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You Don't Know What to Do

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"You Don't Know What to Do"
Mariah Carey facing the camera with her arms up behind her head.
Single by Mariah Carey featuring Wale
from the album Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse
Released June 30, 2014 (2014-06-30)
Format Radio airplay
Recorded
Genre Disco
Length 4:47
Label Def Jam
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Carey
  • Dupri
  • Cox
Mariah Carey singles chronology
"You're Mine (Eternal)"
(2014)
"You Don't Know What to Do"
(2014)
"Infinity"
(2015)
Wale chronology
"Clappers"
(2013)
"You Don't Know What to Do"
(2014)
"Don't Shoot"
(2014)

"You Don't Know What to Do" is a song by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey included on her fourteenth studio album, Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse (2014), and features rapper Wale. The track was released on June 30, 2014, as the fourth single from the album. It was written by Wale, Carey, Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox, with production helmed by the latter three. The song contains an interpolation of "I'm Caught Up in a One Night Affair" written by Patrick Adams and Terri Gonzalez, both of whom received songwriting credits as a result. The single's artwork caused controversy when the media criticised Carey for photoshopping and re-using images of herself.

A disco revival song, the lyrics are about Carey being dissatisfied by her lover's failed attempts at romancing her. Despite being serviced to urban and rhythmic radio in the United States, Belgium and South Korea were the only territories where the song charted, peaking at number 14 on its Ultratip chart, which ranks the top songs that have yet to enter the main Ultratop 50 chart, and number 2 on the South Korea download chart. "You Don't Know What to Do" garnered critical acclaim amongst music critics: many complimented the disco revival and throwback style, calling it the best track on the album, and compared it to the works of Jocelyn Brown, Daft Punk, Chic and post-revivalist songs produced Pharrell Williams. Carey and Wale performed the song for the first and only time on the Today show in the United States.

Background and release[edit]

A man wearing a woollen hat holding a microphone, looking to his left.
American rapper Wale features on "You Don't Know What to Do".

"You Don't Know What to Do" was written by Carey, Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox, with featured artist Wale. The song interpolates a song called "I'm Caught Up in a One Night Affair", written by Patrick Adams and Terri Gonzalez and originally performed by Inner Life in 1979. Adams and Gonzalez are credited as songwriters as a result.[1] In August 2012, Cox revealed that he, Carey and Dupri had started working on Carey's then untitled fourteenth studio album, later revealed to be Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse, before the singer became pregnant with twins in 2010, and then resumed working on the project after she gave birth in 2011. "She was committed to making it before she got pregnant. Then she got pregnant and she took the time off. Then after she came back, we started really vibing again and we picked up right where we left off. I just feel like between Jermaine, myself and her, we came up with a few things that [are] really, really a solid body of work".[2]

In August 2013, Wale revealed that he had been in the studio with Carey, posting the message "Mariah x Wale x JD = coming soon" on his Twitter account.[3] Then, on May 16, 2014, Carey and Wale premiered their collaboration, revealed to be called "You Don't Know What to Do", live during a mini-concert for Today held by Carey.[4] Following the performance, Carey premiered the studio version on May 19 on The Russ Parr Morning Show radio show.[5][6] A solo version which omits Wale's rap verses was later released in June 2014.[7] The song was serviced to urban contemporary radio on June 30, 2014 and rhythmic contemporary radio on July 1, 2014, as the fourth single to be released from the album.[8][9]

Artwork controversy[edit]

When Carey released "You Don't Know What to Do" as the fourth single from the album, fans noticed that it's accompanying single artwork looked odd.[10] It was later revealed that the single artwork was a cropped version of the album cover for Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse, whereby her head had been swapped for another image in favor of one which was forward-facing, as well as an edited background.[11][12][13] Various media outlets criticized Carey for continuing to heavily airbrush and "recycle" images of herself.[14] In response, Carey expressed her discontent on Twitter, stating she had nothing to do with the selection of the single's artwork and in turn asked for fans to send in their artwork designs as alternatives, ending the message with "'cause at this point IDKWTD!", an abbreviation of the song's title.[10][14]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

"You Don't Know What to Do" is a disco revival song with elements of gospel, pop and R&B styles.[15][16][17] It lasts for a duration of four minutes and 46 seconds.[18] Several critics highlighted the track as following in the recent disco revivalism footsteps of Daft Punk, Justin Timberlake and posthumous Michael Jackson material.[17][19] The song begins with Carey singing about how she is in a dilemma as to whether or not she wishes to stay in a relationship with her lover, as he is no longer capable of romancing her. In response, Wale raps about how he is trying to woo her and is asking for a second chance. Carey then decides that it has been too long that Wale has not loved her for, and feels liberated for letting him go.[16] Kenneth Partridge of Billboard likened the string arrangement to Chic's 1979 single "Good Times".[20] Pitchfork Media writer Jordan Sargent compared "You Don't Know What to Do" to Carey's previous singles "Fantasy" (1995) and "Heartbreaker" (1999), but noted that it felt like a "logical extension of post-Pharrell disco revivalism".[21] Christina Lee for Idolator thought that the 70s disco feel embodied Daft Punk's 2013 single, "Get Lucky".[4]

Response[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

A woman with blond hair wearing a blue dress.
Fashion designer Donatella Versace described Carey and Wale's collaboration as "poetry".[22]

PopMatters writer Devone Jones described the song as "the most energetic track" on the album, and continued to write that the "skillful" lyrics allow Carey to perform "genuine harmonies" which are reminiscent of seventies dance songs.[21] Both Andy Kellman of AllMusic and Eric Henderson for Slant Magazine noted that Carey appeared to be channeling American dance singer Jocelyn Brown, with the former writer that she sounded like Brown more prominently in the intro, while the latter described "You Don't Know What to Do" as a "stunning" tribute to Brown's 1984 single "Somebody Else's Guy".[15][23] Henderson continued to write that "You Don't Know What to Do", along with another album track called "Meteorite", are two of Carey's "most serious-minded performances" on the album, further describing them as "galaxies away" from her 2008 single "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time".[15]

Billboard writer Kenneth Partridge complimented the song for its dance appeal, adding that the only thing missing was a cameo from Nile Rodgers.[20] Melinda Newman of HitFix praised the song's "playful" sentiment, writing that it was the best song that had been released from Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse so far.[16] Entertainment Weekly writer Melissa Maerz complimented the interpolation of "I'm Caught Up in a One Night Affair", describing it as "nostalgic", and further stated that Carey embodies the "bravado" of American singer Jennifer Holliday in the broadway musical Dreamgirls.[24] Digital Spy's Lewis Corner praised Dupri for producing a piano "disco stormer" with throwback appeal.[25] Mike Wass of Idolator thought that "You Don't Know What to Do" would have been worthy of being recorded by American disco singer Donna Summer.[26]

Jordan Sargent of Pitchfork Media praised its composition and noted that the disco and gospel genres are where middle-aged woman can "thrive", whereby Carey "fits in unsurprisingly well". He was, however, critical of the decision to include Wale on the song.[17] Similarly, Aisha Harris of Slate Magazine praised the song's production and Carey's vocals too, but also thought that Wale's rap verses were not required.[19] Conversely, fashion designer Donatella Versace, a friend of Carey's, told Vogue that she thought Carey's singing and Wale's rapping complimented each other on the song, describing it as "poetry", and that it made her want to get up and dance "all summer".[22]

Chart performance[edit]

"You Don't Know What to Do" debuted at number 45 on the Belgium chart, in the region of Wallonia on August 2, 2014.[27] The song broke into the top 40 the following week, charting at number 36.[28] It peaked at number 14 on September 6, spending six weeks on the chart in total.[29] The song also entered the South Korea International Digital Singles Chart at number 3 for the week ending May 31, 2014,[30] and number two on the Download Chart, with sales of 32,945 units.[31] In its second week, the song fell to number seven with sales of 11,991 units,[32] and again to number 11 in its third week with sales of 7,326 units.[33]

Live performance[edit]

Carey and Wale performed "You Don't Know What to Do" on the Today show on May 16, 2014.[4] The performance also included renditions of Carey's previous singles "Always Be My Baby" (1996) and "Touch My Body" (2008).[16]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse.[1]

Recording
  • Recorded at Rapture Studios, Bel Air, CA; Metrocity Studios, New York, NY; Studio at the Palms, Las Vegas, NV; Capital Studios, Hollywood, CA.
Sampling credits
  • Contains an interpolation of "I'm Caught Up in a One Night Love Affair", written by Patrick Adams and Terri Gonzalez.
Personnel

Charts[edit]

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United States June 30, 2014 Urban contemporary radio[8] Def Jam
July 1, 2014 Rhythmic contemporary radio[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Carey, Mariah (2014). Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse (Liner Notes) (Compact Disc). Mariah Carey. New York City, New York: Def Jam. 
  2. ^ Mitchell, John (August 2, 2012). "Mariah Carey's 'Triumphant' Single Is 'Close To Her Heart'". MTV News. Retrieved June 6, 2015. 
  3. ^ Morgan, Nakiya (August 5, 2013). "Wale Teases Mariah Carey And Jermaine Dupri Collaboration". MTV News. Retrieved June 6, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Lee, Christina (May 16, 2014). "Mariah Carey & Wale Debut 'You Don't Know What To Do' On 'Today': Watch". Idolator. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  5. ^ Lee, Christina (June 6, 2015). "Mariah Carey's "You Don't Know What To Do" Makes Its Radio Debut: Listen". Idolator. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  6. ^ "New Music: Mariah Carey f/ Wale – 'You Don't Know What To Do'". Rap-Up. May 19, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  7. ^ Wass, Mike (June 23, 2014). "Mariah Carey Does Not Approve Of Her "You Don't Know What To Do" Cover, Releases Solo Version". Idolator. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "You Dont Know What To Do". Frequency News. Retrieved June 6, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Top 40 Rhythmic Future Releases". All Access Music Group. Archived from the original on June 21, 2014. Retrieved June 21, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Corner, Lewis (June 23, 2014). "Mariah Carey criticises her own single artwork: 'Ugh!'". Digital Spy. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  11. ^ Carpenter, Cassie (June 22, 2014). "Not again! Mariah Carey recycles album cover for poorly retouched portrait on her new single You Don't Know What to Do". Daily Mail. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Mariah Carey Unveils Airbrushed Artwork For New Single 'You Don't Know What To Do'". PopDust. June 20, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Mariah Uses Photoshop To Revamp Old Photo For New Single Cover Art". Entertainment Tonight Canada. June 22, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  14. ^ a b Wass, Mike (June 23, 2014). "Mariah Carey Does Not Approve Of Her "You Don't Know What To Do" Cover, Releases Solo Version". Idolator. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b c Henderson, Eric (May 25, 2014). "Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse". Slant Magazine. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b c d Newman, Melinda (May 16, 2014). "Mariah debuts sassy new tune, 'You Don't Know What To Do' with Wale on 'Today'". HitFix. Retrieved June 5, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b c Sargent, Jordan (June 16, 2014). "Mariah Carey: Me. I Am Mariah...the Elusive Chanteuse". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse". iTunes Store (U.S.). Retrieved June 6, 2015. 
  19. ^ a b Harris, Aisha (May 19, 2014). "Mariah Carey Boards the Disco Revival Train With 'You Don't Know What To Do'". Slate. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  20. ^ a b Partridge, Kenneth (May 23, 2014). "Mariah Carey, 'Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse': Track-by-Track Review". Billboard. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  21. ^ a b Jones, Devone (July 7, 2014). "Mariah Carey: Me. I Am Mariah: The Elusive Chanteuse – PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  22. ^ a b "Donatella Reviews Mariah's New Album". Vogue. June 24, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  23. ^ Kellman, Andy (May 27, 2014). "Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse – Mariah Carey | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  24. ^ Maerz, Melissa (May 21, 2014). "Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  25. ^ Corner, Lewis (June 7, 2015). "Mariah Carey: Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse – Album review". Digital Spy. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  26. ^ Wass, Mike (May 27, 2014). "Mariah Carey's 'Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse': Album Review". Idolator. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  27. ^ "50 Ultratip – 02/08/2014". Ultratop (in French). August 2, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  28. ^ "50 Ultratip – 09/08/2014". Ultratop (in French). August 9, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  29. ^ a b "50 Ultratip – 06/09/2014". Ultratop (in French). September 6, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2015. 
  30. ^ a b "South Korea Gaon International Digital Chart (Week: 2014.05.25 to 2014.05.31)". Gaon Chart. June 1, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  31. ^ a b "South Korea Gaon International Download Singles Chart (Week: 2014.05.25 to 2014.05.31)". Gaon. June 1, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  32. ^ "South Korea Gaon International Download Singles Chart (Week: 2014.06.01 to 2014.06.07)". Gaon. June 7, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  33. ^ "South Korea Gaon International Download Singles Chart (Week: 2014.06.08 to 2014.06.014)". Gaon. June 14, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  34. ^ "You Don't Know What to Do" sold the following units each week on the South Korea International Download Chart:

External links[edit]