Can't Hold Us Down

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the song by Christina Aguilera featuring Lil' Kim. For the song by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, see Can't Hold Us.
"Can't Hold Us Down"
Single by Christina Aguilera featuring Lil' Kim
from the album Stripped
Released July 8, 2003 (2003-07-08)
Format CD single
Genre
Length 4:14
Label RCA
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Scott Storch
Christina Aguilera singles chronology
  • "Can't Hold Us Down"
  • (2003)
Lil' Kim singles chronology
  • "Can't Hold Us Down"
  • (2003)

"Can't Hold Us Down" is a song by American recording artist Christina Aguilera featuring rapper Lil' Kim, taken from Aguilera's fourth studio album, Stripped (2002). It was released on July 8, 2003 by RCA Records as the fourth single from the album. The track was written and produced by Scott Storch, with additional songwriting by Aguilera and Matt Morris. An R&B and hip hop song with dancehall elements, "Can't Hold Us Down" has a feminist theme as it criticizes gender-related double standards.

"Can't Hold Us Down" received mixed reviews from music critics, who were ambivalent towards its production and composition. It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 2004 ceremony, although it lost to "Whenever I Say Your Name" by Sting and Mary J. Blige. The track was moderately successful on national record charts, peaking at number 12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and charting within the top ten of several countries, including Australia and United Kingdom. "Can't Hold Us Down" was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA).

A music video for "Can't Hold Us Down" was directed by David LaChapelle, and was inspired by the Lower East Side of New York City during the 1980s. Aguilera performed the song during her three major concert tours: Justified and Stripped Tour (2003), The Stripped Tour (2003) and Back to Basics Tour (2006–07). To date, "Can't Hold Us Down" has been widely recognized as a feminist anthem.

Background[edit]

Aguilera came to prominence with the successes of her first three studio albums Christina Aguilera (1999), Mi Reflejo (2000), and My Kind of Christmas (2000).[1] However, she was dissatisfied with being marketed as a bubblegum pop singer, an effort pushed by Steve Kurtz, her manager at that time, because of the genre's financial lure.[2] In late 2000, Aguilera parted ways with Kurtz and hired a new manager Irving Azoff, in addition to announcing that her forthcoming album would have more musical and lyrical depth.[1] She selected Stripped as its title, explaining that the term represented "a new beginning, a re-introduction of [herself] as a new artist".[3] Hip hop producer Scott Storch wrote and produced several tracks for the album, including "Can't Hold Us Down".[4] Additional writing credits for the song were done by Aguilera and Matt Morris.[5]

RCA Records serviced "Can't Hold Us Down" to mainstream radio stations in the United States as the fourth single from Stripped on July 8, 2003.[6] The song was also distributed as a CD single from September to October 2003 in several countries by RCA Records and Sony Music Entertainment.

Composition[edit]

A 20-second sample of the chorus in "Can't Hold Us Down". An R&B and hip hop song, its lyrical content criticizes the "common" societal double standard.[7]

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Can't Hold Us Down" is written in the key of E♭ major.[8] It is an R&B[9] and hip hop song,[10] with elements of dancehall towards the end of the track;[11] Chuck Taylor from Billboard described the melody as a "nursery-rhyme".[9] Aguilera and Kim's "faux-R&B"[9] vocals in the song span two octaves, from F3 to F5.[8]

Lyrically, "Can't Hold Us Down" has a feminist theme,[12] as it criticizes the "common" gender-related double standards, in which men are applauded for their sexual behaviors, while women who behave in a similar fashion are disdained.[7][13] During the song's first verse, Aguilera sings "Call me a bitch 'cause I speak what's on my mind / Guess it's easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled";[14] she later rejects that all women "should be seen, not heard" and encourages them to "shout louder" during the chorus.[15] In the second verse, Aguilera comments of the double standard, "The guy gets all the glory the more he can score / While the girl can do the same and yet you call her a whore".[13] Lil' Kim shares a similar sentiment during her verse in the bridge, questioning why a man is able to give a woman "some sex or sex her raw" while "if the girl do the same and then she's a whore".[13]

Media outlets speculated that the lyrics of "Can't Hold Us Down" were directed towards rapper Eminem, who referred Aguilera in his songs "Off the Wall" and "The Real Slim Shady".[16][17][18] Spin magazine's Josh Kun wrote that Aguilera suggested Eminem "Must talk so big / To make up for smaller things".[16] According to Kelefa Sanneh writing for The New York Times, Aguilera referred to Eminem in the lyrics "It's sad you only get your fame through controversy".[17]

Reception[edit]

Chuck Taylor from Billboard criticized the song as a "real waste of time and talent".[9] Writing for Rolling Stone, Jancee Dunn provided a mixed review, calling the song "curiously lifeless".[19] Stylus Magazine's Todd Burns was underwhelmed by the lyrical content of the track and felt that those shortcomings overshadowed its stronger production; however, he appreciated the dancehall-influenced melody that appeared at the end of the track.[11] Josh Kun of Spin wrote a favorable review of the song, complimenting the confrontational lyrics for being more aggressive than the works of Britney Spears.[16] Jacqueline Hodges writing for BBC Music appreciated Lil's Kim's inclusion on the track for adding "a bit of edge".[20] "Can't Hold Us Down" was nominated a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 2004 Grammy Awards, but lost to "Whenever I Say Your Name" by Sting and Mary J. Blige.[21] In 2009, Nick Levine from Digital Spy and Nick Butler of Sputnikmusic shared disappointment toward the song's absence from Aguilera's greatest hits album Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits.[22][23]

"Can't Hold Us Down" achieved moderate success on national record charts. In the United States, the track reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number three on the Pop Songs chart.[24] The song peaked at number 4 on the Canadian Singles Chart.[25] In Australia, "Can't Hold Us Down" reached a peak position of number five on the Australian Singles Chart,[26] and was later certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments of 35,000 copies in the country.[27] Additionally, it reached number two on the New Zealand Singles Chart.[28] In Europe, "Can't Hold Us Down" reached the top ten charts of several territories: it was a success on the Hungarian Singles Chart, where it peaked at number four.[29] The song additionally reached number five on the Irish Singles Chart and number six on the UK Singles Chart.[30][31] The single charted at numbers seven[32] and fifteen[33] on the Belgian Flanders and Walloon Singles Charts, respectively. On the Danish Singles Chart, "Can't Hold Us Down" peaked at number eight,[34] while its highest position on the German Media Control Charts was number nine.[35]

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song was inspired by Lower East Side (pictured), Manhattan during the 1980s.

The music video for "Can't Hold Us Down" was directed by David LaChapelle, who previously directed the music video for Stripped's lead single "Dirrty" in 2002. It was filmed in a Los Angeles soundstage that depicted a 1980s Lower East Side neighborhood in Manhattan, New York City.[14] LaChapelle described the concept of the video as his "ode to the '80s".[14] In the clip, Aguilera wears a pink sleeveless shirt, a sleeveless sport jacket, a pair of shorts, a mauve baseball cap embroidered with the words "Lady C", and white long socks.[13][36] She is seen with dyed black hair and is wearing dark mascara and a gold nose ring.[13] The residents of the neighborhood are mostly Latin and black people, resembling people that live in a ghetto.[36]

As the video begins, Aguilera is chatting with a group of women.[36] When Aguilera leaves the conversation, a black man suddenly grabs her buttocks, making Aguilera stop and causing an argument between the two people.[36] As she continues to sing, the nearby women in the neighborhood join her, while the male residents join the man and form their respective sides in the street.[36] They perform their own hip hop dance skills against each other.[36] At the bridge, Lil' Kim appears in a bikini, a sheer black blouse and dances on her high heels.[36] The argument ends with Aguilera spraying the men with a water hose, which she holds between her legs and parodies the male penis.[36]

Jason Heller from The AV Club criticized LaChappelle for "[swallowing] the message" of the track by following an unrelated concept in the clip.[7] In their book Music Video and the Politics of Representation, Diane Railton and Paul Watson felt that the video exemplified cultural appropriation, specifically noting how Aguilera conducted herself as an African-American woman, and elaborated that it emphasized "a range of issues concerning the represent of gender and race".[13] Andy Cohn from The Fader provided a more favorable review, and opined that Aguilera's "sass" helped to highlight her Irish and Ecuadorian background.[37]

Live performances[edit]

Aguilera performed "Can't Hold Us Down" on her Justified and Stripped Tour, which was held in support of Aguilera's Stripped and Justin Timberlake's album Justified (2002).[38] In late 2003, Aguilera sang the track on The Stripped Tour,[39] which acted as the Justified and Stripped Tour's extension and happened without Timberlake's acts.[40] The performance in London was included on the singer's first full-length DVD Stripped Live in the U.K. (2004).[41] During her Back to Basics Tour (2006–07), Aguilera performed excerpts of "Can't Hold Us Down" in a medley with "Still Dirrty".[42] The performance in Adelaide, Australia was included on the video release Back to Basics: Live and Down Under (2008).[43]

Legacy[edit]

Aguilera performed excerpts from "Can't Hold Us Down" in a medley with "Still Dirrty" during the Back to Basics Tour (2006-07).

Since its release, "Can't Hold Us Down" has been recognized as a feminist anthem. Nicholas Ransbottom from The Charleston Gazette placed the song on his list of the top ten songs of female empowerment in 2013, calling it a "great anthem about women sticking up for themselves in a misogynistic world".[44] Several writers for The AV Club included the track on their list of seventeen "well-intended yet misguided feminist anthems" in 2010; they agreed that the song itself was "actually one of her better songs", although they felt that its accompanying music video overshadowed its lyrical "[confrontation of] the double standard of female sexuality" since Aguilera conducted herself in a provocative fashion that conflicted its intended meaning.[7] Yasamin Saeidi from Burton Mail listed "Can't Hold Us Down" on her list of the "top ten empowering lady anthems" in 2013.[15]

The music video for "Can't Hold Us Down" has received scholarly attention as an example of cultural appropriation. Murali Balaji, author of the article "Vixen Resistin': Redefining black womanhood in hip-hop music videos" published in the Journal of Black Studies, noted that "blackness and sexuality" has become characteristics by which African-American women are able to self-define. Consequently, he opined that the inclusion of Lil' Kim in the clip represented an element of "'primitive' sexuality", which Aguilera intended to imitate through her own behavior in the video.[45] In their article "Naughty girls and red-blooded women: Representations of female heterosexuality in music video", published in Feminist Media Studies, Diane Railton and Paul Watson made specific note of the conflicting message raised by the lyrics "all my girls around the world", while "blackness and whiteness are clearly inscribed on and through the bodies of Aguilera and Kim." They suggested that this example detracted the message of the track by emphasizing the problem that "female heterosexuality" is confined to "the very limited range of ways" in mainstream culture, in this instance "gender and race [and] sexual behaviour".[46]

Track listing[edit]

"Can't Hold Us Down" – CD single[47]
No. Title Length
1. "Can't Hold Us Down" (featuring Lil' Kim) 4:15
2. "Can't Hold Us Down" (Sharp Boys Orange Vocal Remix) 7:22
3. "Can't Hold Us Down" (Jacknife Lee Remix) 4:30
Total length:
15:57

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[27] Gold 35,000^

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

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label Ref.
United States July 8, 2003 Contemporary hit radio RCA Records [6]
Rhythmic radio [61]
Japan September 1, 2003 CD single Sony Music Entertainment [62]
United Kingdom September 8, 2003 RCA Records [47]
Germany September 22, 2003 [63]
United States September 30, 2003 [64]
Italy October 3, 2003 [65]
France October 7, 2003 [66]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gardner, Elysa (October 24, 2002). "Aguilera's image is 'Stripped'". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  2. ^ Stitzel, Kim (February 2002). "Not Your Puppet". MTV News. Viacom Media Networks. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  3. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (October 31, 2002). "Christina Stands Up For The Ladies, Discusses Father's Abuse". MTV News. Viacom Media Networks. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  4. ^ Unterberger, Andrew (June 19, 2013). "Myley Cyrus' 'We Can't Stop' & 8 Examples of Female Pop Stars Recruiting Hip-Hop Producers". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ Stripped (Media notes). Christina Aguilera. RCA Records. 2002. 
  6. ^ a b "R&R :: Going for Adds :: CHR/Top 40". Radio & Records. VNU Media. July 8, 2003. Retrieved April 24, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d Heller, Jason; Koski, Genevieve; Pierce, Leonard; Robinson, Tasha; Withrow, Emily; Zulkey, Claire (March 15, 2010). "A soundproofed room of one’s own: 17 well-intended yet misguided feminist anthems". The AV Club (The Onion). Archived from the original on April 3, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Christina Aguilera feat. Lil' Kim – Can't Hold Us Down". Musicnotes.com. Universal Music Publishing Group. Retrieved April 26, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d Taylor, Chuck (July 12, 2013). "Singles: Highlights". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media) 115 (28): 36. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  10. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa (July 29, 2006). "Beyoncé, Aguilera, Jackson, Simpson and Jewel: Seeking Another Turn in the Spotlight". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Burns, Todd (September 1, 2003). "Christina Aguilera – Stripped – Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  12. ^ Masley, Ed (November 1, 2012). "Recording Reviews: 11/1/02". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. John Robinson Block. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f Railton & Watson 2011, p. 88
  14. ^ a b c Moss, Corey (May 16, 2003). "Christina, Lil' Kim Get Even 'Dirrtier' For 'Can't Hold Us Down' Clip". MTV News. Viacom Media Networks. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Saeidi, Yasamin (March 8, 2013). "Top ten empowering lady anthems". Burton Mail. Staffordshire Newspapers Ltd. Archived from the original on March 11, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c Kun, Josh (July 15, 2003). "Christina Aguilera, ‘Stripped’". Spin. Spin Media. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Sanneh, Kelefa (September 8, 2002). "The New Season/Music: Idol Returns, Her Image Remade". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved August 11, 2013. 
  18. ^ Steve Helling (May 12, 2009). "Eminem and His Many Feuds". People. Time Inc. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  19. ^ Dunn, Jancee (November 5, 2002). "Christina Aguilera: Stripped". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  20. ^ Hodges, Jacqueline (November 20, 2002). "Christina Aguilera Stripped Review". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  21. ^ "2004 Grammy Winners". Viacom Media Networks. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  22. ^ Levine, Nick (November 10, 2008). "Christina Aguilera: 'Keeps Gettin' Better - A Decade of Hits'". Digital Spy. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  23. ^ Butler, Nick (December 3, 2008). "Christina Aguilera – Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits". Sputnikmusic. Jeremy Ferwerda. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  24. ^ a b c d e "Christina Aguilera Album & Song Chart history". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  25. ^ a b "Christina Aguilera: Stripped: Awards". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on February 5, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  26. ^ a b "Australian-charts.com – Christina Aguilera feat. Lil' Kim – Can't Hold Us Down". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  27. ^ a b "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2003 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b "Charts.org.nz – Christina Aguilera feat. Lil' Kim – Can't Hold Us Down". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  29. ^ a b "Lista Es Datum Szerint – Archivum" (The URL will open up the Hungarian Singles Archive Chart. To access the selected chart, select "Single (track) Top 20 lista", Year (Ev) 2003 and Week (Het) 50). Association of Hungarian Record Companies. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  30. ^ a b "Chart Track". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  31. ^ "2003 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive: 20th September 2003". UK Singles Chart. Official Charts Company. September 20, 2003. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  32. ^ a b "Ultratop.be – Christina Aguilera feat. Lil' Kim – Can't Hold Us Down" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  33. ^ a b "Ultratop.be – Christina Aguilera feat. Lil' Kim – Can't Hold Us Down" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  34. ^ a b "Danishcharts.com – Christina Aguilera feat. Lil' Kim – Can't Hold Us Down". Tracklisten. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  35. ^ a b "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. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h Besigiroha 2010, pp. 244–245
  37. ^ "5 Videos To Remind Christina Aguilera of Herself". The Fader. Andy Cohn. March 23, 2010. Archived from the original on October 28, 2010. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  38. ^ Chonin, Neva (June 9, 2013). "Aguilera, Timberlake aging well / Sexy, soulful show in Oakland". San Francisco Chronicle (Hearst Corporation). Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  39. ^ Adams, Cameron (December 12, 2003). "Aguilera delivers killer concert". Herald Sun (The Herald and Weekly Times). 
  40. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (July 11, 2006). "Two Years Later, Aguilera Fans Finally Getting Their Due: A Refund". MTV News. Viacom Media Networks. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  41. ^ Julia Knowles (director), Sharon Ali (producer) and Christina Aguilera (singer-songwriter, producer) (October 12, 2004). Stripped Live in the U.K. United Kingdom: RCA Records. 
  42. ^ Evan, Chris (March 26, 2007). "Concert Review: Christina Aguilera – Back to Basics Tour". Blogcritics. Retrieved July 30, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Christina Aguilera "Back to Basics: Live and Down Under". ChristinaAguilera.com. Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  44. ^ Ransbottom, Nicholas (March 1, 2013). "Music for Women's History Month". The Charleston Gazette. The Daily Gazette Company. Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  45. ^ Balaji 2008, pp. 5–20
  46. ^ Railton & Watson 2005, pp. 51–63
  47. ^ a b "Can't Hold Us Down [Single, Maxi]". Amazon.com (UK). Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  48. ^ "Christina Aguilera feat. Lil' Kim – Can't Hold Us Down – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  49. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Christina Aguilera search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  50. ^ "Lescharts.com – Christina Aguilera feat. Lil' Kim – Can't Hold Us Down" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  51. ^ "Italiancharts.com – Christina Aguilera feat. Lil' Kim – Can't Hold Us Down". Top Digital Download. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  52. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Christina Aguilera feat. Lil' Kim – Can't Hold Us Down". VG-lista. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  53. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Christina Aguilera feat. Lil' Kim – Can't Hold Us Down". Singles Top 60. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  54. ^ "Christina Aguilera feat. Lil' Kim – Can't Hold Us Down – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  55. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  56. ^ "ARIA Charts – End of Year Charts – Top 100 Singles 2003". ARIA Charts. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  57. ^ "Dutch charts portal". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  58. ^ "Top-Selling Singles of 2003". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  59. ^ "Swiss Year-End Charts 2003". Swiss Hitparade. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  60. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart 2003". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  61. ^ "R&R :: Going for Adds :: Rhythmic". Radio & Records. VNU Media. July 8, 2003. Archived from the original on June 10, 2013. Retrieved May 31, 2014. 
  62. ^ "Can't Hold Us Down [Single, Maxi, Import]" (in Japanese). Amazon.com (JP). Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  63. ^ "Can't Hold Us Down [Single, Maxi]" (in German). Amazon.com (DE). Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  64. ^ "Can't Hold Us Down [Single, Import]". Amazon.com. Retrieved May 24, 2013. 
  65. ^ "Can't Hold Us Down [Singolo, Maxi]" (in Italian). Amazon.com (IT). Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  66. ^ "Can't Hold Us Down [CD Single, Import]" (in French). Amazon.com (FR). Retrieved April 25, 2013. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Balaji, Murali (2008). "Vixen Resistin': Redefining black womanhood in hip-hop music videos". Journal of Black Studies 41 (1): 5–20. doi:10.1177/0021934708325377. 
  • Besigiroha, Linda (2010). "Independent women? Feminist discourse in music videos". In Gymnich, Marion; Ruhl, Kathrin; Scheunemann, Klaus. Gendered (Re)Visions: Constructions of Gender in Audiovisual Media. Göttingen, Germany: Bonn University Press (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht). pp. 227–252. ISBN 9783899716627. 
  • Railton, Diane; Watson, Paul (2005). "Naughty girls and red-blooded women: Representations of female heterosexuality in music video". Feminist Media Studies 5 (1): 51–63. doi:10.1080/14680770500058207. 
  • Railton, Diane; Watson, Paul (2011). Music Video and the Politics of Representation. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 88–90. ISBN 9780748633234. 

External links[edit]