She Works Hard for the Money
|"She Works Hard for the Money"|
|Single by Donna Summer|
|from the album She Works Hard for the Money|
|B-side||"I Do Believe I Fell in Love"|
|Released||May 27, 1983|
|Donna Summer singles chronology|
Summer performed the song live as the opening of the 1984 Grammy Awards. She was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance Female. Summer's Grammy performance was released on the 1994 video cassette Grammy's Greatest Moments Volume I.
Background and composition
The song, co-written by the singer, told a story of a woman who "works hard for [her] money". It was based on an actual encounter that Donna had with an exhausted rest room attendant named Onetta Johnson (at the iconic Los Angeles restaurant Chasen's), who was later mentioned in the song and featured on the album's back cover.
The song became a hit for Summer and is one of her signature songs, reaching number one for a three-week stay atop the R&B chart (her first since 1979), number three on the Billboard Hot 100, and number three on the dance chart. It was a no. 25 hit in the UK. The single ended up as Billboard's fifteenth-best performing song of 1983. Along with the Grammy nomination, she was nominated for Favorite Female Pop/Rock Artist and Favorite Female Soul/R&B Artist at the American Music Awards. Summer was also nominated for Best Female Video at the first MTV Awards in 1984, the video was also nominated for Best Choreography.
The music video for the song, directed by Brian Grant, debuted on MTV and became the first video by an African American female artist to be placed in "heavy rotation" (a term used by MTV at the time to indicate a frequently-aired video). The video shows a woman, working as a waitress in a diner, who is burdened with many situations in her life such as work and raising two unruly children. It is also seen that she has abandoned her hopes of being a ballerina. Summer appears as an observer through a kitchen window, a woman who assists the fallen-down protagonist of the video, and, at the end, a leader of a troupe of women, in various work uniforms, who have taken to the streets to signify their independence and gain recognition for their "hard work". The protagonist is also seen dancing in the street with them.
In a parody of the image created by this song, and its cover art picture, Summer herself appears in the Frank Sinatra video for "L.A. Is My Lady", released in 1984, as a waitress who serves a patron and then wipes her brow.
There are two version of the music video. One is the single edit, the other remains faithful to the original length of the album version of the song.
- Album Version (5:19)
- 7" Single Version (4:09)
- Club Mix (aka Special Long Version) (6:15)
- Instrumental (5:47)
- 1985 Edit (4:33)
NB The 1985 Edit is from the compilation album The Summer Collection
- Donna Summer – vocals
- Michael Omartian – synthesizer
- Jay Graydon – guitars
- Marty Walsh – guitars
- Gary Herbig – saxophone
- Mike Baird – drums
- Michael Boddicker – synthesizer programming
- Horns: Jerry Hey, Chuck Findley, Gary Grant, Dick Hyde, Charlie Loper
- Background vocals: Dara Lynn Bernard, Mary E. Bernard, Roberta Kelly, Matthew Ward
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With a career spanning funk ("Love to Love You Baby"), disco ("Last Dance") and New Wave ("She Works Hard for the Money"), Summer is probably the most accomplished female artist up for induction this year.
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Donna Summer's big post-disco hit "She Works Hard For the Money"
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