U Can't Touch This

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"U Can't Touch This"
Single by MC Hammer
from the album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em
B-side"Dancin' Machine"
ReleasedJanuary 13, 1990
FormatCD single, 12" vinyl, cassette
Recorded1989
GenreHip hop
Length4:17
LabelCapitol (US)
Writer(s)Stanley Burrell, Rick James, Alonzo Miller
ProducerMC Hammer
Certification5x Platinum (RIAA, CRIA)
MC Hammer singles chronology
"They Put Me in the Mix"
(1989)
"U Can't Touch This"
(1990)
"Have You Seen Her"
(1990)
 
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"U Can't Touch This"
Single by MC Hammer
from the album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em
B-side"Dancin' Machine"
ReleasedJanuary 13, 1990
FormatCD single, 12" vinyl, cassette
Recorded1989
GenreHip hop
Length4:17
LabelCapitol (US)
Writer(s)Stanley Burrell, Rick James, Alonzo Miller
ProducerMC Hammer
Certification5x Platinum (RIAA, CRIA)
MC Hammer singles chronology
"They Put Me in the Mix"
(1989)
"U Can't Touch This"
(1990)
"Have You Seen Her"
(1990)

"U Can't Touch This" is a hit single written, produced and performed by MC Hammer from his 1990 album, Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em. The track became Hammer's signature song and is perhaps one of his most recognizable records. In addition, it's considered to be one of his most popular/successful singles to date.

Along with Hammer, Rick James shared songwriting credits with Alonzo Miller, because the song samples the prominent opening riff of "Super Freak". The single has been used or referenced in multiple television shows, films, commercials and other forms of media. It has also received numerous awards and recognitions.

The song lyrics (in particular "You can't touch this" and "Stop, Hammer time!") became pop culture catchphrases.

Song details and production history[edit]

The song received its debut during a live performance on a late 1989 episode of The Arsenio Hall Show.[1]

The lyrics describe the rapper as having "toured around the world, from London to the Bay" and as being "magic on the mic", which Hammer says coincides with Rick James' "beat that you can't touch". Additionally, the song lyrics (in particular "You can't touch this" and "Stop, Hammer time!") became pop culture catchphrases, making obvious and subtle references on television, film and radio. The lyrics, Hammertime, later became the title of a reality show featuring MC Hammer on the A&E Network (in the summer of 2009). It's also one of Hammer's nicknames.[2]

After the song was released, Rick James sued Hammer for infringement of copyright since the song samples the prominent opening riff of "Super Freak", which is repeated throughout the recording. The suit was settled out of court when Hammer agreed to credit James as co-composer, effectively cutting James in on the millions of dollars the record was earning.

In April 1990 "U Can't Touch This" hit the Top 40. The song also secured a Best R&B Song and a Best Rap Solo Performance in 1991, a new category at the time. The single was a major success, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[3] The track also performed successfully in other parts of the world, peaking at #1 in Australia, Netherlands, New Zealand and Sweden, and #3 on the UK singles chart.[4]

Impact on album sales[edit]

Overall, the album sold more than 18 million copies,[5] primarily due to this single and gained multi-platinum certifications from the RIAA, as well as in other countries.

A 1990 compilation album of then-current chart hits (besides Hammer's other compilation albums) was released in Australia by EMI under this songs title, which also featured it as the first track.

Music video[edit]

Directed by Rupert Wainwright, a music video was produced to promote the single, showing Hammer doing some of his signature dances, such as "The Running Man" and "Hammer Dance".[6]

In September 1990, the video for "U Can't Touch This" won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Rap Video and Best Dance Video and was nominated for Best Male Video, Best Editing, and Best Choreography.

Additional accolades and recognitions[edit]

See also: M.C. Hammer's chronological summary of recognitions/awards/accolades

In 1999, MTV's 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made included "U Can't Touch This" at No. 71. In October 2000, VH1's "100 Greatest Dance Songs" included "U Can't Touch This" at No. 88. In May 2001, VH1's 100 Greatest Videos included "U Can't Touch This" at No. 59.

In August 2005, "U Can't Touch This" was certified gold. In December 2007, VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s" included the song at No. 16. During 2008, the song ranked as No. 26 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.[7]

In 2010, the song ranked as No. 6 on AOL Radio's list of the worst songs ever.[8]

Usage in media, cover versions and popular culture[edit]

The song and lyrics, or derivatives thereof, have been used in numerous movies, shows, commercials and video games including: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990), Hot Shots! (1990), In Living Color (1990), The Super (1991), Doogie Howser, M.D. (1992), Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996), Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), Sione's Wedding (2006), Borat (2006), Into the Wild (2007), Tropic Thunder (2008), Dancing with the Stars (2009) and the 2009 video game Just Dance, among many others.

Before the 1990 NFL season started, the Miami Dolphins parodied the song as "U Can't Touch Us".[9] Early in their career, Boston-based grindcore band Anal Cunt often included a novelty song cover of "U Can't Touch This" in their live set. Their compilation album, The Early Years: 1988-1991 features a recording of them performing this song in 1991. The lyrics "Like a Hammer before me, you can't touch this" is included on the song, "Trapped on the Dance Floor" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince (from the 1991 album, Homebase). Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song, in their own signature style, in their 1991 album The Chipmunks Rock the House. "U Can't Touch This" was featured in a South African commercial for Castle Light Beer, and is currently being used in adverts for Carex hand soap.

In 1991, a parody entitled "I Can't Watch This" was released by "Weird Al" Yankovic for his album Off the Deep End. Lyrics about watching a bad TV program were overlaid on the song's music track. A groove metal cover of the song was performed by the Austrian NDH band Stahlhammer, infused with death growls and heavy guitar riffs. Additionally, the song is sampled on rapper Big Sean's song, "Dance (A$$)", from his debut album, Finally Famous: The Album.

In The Simpsons episode "Bart Gets Famous", Bart records an "I Didn't Do It" rap with the backing track of the song. In a South Park episode titled "Simpsons Already Did It", 'Hammer time!' is used as code word by Tweek to alert the others. Oscar the Fish sings the song while threatening the sharks in Shark Tale (2004). A parody of the song entitled, "Can't Touch Me", was sung by Peter Griffin in the Family Guy episode, "E. Peterbus Unum". "U Can't Touch This" was referenced in the The Fairly OddParents episode "Chindred Spirits". When Cosmo says, "Hammer Time!", a hammer appears and conks his head after he briefly dances in Hammer pants. A parody of the song titled "U Can't Squash This" was sung by The Annoying Orange.[10]

In the Dead Island videogame, there is a Trophy/Achievement called "Can't Touch This", earned for killing 15 zombies in a row without receiving damage while using any kind of hammer in the game. The champions Jayce and Malzahar, from the multiplayer online battle arena game called League of Legends, also dance in the same manner as MC Hammer does in the 'U Can't Touch This' video when the "dance command" is used. In the MMORPG World of Warcraft Orc male, also dance in the same manner as MC Hammer does in the 'U Can't Touch This' video when the "dance command" is used. A parody of the song, called "Can't Wrap This", is featured on a Christmas video eCard.

A cover version of the song was featured in the May 4, 2010 episode of TV series, Glee, as well as in the fourth episode of the reality show, The Glee Project. In the 6th season opening of TV series, Dexter, (episode titled "Those Kinds of Things"), the "U Can't Touch This" song plays at a high school reunion, as the character says: "I have no idea what 'Hammer time' is. Or how it differs from regular time." At the end of the show, he kills his victim with a hammer and says "Sorry, Hammer time." In a Victorious episode titled, "The Gorilla Club", Jade made a bet with Andre and Robbie, which she won resulting in the boys having to dance when she said "Hammertime" (although, as heard in the episode, it seems they are dancing to "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot rather than "U Can't Touch This"). In a Psych episode titled "There Might Be Blood", Shawn bashes a pretend hammer then says, 'Stop! Hammer time!'. A reference to the song was present in "Red Is The New Black" episode of Feb 2, 2012 of TV series, The Mentalist during a witness interview. Quote: "Forget about it, you cant touch them. - Really? - Really. Like Mc Hammer".

The German translation Halt! Hammerzeit is an internet meme.[11] A parody of the song, called "U Can't Touch Mormon Jesus", became an Internet phenomenon after first being uploaded by user igiulamam. It parodies both the song and a video entitled "The Secret World of Mormonism", which tells the story of Mormonism.[12][13] Hugh Atkin, uploader of the viral "Will the Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up?", uploaded a parody of "U Can't Touch This" featuring clips of U.S. President Barack Obama and various others speaking together into the form of a rap titled "U Didn't Build That."

In Chile, the song was featured on soundtrack of Chilean soap opera Graduados. Furthermore, the song was used the Chilean shopping Almacenes Paris called "Liquidación" in 2013.

In Minecraft 1.2.3, there was the command /stophammertime which would stop the server.

Chart performance[edit]

Peak positions[edit]

Chart (1990)Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart[14]1
Austrian Singles Chart[15]5
Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders)[16]1
Canadian RPM Singles Chart[17]8
Dutch GfK chart[18]1
Dutch Top 40[19]1
French Singles Chart[20]1
Germany (Media Control AG)[21]2
Irish Singles Chart[22]3
New Zealand Singles Chart[23]1
Norwegian Singles Chart[24]6
Polish Singles Chart[25]2
Swedish Singles Chart[26]1
Swiss Singles Chart[25]2
UK Singles Chart[4]3
US Billboard Hot 100[3]8
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play[3]6
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[3]1
US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks[3]1
US Billboard Hot Rap Singles[3]1

End of year charts[edit]

End of year chart (1990)Position
Australia[27]2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[28]55

Rick James Lawsuit[edit]

U Can't Touch This makes heavy use of the opening riff from the 1980 Rick James song Super Freak. Along with Felton Pilate and other Rick James group members, Rick James sued Hammer for infringement of copyright, but the suit was settled out of court when Hammer agreed to credit James as co-composer, effectively cutting James in on the millions of dollars the record was earning.[29]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This (Live @ Arsenio Hall). Metacafe.
  2. ^ Hammertime - A&E TV
  3. ^ a b c d e f "allmusic ((( MC Hammer > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Retrieved June 30, 2009 (2009-06-30). 
  4. ^ a b "Chart Stats — MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This". Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  5. ^ "allmusic ((( Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em > Review )))". Retrieved June 30, 2009 (2009-06-30). 
  6. ^ MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This - YouTube
  7. ^ 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s
  8. ^ Wilkening, Matthew (September 11, 2010). "100 Worst Songs Ever -- Part Five of Five". AOL Radio. Retrieved December 25, 2010. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlGkIkhrs4I
  11. ^ Urban Dictionary: Halt! Hammerzeit!
  12. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46PXaJxzuDE
  13. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3BqLZ8UoZk
  14. ^ "australian-charts.com — MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This". Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  15. ^ "MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This — austriancharts.at". Retrieved June 30, 2009.  (German)
  16. ^ Belgian peak
  17. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 52, No. 9, July 14, 1990". RPM. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  18. ^ "dutchcharts.nl — MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This". Retrieved June 30, 2009.  (Dutch)
  19. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 - Week 31, 1990". Retrieved June 30, 2009.  (Dutch)
  20. ^ "lescharts.com — MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This". Retrieved June 30, 2009.  (French)
  21. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  22. ^ "irishcharts.ie search results". Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  23. ^ Hung Medien. "U can't touch this in New Zealand Chart". Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  24. ^ "norwegiancharts.com — MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This". Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  25. ^ a b "MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This — hitparade.ch". Retrieved June 30, 2009.  (German)
  26. ^ "swedishcharts.com — MC Hammer — U Can't Touch This". Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  27. ^ ARIA Charts - End of Year Charts - Top 50 Singles 1990
  28. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1990". Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  29. ^ "MC Hammer: Biography from". Answers.com. Retrieved 2010-10-22. 

External links[edit]