U Can't Touch This

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"U Can't Touch This"
Single by MC Hammer
from the album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em
B-side "Dancin' Machine"
Released January 13, 1990
Format CD single, 12" vinyl, cassette
Recorded 1989
Genre Hip hop
Length 4:17
Label Capitol (US)
Writer(s) Stanley Burrell, Rick James, Alonzo Miller
Producer(s) MC Hammer
Certification 5x Platinum (RIAA, CRIA)
MC Hammer singles chronology
"They Put Me in the Mix"
(1989)
"U Can't Touch This"
(1990)
"Have You Seen Her"
(1990)

"U Can't Touch This" is a hit single written, produced and performed by MC Hammer from his 1990 album, Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em. The track became Hammer's signature song and is perhaps one of his most recognizable records. In addition, it's considered to be one of his most popular/successful singles to date.

Along with Hammer, Rick James shared songwriting credits with Alonzo Miller, because the song samples the prominent opening riff of "Super Freak". The single has been used or referenced in multiple television shows, films, commercials and other forms of media. It has also received numerous awards and recognitions.

The song lyrics (in particular "You can't touch this" and "Stop, Hammer time!") became pop culture catchphrases.

Production[edit]

The song samples the prominent opening riff of the Rick James song "Super Freak", which is repeated throughout the recording. The lyrics describe the rapper as having "toured around the world, from London to the Bay" and as being "magic on the mic", which Hammer says coincides with Rick James' "beat that you can't touch". Additionally, the song lyrics (in particular "You can't touch this" and "Stop, Hammer time!") became pop culture catchphrases, making obvious and subtle references on television, film and radio. The lyrics, Hammertime, later became the title of a reality show featuring MC Hammer on the A&E Network (in the summer of 2009). It's also one of Hammer's nicknames.[1]

U Can't Touch This makes heavy use of the opening riff from the 1980 Rick James song Super Freak. Along with Felton Pilate and other Rick James group members, Rick James sued Hammer for infringement of copyright, but the suit was settled out of court when Hammer agreed to credit James as co-composer, effectively cutting James in on the millions of dollars the record was earning.[2]

The song received its debut during a live performance on a late 1989 episode of The Arsenio Hall Show.[3]

Impact on album sales[edit]

Overall, the album sold more than 18 million copies,[4] primarily due to this single and gained multi-platinum certifications from the RIAA, as well as in other countries.

Music video[edit]

Directed by Rupert Wainwright, a music video was produced to promote the single, showing Hammer doing some of his signature dances, such as "The Running Man" and "Hammer Dance".[5]

Reception[edit]

See also: M.C. Hammer's chronological summary of recognitions/awards/accolades

In April 1990 "U Can't Touch This" hit the Top 40. The song also secured a Best R&B Song and a Best Rap Solo Performance in 1991, a new category at the time. The single was a major success, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[6] The track also performed successfully in other parts of the world, peaking at #1 in Australia, Netherlands, New Zealand and Sweden, and #3 on the UK singles chart.[7]

In September 1990, the video for "U Can't Touch This" won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Rap Video and Best Dance Video and was nominated for Best Male Video, Best Editing, and Best Choreography.

In 1999, MTV's 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made included "U Can't Touch This" at No. 71. In October 2000, VH1's "100 Greatest Dance Songs" included "U Can't Touch This" at No. 88. In May 2001, VH1's 100 Greatest Videos included "U Can't Touch This" at No. 59.

In August 2005, "U Can't Touch This" was certified gold. In December 2007, VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s" included the song at No. 16. During 2008, the song ranked as No. 26 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.[8]

In 2010, the song ranked as No. 6 on AOL Radio's list of the worst songs ever.[9]

Cover versions[edit]

In 1991, a parody entitled "I Can't Watch This" was released by "Weird Al" Yankovic for his album Off the Deep End. Lyrics about watching a bad TV program were overlaid on the song's music track. A groove metal cover of the song was performed by the Austrian NDH band Stahlhammer, infused with death growls and heavy guitar riffs.

Before the 1990 NFL season started, the Miami Dolphins parodied the song as "U Can't Touch Us".[10] Early in their career, Boston-based grindcore band Anal Cunt often included a novelty song cover of "U Can't Touch This" in their live set. Their compilation album, The Early Years: 1988-1991 features a recording of them performing this song in 1991. Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song, in their own signature style, in their 1991 album The Chipmunks Rock the House.

Kevin McHale as Artie Abrams in Glee sings this song in the episode "Bad Reputation" (2009)

Chart performance[edit]

Peak positions[edit]

Chart (1990) Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart[11] 1
Austrian Singles Chart[12] 5
Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders)[13] 1
Canadian RPM Singles Chart[14] 8
German GfK chart[15] 1
Dutch Top 40[16] 1
French Singles Chart[17] 17
Germany (Media Control AG)[18] 2
Irish Singles Chart[19] 3
New Zealand Singles Chart[20] 1
Norwegian Singles Chart[21] 6
Polish Singles Chart[22] 2
Swedish Singles Chart[23] 1
Swiss Singles Chart[22] 2
UK Singles Chart[7] 3
US Billboard Hot 100[6] 8
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play[6] 6
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[6] 1
US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks[6] 1
US Billboard Hot Rap Singles[6] 2

End of year charts[edit]

End of year chart (1990) Position
Australia[24] 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[25] 55

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hammertime - A&E TV
  2. ^ "MC Hammer: Biography from". Answers.com. Retrieved 2010-10-22. 
  3. ^ MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This (Live @ Arsenio Hall). Metacafe.
  4. ^ "allmusic ((( Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em > Review )))". Retrieved June 30, 2009 (2009-06-30). 
  5. ^ MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This - YouTube
  6. ^ a b c d e f "allmusic ((( MC Hammer > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Retrieved June 30, 2009 (2009-06-30). 
  7. ^ a b "Chart Stats — MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This". Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  8. ^ 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s
  9. ^ Wilkening, Matthew (September 11, 2010). "100 Worst Songs Ever -- Part Five of Five". AOL Radio. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ "australian-charts.com — MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This". Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  12. ^ "MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This — austriancharts.at". Retrieved June 30, 2009.  (German)
  13. ^ Belgian peak
  14. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 52, No. 9, July 14, 1990". RPM. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  15. ^ "dutchcharts.nl — MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This". Retrieved June 30, 2009.  (Dutch)
  16. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 - Week 31, 1990". Retrieved June 30, 2009.  (Dutch)
  17. ^ "lescharts.com — MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This". Retrieved June 30, 2009.  (French)
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ "irishcharts.ie search results". Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  20. ^ Hung Medien. "U can't touch this in New Zealand Chart". Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  21. ^ "norwegiancharts.com — MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This". Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  22. ^ a b "MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This — hitparade.ch". Retrieved June 30, 2009.  (German)
  23. ^ "swedishcharts.com — MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This". Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  24. ^ ARIA Charts - End of Year Charts - Top 50 Singles 1990
  25. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1990". Retrieved 2009-09-15. 

External links[edit]