Work It (Missy Elliott song)

"Work It"
Single by Missy Elliott
from the album Under Construction
Released September 9, 2002 (2002-09-09)
Recorded 2002; The Hit Factory Crteria[1]
(Miami, Florida)
Length 4:58 (album version)
4:25 (promo version)
5:04 (remix)
Label Goldmind, Elektra
Missy Elliott singles chronology
"Crew Deep"
"Work It"
"Honk Your Horn"

"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, becoming Missy Elliott's most successful single to date. 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.

Music video

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 honey bees; 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.[2]

The video won the award for Video of the Year at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.[3] 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.[4]


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").[5]

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.[6]

Critical reception

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."[7]

Rolling Stone ranked "Work It" 25th in its list 100 Best Songs of the 2000s.[8] 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.

Chart performance

"Work It" debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 on chart issue dated September 14, 2002, at number 75.[9] In its second and third week, it leaped up to number 42 and number 24, respectively, taking the Airplay Gainer title in both weeks.[10][11] Within five weeks, it reached the top ten, at number 8, and gradually rose from there.[12] On the chart issue dated November 16, 2002, the song reached number 2, but because of the massive success of "Lose Yourself" by Eminem, it never reached number one. Instead, the song stayed at number two for ten weeks, a record that it shares with "Waiting for a Girl Like You" by Foreigner from 1981. Despite the song never topping the Hot 100 chart, the song topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for five weeks.

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 single, "Get Ur Freak On" also re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 the same week.[13]

Formats and track listings

CD single[14]

  1. "Work It" (Album Version)
  2. "Pussycat" (Album Version)
  3. "My People" (Basement Jaxx Remix) (video)

Charts and certifications

Weekly charts

Chart (2002–15) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[15] 6
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[16] 22
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[17] 2
Denmark (Tracklisten)[18] 11
France (SNEP)[19] 60
Germany (Official German Charts)[20] 32
Ireland (IRMA) 19
Italy (FIMI)[21] 23
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[22] 19
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[23] 12
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[24] 3
Norway (VG-lista)[25] 16
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[26] 15
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[27] 14
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[28] 6
US Billboard Hot 100[29] 2
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[30] 2
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[31] 1
US Hot Rap Songs (Billboard)[32] 1

Year-end charts

Year Chart Position
2002 US Billboard Hot 100[33] 54
2003 Australia (ARIA)[34] 36
US Billboard Hot 100[35] 36

Decade-end charts

Chart (2000–09) Rank
US Billboard Hot 100[36] 96


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[37] Multi-platinium 3,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Compilation appearances


  1. "Images for Missy Elliott - Work It". Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  2. 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.
  3. Sanneh, Kelefa (August 29, 2003). "A Win for Missy Elliott at Music Video Awards". New York Times. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  4. Hip-Hop Teen Alyson Stoner
  5. "63. Missy Elliott "Work It" (2002)". The 100 Best Songs of The Complex Decade. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  6. Guins, Radford (2009), Edited Clean Version: Technology and the Culture of Control, University of Minnesota Press, p. 152, ISBN 081664814X
  7. Bush, John. "Under Construction: Review". AllMusic. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  8. 25: Missy Elliott, 'Work It'
  9. "The Hot 100 - The Week of September 14, 2002". Billboard. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  10. "The Hot 100 - The Week of September 21, 2002". Billboard. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  11. "The Hot 100 - The Week of September 28, 2002". Billboard. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  12. "The Hot 100 - The Week of October 12, 2002". Billboard. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  13. "The Hot 100 - The Week of February 21, 2015". Billboard. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  14. Work It (CD single liner notes). Missy Elliott. Goldmind/Elektra. 2002.
  15. " – Missy Elliott – Work It". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  16. " – Missy Elliott – Work It" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  17. " – Missy Elliott – Work It" (in French). Ultratip.
  18. " – Missy Elliott – Work It". Tracklisten.
  19. " – Missy Elliott – Work It" (in French). Les classement single.
  20. " – Missy Elliott Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  21. " – Missy Elliott – Work It". Top Digital Download.
  22. "Nederlandse Top 40 – Missy Elliott search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  23. " – Missy Elliott – Work It" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  24. " – Missy Elliott – Work It". Top 40 Singles.
  25. " – Missy Elliott – Work It". VG-lista.
  26. " – Missy Elliott – Work It". Singles Top 100.
  27. " – Missy Elliott – Work It". Swiss Singles Chart.
  28. "Missy Elliott: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company.
  29. "Missy Elliott – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Missy Elliott.
  30. "Missy Elliott – Chart history" Billboard Pop Songs for Missy Elliott.
  31. "Missy Elliott – Chart history" Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for Missy Elliott.
  32. "Missy Elliott – Chart history" Billboard Hot Rap Songs for Missy Elliott.
  33. "Top 100 Songs of 2002 - Billboard Year End Charts". Bobborst. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  34. "ARIA Charts - End Of Year Charts - Top 100 Singles 2003". ARIA. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  35. "Top 100 Songs of 2003 - Billboard Year End Charts". Bobborst. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  36. "The Billboard Hot 100 Singles & Tracks - Decade Year End Charts". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  37. "American single certifications – Missy Elliot – WTF (Where They From)". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH


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

Preceded by
"Luv U Better" by LL Cool J
Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks number-one single
November 23, 2002 - December 21, 2002
Succeeded by
"Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)" by Erykah Badu featuring Common
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