Monday, November 23, 2015

"She Works Hard for the Money" by Donna Summer

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1471
Date:  05/28/1983
Debut:  67
Peak:  3
Weeks:  21
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  Summer's self-titled second album for the Geffen label was another gold success thanks to the #10 showing of "Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)" (#3 Dance, #4 R&B). She had moved from her home label of Casablanca to Geffen after issues arose with label head Neil Bogart. But being at Geffen was no picnic either as she found out when her second album for the label got shelved and she was then forced to release one with Quincy Jones at the helm. Meanwhile, lawsuits were still being settled with Polygram (who took over Casablanca) and it was determined that Summer owed her old label one more album. Oddly, this gave her a bit of freedom and she chose to bring in producer Michael Omartian. He and Summer co-wrote most all of the tracks for the album "She Works Hard for the Money." This title track was issued as the first single and it hit pretty big. The song hit #1 at R&B while reaching #3 at both Dance and Pop. It would propel the album to #9 at Pop and #5 R&B. The album and single would be her biggest hits since 1979. The song got Summer a Grammy nod for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female.

ReduxReview:  With all the label and producer turmoil she had been going through, it was probably a nice relief for Summer to get hooked into the right producer/co-writer and get back to the music. This song is really a return to form and she just sounds inspired and freer that she has in years. It was the perfect vehicle to get her back near the top of the chart. Summer already had a few iconic songs in her catalog and she added another with this stellar outing. Although she would go on to have a late '80s hit (1989's #7 "This Time I Know It's for Real"), this would be the pinnacle of her success in the decade.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Summer based this song on an actual person she encountered at a restaurant. While dining at the famous Chasen's restaurant in L.A., Summer happened upon a restroom attendant who had fallen asleep. Summer startled her and the attendant, Onetta Johnson, apologized and explained that she works a full-time job during they day as well and she was just exhausted. Apparently, Summer thought at the moment "she works hard for the money" and that began the song. In addition to being the inspiration for the tune, Johnson also appears with Summer on the back cover of the album.  2) The memorable video was also very popular at the time and MTV put it into heavy rotation. That made Summer the first African American female to have a video get to that status on the channel. The video also got her two MTV Video Music Awards nominations for Best Female Video and Best Choreography. Again, she was the first African American female artist to receive nominations.


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