She Works Hard for the Money (song)

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"She Works Hard for the Money"
Single by Donna Summer
from the album She Works Hard for the Money
B-side "I Do Believe I Fell in Love"
Released May 27, 1983
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded March 1983
Genre New wave,[1][2] dance-rock[3]
Length 5:19 (album)
4:11 (single)
Label Mercury
Writer(s) Donna Summer, Michael Omartian
Producer(s) Michael Omartian
Certification Platinum (US)
Donna Summer singles chronology
"Love to Love You Baby" (re-issue)
"She Works Hard for the Money"
"Unconditional Love"

"She Works Hard for the Money" is a chart-topping, 1983 global hit single by singer Donna Summer. It was the first single released from the album of the same name.

Summer performed the song live—as the opening act—on the 1984 Grammy Awards. It scored the largest viewing audience of any Grammy telecast in history—a record it still holds as of 2013. Donna was nominated alongside Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Tyler, Sheena Easton, and Irene Cara. This performance was released on the 1994 video cassette Grammy's Greatest Moments Volume I.[4]


The song, co-written by the singer, told a story of a woman who "works hard for [her] money". It was based on an actual encounter that Donna had with an exhausted bathroom attendant named Onetta, who was later mentioned in the song and featured on the album's back cover.[5]


Built on a rock-dance fusion, the song became a hit for Summer and one of the singer's signature songs, reaching number 1 for a three-week stay atop the R&B chart (her first since 1979), number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 3 on the dance chart. It was a number 25 hit in the UK.

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song, directed by Brian Grant, debuted on MTV and became the first video by an African-American female artist to be placed in "heavy rotation" (a term used by MTV at the time to indicate a frequently-aired video). The video shows a woman, working as a waitress in a diner, who is burdened with many situations in her life such as work and raising two unruly and ungrateful children. It is also seen that she has abandoned her hopes of being a ballerina. Summer appears as an observer through a kitchen window, a woman who assists the fallen-down protagonist of the video, and, at the end, a leader of a troupe of women, in various work uniforms, who have taken to the streets to signify their independence and gain recognition for their "hard work". The protagonist is also seen dancing in the street with them.

In a parody of the image created by this song, and its cover art picture, Summer herself appears in the Frank Sinatra video for "L.A. Is My Lady", released in 1984, as a waitress who serves a patron and then wipes her brow.

There are two version of the music video. One is the single edit, the other remains faithful to the original length of the album version of the song.

Official versions[edit]

  • "She Works Hard for the Money" (7" single version) – 4:10
  • "She Works Hard for the Money" (Album Version) – 5:19
  • "She Works Hard for the Money" (special long version) – 6:15
  • "She Works Hard for the Money" (Instrumental version—B-side of 12" single) – 5:47

Chart positions[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

  • In 1983, Meiju Suvas recorded the Finnish rendering "Kova Duuni On Rahaa" for her album Pidä Musta Kiinni.
  • In 2006, Australian female group Young Divas covered the song on their self-titled debut album.[26]
  • In 2007, the song was covered live on Season 6 of American Idol by Jordin Sparks, who went on to become the winner of that season.
  • In 2009, the song was covered live on Season 8 of American Idol by Kris Allen, who went on to become the winner of that season. A studio version of Allen's cover was also recorded.


  1. ^ Andrew Unterberger (May 17, 2012). "Donna Summer, Disco Diva Number One". Popdust. Popdust Inc. Retrieved June 26, 2013.  "Summer (...) made a successful transition to the new wave era, having top five hits in the early ’80s with “The Wanderer” and the enduring working-girl tale “She Works Hard for the Money.”"
  2. ^ "Donna Summer - She Works Hard For The Money sheet music". Retrieved June 26, 2013.  "This new wave composition by Michael Omartian and Donna Summer became a blockbuster"
  3. ^ "She Works Hard For The Money Donna Summer Single Performed American Idol Finalist Kris Allen". Retrieved June 26, 2013.  "She Works Hard for the Money narrates a tale about a female who carries out hard work for money. The single is composed on a rock-dance fusion style."
  4. ^ "Grammy's Greatest Moments, Volume 1: Various Artists". Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  5. ^ "She Works Hard For The Money by Donna Summer". Songfacts. Retrieved November 18, 2010. [dubious ]
  6. ^ bulion. "Forum - ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts - CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". ARIA. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  7. ^ " – Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  8. ^ "She Works Hard For The Money - DONNA SUMMER". VRT (in Dutch). Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 39, No. 3, September 17, 1983". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 12, 2013. 
  10. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Titres par Artiste". Dominic DURAND / InfoDisc (in French). July 28, 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2013.  You have to use the index at the top of the page and search "Donna Summer"
  11. ^ "Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  12. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". IRMA. Retrieved July 28, 2013.  Only one result when searching "She works hard"
  13. ^ "Indice per Interprete: S". HitParadeItalia (in Italian). Creative Commons. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Donna Summer - She Works Hard For The Money search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  15. ^ " – Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  16. ^ " – Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  17. ^ " – Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money". VG-lista. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  18. ^ "SHE WORKS HARD FOR THE MONEY - Donna Summer". Nowe Media, Polskie Radio S.A. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  19. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Acts (S)". John Samson. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  20. ^ Steve Hawtin et al. "Song artist 75 - Donna Summer". Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  21. ^ " – Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money". Singles Top 60. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  22. ^ "Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money –". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  23. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  24. ^ a b c "Donna Summer awards at Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  25. ^ " – Donna Summer – She Works Hard For The Money" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved October 12, 2013.
  26. ^ Matthew Chisling. "Young Divas review at Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Juicy Fruit" by Mtume
Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles number-one single
July 30, 1983 – August 13, 1983
Succeeded by
"Get It Right" by Aretha Franklin