Men in Black (song)
|"Men in Black"|
|Single by Will Smith|
|from the album Men in Black: The Album|
|Released||June 16, 1997|
|Producer(s)||Poke and Tone|
|Will Smith singles chronology|
"Men in Black" is a song by American rapper and actor Will Smith from the movie Men in Black, in which he also starred. The song is Smith's first solo single, following his work with DJ Jazzy Jeff. The song plays during the movie's closing credits. The song features Smith rapping about how the Men in Black "Walk in shadow, move in silence" and play the role of "first, last and only line of defense, against the worst scum of the universe", while SWV singer Coko adds her soulful soprano and alto vocals in the background. The music is a sample of "Forget Me Nots" (1982) by Patrice Rushen. The song won Smith a Grammy Award in 1998 for Best Rap Solo Performance.
Release and success
"Men in Black" features a sample of, and a re-sung chorus from, "Forget Me Nots" by Patrice Rushen. In a twist, the line "To help you to remember" is changed to "They won't let you remember", in reference to the memory-erasing "neuralyzer" devices used in the Men in Black movie.
Aside from appearing on the movie's soundtrack, the song also appears on Smith's Columbia Records album Big Willie Style and reached number one on charts in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 because it was not released as a commercial single in the US; at the time, only songs that were commercially released as singles were eligible, but it did top the airplay chart. The music video for the song also appears on the DVD The Will Smith Collection. It was also included in the album All Time Greatest Movie Songs, released by Sony in 1999. It was also featured after the end credits of the VHS release of "Men in Black". It was also covered by Forever the Sickest Kids for the compilation album Punk Goes Crunk & by Alvin and the Chipmunks for the album The A-Files: Alien Songs. An instrumental and short version of the song plays over the closing credits in Men in Black: The Series.
Robert Caruso directed the video. The video starts with a dark hallway lighting up. Tommy Lee Jones enters from around the corner and begins to explain in a voiceover the purpose of the Men in Black. Will Smith enters with the line: "And we dress in black." There is then a cut to what appears to be an alleyway, a steel box which looks a bit like a commercial refrigerator in the middle. The surface begins to deform and show a glowing light from within. The video then cuts to several scenes of Agents experimenting on alien organisms and technology, with Will rapping into further detail of the operations of the Men in Black. It soon has him surrounded by MIB agents in a warehouse. In the middle of the dance routine, an alien (Mikey from the film) comes in and screams at Will. Will Smith then leads the agents and the alien to do a modified Electric Slide, where the alien slips out in the middle.
After dancing along with the agents, he goes after the alien. The same glowing light from the beginning of the video is then seen in the drivers seat of an SUV, the two female Agents who were with Will in the vehicle, which speeds off just as Will reaches it. Disappointed, he puts on his glasses and takes out a Neuralyzer, pointing it at the camera.
Two versions of the video were made alternating the flash. In one version of the video, the flash takes the viewer back to the empty hallway from the opening scene, effectively erasing the video's contents entirely as if ensuring the viewer doesn't remember what they saw in the video, while in the other, the flash produces a white screen. Just before the flash in both, Will says, somewhat regretfully, "Sorry".
These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "Men in Black".
- Patrice Rushen, Terry McFadden, Will Smith – writers, composers
- Coko – backing vocals
- Matthew Wishart – clarinet, trombone
- Poke and Tone – drum programming, producer
- Commissioner Gordon, Tony Maserati – mixing
- John Shriver – recording
- Paul Griffin – animation director for "Mikey" (video)
- Rob Chiarelli - recording engineer & remixer
Charts and certifications
- "Will Smith — "Men in Black"". Discogs. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "Australian-charts.com – Will Smith – Men in Black". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
- "Austriancharts.at – Will Smith – Men in Black" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
- "Ultratop.be – Will Smith – Men in Black" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
- "Ultratop.be – Will Smith – Men in Black" (in French). Ultratop 50.
- "Ultratop Dance 30/08/1997". ultratop.be. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
- "Top Singles - Volume 65, No. 25, August 25, 1997". RPM. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "Will Smith: Men in Black" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
- "Lescharts.com – Will Smith – Men in Black" (in French). Les classement single.
- "Top 10 Hungary" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 2018-06-22.
- "Íslenski Listinn NR. 228 Vikuna 3.7. '97 - 9.7. '97" (PDF). Dagblaðið Vísir. 1997-07-04. p. 22. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- "Irish Singles Chart, database". Irish Charts. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "Nederlandse Top 40 – Will Smith" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – Will Smith – Men in Black" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
- "Charts.nz – Will Smith – Men in Black". Top 40 Singles.
- "Norwegiancharts.com – Will Smith – Men in Black". VG-lista.
- "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
- "Swedishcharts.com – Will Smith – Men in Black". Singles Top 100.
- "Swisscharts.com – Will Smith – Men in Black". Swiss Singles Chart.
- "Will Smith: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
- "Official R&B Singles Chart Top 40". officialcharts.com.
- "Will Smith, Billboard charts". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "1997 Australian Singles Chart". aria. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "1997 Austrian Singles Chart". Austriancharts. Archived from the original on 2009-06-14. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "1997 Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart". Ultratop. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "1997 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart". Ultratop. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "Top Singles - Volume 66, No. 15, December 15, 1997". RPM. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "Single top 100 over 1997" (PDF) (in Dutch). Top40. Archived from the original (pdf) on 6 December 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
- "1997 French Singles Chart". Snep. Archived from the original on 2012-03-07. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts". GfK Entertainment (in German). offiziellecharts.de. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
- "End of Year Charts 1997". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
- "1997 Swiss Singles Chart". Hitparade. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "Certification for every country in the world" (PDF). IFPI. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-10-23. Retrieved 2008-08-07.
- "Australian certifications". ARIA Charts. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "1997 French certifications". Snep. Archived from the original on 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('Men in Black')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "Dutch certifications, database". Nvpi. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "Norwegian certifications". Ifpi. Archived from the original on 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2009-08-06.
- "Swedish certifications" (PDF). Ifpi. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-19. Retrieved 2009-07-11.
- "1997 Swiss certifications". Swisscharts. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- "UK certifications, database". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2015-06-08.
- Copsey, Rob (September 19, 2017). "The UK's Official Chart 'millionaires' revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 19, 2017.