"Work It"
Missy elliott-work it.jpg
Single by Missy Elliott
from the album Under Construction
ReleasedSeptember 16, 2002 (2002-09-16)
StudioHit Factory Criteria (Miami)[1]
  • 4:53 (album version)
  • 4:25 (radio edit)
  • 5:04 (remix)
  • Timbaland
  • Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott singles chronology
"Crew Deep"
"Work It"
"Honk Your Horn"
Audio sample
Music video
"Work It" on YouTube

"Work It" is a hip hop song written by American rapper Missy Elliott and her producer Tim "Timbaland" Mosley for Elliott's fourth studio album Under Construction (2002). The song's musical style, and production by Timbaland, were heavily inspired by old school hip hop from the early 1980s. It samples Run-D.M.C.'s "Peter Piper" and Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three's "Request Line".

Released as the album's first single on September 16, 2002, the track reached the number two position on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Missy Elliott's most successful single to date. A remix of this song features 50 Cent. The end of the song samples "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" by Bob James and was also sampled in one of Missy's first features "The Things That You Do", and the synth pattern in the rhythm track samples the intro of "Heart of Glass" by Blondie.


A portion of the song's lyrics helped popularize the slang term "badonkadonk" with mainstream audiences ("Love the way my butt go bum-bump-bum-bump-bump/Keep your eyes on my bum-bump-bum-bump-bump/And think you can handle this badonk-a-donk-donk").[2]

During the chorus, the lyric "I put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it" has literally been reversed, a part many[who?] have assumed to be gibberish. In the middle of the song, after the lyric "Listen up close while I take you backwards", the lyric "Watch the way Missy like to take it backwards" is also played in reverse. This vocal reversing trend made it to several of her productions during the following years.

In the song's chorus, an elephant trumpeting is heard to hide a sexual reference ("If you got a big [elephant trumpet], let me search it"). There is no version of the song that replaces the elephant sound with a word it is meant to hide; there is no word to hide, as it is meant to be left to the listener's imagination. In both the explicit and edited versions, the song uses onomatopoeia such as "ra-ta-ta-ta" and "buboomp buboomp boomp" to refer to sexual bodily moves.[3]

Music video

The music video to "Work It" was directed by Dave Meyers. Timbaland and Tweet make cameos in the video. Alyson Stoner stars as Lead Kid Dancer. The video pays tribute to Aaliyah (1979–2001) and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes (1971–2002), who at the time had both recently died. They are commemorated in the music video with their images airbrushed on a car's hood. It also features an appearance by dancer and graffiti writer Mr. Wiggles from Rock Steady Crew. There is another music video that features 50 Cent rapping the first verse on the remix.

In shooting the video, director Myers shot the opening scene with live honey bees; only one crew member was stung. Additionally, he forgot to replace a glass of wine with a glass of water when filming the restaurant scene, so Elliott was heavily drunk after production.[4]

The video won the award for Video of the Year at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.[5] In a 2010 interview with "Dance Spirit", Alyson Stoner revealed that she almost didn't go to the audition for "Work It" and her dancing is featured in a clean part of the video.[6] "Work It" was choreographed by Hi-Hat.[7] Alyson Stoner won the role of Lead Kid Dancer out of 400 to 500 kids.[8] In 2018, Billboard critics ranked it 2nd among the "greatest music videos of the 21st century."[9]

Alyson Stoner tribute video

In 2015, 13 years after "Work It" came out Alyson Stoner reunited with her former co-stars to release a tribute dance video of "Work It" for Missy Elliott.[10] This was done after people had been asking her why she didn't dance with Missy Elliott and Katy Perry during the 2015 Super Bowl.[11][failed verification][12]

Critical reception

John Bush of AllMusic described the song as "turn[ing] the tables on male rappers, taking charge of the sex game, matching their lewdest, rudest rhymes, and also featuring the most notorious backmasked vocal of the year." Bush cited the song as an example of Elliott's "artistic progression, trying to push hip-hop forward...neatly emphasizing her differences from other rappers by writing tracks for nearly every facet of the female side of relationships."[13]

Rolling Stone ranked "Work It" 25th in its list "100 Best Songs of the 2000s".[14] In 2003, The Village Voice named "Work It" the best single of 2002 on their annual year-end critics' poll Pazz & Jop; "Get Ur Freak On", a previous Elliott single, topped the same poll a year earlier.

Chart performance

"Work It" debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 on chart issue dated September 14, 2002, at number 75.[15] In its second and third weeks, it leaped up to number 42 and number 24, respectively, taking the Airplay Gainer title in both weeks.[16][17] Within five weeks, it reached the top ten, at number 8, and gradually rose from there.[18] On the chart issue dated November 16, 2002, the song reached number 2, but because of the massive success of "Lose Yourself" by Eminem, it never reached number one. Instead, the song stayed at number two for ten weeks, a record that it shares with "Waiting for a Girl Like You" by Foreigner from 1981. Despite never topping the Hot 100 chart, the song topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for five weeks.

On the Billboard magazine issue dated February 21, 2015, "Work It" re-entered at number 35, more than a decade after its original chart run. This re-entry occurred as a result of Elliott's performance at the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show earlier in the month; another Elliott single, "Get Ur Freak On," also re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 the same week.[19]

Track listing

UK CD single[1]

  1. "Work It" (album version) – 4:25
  2. "Pussycat" (album version) – 3:36
  3. "4 My People" (Basement Jaxx Remix video) – 2:58

Charts and certifications

Release history

Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
United States September 16, 2002 [56]
September 30, 2002 Contemporary hit radio [57]
Australia November 4, 2002 CD [58]
United Kingdom
  • 12-inch vinyl
  • CD
  • cassette


  1. ^ a b Work It (UK CD single liner notes). Missy Elliott. The Goldmind Inc., Elektra Records. 2002. E7344CD, 7559-67344-2.((cite AV media notes)): CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  2. ^ "63. Missy Elliott "Work It" (2002)". The 100 Best Songs of The Complex Decade. Complex.com. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  3. ^ Guins, Radford (2009), Edited Clean Version: Technology and the Culture of Control, University of Minnesota Press, p. 152, ISBN 978-0816648146
  4. ^ Moss, Corey (November 12, 2002). "Missy Elliott Speaks Gibberish To Janet Jackson On 'Work It' Set: VMA Lens Recap". MTV. Archived from the original on December 1, 2002.
  5. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa (August 29, 2003). "A Win for Missy Elliott at Music Video Awards". New York Times. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  6. ^ Hip-Hop Teen Alyson Stoner
  7. ^ The Little Girl From The Missy Elliott Video Made A Missy Tribute Video And It’s Awesome
  8. ^ Interview: 15 Years After “Work It,” Alyson Stoner Talks Missy Elliott’s Character And Influence On Her Career
  9. ^ "The 100 Greatest Music Videos of the 21st Century: Critics' Picks". Billboard. July 24, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  10. ^ The little girl from Missy Elliott's videos proves she can still 'Work It'
  11. ^ Ungerman, Alex (February 12, 2015). "The Little Girl From Missy Elliot's Videos Recreated Her Moves in This Amazing Tribute". Entertainment Tonight.
  12. ^ Jefferson, J'na (November 10, 2017). "Alyson Stoner Discusses Missy Elliott's Impact On Her Career". Vibe. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  13. ^ Bush, John. "Under Construction: Review". AllMusic. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  14. ^ 25: Missy Elliott, 'Work It'
  15. ^ "The Hot 100 - The Week of September 14, 2002". Billboard. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  16. ^ "The Hot 100 - The Week of September 21, 2002". Billboard. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  17. ^ "The Hot 100 - The Week of September 28, 2002". Billboard. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  18. ^ "The Hot 100 - The Week of October 12, 2002". Billboard. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  19. ^ "The Hot 100 - The Week of February 21, 2015". Billboard. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  20. ^ "Missy Elliott – Work It". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  21. ^ "Issue 681" ARIA Top 40 Urban Singles. National Library of Australia. Retrieved February 27, 2022.
  22. ^ "Missy Elliott – Work It" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  23. ^ "Missy Elliott – Work It" (in French). Ultratip.
  24. ^ "Missy Elliott – Work It". Tracklisten.
  25. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 20, no. 48. November 23, 2002. p. 13. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  26. ^ "Missy Elliott – Work It" (in French). Les classement single.
  27. ^ "Missy Elliott – Work It" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts.
  28. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Work It". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  29. ^ "Missy Elliott – Work It". Top Digital Download.
  30. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Missy Elliott" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  31. ^ "Missy Elliott – Work It" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  32. ^ "Missy Elliott – Work It". Top 40 Singles.
  33. ^ "Missy Elliott – Work It". VG-lista.
  34. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  35. ^ "Missy Elliott – Work It". Singles Top 100.
  36. ^ "Missy Elliott – Work It". Swiss Singles Chart.
  37. ^ "Missy Elliott: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  38. ^ "Official R&B Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company.
  39. ^ "Missy Elliott Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  40. ^ "Missy Elliott Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard.
  41. ^ "Missy Elliott Chart History (Hot Rap Songs)". Billboard.
  42. ^ "Missy Elliott Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard.
  43. ^ "Missy Elliott Chart History (Rhythmic)". Billboard.
  44. ^ "Canada's Top 200 Singles of 2002 (Part 2)". Jam!. January 14, 2003. Archived from the original on September 6, 2004.
  45. ^ "UK Year-End Charts 2002" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  46. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 2002". Billboardtop100of.com. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  47. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs – Year-End 2002". Billboard. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  48. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Singles for 2003". ARIA. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  49. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 2003". Billboardtop100of.com. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  50. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs – Year-End 2003". Billboard. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  51. ^ "The Billboard Hot 100 Singles & Tracks – Decade Year End Charts". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  52. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2002 Singles" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved January 1, 2015.
  53. ^ "Italian single certifications – Missy Elliott – Work It" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved May 5, 2021. Select "2021" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Work It" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  54. ^ "British single certifications – Missy Elliot – Work It". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  55. ^ "American single certifications – Missy Elliot – Work It". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  56. ^ "Going for Adds" (PDF). Radio & Records. No. 1470. September 13, 2002. p. 45. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  57. ^ "Going for Adds" (PDF). Radio & Records. No. 1472. September 30, 2002. p. 31. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  58. ^ "The ARIA Report: New Releases Singles – Week Commencing 4th November 2002" (PDF). ARIA. November 4, 2002. p. 30. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 6, 2002. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  59. ^ "New Releases – For Week Starting 4 November 2002: Singles" (PDF). Music Week. November 2, 2002. p. 25. Retrieved August 30, 2021.


Keazor, Henry; Thorsten Wuebbena: Video Thrills The Radio Star. Musikvideos: Geschichte, Themen, Analysen. 3rd. edition, Bielefeld 2011; ISBN 3899427289, pp. 83–113

Michael Rappe, Under Construction. 2 Vols., Cologne 2011