of the bedrooms of one of the five women. The music video was also ranked at #9 on BET's Notarized: Top 100 Videos of 2009 countdown.

Chart performance[edit]

The song ended up becoming a crossover hit in the US. It reached the top forty on the Billboard Hot 100. It also topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart making it Maxwell's first song in ten years to do so (last song being "Fortunate" in 1999). It has been number one for fourteen consecutive weeks tying for second place for the record held by Deborah Cox's "Nobody Supposed to Be Here," Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together," and Jamie Foxx's "Blame It." In the modern R&B/Hip-Hop chart era, Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You" holds the longevity record at number one with fifteen consecutive weeks.

Chart (2009) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[3] 33
US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs[4] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Position
US Billboard Hot 100 99


Region Certification Sales/shipments
United States (RIAA)[5] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone


External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Best I Ever Had" by Drake
Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs number-one single
August 15, 2009 – November 14, 2009
Succeeded by
"Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys