Are You That Somebody?

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"Are You That Somebody?"
Single by Aaliyah
from the album Dr. Dolittle
Released June 16, 1998
Format CD single, maxi single, vinyl record
Recorded 1998; The Village Recorder
(Los Angeles, California)
Genre R&B,[1] pop[2]
Length 4:26
Label Blackground/Atlantic
Songwriter(s) Static Major, Tim "Timbaland" Mosley
Producer(s) Timbaland
Aaliyah singles chronology
"Journey to the Past"
"Are You That Somebody?"
"I Don't Wanna"
"Journey to the Past"
"Are You That Somebody?"
"I Don't Wanna"
Timbaland singles chronology
"Hot Like Fire"
(1997) Hot Like Fire1997
"Are You That Somebody?"
(1998) Are You That Somebody?1998
"Get on the Bus"
(1998) Get on the Bus1998
Audio sample

"Are You That Somebody?" is a Grammy nominated single performed by American singer Aaliyah, recorded for the Dr. Dolittle soundtrack. The song was written and composed by Static Major, who also sang backing vocals, and Timbaland, who, in addition to writing the song, produced and performed a guest rap for it. The song was sent to U.S. pop radio stations on September 29, 1998 (see 1998 in music). The song samples the sound of a baby cooing from Perrey and Kingsley's 1966 hit "Countdown at 6"[3] and D. Train's 1982 dance classic "You're the One for Me".

The song was listed 387th on The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born, a list of songs compiled by Blender magazine.[4] Rolling Stone ranked the song at number 24 on its "50 Best songs of the nineties list"[2] It was also ranked 18th on Spin magazine's Top 20 Singles of the 1990s, and 5th on The Village Voice's 1998 Pazz & Jop critics' poll. Pitchfork Media included the song at number 8 on their Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s.[5] Slant Magazine ranked the song at number 19 on their 100 best singles of the 1990s list.[6] This song earned Aaliyah a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

Writing and recording[edit]

According to a Static Major article in Vibe magazine, when Timbaland first presented the song to Aaliyah, she initially showed disdain for it.[7] However, she eventually agreed to record it. In a behind the scenes video featuring Timbaland, he reveals that the record was recorded in a couple of hours after a show and that the record almost didn't happen.[8] Many of the unusual beats and loops used on the song were cut at the now defunct Hit Factory in New York City by Timbaland, NYLA and Danger Jay.

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Are You That Somebody?" was directed by Mark Gerard, and with choreography by Fatima Robinson.[9] It begins with Timbaland and a crew of men riding motorcycles to a cave where Aaliyah and other women are waiting. As Timbaland and the crew arrive, a hologram of a metal door seals the opening of the cave. The men notice that the seal is a hologram and drive through it. Inside the underground cave clips of Dr. Dolittle are projected on several walls in the background.

As Aaliyah's first verse starts she holds a large bird on her arm and everyone begins to perform the choreography. There are scenes with just the women dancing, just the men dancing, both the women and men dancing, and Aaliyah performing alone. There are no scenes with just the men and Aaliyah dancing. Also shown is Timbaland rapping with the group Playa in the background. The video ends with Aaliyah and the dancers performing a flamenco dance.

The video was retired on MTV's TRL and was the third most-played clip on MTV in 1998.[10]

There are two versions of the video, one incorporating footage from Dr. Dolittle on the wall, and second without the scenes and with slightly different editing (this version was released on I Care 4 U DVD). The video was shot in a real cave at Griffith Park in Los Angeles.


Larry Flick from Billboard felt that Aaliyah was on her way to becoming "the New Queen of soundtrack hits" because of this song.He felt that this song and its skittling beats and muscular basslin was going to score big with jeep kiddies.He also praised the song for it's smooth melody and clever lyrics saying "At the same time it has a smooth melody and clever lyrics that will connect with folks who require traditional structure in their pop music"[11] In its album guide, Rolling Stone commented that the song "remains one of '90s' R&B's most astounding moments."[1] In 1999 Spin included the song on their Top 20 singles list and they felt that Aaliyah's vocals and timbalands production on the song was like "an R&B singin in the rain".[12]

Charts performance[edit]

"Are You That Somebody?" was in the midst of its chart run when Billboard changed its policy to allow airplay-only singles to chart on the Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts. It climbed to number four on the Hot 100 Airplay chart and number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.

In New Zealand, it jumped from number forty-three to number one; the song with biggest jump to number-one of that year.[13] In the Netherlands, it peaked at number three and stayed in the chart for twenty-two weeks; it also became one of her most successful songs there.[14] in Germany the song peaked at number thirty-one. It also reached the top twenty in the United Kingdom, becoming her highest-charting hit at that point in her career. The song also reached the top 10 in Canada.



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
New Zealand (RMNZ)[36] Gold 15,000*

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

Covers and interpolations[edit]

In March 2007, American Indie rock band, Gossip, covered the song on BBC's music program 6music.[37] A full studio version was leaked in 2009 and later released on the Ministry of Sound Volume 2 compilation in 2010. In 2009, Canadian rapper Drake interpolated a portion of the song's chorus in his verse on Young Money Entertainment's "BedRock"; "Girl I gotta watch my back, 'cause I'm not just anybody."[38] In 2012, Danny! incorporated elements of Timbaland's beatboxing into "Myintrotoletuknow" along with the cooing baby from Perrey and Kingsley's "Countdown at 6".

In 2011, a cover with a rap verse by Wax was recorded by The Red Ribbon Army.[39]

Samples from the song have been used in numerous electronic, and, most recently, dubstep tracks. One prominent use of the sample was by James Blake on the track "CMYK" from his 2010 EP of the same name.[40]

In club radio stations, Australian artist Gotye mixes the song with his song "Somebody That I Used To Know" with Kimbra.

In 2013, American rapper Lil Wayne interpolated a part of the song into the chorus for his song "Love Me" singing the lines "cause I really need somebody, tell me you're that somebody".[41] During the same year, a Nigerian artist "Valentina Amour" used a sample of the chorus on her single "Sometimes".[citation needed]

In 2014, singer Banks performed an acoustic version of this song on a BBC radio 1 Live Lounge.[42]


  1. ^ a b "Rolling Stone Album Guide: Aaliyah". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 20, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "50 Best Songs of the Nineties". Rolling Stone. 
  3. ^ "Who Was the Baby on Aaliyah's 'Are You That Somebody?'". Red Bull Music Academy Daily. July 2016. 
  4. ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born: 351-400 Article on Blender :: The Ultimate Guide to Music and More". March 22, 2009. 
  5. ^ "The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 20-01 - Pitchfork". 
  6. ^ "The 100 Best Singles of the 1990s - Feature - Slant Magazine". 
  7. ^ "Are You That Somebody? by Aaliyah". Songfacts. Retrieved October 12, 2010. 
  8. ^ PerceptionMediaGroup (March 25, 2012). "Timbaland talks about creating "Are you that somebody"" – via YouTube. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Are You That Somebody by Aaliyah music video & lyrics – MuVids Archived April 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (May 30, 1998). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. – via Google Books. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ RIANZ Archive – October 11, 1998 Archived February 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ AALIYAH – ARE YOU THAT SOMEBODY? (NUMMER) Archived July 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ " – Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody?" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  16. ^ " – Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody?" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (July 17, 2013). "Image : RPM Weekly". 
  19. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 48, 1998" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  20. ^ " – Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody?" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  21. ^ " – Aaliyah Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  22. ^ " – Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody?". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  23. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  24. ^ " – Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody?". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  25. ^ "Aaliyah: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  26. ^ "Official Dance Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  27. ^ "Official R&B Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  28. ^ "Aaliyah Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  29. ^ "Aaliyah Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  30. ^ "Aaliyah Chart History (Radio Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  31. ^ "Aaliyah Chart History (Rhythmic)". Billboard. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  32. ^ "Aaliyah Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  33. ^ "End of Year Charts 1998". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 4, 2017. 
  34. ^ "Jaarlijsten 1998" (in Dutch). Stichting Nederlandse Top 40. Retrieved December 13, 2017. 
  35. ^ dutchcharts (1998). "Jaaroverzichten 1998". Retrieved December 13, 2017. 
  36. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody?". Recorded Music NZ. 
  37. ^ "Why Everybody Loves Covering Aaliyah". March 20, 2014. 
  38. ^
  39. ^ "Are You That Somebody? (feat. Wax) – Single on iTunes". Retrieved May 25, 2011. 
  40. ^ "James Blake: CMYK EP Album Review - Pitchfork". 
  41. ^ "Lil Wayne feat. Future and Drake's 'Love Me' - Discover the Sample Source". WhoSampled. 
  42. ^ "The Perfect Aaliyah Cover? BANKS Just Nailed It". 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Without a Doubt" by Che Fu
RIANZ (New Zealand) number-one single
October 11, 1998 – October 18, 1998
Succeeded by
"No Matter What" by Boyzone