T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)

Album: single release (2011)
Charted: 3 36

Songfacts®:

  • Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am debuted this ode to going hard on October 6, 2011 at a gig in London. The track features Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger whilst Pop singer Jennifer Lopez croons the hook.
  • The song was produced by Jimmy Iovine, Audiobot, Dallas Austin and will.i.am. Back in the 1980s Iovine helmed albums for the likes of U2, Bruce Springsteen and Dire Straits. However, after founding Interscope Records in 1990 he took a back seat from twiddling the knobs and this was the first song he'd contributed to the production for decades.
  • Will.i.am debuted the song at the November 20, 2011 American Music Awards at the Nokia Theater with Lopez also performing live whilst Jagger performed on video.
  • Will.i.am originally presented the track to Iovine without featured artists as a finished work and was surprised when the label head requested that he add performers to the song. "I went to play material for the label and Jimmy Iovine's like, 'Yo, this is dope. Who are you gonna put on it?,'" he recalled to Rolling Stone. "I'm like, 'What are you talking about? It's finished, it's me.' So, he's like, 'Oh, you don't feature no one?'"

    Thinking quickly, will.i.am threw out a name that he thought would never happen "So I think of the hardest thing ever. And it happened, Mick Jagger. I just wanted to throw something out there that I thought could never be possible so they would stop asking me."
  • The song marked Jagger's first solo top 40 entry on the Hot 100 since "Let's Work" peaked at #39 in 1987.
  • After persuading Mick Jagger to appear on this song, Jimmy Iovine told will.i.am that he'd never worked with the Rolling Stones frontman before. The Black Eyed Peas leader recalled to The Boombox: "Jimmy was like, 'When I was younger I wanted to be Mick Jagger. What A Tribe Called Quest is to you, that was Mick for me.' We are talking about someone who has produced everyone and their mom from John Lennon to Bruce Springsteen. So I asked Jimmy, 'Why don't you produce Mick's vocals?' When was the last time Jimmy produced? I was like, 'Let me bring you out of retirement.'"

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