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 see Certifications and sales
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).[1] It's also one of Hammer's nicknames.

"U Can't Touch This" makes heavy use of the opening instrumental riff and some of the background vocals from the 1981 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]

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 no. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[6] The track also performed successfully in other parts of the world, peaking at no. 1 in Australia, Netherlands, New Zealand and Sweden, and no. 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.[8] During 2008, the song ranked as No. 26 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.

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).

Charts and certifications[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette
Australian number-one single
July 22, 1990 – August 19, 1990 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Epic" by Faith No More
Preceded by
"Eagle Rock" by Daddy Cool
New Zealand number-one single
July 22, 1990 – August 26, 1990 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Vision of Love" by Mariah Carey
Preceded by
"Killer" by Adamski and Seal
Belgian Ultratop 50 Flanders number-one single
August 18, 1990 – September 15, 1990 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Ritmo de la noche" by Lorca
Belgian VRT Top 30 Flanders number-one single
August 18, 1990 – September 15, 1990 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"I've Been Thinking About You" by Londonbeat
Preceded by
"Sacrifice" by Elton John
Eurochart Hot 100 number-one single
August 4, 1990 – September 22, 1990 (8 weeks)
Preceded by
"Dirty Cash (Money Talks)" by The Adventures of Stevie V
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
August 4, 1990 – September 1, 1990 (5 weeks)
Single Top 100 number-one single
August 4, 1990 – September 1, 1990 (5 weeks)
Preceded by
"I Promised Myself" by Nick Kamen
Swedish number-one single
August 29, 1990 – September 26, 1990 (3 weeks)
Preceded by
"Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)"
by Quincy Jones featuring Tevin Campbell
US Billboard Hot Black Singles number-one single
June 23, 1990 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"All I Do Is Think of You" by Troop
Preceded by
"Vogue" by Madonna
"The Power" by Snap!
Canadian RPM Dance number-one single
June 30, 1990 (1 week)
August 4, 1990 – August 11, 1990 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"The Power" by Snap!
"Everybody Everybody" by Black Box

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hammertime - A&E TV at the Wayback Machine (archived May 14, 2009). Hammertime. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  2. ^ "MC Hammer". Answers.com. Retrieved October 22, 2010. 
  3. ^ Rant, Screen (March 4, 2006). "MC Hammer – U Can't Touch This(Live @ Arsenio Hall)". Metacafe. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  4. ^ Huey, Steve. "MC Hammer – Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved June 30, 2014. 
  5. ^ "MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This". EMI Music. YouTube. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Archive Chart: 1990-08-11" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  8. ^ Ali, Rahsheeda. "The 100 Greatest Songs Of the ’90s". VH1. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  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". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  12. ^ "MC Hammer – U Can't Touch This – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  13. ^ "Ultratop.be – MC Hammer – U Can't Touch This" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  14. ^ "U Can't Touch This – MC HAMMER" (in Dutch). Top 30. Retrieved June 17, 2014. "Hoogste notering in de top 30 : 1" 
  15. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 52, No. 9, July 14 1990". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Dance/Urban – Volume 52, No. 7, June 30 1990". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  17. ^ MusicSeek.info – UK, Eurochart, Billboard & Cashbox No.1 Hits at the Wayback Machine (archived June 14, 2006). MusicSeek.info. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  18. ^ "Lescharts.com – MC Hammer – U Can't Touch This" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  19. ^ "MC Hammer – U Can't Touch This". Officialcharts.de. GfK Entertainment. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  20. ^ "The Irish Charts – All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – MC Hammer - U Can t Touch This search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  22. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – MC Hammer – U Can't Touch This" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  23. ^ "Charts.org.nz – MC Hammer – U Can't Touch This". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  24. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – MC Hammer – U Can't Touch This". VG-lista. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  25. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – MC Hammer – U Can't Touch This". Singles Top 60. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  26. ^ "MC Hammer – U Can't Touch This – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  27. ^ CASH BOX Top 100 Pop Singles – Week ending JUNE 23, 1990 at the Wayback Machine (archived October 7, 2012). Cash Box magazine. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  28. ^ "ARIA Charts – End Of Year Charts – Top 50 Singles 1990". ARIA Charts. ARIA. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Jahreshitparade 1990" (in German). Austriancharts.at. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1990" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 53, No. 6, December 22 1990". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Dance/Urban – Volume 53, No. 6, December 22 1990". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Single Top 100 over 1990" (PDF) (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1990" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1990" (in German). Hitparade.ch. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Top 100 Hits for 1990". The Longbored Surfer. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  37. ^ The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1990 at the Wayback Machine (archived October 7, 2012). Cash Box magazine. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  38. ^ "Australian Fun Countdowns – Accreditation Awards". Australian Fun Countdowns. April 7, 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Canadian single certifications – MC Hammer – U Can't Touch This". Music Canada. 
  40. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (M.C. Hammer; 'U Can't Touch This')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  41. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 
  42. ^ "British single certifications – MC Hammer – U Can't Touch This". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter U Can't Touch This in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go
  43. ^ "American single certifications – M.C. Hammer – Can_t Touch This". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]