More Than a Woman (Aaliyah song)

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"More Than a Woman"
Aaliyah-morethanawoman.jpg
Single by Aaliyah
from the album Aaliyah
ReleasedNovember 13, 2001 (2001-11-13)[1]
Format
RecordedManhattan Center
(New York City, New York)
Genre
Length3:49
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Timbaland
Aaliyah singles chronology
"We Need a Resolution"
(2001)
"More Than a Woman"
(2001)
"Rock the Boat"
(2002)

"More Than a Woman" is a song performed by American recording artist Aaliyah. It was written by Static Major and Timbaland, who produced the song for her self-titled 2001 album. While the song incorporates a sample from Syrian singer Mayada El Hennawy's 1993 song "Alouli Ansa", El Hennawy and her songwriters remain uncredited on "More Than a Woman". A pop, electro and hip hop song, it was one of three records Timbaland produced for Aaliyah and features digital strings, harsh-sounding synthetic bass, and guitar sounds. Lyrically, the track expresses a female's promise to be "more than a woman" to her love interest.

In August 2001, in support of the song's upcoming single release, Aaliyah along with director Dave Meyers shot a music video for "More Than a Woman" in Los Angeles and then travelled to the Bahamas to shoot a video for "Rock the Boat". But after its completion, she and several crew members who were returning to the US died in a plane crash on August 25.[2] While Blackground Records executives were initially uncertain when they would issue the single and its accompanying video, "More Than a Woman" was eventually released in November 2001 in the United States and January 2002 in the United Kingdom.[3]

A commercial success, "More Than a Woman" reached number one on the UK Singles Chart, becoming Aaliyah's first song to do so, while reaching the top ten in Scotland and the Flemish region of Belgium. In the US the song experienced moderate success, where it peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. Aaliyah performed the song on Live with Regis & Kelly on July 18, 2001 and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on July 25, 2001, which was her last performance before her death. "More Than a Woman" was nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in the 45th Annual Grammy Awards.

Background and production[edit]

"More Than a Woman" was written by Stephen "Static Major" Garrett and Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley and produced by the latter. It was conceived during the recordings for Aaliyah's third studio and initially crafted by Static who was producing "More Than a Woman" and the following day he had recorded the song's first version. Following this, Static kept going back and listening to the song saying "I can do something bigger and better to it". The next day, he rewrote the whole song. Aaliyah wasn’t present at the studio at the time when Static did the first version, so she never heard the first version.[4]

Having invested in the commercial performance of Aaliyah, Blackground Records and Virgin Records wanted a single with a high chart placement to help increase the album's sales.[5] Its lead single "We Need a Resolution" had been released on April 13, but underperformed on radio and only reached number fifty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100.[6] In August, Aaliyah shot a music video for "More Than a Woman" in Los Angeles and then travelled to the Bahamas to shoot a video for "Rock the Boat".[7] But after its completion, she and several crew members who were returning to the United States died in a plane crash on August 25.[2] Blackground executives were uncertain when they would release the album's next single and video.[8]

Composition and lyrical interpretation[edit]

Complex journalist Lauren Nostro said "More Than a Woman" mixes "pop, electro, and a mesmerizing mid tempo hip-hop feel, which allowed Aaliyah's delicate vocals to take the spotlight".[10] Daryl Easlea from BBC UK felt that Aaliyah "sings breathily and economically" over "More Than a Woman's "grinding electronic backdrop, and a coda of dirty, squelchy synths".[11] James Poletti from Dotmusic felt that "More Than A Woman' creeps up on you, its charms gradually revealing themselves through Aaliyah's understated delivery".[12] I-D journalist Emily Manning praised "More Than a Woman" for "its daring blend of pop and electronic influences".[13] When discussing the song in a retrospective review Natelegé Whaley from Mic felt that on "More Than a Woman," Aaliyah "has everything her man is looking for, silencing his need to look further".[14] Meanwhile within the songs production an uncredited sample from Mayada El Hennawy's 1993 song "Alouli Ansa" is being used.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

James Poletti from Dotmusic gave the song a mixed review; he praised the song's production by saying it was one of Timbaland's finest productions but he felt that "More Than a Woman" was a lesser song compared to Aaliyah's previously released singles. [12] Overall he felt that the song did justice to Aaliyah's legacy and that "It reminds us that Aaliyah was a truly contemporary soul performer and will be sorely missed".[12] In a review of Aaliyah's eponymous album, Luke McManus from the Irish publication RTE compared "More Than a Woman" to the work of French electronic music duo Daft Punk and praised her voice on the song as well.[16] When reviewing Aaliyah, British publication NME described "More Than a Woman" as being "grandiose".[17]

Brad Cawn from Chicago Tribune felt that Aaliyah had matured content wise and he described the song as being a "Mid-tempo come-on".[18] Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine felt that the song would make the perfect theme song for a cartoon. Cinquemani stated, "If the beyond-burgeoning actress was ever approached to play a cartoon superhero, the synth-heavy “More Than a Woman,” with its millenium-ready empowerment and sensitive vocals, would make the perfect theme song for the fictional vixen (“You go, I go/’Cause we share pillows”)".[19] Joshua Clover from Spin praised the song saying, "'More Than a Woman' isn't the Bee Gees song but pushes the jumpy tune until, finally, it meets you in the doorway (or is that the dance floor or the bed room?)".[20] Quentin B. Huff from PopMatters praised the production of the song saying, "The production bumps and jerks, contrasting a smooth groove with the spikes and dips of its loops and cadences". He also felt that "Aaliyah manages to croon over this mechanical bull of a beat, and the lyrics are appropriately terse and frugal, as if she only needs a few key phrases to remind her significant other that she is in fact "more than enough for you."[21]

Accolades[edit]

In 2002, the video for "More Than a Woman" was voted by the British public as "Best Video" and received an award at the 7th annual UK MOBO Awards.[22] In 2003, the song was nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards but lost to Mary J Blige's performance on "He Think I Don't Know".[23] "More Than a Woman" was featured on Rolling Stone's Ten Best Apocalyptic Dance Music Videos listing.[24]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, "More Than a Woman" entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number seventy one on February 2, 2002.[25] The song eventually peaked at number twenty-five in its ninth week on the chart.[26] The song stayed on the chart for a total of twenty-four weeks.[27] It also peaked within the top 20 on the dance club charts at number 11 during its 6th week on the chart,[28] while peaking within at number 7 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in its 24th week on the chart.[29] On June 15 2002, "More Than a Woman" peaked at number 19 on of the Mainstream Top 40.[30] Meanwhile, on April 27, 2002, the song peaked at number 12 on the Rhythmic chart.[31] At the end of the year, "More Than a Woman" was ranked at number fifty-eight on Billboard's 2002 year-end chart.[32]

In Europe, the song peaked at number 12 on January 26, 2002 on the European Hot 100 Singles chart.[33] In Belgium, "More Than a Woman" peaked at number ten on of the Ultratip Flanders chart,[34] as well as number 31 on the Ultratop 50 in Wallonia.[35] In France, the song was released as a double single with "I Refuse" where it peaked at number 26. Meanwhile in Germany the song peaked within the top 40 at number 34.[36] In Ireland, "More Than a Woman" peaked at number 13 on January 31, 2002.[37] In the Netherlands, it entered the Dutch Top 40 at number 33 On November 21, 2001.[38] Four weeks later, it peaked at number 29 on the chart.[38] On November 10, 2001, the song peaked and spent two weeks at number 38 on the Dutch Single Top 100.[39] In Scotland, the song peaked at number 10 on January 13, 2002.[40] In Switzerland, it entered the Schweizer Hitparade charts at number 25 on November 11, 2001. The song reached it peak at number 16 – ten weeks later on January 20, 2002.[41]

In the United Kingdom, "More Than a Woman" entered and peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart on January 13, 2002 ― for the week ending date January 19, 2002 ― selling 32,081 copies for that week. It became the first time that a posthumous release has taken over from another posthumous release in Britain when the song was replaced by George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord", and the first time that a woman has had a posthumous number one single in that country.[42][43][44] According to the Official Charts Company, "More Than a Woman" is Aaliyah's second best-selling single in the UK behind "Try Again".[45] In the Oceania region, the song peaked within the top 40 at number 37 on March 10, 2002 in Australia.[46]

Music video[edit]

Background[edit]

The music video for "More Than a Woman" was directed by Dave Meyers in Los Angeles, California in August 2001, before the video shoot for "Rock the Boat".[47][48] Meyers was chosen as the director for the music video when Aaliyah met him through Damon Dash.[47] According to Meyers "She was with Damon Dash, her boyfriend I think, or at least they were friendly. Damon was hiring me for a lot of Jay Z’s videos. I think that might’ve been the way I got into that job. I don’t remember exactly. I just remember Damon telling me I better make his girlfriend look good (laughs)".[47] After getting to know one another Meyers got the opportunity of getting to know Aaliyah's artistic side.[47] When coming up with possible concepts for the video Aaliyah pulled tears out of magazines and shared them with Meyers.[47] Myers then took inspiration from those magazine tears and created the video concept which included Aaliyah inside of a motorcycle.[47] Myers explained "I was really impressed with how balanced she was on her whole deal and really had a great understanding of all sides of the artistic equation. She was pulling tears out of magazines and sharing those with me, it was a little bit more of how she wanted to present herself and I built the world around her with the motorcycle and the lights and the dance".[47] The budget for the "More than a woman" video was very expensive which made Myers nervous.[47] According to Myers he was nervous because "he wanted everything to go as planned including the light show for the video".[47] Aaliyah who got the budget approved for the video also wanted to make sure the light show was included in the video.[47] Myers recalled Aaliyah saying "No I want to do this right" when speaking about the budget for the video.[47]

Theme[edit]

The theme for the video was brainstormed at a "little" round table and some ideas that were drafted during the round table included the light show and the motorcycle theme.[47] Myers stated "I was really excited about the video so I sort of did a little roundtable. The light show was something I’ve been wanting to do ever since Lenny Kravitz's “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” and then the motorcycle motif I think one of the younger guys had initially tossed it out there and I thought it was awesome".[47] The motorcycle theme was taken from the ″motorcycle mania″ from that time period; which was heavily prominent with the hip hop label/crew The Ruff Ryders.[47] The video's theme included a lot of metaphorical aspects especially within the motorcycle. An example of metaphorical aspects featured in the video is from the dance routines.[47] The energy from the dance routines is fueling the motorcycle throughout the video.[47]

Synopsis[edit]

The music video for "More Than a Woman" was filmed in various locations throughout Los Angeles.[24]

The video starts with a shot of West 4th Street in Los Angeles, looking towards the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Aaliyah riding a 2001 model Triumph Speed Triple in the wrong direction when the camera zooms inside the exhaust pipe and shows Aaliyah dancing in a white Chanel catsuit with other female dancers between the pistons. Between cuts she is riding the motorcycle and doing wheelies and in another scene standing in front of a headlight with her back against the camera. Later in the video, Aaliyah is dancing with co-ed dancers, wearing leather pants, gloves, and boots, and a black tank-top. At the end, a silhouette of Aaliyah on her motorcycle wearing Dainese Gear is placed in front of sunset with the words "In Loving Memory of Aaliyah" above. British music producer Mark Ronson appears in the video as a DJ, along with then girlfriend Rashida Jones and her sister, Kidada.[24][49]

Reception[edit]

The music video for "More than a Woman" made its television debut on BET, MTV, and Vh1 during the week ending on January 14, 2002 .[50] The following month later during the week ending on February 3, 2002 the video was the second most played video on the BET network.[51] Meanwhile for the week ending on February 24, 2002 the video was the twenty-sixth most played video on the MTV network.[52] Quentin B. Huff from PopMatters compared the video to the work of both Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson saying, "Aaliyah's dancing in her videos probably owed a debt to the videos for Michael and Janet Jackson's solo work. No doubt that's true of many artists. Actually, the "More Than a Woman" video brings to mind Michael and Janet's "Scream" video, as well as Janet's video for "Rhythm Nation."[21] He also praised her dancing in the video as he felt that she danced "effortless".[21]

Legacy[edit]

In 2017, London-based producer Kelly Lee Owens covered "More Than a Woman", she has two versions of the cover in which one cover is a remix.[53] Both tracks were available as a limited edition 12" vinyl and they were promoted through sound cloud.[53] Owens released a statement about the covers saying, "My love and respect for Aaliyah as an artist/vocalist and Timbaland as a producer increased tenfold as I picked the track apart and understood how intricate and layered everything was The remix of my cover was something I wanted to write and produce that gave the original track new life, and also gave people a sense of power — it’s unapologetic.”[53] Also in 2017, R&B singer Kehlani interpolated "More Than a Woman" on her song "Too Much" from debut album SweetSexySavage (2017).[54] In 2018, rapper Drake interpolated the opening verse of "More Than a Woman" into his song "Is There More".[55]

Formats and track listings[edit]

Charts[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  3. ^ Strong, Martin C. (November 30, 2004). The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Canongate U.S. p. 4. ISBN 1841956155.
  4. ^ "Exclusive: The Producers of "Aaliyah" Take Us Behind the Scenes Into Making of This Classic - YouKnowIGotSoul.com".
  5. ^ Farley 2001, pp. 166–167.
  6. ^ Mitchell 2001, p. 43; Farley 2001, pp. 166–167
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  55. ^ Saponara, Michael (June 29, 2018). "Every Sample on Drake's 'Scorpion' Album". Billboard. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
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External links[edit]