Boo'd Up

Album: Ella Mai (2017)
Charted: 52 5
  • Originally released as a single from Ella Mai's 2017 Ready EP, "Boo'd Up" slowly gained traction before becoming the English R&B singer's first Hot 100 hit the following year. Mai credits the track's popularity to its nostalgic feel and catchy chorus, explaining to Billboard:

    "The song's content is very innocent and very loving, something any age group can relate to. Everyone has been in a situation where, as I say in the song, they're head over heels in love with someone. No else really matters at that point. It's just about that person."
  • The music video, which features a cameo from Khalid, strikes a balance between innocence and romance. Mai describes the clip as having "more of a fun feel: kind of like a date night with the person I'm talking about."

    She added, "I didn't want the video to be overly romantic... there's a story line but it's more so about capturing different moments with friends and then just myself and my love interest."
  • Ella Mai co-wrote the song with Joelle James (Chris Brown's "4 Seconds", Kevin Hart's "Scream") and California producer DJ Mustard (Tyga's "Rack City," Rihanna's "Needed Me"). Asked by Genius how came up with the phrase "boo'd up," Mai replied:

    "We were trying to have it as a double meaning. It's like the sound of a heart beat-ish. It's the closest we could get it to the sound of a heartbeat, so the badoo boodup, and if you think about heartbeat like badoom badoom badoom badoom type of thing. And then boo'd up obviously just having a boo and making it a phrase. It was a really clever way of putting the two together, and I think it makes it super catchy. We just came up with it."
  • Ella Mai explained to Genius how they incorporated into the instrumentation the song's lyrical description of being caught up in an all-encompassing relationship.
    "We tried to incorporate both our heartbeat and being boo'd up with your boo," she said. "If you think about a heartbeat, like 'ba-dum ba-dum ba-dum,' we did it close enough to where it can be melodic and catchy and still make sense without it sounding like I'm talking gibberish."
  • It was Berklee College of Music graduate Joelle James who wrote the original version of the song in 2014. She had been discovered by Chris Brown on YouTube and was signed to Breezy's Interscope imprint, CBE (Culture Beyond Experience). The label attempted unsuccessfully to market James as a "white soul singer," and it was during this period she penned "Boo'd Up."

    After being dropped by Interscope, James signed a publishing deal with Roc Nation and she finally found a home for this song after hooking up with DJ Mustard.
  • James wrote "Boo'd Up" in just a quarter of an hour. She told The Fader the story of the song:

    "All I knew was that I was in a situation where I wanted to tell this boy how I felt about him and I really couldn't. The only way I could was through music and a song. I wrote it and it literally almost wrote itself. I started off the first line, 'Feelings, so deep in my feelings,' and the whole thing kind of wrote itself from a real raw, authentic place that I was feeling at the moment.

    Even the hook, that was so unexpected because like I said, I had a short amount of time so I just wanted to get something good done and make it worth it."
  • The "boo'd up" hook was just James scatting. She explained: "I'm a real musical person, I went to Berklee College of Music so that's really in my roots so I was just scatting on that and a jazzy type vibe. I didn't even realize I said 'boo'd up' until I was done. I felt like I needed to add lyrics and I listened to it a couple of times... then I was just like, I think I just want to leave it, I kind of like how it says boo'd up. That's how I wanted to get across to the dude that I was interested in at the time so I just kept it. I knew from that moment leaving that it was a really special song."
  • The song made it all the way to the top of the US R&B chart. Ella Mai was the first female Brit to reach the summit since Lisa Stansfield hit #1 with "All Woman" back in 1992.
  • This won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song.
  • Ella Mai told The Guardian that "Boo'd Up" had been knocking around in a pile of demos for years. Mustard only dusted off the track when he and the songstress were putting the finishing touches to her three EP releases. "Mustard just randomly came across it," Ella remembered. "He said: 'Do you like this?' I said: 'Yeah.'"

    There was no magic or drama to the song's recording, she added. "I know you want to hear an exciting story," the British singer laughed. "It was just another session. I recorded it, and the EP was done. Such a boring story."


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