What Is Love

Album: Haddaway (1992)
Charted: 2 11


  • Haddaway (born Alexander Nestor Haddaway, January 9, 1965) is a Trinidadian Eurodance and House musician. He grew up in Europe and the United States, and has lived in Cologne, Germany since 1989. This was his only big hit in the US, but he had several more in Europe. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Marcel - Durban, South Africa
  • Although the song is an upbeat dance track, the lyrics are rather gut-wrenching, as Haddaway sings about trying to love a girl who won't love him back.

    The song was written by Haddway's producers, Dee Dee Halligan and Junior Torello. Halligan is a German producer who also goes by the name Tony Hendrik, and Torello is a female producer/lyricist better known as Karin Hartmann. Together, they formed the label Coconut Records, which signed Wolfgang Petry and Andreas Martin. As Halligan tells it, Haddaway was singing on demos in the basement of Coconut's studios when he decided to have him record "What Is Love." Coconut released the single in Germany in 1992, and later that year it was picked up by the UK label Logic and the American label Arista. In the UK, it made #2 in June 1993, and in the US it reached its #11 peak position in October 1993.

    Halligan and Torello also wrote and produced the next Haddaway hit: "Life (Everybody Needs Somebody To Love)," which made #2 in the UK and #41 in America.
  • This song gained popularity when it was used in a recurring Saturday Night Live sketch about three guys who go clubbing. They dress alike - in outdated fashion - and torment women at the clubs by forcing their dancing upon them. There is very little dialogue in the sketches, and this song plays throughout, with the three men bobbing their heads in unison. In 1998, the skit was extended to a full-lenth movie called A Night At The Roxbury.

    The two regular performers in the skit (and movie) were SNL cast members Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan. The host of the show would often be their third man in the bits - Jim Carrey and Sylvester Stallone each did a turn as the head-bobbing swingers.
  • In a takeoff on the Saturday Night Live bit, this song was used in a 2008 Super Bowl commercial for Pepsi Max. In the bit, various folks are seen nodding off, but after taking some swigs of Pepsi's elixir, they wake up and their nodding takes on the rhythm of the song. Celebrities appearing in the ad include LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott. At the end of the spot, a piqued Chris Kattan yells, "stop it" to some enthusiastic nodders.
  • Eminem sampled this song on his 2010 track "No Love."
  • The Canadian songstress Kiesza covered this Eurodance tune, transforming it into a vulnerable, heart-rending ballad. She explained to Redbull.co.uk: "I've always loved the song, but I noticed that this songs makes you feel great and get up and dance, but then I listened to the lyrics and I was like, 'wait a minute, this song is so depressing. It's so sad. How did I not notice?' There's a whole aspect of the song that you don't tap into."

    "So I thought I'd strip away everything and let the story of the song be told. I feel like the original is about the vibe and the track than it is about the song. My version is almost like a ballad version of it."
  • In "The Merger" episode of The Office in season three, Andy helps Michael sing this during a meeting when Michael's CD player won't work.

Comments: 2

  • Maria from Knoxville, TnActually, Liz, the very first incarnation of the Roxbury guys was when Jim Carrey was host. On the show they nearly always had three guys, it wasn't until the movie came out that they made it just the two brothers (Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan). In fact, sketch wise, there were only two times where it was just Ferrell and Kattan.
  • Liz from Sacramento, CaNope, it was only two guys who normally went clubbing in the Saturday Night Live sketches. The only time there were three was when someone else happened to join them in the sketch, like one time when Tom Hanks was the guest-host.
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