She Works Hard for the Money is the eleventh studio album by Donna Summer, released in 1983. It was her most successful album of the decade, and its title track became one of the biggest hits of her career.
After emerging on Casablanca Records as the foremost female star of the disco era of the 1970s, Summer in 1980 had sued for release from Casablanca to sign with David Geffen as the inaugural artist for his Geffen label where her recordings were a comparatively modest success: also Summer and David Geffen developed a contentious relationship evidenced by Summer's 1981 album I'm a Rainbow being shelved and the singer being forced by Geffen to leave her longtime producer Giorgio Moroder to record the 1982 album Donna Summer with Quincy Jones. Geffen then refused to release the album Summer recorded in 1983 with producer Michael Omartian: however recent litigation had determined that Summer still owed Casablanca Records an album and Geffen allowed Summer to pass the tracks she'd recorded with Omartian to PolyGram Records who'd since absorbed Casablanca. PolyGram issued these tracks on the Mercury label as She Works Hard For the Money with the title cut issued as advance single on May 10, 1983: the "She Works Hard For the Money" single became Summer's biggest hit since 1979 with a #3 peak on the Hot 100 in Billboard where it also spent three weeks at #1 on the R&B chart with this success impelling its parent album, released June 13, 1983, to #9.
She Works Hard For The Money was more pop/dance oriented than the two precedent Donna Summer albums, but also contained some soulful ballads, including "Love Has a Mind of Its Own", a duet with gospel singer Matthew Ward. It also contained a reggae-styled song called "Unconditional Love" which featured vocals by young black British group Musical Youth. Lyrically, the album dealt with subjects such as social injustice ("Stop, Look and Listen"), Jesus Christ ("He's a Rebel") and missing children ("People, People"). Many fans saw the album as a "return to form" for Summer - she was once again presented as a strong, powerful woman very much in control. During the 1970s, Summer's management had worked hard to portray her as a powerful, sexual fantasy figure to the point where they had become too involved in her personal life (which led to a period of depression for Summer before becoming a born-again Christian and filing a lawsuit against her record label). Since the disco era, Summer had experimented with different genres including New Wave and rock, and some felt she had got a little "lost" in trying to find her musical place in the new decade. She Works Hard for the Money had helped establish her place as a 1980s pop/dance diva, but it wouldn't last as Summer's next release on Geffen Records failed to live up to its predecessor.
Summer was credited with writing or co-writing every track on the album, mostly alongside Michael Omartian, who was also the album's producer. It became her first Top 10 album in the U.S. since 1979 and produced a massively successful hit single in the form of the title track. The sleeve of the single and album pictured Summer as a waitress who "works hard for the money" and the song was a tribute to "the working woman." It was accompanied by a high-profile music video which became heavily promoted on MTV, soon after the breakthrough of Michael Jackson's success on the channel, leading the way for other black artists to be played. The song shot to Number 3 on the Hot 100 American singles chart, making it her biggest hit there since "The Wanderer" three years previously. The song was also given a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Several more singles were released from the album, including the aforementioned "Unconditional Love" which gave Summer her fourteenth U.K. Top 20 hit (and also a #9 placing on the U.S. R&B chart), followed by the more moderate hits including "Stop, Look and Listen" and the soulful duet "Love Has A Mind Of Its Own" (#35 R&B) with Matthew Ward.