This song features Pitbull's RCA labelmate Kesha. The pair previously collaborated on the rapper's Rebultion
album track "Girls" as well as a remix of the "TiK ToK
" star's single "Crazy Kids
About a quarter of this song is devoted to Kesha "Whoo Whoo"-ing. If we consider this a vocal break, then here's how the song is structured:
Vocal Break 1 (Kesha): 15
Chorus 1 (Kesha) :15
Verse 1 (Pitbull): :15
Pre-Chorus 1 (Pitbull - "Swing your partner round and round..."): 15
Chorus 2 (Kesha) :30
Vocal Break 2 (Kesha): 15
Verse 2 (Pitbull): :15
Pre-Chorus 2 (Pitbull): :15
Chorus 3 (Kesha) :30
The last 30 seconds or so is more of the vocal break, with Kesha doing more of her vocalizations while Pitbull injects "Timber" from time to time.
So Kesha really carries the load here, with about 2:15 of the song devoted to her vocals (accordingly, she gets most of the screentime in the video). Pitbull shows up for about a minute. When he performed the song in concert, Pitbull would usually play a video of Kesha doing her parts.
A team of songwriters and producers worked on this track, with eight getting songwriting credits and more added later. Let's try to sort them out:
Producers: Dr. Luke and his frequent collaborator Cirkut, and also the English producer Sermstyle. They also received songwriting credits.
Writers: Kesha, her mom Pebe (who has written several songs with her daughter), Pitbull, Priscilla Renea, Breyan Isaac.
Around this time, many hit songs were written by committee, but not all: Pharrell Williams wrote "Happy
" on his own.
Pitbull told Ryan Seacrest that the use of a harmonica on the song was inspired by Avicii's hit single "Wake Me Up
." He explained: "I've been all around the world touring and it was a record from Avicii that was so big and had this country feel to it. This record came down produced by Dr Luke, Cirkut and Sermstyle, and I said, 'Man I need to get my hands on that'. And being on tour with Kesha, we hit it off, and what better than to have a crazy, sexy, cool, beautiful woman on it with me?"
The harmonica gives the song a country square dance vibe, which is accentuated in the pre-chorus, when Pitbull does his own variation of square dance calls. Traditionally, these calls go something like this:
Swing your partner round and round
Turn your corner upside down
Promenade your partner all around
Pitbull adds his own flair:
Swing your partner round and round
End of the night, it's going down
One more shot, another round
Lumberjacks yell "timber" when they cut down a tree. The title gives the song a rustic vibe and creates a play on the phrase "it's going down" - we know Pitbull won't be working in a forest anytime soon, so it becomes a big party metaphor.
When Pitbull raps:Face down, booty up
That's the way we like to...
This is an adaptation of a famously dirty lyric by 2 Live Crew (in their song "Face Down Ass Up") that helped embroil them in a controversy
over obscene song lyrics.
Rihanna was Pitbull's first choice to appear on the song, but she wasn't available as she was working with Shakira on the Colombian singer's "Can't Remember To Forget" single.
This was the second US chart-topper for Pitbull, who previously reached #1 with "Give Me Everything (Tonight)" in 2011. Kesha had reached the Hot 100 summit twice before, with "TiK ToK" and "We R Who We R," both in 2010.
The video was helmed by David Rousseau, a Miami-based director who has also worked on clips for Christina Aguilera and Shakira. Kesha and Pitbull are never on screen together: her scenes take place in a saloon, his on the beach. There are also donkeys.
Twerking was big around this time, and Miley Cyrus was the best-known twerker. Pitbull references her in the line:
I have 'em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off
Twerkin' in their bras and thongs
Songwriters Lee Oskar, Keri Oskar, and Greg Errico filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in June 2014 against the makers of "Timber," claiming it features a harmonica melody that is identical to the one used in Lee Oskar's 1978 song "San Francisco Bay." The lawsuit claims that while the record label obtained permission to use the sample from a license holder, it failed to obtain permission from the songwriters themselves.
Oskar is best-known for his work with the band War.
The song was surprisingly popular in Canada, where it stayed at #1 for eight weeks.
Some misheard the title as "Tinder," as in the dating app.