Saturday, April 8, 2023

Beyoncé Serves Up Some Retro Funk On “Work It Out”

This super-funky retro groove is one of Beyoncé’s most underrated tracks. The 2002 single seems to be all but forgotten these days, even among her most ardent fans. It has a great old-school feel to it. It sounds like something legendary funk divas like Marva Whitney, Betty Davis or Lyn Collins might have recorded back in the late 1960s or early’ 70s. This track features a cold bass line, a wicked beat and nasty guitar licks. And it boasts a killer bridge. Beyoncé brings grit, soul and tons of attitude to her fiery vocal performance. She absolutely bodies this cut. 

Beyoncé co-wrote “Work It Out” with celebrated hip-hop/R&B production duo The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo). Sheila E. handled all the percussion on the track, and Pharrell and Chad provided the rest of the instrumentation. Beyoncé even gives Chad a shout-out for his funky sax work: “Chad, blow your horn now!” The Neptunes also produced the track, which was released on Columbia Records. 

“Work It Out” was the lead single from the soundtrack for the 2002 spy comedy Austin Powers in Goldmember, in which Beyoncé co-starred with Mike Myers. She plays sexy FBI agent Foxxy Cleopatra who assists British spy Austin Powers as he takes on bad guys Dr. Evil and Fat Bastard. The character is an homage to badass heroines from ‘70s blaxploitation films–Foxy Brown (Pam Grier) and Cleopatra Jones (Tamara Dobson). This role was Beyoncé's theatrical film debut.

“Work It Out” was Beyoncé's debut single as a solo artist. It topped Billboard's Club Songs chart, but failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it performed really well overseas. It climbed to #7 on the UK singles chart and peaked at #6 in Scotland, #14 in Denmark, #3 in Norway, #2 in Belgium and #12 in Ireland. And it enjoyed major chart action in several other countries. The song was critically well-received with music critics lauding its authentic throwback funk sound. 

“Work It Out” was also featured on international versions of Beyoncé's solo debut album Dangerously in Love, released in 2003. 

The song’s official music video was directed by Matthew Rolston. The video showcases Beyoncé's considerable gifts as a performer. She lights up the video with her electrifying dance moves–shimmying and shaking her way through several wardrobe and set changes. She even channels a bit of Tina Turner in some parts and also shows off her impressive hula-hooping skills. The video also includes brief clips from Austin Powers in Goldmember. It was nominated for Best Video From a Film at The MTV Music Video Awards Japan 2003 but lost to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” from the film 8 Mile

"Work It Out” has been sampled on five songs and has six remixes.

Beyoncé shuts it down with a dynamic performance of “Work It Out” at Party in the Park 2003

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