The Weather Girls were the duo of Martha Wash and Izora Armstead, who stood out from other disco divas because of their voices and their size. Both honed their singing in church, and developed remarkably powerful voices. They were overweight and looked nothing like most other popular female singers (especially Diana Ross!), but that didn't deter the singer/producer Sylvester, who hired them to sing on his recordings, including the 1978 hit "Dance (Disco Heat)," which was released on Fantasy Records and made #19 in the US.
Soon after, Armstead and Wash got their own deal with Fantasy, and recorded as Two Tons O' Fun, scoring a few R&B hits before recording "It's Raining Men," prompted them to change the name of their act to The Weather Girls so it would suit the song.
Wash sang on many projects over the next several years, including songs by the groups C&C Music Factory ("Make You Sweat") and Black Box ("Strike It Up"). She was often uncredited and replaced in videos by models lip-synching her lines. She eventually sued for royalties and released a solo album under her own name. Armstead, who had more of a growl to her voice, died in 2004.
This song was specifically directed to the gay community and was quickly embraced in gay dance clubs. Like "Y.M.C.A.
" by The Village People, it became a gay anthem and later, a mainstream hit.
Even though the song was sung from the perspective of women, it objectified men in a way that was rarely heard in popular music. This message was not lost on gay listeners who heard it as a celebration of their culture.
This song was written by Paul Shaffer and Paul Jabara. Shaffer is David Letterman's bandleader; Jabara wrote "Last Dance" and "No More Tears" for Donna Summer. Jabara came up with the idea for the song (including the title) and asked Shaffer to work on it with him, which Shaffer was thrilled to do.
When they completed a demo of the song, Jabara offered it to Barbara Streisand and Diana Ross, but both turned it down. He then played it for Wash and Armstead, who were still recording as Two Tons O' Fun, and while Wash initially resisted, the duo agreed to record it.
It was a huge hit for The Weather Girls, who followed up with another rain-themed song, "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair," but never had another Top 40 hit. The duo split in the late '80s, but in 1992 Izora Armstead revived the act with her daughter Dynelle Rhodes taking over for Wash.
Speaking about what makes this song work in an episode of the TV series Unsung, the song's co-writer Paul Shaffer said: "It was the craziness of the concept combined with the serious conviction of Martha Wash's delivery."
Geri Halliwell, formerly a member of the Spice Girls, recorded this in 2001. Her version was used on the soundtrack to the movie Bridget Jones' Diary
. When released, the single shot straight to #1 for 2 weeks. This was Halliwell's fourth #1 single in a row, and it made her the British female artist with the most #1 singles (11 in total: seven with the Spice Girls and four of her own).
Halliwell's version was her fifth single. Her new ultra-thin image in the video caused a field day for the press, who came up with all sorts of ways she had achieved this - some included her reported bulimia.
The video, which was directed by Gary Keys, was a low budget affair but very memorable, with lots of buff guys wearing raincoats. It didn't get played on MTV (more evidence that they resisted songs by black artists), but was very popular in Europe and has attracted millions of views on YouTube.
The video was not a pleasant experience for Martha Wash, who recalls falling onto mattresses during the shoot that were infested with bugs.
This was used on an episode of the TV show Friends
when Chandler and Monica went to Las Vegas to see Chandler's dad to tell him they were getting married. Not long after they met him he sang this on stage.
The song returned to the UK Top 40 in February 2014 following a social media campaign to get it back in the charts. The campaign was driven by former UKIP councillor David Silvester blaming Britain's bad weather since the turn of the year on the government's decision to legalise gay marriage.
The song's American chart placing of #46 doesn't accurately reflect its popularity. It was a #1 Dance hit and endures as a club favorite.
In 1998, Martha Wash recorded a follow-up to this song with the acclaimed drag queen RuPaul called "It's Raining Men... The Sequel."