"Timber" features harmonica player Paul Harrington of Rockwall, Texas, who plays through the entire song. He was told to emulate Lee Oskar. The song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for three consecutive weeks, and has also topped the charts in many other countries, including Canada, where it has stood at number one for eight consecutive weeks, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark.
Kesha had previously featured Pitbull on remixes of her songs "Tik Tok" and "Crazy Kids", and Pitbull has featured Kesha on a 2009 song, "Girls". In an interview in December 2013, Pitbull said that Rihanna was originally meant to be the featured artist on "Timber", but she had already been asked to be the featured artist on Shakira's "Can't Remember to Forget You" and did not have time to record "Timber".
The song contains country and folk influences. According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Kobalt Music Publishing, the song is set in common time with a moderately fast tempo of 130 beats per minute. The song is written in the key of G♯ minor and follows a chord sequence of G♯m–B–F♯–E. Kesha's vocals span from G♯3 to D♯5.
"Timber" made its first chart appearance on October 7, 2013, in the Republic of Ireland, where it debuted at number 67 on the Irish Singles Chart. The following week, the song climbed to number 19. In Austria, "Timber" debuted at number 69 on the Austrian Singles Chart on October 18, 2013 and has now peaked at number 1. In Germany, the song debuted at number 90 on October 18, 2013 on the German Singles Chart and has since peaked at number 1.
Timber debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 26, 2013 at number 49, and topped the chart on January 18, 2014, giving Kesha her third number-one single after "Tik Tok" and "We R Who We R" as well as earning Pitbull his second number-one single, after 2011's "Give Me Everything". Before topping the Hot 100, it had been stuck at number 2 for 4 weeks, behind "The Monster" by Eminem featuring Rihanna. "Timber" is Kesha's eleventh top 10 song on the Hot 100 chart. "Timber" peaked at number 1 on the US Hot Digital Songs, and is Pitbull's first song to do so. "Timber" also peaked at number 1 on the US Rap Songs chart. It is the first #1 single of 2014 in the US, and stood at number one for three consecutive weeks. In the Billboard Hot 100 has been 4 consecutive weeks at the number two, three consecutive week at the number one, then again at the number two for one week. It reached its 4 million sales mark in the US in May 2014. As of August 2014, the song has sold 4,260,000 digital copies in the US.
In Canada, the song debuted at number 17 on the Canadian Hot 100 as the week's highest debut and climbed steadily to number 1, where it has stood for eight consecutive weeks.
In the United Kingdom, "Timber" debuted at the top of the UK Singles Chart on January 5, 2014―for the week ending date January 11, 2014―shifting 139,000 copies in its first week. This gave both artists their third chart-topping singles in Britain.
In South Korea, "Timber" debuted at number 16 on Gaon International Chart, but it debuted at number 13 on Gaon Download International Chart with 6,522 downloads. In its second week it reached number 2 on the International Chart. On the download chart, it jumped to number 3, selling another 15,276 copies. "Timber" sold 68,321 copies during 2013 in South Korea. During January 2014, the single sold other 16,515 copies, and during February sold 15,482 digital units. During March 2014,other 13,975 units were sold in South Korea.
Kesha filmed her scenes on November 5, 2013 while Pitbull filmed his scenes one week later on November 12, 2013. The video also features a cameo by The Bloody Jug Band, an Orlando-Based Americana Group, who perform on stage as the bar's house band. The music video also features the Italian model Raffaella Modugno and first premiered on Pitbull's official Facebook page on November 24, 2013.
On June 25, 2014, it was reported that songwriters Lee Oskar, Keri Oskar, and Greg Errico had filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the makers of "Timber", which features a harmonica melody that Oskar claims is "identical" to the melody used in his 1978 song "San Francisco Bay". The songwriters are seeking $3 million in damages. The lawsuit alleges that while Sony Music may have obtained permission to use the sample, which is credited in the album notes for Meltdown, from a license holder, the label failed to obtain permission from the songwriters themselves.