Word Up! (song)

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"Word Up!"
Single by Cameo
from the album Word Up!
B-side"Urban Warrior"
ReleasedMay 27, 1986
Format7" single, 12" single, CD single
Recorded1986
GenreR&B,[1] funk[2]
Length3:25
LabelAtlanta Artists
Writer(s)Larry Blackmon, Tomi Jenkins
Producer(s)Larry Blackmon
Cameo singles chronology
"Single Life"
(1985)
"Word Up!"
(1986)
"Candy"
(1986)
 
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"Word Up!"
Single by Cameo
from the album Word Up!
B-side"Urban Warrior"
ReleasedMay 27, 1986
Format7" single, 12" single, CD single
Recorded1986
GenreR&B,[1] funk[2]
Length3:25
LabelAtlanta Artists
Writer(s)Larry Blackmon, Tomi Jenkins
Producer(s)Larry Blackmon
Cameo singles chronology
"Single Life"
(1985)
"Word Up!"
(1986)
"Candy"
(1986)

"Word Up!" is an R&B/funk song written and originally recorded by Cameo in 1986. Due to its heavy play on American dance and R&B radio, as well as music video play on MTV (which has LeVar Burton as a police detective trying to arrest the band), the single became the band's most well-known hit.

From the album Word Up!, "Word Up!" was Cameo's first US Top 40 hit, peaking at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spending three weeks at number 1 on the US R&B chart[3] and one week at number 1 on the US Hot Dance Singles chart. In the UK, it spent 13 weeks in the top 40, peaking at number 6 on November 22, 1986. The song was written by Lawrence Ernest Blackmon & Thomas Michael Jenkins.

Like the band's previous single "Single Life", "Word Up!" features a sample of the opening notes of Ennio Morricone's theme to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1986–1987)Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[4]6
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[5]10
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[6]8
Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders)[7]8
Canada (RPM 100 Singles)[8]12
Europe (Pan-European Charts)[9]14
Germany (Media Control Charts)[10]3
Ireland (IRMA)[11]8
Italy (FIMI)[12]6
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[13]10
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[14]9
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[15]1
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[16]13
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[17]3
US Billboard Hot 100[18]6
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[18]1
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[18]3
US Billboard Hot Black Singles[18]1

Gun version[edit]

"Word Up!"
Single by Gun
from the album Swagger
ReleasedJuly 1, 1994
Format12" single, CD single
Recorded1994
GenreHard rock, heavy metal, glam metal
Length4:21
LabelA&M
Gun singles chronology
"Welcome to the Real World"
(1992)
"Word Up!"
(1994)
"Don't Say It's Over"
(1994)

In the 1990s, "Word Up!" was first covered by Scottish rock band Gun,[19] whose version carried a harder, more rock-oriented sound, including a guitar solo. Taken from their album Swagger, it was released on July 1, 1994 and reached number 8 in the UK singles chart.[20] Two versions of the CD single were released in the UK, each carrying different cover art and different tracks.[21]

Gun's version of the song was featured on the soundtrack to 1996 film Barb Wire, and was also used in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation season one episode "Who Are You?". The Gun version was also featured on the 2011 series of British television show Dancing on Ice, when Vanilla Ice used it as background music for his dance in the first episode.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1994)Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[22]41
Belgium (VRT Top 30 Flanders)[23]24
France (SNEP)[24]46
Germany (Media Control Charts)[25]32
Ireland (IRMA)[11]17
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[26]21
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[27]14
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[28]39
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[20]8


Melanie B version[edit]

"Word Up!"
Single by Melanie G
B-side"Sophisticated Lady"
Released28 June 1999
Format
Recorded1999
Genre
Length3:25 (radio edit)
5:23 (single version)
LabelWarner Bros.
Producer(s)Timbaland
Melanie G singles chronology
"I Want You Back"
(1998)
"Word Up!"
(1999)
"Tell Me"
(2000)
Music video
"Word Up" on YouTube

"Word Up!" was later covered by Mel B (known as Melanie G at that time).[29] It was released on June 28, 1999. It peaked at number 14 on the UK Singles Chart. The single was also on the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack. "Word Up!" sold about 77,996 copies in the United Kingdom, which was the lowest selling solo Spice Girls-related single of the 1990s.

Format and track listing[edit]

  1. "Word Up" (Radio Edit) – 3:23
  2. "Sophisticated Lady" – 2:43
  3. "Word Up" (Tim's Dance Mix) – 5:31

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1999)Peak
position
Italy (FIMI)[31]34
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[32]86
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[33]14


Korn version[edit]

"Word Up!"
Single by Korn
from the album Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
ReleasedNovember 16, 2004
Format7" single, 12" single, CD single
Recorded2004
GenreHard rock, Nu metal
Length2:53
LabelEpic
Producer(s)Jonathan Davis, Korn, and Toby Wright
Korn singles chronology
"Everything I've Known"
(2003)
"Word Up"
(2004)
"Another Brick in the Wall, Pts. 1–3"
(2004)

"Word Up!" by American nu metal band Korn is a cover of the song by R&B group, Cameo.[34] Its musical arrangements are similar to that of the cover version by Gun, except it is played in a lower sounding 7 string guitar tuning instead of the standard E. "Word Up!" was the first track featured on Korn's 2004 retrospective album, Greatest Hits, Volume 1, and was one of three new tracks along with Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" that was exclusive to the album (the "Word Up!" CD single also featured a live performance of the latter).

Background and release[edit]

It was released as the album's first single in July 2004, and received heavy airplay on alternative radio at its time of release, peaking in the top 20 of both Billboard charts,[35] whilst making a respectable impression on the mainstream charts of other countries, including Australia (where it debuted at number 28),[36] and Germany (number 46).[37] It is the only Korn single to be sent out to Top 40 radio stations, notably receiving airplay on New York City's Z-100, the largest Top 40 station in the US. Lead singer Jonathan Davis has said of the band's decision to include the song on their greatest hits, "We've been doing 'Word Up!' for years as a sound-check song—not the full version, just messing around with the riff."[38]

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song, directed by Antti Jokinen, featured the band-members' faces digitally edited onto dogs in a club scene with women dancing topless the parody of Basement Jaxx's "Where's Your Head At" music video.

In other media[edit]

The cover was featured in "Credit Where Credit's Due", an episode of the television series Veronica Mars.[39] The track is also featured in the video game Lego Rock Band.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2004)Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[36]28
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[40]58
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[41]9
Germany (Media Control Charts)[37]46
Norway (VG-lista)[42]15
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[43]47
US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 10023
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[35]16
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[35]17


Little Mix version[edit]

"Word Up!"
Single by Little Mix
Released16 March 2014 (2014-03-16)
Format
Recorded2014
Genre
Length3:29
Label
Little Mix singles chronology
  • "Word Up!"
  • (2014)

British girl group Little Mix covered the song for Sport Relief 2014. It was released digitally on 16 March 2014, followed by a physical release the following day, which will only be available to purchase from Sainsbury's.[44]

Background and release[edit]

Little Mix first announced the single on 16 January 2014 through their official Twitter.[44][45] The song was first played on BBC Radio 1 on 20 January 2014 during Nick Grimshaw's Breakfast show.[46]

The cover art of the single was revealed on 24 January 2014.[47]

Critical reception[edit]

The song received rather positive reviews with the Popjustice ranking it as third for the best version of the song and third for the best Sport Relief single and gave the song 7 out of 10 stars.[48] Kevin Kevinpod of DirectLyrics said that "[Little Mix's] harmonies are spot-on, and the whole record is pure fire." and that the song is a chance of the band getting a number one hit.[49] Its production was also likened to Janet Jackson's single "Black Cat."[50]

Music video[edit]

The shooting for the music video started in early February 2014. The band posted an exclusive picture from the video on 25 February 2014.[51] The video was first shown on the Chart Show TV on 28 February 2014[52] and was posted on Vevo on 3 March 2014.[53] It features celebrity cameos from Nick Grimshaw, Louie Spence, Louis Smith, Arlene Phillips, Melanie C and Chris Barrie.[54]

The video starts off with the band in a changing room of a gym. As they walk out of the changing room, Jade tries to pick up a barbell pretending that she cannot lift it but then she lifts it up and walks away carrying it. Perrie then walks along four women who are working out while Jade is on a stationary bicycle among three other women, following the instructions of a trainer. With the bicycle, Jade starts going forward with the rest following her at the back.

The scene then switches to a court with the band exercising and dancing the same time along with other people while singing the chorus of the song. Afterwards, Leigh-Anne is stood in front of some athletes with one using her as a barbell at the end of her part. Jesy continues with her part while dancing in front of two men working out on treadmills and fall off them after some time. During the chorus, the scene changes again to the court with the owner (Barrie, who had previously played a gym manager in BBC sitcom The Brittas Empire) of the gym seeing the girls and the rest dancing and runs upset out of his office. As he is going down to the court, he sees the athletes in the swimming pool shaping out the title of the song. When he reaches the court, he starts dancing with them.

Track listings[edit]

Digital download[55]
  1. "Word Up!" – 3:26
Digital remixes[56]
  1. "Word Up!" (The Alias Radio Edit) – 3:33
  2. "Word Up!" (Extended Mix) – 4:59
  3. "Word Up!" (Instrumental) – 3:05
CD single[57]
  1. "Word Up!" – 3:26
  2. "Word Up!" (The Alias Radio Edit) – 3:33
  3. "Word Up!" (Extended Mix) – 4:59
  4. "Word Up!" (Instrumental) – 3:05

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2014)Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[58]45
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[59]65
Czech Republic (Rádio Top 100)[60]92
Croatia (Croatian Airplay Radio Chart)[61]44
Denmark (Tracklisten)[62]38
France (SNEP)[63]107
Ireland (IRMA)[64]13
Japan (Japan Hot 100)[65]71
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[66]8
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[67]6

Release history[edit]

RegionDateFormatLabel
United Kingdom16 March 2014Digital downloadSyco
17 March 2014CD single (Exclusive to Sainsbury's)

Other cover versions[edit]

Live cover performances[edit]

Appearances in other media[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roni Sarig (2007). Da Capo Press, ed. Third Coast: Outkast, Timbaland, and How Hip-Hop Became a Southern Thing. p. 100. ISBN 978-0306814303.  "With number-one R&B singles like 1984's “She's Strange” and 1986's “Word Up”—released on Cameo's Atlanta Artists label—the city found its first major urban act of the hip-hop era."
  2. ^ Jonathan Buckley, Mark Ellingham (1996). Rough Guides Ltd, ed. Rock: The Rough Guide. ISBN 978-1858282015.  ""Word Up" was funk's last stand before it was completely swallowed up by hip-hop culture."
  3. ^ Joel Whitburn (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 98. 
  4. ^ bulion. "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Chart Positions Pre 1989 Part 4". ARIA. Australian-charts.com. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
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  6. ^ "Ultratop.be – Cameo – Word Up!" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  7. ^ "Word Up – CAMEO". VRT (in Dutch). Top30-2.radio2.be. Retrieved July 31, 2013.  Hoogste notering in de top 30 : 8
  8. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 45, No. 13, December 20, 1986". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  9. ^ Danyel Smith, ed. (1986). "Billboard 15 November 1986". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Cameo – Word Up!". Officialcharts.de. GfK Entertainment. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  11. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – All there is to know". IRMA. Retrieved July 31, 2013.  Only results when searching "Word up"
  12. ^ "I singoli più venduti del 1987". HitParadeItalia (in Italian). Creative Commons. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
    47. Word up – Cameo [#6, 1986/87]
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  14. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Cameo – Word Up!" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
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  25. ^ "Gun – Word Up". Officialcharts.de. GfK Entertainment. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  26. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Gun (1994) – Word Up search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  27. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Gun – Word Up" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  28. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Gun – Word Up". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  29. ^ "Melanie G* – Word Up at Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Word Up – EP by Melanie G". iTunes. 
  31. ^ "Indice per Interprete: M". HitParadeItalia (in Italian). Creative Commons. Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
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  33. ^ "Archive Chart: 1999-07-10" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
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  51. ^ "EXCLUSIVE pic from the video". Facebook. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
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External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
"The Rain" by Oran "Juice" Jones
Billboard Hot Black Singles number one single
October 4, 1986 – October 18, 1986
Succeeded by
"Shake You Down" by Gregory Abbott
Preceded by
"Human" by The Human League
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
November 15, 1986
Succeeded by
"Don't Leave Me This Way" by The Communards with Sarah Jane Morris