The Pop Grumble: You Better Work!

Teoh Lander-Boyce

Struggling to make it as a musician, Teoh turned to pop journalism to quench his thirst for music. Unfortunately it's reinforced his cynicism, inflated opinions and sense of entitlement. He's recorded at Abbey Road Studios and made heaps of angry YouTube videos. Beware: articles may contain attempts at wit. @mrtinoforever

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Praise the Homo Trinity! Britney’s back and here to share years of professional wisdom to help us aspire, excel and achieve.

Yes, if you want to live fancy, have a hot body, or party in France, you’ve gotta work, bitch. Yet this advice isn’t exactly new to many of us, nor is it a new concept in pop music.

Before Britney honed her cheap British accent, and begun attaching the troublesome insult “bitch” to the end of every other sentence, there was a long history of working girls who have ploughed, pummelled and pumped harder than she has her entire career. And whilst Miss Spears thinks her apathetic struggles through “Work Bitch”’s choreography is work (bitch), I know ten fierce women (okay, nine and seven dwarves) who work it harder.

10. Gotta Work by Amerie

Often forgotten, Amerie had an interesting sound and a promising pop career. But when Beyonce decided to steal her signature ‘oh-uh-woawh-OH’ on her track “Green Light,” trying to keep herself remembered, let alone relevant, must have been harder than ever. With a tough road ahead, I’m sure Amerie found strength in her own words.

9. Heigh Ho! by The Seven Dwarves

Admittedly the Seven Dwarves aren’t female, but seeing as these little workers defeated the fiercest egotistical bitch ever written, they deserve a honourable mention. And let’s be honest, I highly doubt Britney could cheerfully sing this song whilst manning a mine. That’s actual hard work, bitch!

8. Work It Out by Beyonce

Aged 20, this was Beyonce’s first single which accompanied her first role in a film, after already being in Destiny’s Child for six years. Flash-forward 11 years, and she has never hit a bum note, fluffed a VMA performance or shaved all her hair off. She is living proof that some child stars can make it through.

7. Work by Kelly Rowland

It’s got to be hard being Kelly Rowland. After all, she’s not as bad as everyone thinks: she may not be Beyonce, but at least she’s not Michelle. Against the odds, Kelly has always managed to land on her feet, despite a lack of talent, money and brains behind her campaign. And it’s that blind constant persistence that’s earned her a spot above Beyonce on this list. It must really take it out of poor Kelly.

6. Work by Iggy Azeala

She’s walked a mile in those Louboutins, and they don’t wear that shit down-under. Now I doubt Britney, or any of these other bitches, have ever done that, let alone been through the struggle Iggy has to get to where she is now. This song is actually about hard work – not just convenient lyrics over a cool dance beat – and reveals Iggy’s struggle so far.

5. 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton

This list would not be complete without this song, mainly because it’s the original work-related song. It may not make you want to bust a move on the dancefloor, but even without a pumping bassline, its lyrics are still relevant today as they were 33 years ago.

4. Werqin’ Girl (Professional) by Shangela Laquifa

Love her or hate her, Shangela definitely turned it out for this single. Eliminated in the first round of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 2, she somehow returned for Season 3 and has made cameos in every season since. She’s one of those unexplained enigmas: we’re not sure how or why, but she’s still here and she won’t let us forget her. Halleloo!

3. Work by Ciara ft. Missy Elliott

Now I know by this point most of you are either with me or not. I know a lot of you are thinking, “well what does Teoh have against Britney!” I don’t, I love Britney, and I think her new song is great, but go watch that music video, then watch “Work” by Ciara. Watch Ciara pound every part of her body. Watch how fast that choreography is. Watch how much she wants it. That’s what work is. If you don’t agree with me then there’s no hope. (Plus this song is fucking amazing and completely underrated.)

2. Work It by Missy Elliott

I’ve always been skinny. But one time I put on a little bit of weight, and it took me about six months to get rid of it. Working out is hard. Missy Elliott lost 5 stone. I could never do that. Britney could never do that. And in this song she brags about how she looks like a Halle Berry poster. Kudos Missy, kudos.

1. Supermodel (You Better Work) by RuPaul

Pummelling a runway never sounded better thanks to RuPaul. Although it didn’t chart highly when it was first released in 1992, it did make RuPaul a household name at a time when drag was still taboo. And that in itself is an achievement. RuPaul’s influence on the LGBT community has been massive, and his hard work alone has changed the lives of many. Either way, this song is the reason why “You Better Work” is a catchphrase in popular culture, and therefore the reason Britney’s version exists. And if you’re not the bitch that started the trend, then you better work!

(And who else could bounce a basketball whilst strutting in heels? Answer: no one.)

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