Work It (Missy Elliott song)
|Single by Missy Elliott|
|from the album Under Construction|
|Released||September 9, 2002|
The Hit Factory Crteria
|Length||4:58 (album version)
4:25 (promo version)
|Missy Elliott singles chronology|
"Work It" is a hip hop song written by American rapper Missy Elliott and her producer Tim "Timbaland" Mosley for Elliott's fourth studio album Under Construction (2002). The song's musical style, and production by Timbaland, were heavily inspired by old school hip hop from the 1980s, and includes a portion which samples Run-D.M.C.'s "Peter Piper". The beginning of the song samples Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three's "Request Line". Released as the album's first single in September 2002, the track reached the number two position on the US Billboard Hot 100 on the issue dated November 16, 2002 for ten weeks (behind Eminem's "Lose Yourself"), becoming Missy Elliott's most successful single to date. It also reached number one for five weeks the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
The song is tied with Foreigner's 1981 hit "Waiting for a Girl Like You" as the longest-running U.S. number-two single that did not reach number one; both songs spent ten weeks at #2. A remix of this song features 50 Cent. The end of the song samples "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" by Bob James, and the synth pattern in the rhythm track samples the intro of "Heart of Glass" by Blondie.
On the Billboard magazine issue dated Feb. 21, 2015, "Work It" re-entered at #35, more than a decade after its original chart run. This re-entry occurred as a result of Elliott's performance at the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show earlier in the month; Elliott's other singles, "Get Ur Freak On" and "Lose Control" also re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 the same week.
The music video to "Work It" was directed by Dave Meyers. Timbaland, Eve and Tweet make cameos in the video, as well as a brief appearance by actress/dancer Alyson Stoner. Aaliyah (1979-2001) and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes (1971-2002), who at the time had both recently died, are commemorated in the music video with their images airbrushed on a car's hood. It also features an appearance by dancer and graffiti writer Mr. Wiggles from Rock Steady Crew. There is another music video that features 50 Cent rapping the first verse on the remix.
In shooting the video, director Myers shot the opening scene with live bumblebees; only one crew member was stung. Additionally, he forgot to replace a glass of wine with a glass of water when filming the restaurant scene, so Elliott was heavily drunk after production.
The video won the award for Video of the Year at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. In a 2010 interview with "Dance Spirit" Alyson Stoner revealed that she almost didn't go to the audition for "Work It" and her dancing is featured in a clean part of the video.
A portion of the song's lyrics helped popularize the slang term "badonkadonk" with mainstream audiences ("Love the way my butt go bum-bump-bum-bump-bump/Keep your eyes on my bum-bump-bum-bump-bump/And think you can handle this badonk-a-donk-donk").
During the chorus, the lyric "I put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it" is simply played backwards, a part many mistakenly assumed to be gibberish. In the middle of the song, after the lyric "Listen up close while I take you backwards", the lyric "Watch the way Missy like to take it backwards" is also played in reverse. This vocal reversing trend made it to several of her productions during the following years.
In the song's chorus, an elephant trumpeting is heard to hide a sexual reference ("If you got a big [elephant trumpet], let me search it"). There is no version of the song that replaces the elephant sound with a word it is meant to hide; there is no word to hide, as it is meant to be left to the listener's imagination. In both the explicit and edited versions, the song uses onomatopoeia such as "ra-ta-ta-ta" and "buboomp buboomp boomp" to refer to sexual bodily moves.
John Bush of allmusic described the song as "turn[ing] the tables on male rappers, taking charge of the sex game, matching their lewdest, rudest rhymes, and also featuring the most notorious backmasked vocal of the year." Bush cited the song as an example of Elliott's "artistic progression, trying to push hip-hop forward...neatly emphasizing her differences from other rappers by writing tracks for nearly every facet of the female side of relationships." However, conservative writer and activist L. Brent Bozell III criticized the song's production and lyrical content: "The only melody on this "minimalist" single sounds like a siren on a toy fire truck...The lyrics are unbelievably blunt, and far too obscene for a family newspaper. You'll have to turn to your children's favorite station to hear them. How can this trash not trickle down to the kids who love listening to the radio and watching MTV?"
Rolling Stone ranked "Work It" 25th in its list 100 Best Songs of the 2000s. In 2003, The Village Voice named "Work It" the best single of 2002 on their annual year-end critics' poll Pazz & Jop; "Get Ur Freak On", a previous Elliott single, topped the same poll a year earlier.
Formats and track listings
- "Work It" (Album Version)
- "Pussycat" (Album Version)
- "My People" (Basement Jaxx Remix) (video)
- All That "Hip Hop" (2005)
- "Images for Missy Elliott - Work It". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
- Moss, Corey (November 12, 2002). "Missy Elliott Speaks Gibberish To Janet Jackson On 'Work It' Set: VMA Lens Recap". MTV. Archived from the original on December 1, 2002.
- Sanneh, Kelefa (August 29, 2003). "A Win for Missy Elliott at Music Video Awards". New York Times. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Hip-Hop Teen Alyson Stoner
- "63. Missy Elliott "Work It" (2002)". The 100 Best Songs of The Complex Decade. Complex.com. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Guins, Radford (2009), Edited Clean Version: Technology and the Culture of Control, University of Minnesota Press, p. 152, ISBN 081664814X
- Bush, John. "Under Construction: Review". allmusic.com. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- Bozell, L. Brent III (January 16, 2003). "Sex on the radio". Media Research Center. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
- 25: Missy Elliott, 'Work It'
- Work It (CD single liner notes). Missy Elliott. Goldmind/Elektra. 2002.
- "Australian-charts.com – Missy Elliott – Work It". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
- "Ultratop.be – Missy Elliott – Work It" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
- "Ultratop.be – Missy Elliott – Work It" (in French). Ultratip.
- "Danishcharts.com – Missy Elliott – Work It". Tracklisten.
- "Lescharts.com – Missy Elliott – Work It" (in French). Les classement single.
- "Musicline.de – Missy Elliott Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – Missy Elliott – Work It" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
- "Charts.org.nz – Missy Elliott – Work It". Top 40 Singles.
- "Norwegiancharts.com – Missy Elliott – Work It". VG-lista.
- "Swisscharts.com – Missy Elliott – Work It". Swiss Singles Chart.
- "Swedishcharts.com – Missy Elliott – Work It". Singles Top 60.
- "Missy Elliott: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company.
- "Missy Elliott – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Missy Elliott.
- "Missy Elliott – Chart history" Billboard Pop Songs for Missy Elliott.
- "Missy Elliott – Chart history" Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for Missy Elliott.
- "Missy Elliott – Chart history" Billboard Hot Rap Songs for Missy Elliott.
- "The Billboard Hot 100 Singles & Tracks - Decade Year End Charts". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
Keazor, Henry; Thorsten Wuebbena: Video Thrills The Radio Star. Musikvideos: Geschichte, Themen, Analysen. 3rd. edition, Bielefeld 2011; ISBN 3899427289, pp. 83–113
Michael Rappe, Under Construction. 2 Vols., Cologne 2011
- "Work It" music video on YouTube
- Billboard chart data for "Work It"
- Full lyrics of the song at Allmusic
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