Work Bitch

Album: Britney Jean (2013)
Charted: 7 12

Songfacts®:

  • This club banger was released as the first single off Britney Spears' eighth album. It was written by:

    Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am, who executive-produced the record.

    Swedish DJ and music producer Otto Knows, who had a Europe-wide hit with his song, "Million Voices."

    Irish singer-songwriter, Ruth-Anne Cunningham, who at the age of 17 won an ASCAP Pop Award for co-penning JoJo's hit "Too Little, Too Late."

    Anthony Preston, who has worked closely with Will.i.am as well as with co-penning Nicole Scherzinger's "Boomerang."
  • Sebastian Ingorsso of the EDM trio Swedish House Mafia was also listed as a songwriter, but spoke out to distance himself from the track. He explained that he passed along a song created by his protégé Otto Knows to the Black Eyed Peas frontman for Spears' new project. "I don't really know why they put my name in there," Ingrosso told Billboard magazine. "It's a really good song and I'm looking forward to what's going to happen with it. But I can't really take credit for it."

    Ingrosso previously worked with will.i.am on his 2012 UK chart-topper, "This is Love" alongside his SDM colleague Steve Angello and Swedish hitmaker Max Martin.
  • The club ready tune opens with Spears giving fans a pep talk about releasing their potential:

    "You want a hot body?
    You want a Bugatti?
    You want a Maserati?
    You better work bitch!"

    Britney previously used the 'b' word when she introduced her 2007 single "Gimme More" with the iconic phrase "It's Britney, bitch." Will.i.am later interpolated a sample of the phrase on his 2012 collaboration with Spears, "Scream & Shout."
  • Britney assumes a British accent in this song, perhaps because her name is BRITney, but possibly so she could let loose in character like Nicki Minaj does in some of her songs (Nicki also uses the accent in interviews from time to time). Madonna and Lady Gaga have both been known to speak in the British tongue from time to time as well, so this certainly has precedent.
  • The "you better work" call to action and its variant "work it" were popularized by RuPaul, who before his bout with reality TV stardom on the show RuPaul's Drag Race had a 1993 Dance hit (#45 on the Hot 100) with "Supermodel," where he used "work" in the fashionista sense where it means to present yourself with confidence, especially on the runway. The phrase "Work It" wormed its way into the popular lexicon as encouragement for just about any kind of performance, but Britney uses it in a far more literal sense, explaining that a hot body requires hard work, as does the attainment of luxury goods.
  • The song title and lyrics caused some radio programmers concern, leading to some stations playing an edited version titled "Work Work." It's not the first Britney release to be censored - the video for her racy chart-topping single "3" substituted the word "this" for the word "sin" during the pre-chorus.
  • The steamy music video was directed by Ben Mor ("Scream & Shout") and shot between September 7-10 in Malibu, California. The S&M themed clip finds Britney portraying a dominatrix bad girl who seductively whips her dancers into shape. Mor commented: "You can't have soft visuals for a song called 'Work Bitch,' and we sure as hell didn't."

    Spears admitted during an interview with the TJ Show on Boston's AMP 103.3 that she toned down what was originally filmed. "We showed way more skin and did way more stuff for the video than what is actually there," Spears said. "I cut out, like, half the video because I am a mother; I have children. And it's hard to play sexy mom while you're being a pop star as well, but I have to just be true to myself and feel it out when I do stuff."
  • Despite being released as the lead single from Britney Jean, the album doesn't necessarily take all of its cues from the tune's vibe. "That song is a reflection of Britney more so than the album," will.i.am told Billboard magazine. "The album is what the album is, but we felt that song needed to come out to keep the foundation on what Britney represents. But it shouldn't reflect the album -- an album is a body of work as a collective. If we had to pick a song like, 'Oh, what song fits every color of the record,' you shouldn't do that… We felt that song represents 'Piece Of Me,' that Britney oomph."
  • Asked about her use of the word bitch in this song, Britney explained to UK chat show host Alan Carr that it was a reference for her gay following. "I don't call everyone… that word. I just use it as, it's like in respect to the gays as a term of endearment," she said. "It's like a street slang for everyone, you know, like you get to work, that's what you do when you get to work and it's like, cool."
  • Britney told Alan Carr that she had expert tuition for the scene in the song's video where she whips one of the dancers. "We had a whip instructor come in and actually show me how to use it, and actually bring it around the back of my head, and actually use it, and it you do it the wrong way you can actually hurt yourself and cut yourself with it, because it's really powerful," she said. "They're really strong."

Comments: 1

  • Sara from Medford, NjIt's a good song to work out to.
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