While the song received mostly negative reviews, with critics claiming it was kitsch and misogynistic, it was a commercial success, reaching the top ten of the charts in nineteen countries worldwide. In the United States, it became Flo Rida's second number-one single and broke the record for first-week sales when it was released to digital retailers. The single's accompanying music video was directed by Malcolm Jones and nominated for an MTV Video Music Award. The song has been used in several movies, such as The Hangover, The Ugly Truth and the Telugu movie Pilla Zamindar. In the movie Pitch Perfect, the song is performed by the a cappella group the Treblemakers. This song is the second track on Now 31.
The inclusion of Kesha (pictured) was the suggestion of producer Dr. Luke, as Flo Rida wanted a female voice in the song.
"Right Round" was written by Flo Rida, Dr. Luke, Kool Kojak, DJ Frank E, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Aaron Bay-Schuck, and Dead or Alive, the band whose 1984 song, "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" is sampled in the chorus. The track was produced by Dr. Luke and Kool Kojak and features guest vocals from American pop singer Kesha, (who was not credited on the American release of the single). At the end of 2008, Luke was working on a track with Flo Rida called "Right Round" and the two decided they needed a female hook. Luke pulled Kesha into the studio to record the vocals. According to Flo Rida, the song is about "a young lady, she might be in the strip club and she's got my head spinning round, [...] Or any young lady that I might see walking past me that's getting my attention. She got it going on! I'm going crazy over her."
Flo Rida explained that he listened to "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" and similar records growing up as a result of the varying music genres his seven sisters listened to. Ultimately, his A&R Aaron Bay-Schuck came up with the idea to sample "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" in a song. Bay-Schuck told HitQuarters that he had been listening to a shuffle beat produced by DJ Frank E on a CD of potential beats and had kept hearing in his head the melody of the Dead or Alive song over the top of it. Co-A&R Mike Caren then brought the sample to the attention of Flo Rida.
As R.O.O.T.S. was Flo Rida's second studio album, he wanted to show listeners musical growth by "broaden[ing] my horizons," which was why he decided to record the song. After Luke produced the sample, the song was recorded. In the same night the song was written Aaron Bay-Schuck, Bruno Mars and Philip Lawrance decided to go to the studio and make the initially recording. It was recorded primarily at Conway Studios in Hollywood, California, with additional recording at Atlantic Studios, also located in Hollywood.
This is the first of three collaborations between Flo Rida and Dr. Luke. The songs "Who Dat Girl" and "Good Feeling" would follow. Also, with the use of the DJ Frank E shuffle beat in the song's production, this is the first of four collaborations between Flo Rida and DJ Frank E. The two would later actually meet together and collaborate on the songs "Me & U", "Turn Around (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)", and more famously, "Whistle".
Musically, "Right Round" is a southern hip hop song. It uses the recurring pop rap themes of Flo Rida's music; specifically, similarities were noted between the song and "Low" (2007), with Allmusic reviewer David Jeffries calling "Right Round" its "heir apparent". The song is "swaggering" and "bass-heavy", according to Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly. The lyrics discuss being in a strip club with friends and tossing money at a woman performing a striptease. Additionally, the chorus line "You spin my head right round, right round / When you go down, when you go down, down" can be interpreted as a reference to fellatio.Bruno Mars, co-writer of the song confirmed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that the song's chorus was referring to oral sex. Philip Lawrence, also co-writer, confessed the song was "almost something we had accidentally written in the car one night just hanging out." It was him, Bruno Mars, and Aaron Bay-Schuck. Bay-Schuck was playing to Bruno and Philip some tracks and wanted to come up with something big for Flo Rida, and they were just throwing out 80's ideas. The song's sexual themes have been compared to those of "If U Seek Amy" (2009) by Britney Spears.
"Right Round" is set in common time with a moderate tempo of 125 beats per minute. It is written in the key of A-minor with a chord progression of Am-C-G-Am-D-G, and the breakdown of C-G-Am-C-D-E.
Reviews for "Right Round" were mostly negative. A reviewer for The New York Times called the song "[b]ionic and empty". In a review of R.O.O.T.S., Ken Capobianco of The Boston Globe stated, "His music is pure ear candy that must make Britney [Spears] envious, yet he wants to come off as a thug." He continued that it is unlikely that "Right Round" would have gone over well in Brooklyn in the '80s, calling it "as hard as Jell-O." Alex Fletcher of Digital Spy stated in his review of the song, "It's pretty difficult to ruin a pop classic, but Flo Rida gives it a pretty good stab here." He added that "Right Round" is "[f]illed with more misogyny than a 1970s working mens' club", and called it "an unpleasant affair that's only saved from the trashcan by its sample." Fletcher concluded, "The fuzzy synths, electro beats and infectious chorus hook sung by Kesha are almost enough to fool the casual listener into enjoying themselves. But sadly it's never too long before Flo Rida turns up again to spoil things." Simon Vozick-Levinson of Entertainment Weekly called the song "a horrendous rap remake of Dead or Alive's 'You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).'" Noting that the song was, at the time, the number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, he added, "What does all this say about us as a society? Mainly that we really, really enjoy cheesetastic '80s hair-pop hits in whatever form we can get 'em, I guess."
There were also a few positive reviews. One such review came from Fraser McAlpine of BBC, who opened, "It's one of the fundamental laws of pop, anything which tips a nod to 'You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)' by Dead Or Alive is going to be worth a listen." He continued, "Even though this is just a song written from the perspective of a randy man watching a pole-dancer and bragging about how much money he has [...] in a manner which would make Akon blush, there's just something kind of cute about the whole thing." McAlpine attributed this to the song's "Tigger-beat", explaining, "How can anything too sordid be going on when everyone is bouncing around like they're on spacehoppers?" Bill Lamb of About.com commented, "You will hear echoes of another pop classic, but the new song stands on its own feet." However, he noted that while pop music fans would appreciate it, hip hop listeners would likely dismiss it, and he added that "[i]t's not groundbreaking by any means".
Flo Rida performing "Right Round" at the Circus Club in Finland on 9 July 2009.
In the United States, "Right Round" debuted at number seventy-four on the Billboard Hot 100 based solely on airplay. The next week, it rose sixteen positions to chart at number fifty-eight. In its third chart week, issue dated 19 February 2009, it jumped fifty-seven positions to the top spot, becoming Flo Rida's second number-one hit after 2007's "Low". That week, it also debuted at the top of the Hot Digital Songs chart with sales of 636,000, breaking the record of first-week sales established only the week before by Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent's "Crack a Bottle" (418,000). It remained atop the Hot 100 for six consecutive weeks. "Right Round" also topped the Pop 100 in the United States, and peaked at the third position on the Hot Rap Tracks chart, and appeared on the Hot 100's year-end and decade-end charts at positions six and eighty, respectively. By 12 March 2009, the song was certified gold and platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, and by 31 March, achieved double-platinum status. To date, it has been certified triple-platinum by the RIAA. "Right Round" made its Canadian debut at the seventy-fifth position, moved to the forty-seventh position in its second week, and peaked at the top of the charts—where it spent nine non-consecutive weeks—its third week. At the end of 2009, it was ranked the number-three song on the Canadian Hot 100. As of September 2011, it has sold 5,000,000 digital downloads in the USA.
The song debuted at the top of the Australian ARIA Singles Chart and maintained its position for seven non-consecutive weeks. It has been certified twice-platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association. It was the number-five song of the year and appeared on the decade-end chart at number eighteen. In New Zealand, "Right Round" debuted at number nine and moved to number five in its second week. It remained in the top five for four weeks before reaching a peak of number two, where it remained for four consecutive weeks. The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand has certified the song platinum, and it was ranked as the seventh most popular song of 2009.
"Right Round" also performed well in Europe, peaking at the second position on the European Hot 100 Singles chart and at number sixteen on the chart's year-end list. In the United Kingdom, the single debuted at number one on 8 March 2009 (for the week ending 14 March 2009). It then dropped to number two in its second charting week. It remained in the top ten for six weeks. As of January 2012, the song had sold 505,434 copies there. In Ireland, it debuted at number four and remained in the top five for four weeks. In its fifth week, it topped the chart and remained at the top position for three consecutive weeks. Elsewhere in Europe, the song reached the top ten in Austria (where it was certified gold by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), Belgium (number one in Wallonia, number two in Flanders), Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, France, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany.
Flo Rida in the music video for "Right Round". He and a young woman stand in front of a screen that projects an image of a nightclub in Miami, Florida, where the video was filmed.
The song's accompanying music video was shot in Miami, Florida and directed by Malcolm Jones. Kesha was asked to appear in the video, but declined; in an interview with Esquire magazine, she said, "They [Flo Rida's team] wanted me in the video, and I said, 'Nah, I want to make my own name for myself.'" The video begins with Flo Rida standing on a revolving circular platform, while his name appears in gold on a screen behind him. A young woman then joins him on the platform, with shots alternating between the two together and each individually. During the first verse, the screen behind him alternates between images of a rotating globe and locations such as Tokyo, Paris, London, and New York City. Shortly after, the silhouettes of three women appear behind Flo Rida while the clip is intercut with shots of a rotating disco ball and several women on a circular bed. Several women are then seen dancing on or around cars while Flo Rida stands in front of them. A waitress comes in to serve them an unidentified beverage. As the video ends, Flo Rida is seen once again on the circular platform while the screen behind him shows a red background with a gold Poe Boy Entertainment sticker. The video was nominated for Best Hip-Hop Video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, but lost to Eminem's "We Made You" (2009).