Unpretty

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"Unpretty"
The three members are standing in front of a multi-colored wall, with thick black horizontal lines covering their bodies. The song title is positioned above them, while the group logo is positioned underneath.
Single by TLC
from the album FanMail
ReleasedAugust 10, 1999 (1999-08-10)
Recorded1998
Studio
  • D.A.R.P., Atlanta, Georgia
  • Bosstown, Atlanta, Georgia
Genre
Length
  • 4:08 (radio version)
  • 4:38 (album version)
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Dallas Austin
TLC singles chronology
"No Scrubs"
(1999)
"Unpretty"
(1999)
"Dear Lie"
(1999)
Audio sample
Music video
"Unpretty" on YouTube

"Unpretty" is a song by American recording group TLC. It was produced by Dallas Austin and co-written by Austin and TLC member Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins for the band's third studio album FanMail (1999). Austin helped Watkins adapt the poem into an empowering song for their female fan base to overcome feelings of physical inadequacy after watching an episode of Ricki Lake.

"Unpretty" was the second single released from FanMail. The song would mark the group's fourth and final US number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, spending three weeks atop the chart, and the second consecutive number-one single from the album, following "No Scrubs". Worldwide, the song reached number one in Iceland for a week and peaked within the top 10 in Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. It was nominated for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards.

Background and composition[edit]

Tionne Watkins was in hospital when she conceived the idea of the song after watching an episode of Ricki Lake, in which the men on the show called women "fat pigs". Watkins wrote the song out as a poem and gave it to Dallas Austin to record in the booth. Austin wanted to incorporate TLC's music into a folk and alternative sound. He wrote the song out as an "acoustic-driven pop song" in order for people to conceive TLC as an established group.[1] VH1 described the song as having an "alternative rock vibe".[2]

Commercial performance[edit]

The song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, spending three weeks atop the chart.[3] It was the second consecutive number-one single from the album, following "No Scrubs". Worldwide, the song reached number one in Iceland for a week and peaked within the top 10 in Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

Music video[edit]

Background[edit]

Paul Hunter directed the music video for "Unpretty", which was filmed in June 1999 in Valencia, California, and cost over $1.6 million to make.[4] The group's official YouTube channel contains a shortened version of the video, released to an all-ages audience (as "Children's Version"),[5] that removes both Watkins and Lopes' solo storylines, due to some of the scenes being considered as too explicit.[4]

Synopsis[edit]

The video begins with TLC entering a meditation hut. As the three women begin to meditate, a probe camera is released to record images of struggles in daily life, which ties together vignettes of several different stories relating to the song's lyrics. Several shots of TLC meditating and in a pink and purple field of flowers are shown intermittently throughout the video.

The main set of vignettes features a young woman, portrayed by band member Chilli, and an overweight teenager (played by actress Tamika Katon-Donegal).[6] Chilli's boyfriend convinces her to get breast implants to augment her modest bust. However, after she sees another patient in the hospital (played by singer Jade Villalon) getting her implants painfully removed, the woman flees the hospital in fear, and is later shown fighting with her boyfriend when she catches him reading magazines of busty women. The other girl is worried about fitting the "ideal" image of the petite supermodel and struggling with a bulimia as a result. Near the end of the video, however, she tears down the unrealistic images of models that she has tacked on her wall and changes into a bathing suit, a sign that she may be starting to accept her body shape.

Another vignette features Watkins as a high school student who is harassed by two white kids because she is a girl (which is based on what she dealt with in high school), only to be saved by her teacher, who sends the white kids away and retrieves her stuff for her. The last vignette features Lopes as an inner-city woman who plays her verse from "I'm Good at Being Bad", another track on FanMail, to her friend in her car. They come across a city gang, who are approached by a rival gang who begin to threaten them. The two gangs start fighting, which becomes so violent that knives and guns are involved and Lopes and her friend duck for cover as her car window is damaged. When the fight subsides, Lopes leaves the car to assist the remaining injured and barely conscious survivors. One of the survivors has been mortally wounded due to being stabbed in the heart, so Lopes applies pressure on his chest to stop the bleeding and prays as they wait for the police to arrive. Lopes also appears in the "Unpretty" performance shots reciting the song lyrics in American Sign Language.

Track listings[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits for "Unpretty" adapted from AllMusic.[7]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[55] Platinum 70,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[56] Gold 5,000*
Sweden (GLF)[57] Platinum 30,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[58] Silver 200,000^
United States (RIAA)[59] Gold 500,000^

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gracie, Bianca (February 22, 2019). "TLC's 'FanMail' Turns 20: A Track-By-Track Retrospective With the Girl Group and Behind-the-Scenes Collaborators". Billboard. Archived from the original on February 23, 2019. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  2. ^ "Behind The Song: TLC's "Waterfalls" + "No Scrubs" + "Unpretty"". VH1. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "TLC Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Corkery, Emily (October 14, 2019). "The jaw-dropping price tag of the most expensive music videos". Finance 101. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  5. ^ "TLC (UK) Unpretty - Childrens Version UK Promo video (VHS or PAL or NTSC) (289882)". eil.com.
  6. ^ http://www.sag.org/iactor/tamikakaton-donegal.pdf
  7. ^ "Fanmail – TLC > Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  8. ^ "Australian-charts.com – TLC – Unpretty". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  9. ^ "Austriancharts.at – TLC – Unpretty" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  10. ^ "Ultratop.be – TLC – Unpretty" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  11. ^ "Ultratop.be – TLC – Unpretty" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  12. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 7284." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  13. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 7842." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  14. ^ "Top RPM Dance/Urban: Issue 9973." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  15. ^ "Euro Chart Hot 100" (PDF). Music & Media. October 9, 1999. p. 10. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  16. ^ "TLC: Unpretty" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
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  18. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – TLC – Unpretty". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  19. ^ "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 16 no. 47. November 20, 1999. p. 19. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  20. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 20 (23.9 – 30.9 1999)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). September 24, 1999. p. 10. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  21. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Unpretty". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
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  24. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – TLC – Unpretty" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  25. ^ "Charts.nz – TLC – Unpretty". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  26. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – TLC – Unpretty". VG-lista. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  27. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  28. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – TLC – Unpretty" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  29. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – TLC – Unpretty". Singles Top 100. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  30. ^ "Swisscharts.com – TLC – Unpretty". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  31. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  32. ^ "Official R&B Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company.
  33. ^ "TLC Chart History (Dance Singles Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  34. ^ "TLC Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  35. ^ "TLC Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  36. ^ "TLC Chart History (Rhythmic)". Billboard. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  37. ^ "ARIA Charts – End of Year Charts – Top 100 Singles 1999". ARIA.
  38. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1999" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
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  40. ^ "RPM 1999 Top 100 Adult Contemporary Tracks". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  41. ^ "RPM 1999 Top 50 Dance Tracks". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  42. ^ "Year in Focus – Eurochart Hot 100 Singles 1999" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 17 no. 1. January 1, 2000. p. 11. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  43. ^ "Top 100 Single–Jahrescharts 1999" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  44. ^ "Top 100–Jaaroverzicht van 1999". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved March 16, 2020.
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  47. ^ "Romanian Top 100: Top of the Year 1999" (in Romanian). Romanian Top 100. Archived from the original on January 22, 2005. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  48. ^ "Årslista Singlar, 1999" (in Swedish). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
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  50. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1999". Retrieved August 28, 2010.
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  54. ^ Geoff Mayfield (December 25, 1999). 1999 The Year in Music Totally '90s: Diary of a Decade - The listing of Top Pop Albums of the '90s & Hot 100 Singles of the '90s. Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  55. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1999 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on August 10, 2020. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  56. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – TLC – Unpretty". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  57. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 2000" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  58. ^ "British single certifications – TLC – Unpretty". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved June 5, 2015. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Unpretty in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  59. ^ "American single certifications – TLC – Unpretty". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved July 13, 2018. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.