As much as we’d all like to hang out all day, resting on laurels and not giving a shit, mom’s gotta work! But it’s not always easy to roll out of bed, throw on those power shoulders, stuff your heels into that Prada tote and slip your stockinged feet into a pair of trainers to greet the day. Luckily there are a number of inspiring songs that pay tribute to all the work (or werk, or werq, or worq, or wurq, or twerk) we have to do. Here’s a countdown of the 10 greatest work-themed anthems. We’re on the clock, people!
10. “Work It Out” Beyoncé
Out of the crapfest that was Austin Powers in Goldmember, we at least got Beyoncé’s first single as a solo artist (before walking away with the game with “Crazy in Love”): the funkdified, Neptunes-produced “Work It Out.” The hardest working woman in showbusiness proved she was a force to be reckoned with, even if her acting left much to be desired. That afro, though, is in need of a comeback ASAP.
9. “Work to Do” – Vanessa Williams
Comeback queen Vanny Wills saved the best for last, releasing this New Jill swing cover of The Isley Brothers’ “Work to Do” as the fifth and final single from her multiplatinum album, The Comfort Zone. Proof that you can’t keep a disgraced Miss America down, Vanny’s been working steadily on stage and screen ever since, while still snatching crowns with that flawless face.
8. “Work” – Ciara
Like most things Ciara does, “Work” was pretty perfect but no one cared because Rihanna didn’t do it. But CiCi is giving you multiple high ponytails, cat-eyes, and some serious power dyke realness all while nailing references to ball culture and Paris Is Burning. Though Ciara woefully missed the opportunity to deathdrop this video into true genius, you can’t argue with this pony helicopter. Because you’ll lose.
7. “Let the River Run” – Carly Simon
Even though “work” doesn’t appear in the title (or is featured prominently in the lyrics) as the theme from seminal “You Go, Girl!” classic Working Girl, “Let the River Run” is as industrious and anthemic as it gets. Plus, it snatched an Oscar, a Grammy and a Golden Globe for Ms. Simon, who after all that success probably thinks this post is about her.
6. “Work Bitch” – Britney Spears
Sure, Brit-Bot 2.0’s love letter to the gays may seem like lazy pandering set to a generic dance beat, but it’s Britney, bitch. And after all she’s been through, if she’s telling you to work, bitch — bitch, you betta work! Besides, this is the most dancing Britney’s done since “Toxic” so you take what you can get.
5. “This Woman’s Work” – Kate Bush
At the end of a long day of generally owning everything, there’s no better song to unwind, cool down, throw back a bottle of pinot and reflect to. Sure, a song about pregnancy complications isn’t the most uplifting subject matter, but one listen will have you floating on a giant cloud of “who gives a shit?”
4. “Work It” – Missy Elliott
Whenever a Missy Elliott song comes on, which should be every day, the immediate question is always: “where is that bitch?” The artist formerly known as “Misdemeanor” has been keeping a low profile after being sidelined by Graves’ disease, but she’s been guesting on a few tracks here and there recently. Still, this 2002 banger get the butts out of the seats and jiggling on the floor where they belong.
3. “She Works Hard for the Money” – Donna Summer
While 1979’s “Bad Girls” (toot toot) could easily have made this list, “She Works Hard for the Money” has the benefit of not only being a double entendre for prostitution (beep beep), but also an anthem for other working girls. Also, the kickball-changes in this video are EVERYTHING:
Remember when music videos were awesome because they were awful instead of just being awful for no reason? Good times.
2. “9 to 5” – Dolly Parton
Where was the Oscar?! Dolly was nominated for Best Original Song in 1981 for the theme from her workplace comedy co-starring bosom buddies Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, 9 to 5. But Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford’s “Fame” is gonna live forever as the reason Dolly Parton doesn’t have an Academy Award. Well, that and Three 6 Mafia — it really is hard out here for a pimp. And there’s no bigger pimp than Dolly Parton, who wrote “9 to 5” while strumming on her acrylic nails and thinking about all the bills she’s stacking.
1. “Supermodel (You Better Work)” – RuPaul
Hiiiiiyyyyyyiiiiieeeee. I mean, obviously. Right? You saw this coming. If you’re going to work — meaning if you’re on your way to a job — and you need to feel creative, unique, nervy and talented, there’s no better inspiration than a 7-foot drag queen screaming in your face to do. You. Boo. So if you’re going to work — meaning if you’re on your way to shutting shit down — thrown on your supermodel pumps (real or imaginary) and punch the clock.
Meanwhile, I’d also like to give a h/t to Sheena Easton’s “Modern Girl” because it’s amazing, the video clearly cost $5 and it is the very literal epitome of this list: