It's A Man's Man's Man's World



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Christina Aguilera - It's A Man's Man's Man's World (Grammy Awards 2007)

Checking for Matches…

Christina Aguilera channels James Brown at the 2007 Grammy Awards in LA

Listen to this clip LOUD!

If there’s a better single-song vocal performance this millennium I’d like to see it.

At age 26, just six weeks after The Godfather of Soul joined the great revue in the sky, the music industry’s governing body chose, of all living singers, a hundred-pound, five-foot, half-Irish “white” girl to pay the industry’s final respects to a guy who pretty much invented an entire idiom of music.  It’s not Aretha??  Nope.  Not Whitney?  Not Stevie?  Not Bootsy, Prince or Michael?  They picked who?  What?

And out from the smoky history of soul, strides this tiny white girl, in white clothes, with white hair to deliver the benediction to the blackest man in show business. “The Grammys suck,” you’re thinking as you reach for the remote, not sure if this is Britney or Paris or whichever of those ridiculous teen tarts . . . but as you do, you notice this sorta Sinatra swagger. “Huh?” And just before your fingers reach the buttons she reaches the mic and delivers that first line — then throws the microphone aside with this commanding confidence that so belies her years . . . and the audience she’s performing in front of . . . and the significance of the tribute she’s about to deliver.

First, she serenades the tender prelude, then launches into this vocal growl more manly and menacing than Ike Turner.  “How does this voice come out of that body?” about 30 million people are asking at once.

And you can see her just bouncing within the song, hardly able to keep the explosives un-lit, dancing a double beat through every pause, just dying for that next line like a junkie.

And suddenly you start noticing the mic technique, especially after hitting and holding the opera high note, and how she’s gotta pull the thing as far away from her as she can and she’s STILL speaker-poppin' loud! As she lets fly, and cracks and snaps but never breaks — and you’re thinking of every James Brown scream you ever heard — and how the heavens of unbridled joy break free in every exaltation, she’s not only delivering the song, she’s delivering the man, into the house, bringing him home, making him live beyond his day — almost breaking down, but not breaking a sweat — and the only thing missing is James himself.

Then it reaches this point where she actually does break down to the ground, and you can tell by the camera miscues it wasn't rehearsed, and she just goes, looses it, transcends, goes to that other place.  And her bouncing between lines!  You can see her exploding within the song, thrusting her conductor’s baton of a mic stand to every beat, and all over the world mouths have dropped open, not sure they’re seeing what they’re seeing — and then POW!

She hits the climax!  The final line — when she gets to the word “nothing” and holds it for about a week, and THEN after she’s delivered this note that James could never have held in his healthiest years, she STILL has the breath to deliver the final phrase — articulately, soulfully and goosebumpingly scary.

I've never seen anyone do that, big or small, black or white, male or female.  Even Aretha — and she had some lungs!

And you’re just like, “This isn’t possible. Sumpthin’s not right.”  And then you watch it again. And again.



Guest's picture


My name is Jaime, and I would just like to compliment you on your accuracy & being so articulate in your review! You nailed it, everything about this performance. From her swagger, to "Delivering the man into the house, bringing him home, making him live beyond his day!"!

I loved every word of your writing as much as I loved every word of her performance! I can't remember the last time I read something so well written & full of passion! How good of you to give her as awesome a tribute, as she gave our Godfather Of Soul!

I have had this utube video in my favorites forever now, and after watching it about 10 times today (each time tearing up as she hits that first note & then all the way through), I thought to myself I wonder if there's any footage of people's reactions to her performance. So I googled just that, & your article was the first thing to pop up. Even though I wanted to see people's live reactions at the Grammy's, I read on anyway.

Let me just tell you that you completely embodied every thought that I had, and every emotion I experienced, from beginning to end, the first time I watched that performance, & every time since! Thank you so much for writing this. She deserves this accolade, I couldn't imagine anyone else bringing our BIG DADDY OF SOUL into the house & home that night! I know he is proud of her and thankful that she helped him go out on a note like that!!!

And man can you write! You should be proud of yourself for expressing and putting into words what everyone else was thinking that night, including the Godfather himself. Bravo to you, Bravo to Christina, and Bravo to James Brown the man who started it all=0)

Retrieved from Wikipedia:
It's A Man's Man's Man's World on Wikipedia
"It's a Man's Man's Man's World"
Single by James Brown[1]
from the album It's a Man's Man's Man's World
B-side"Is It Yes or Is It No?"
ReleasedApril 1966 (1966-04)
Format7" High Fidelity
RecordedFebruary 16, 1966, Talent Masters Studios, New York, NY
  • Rhythm and blues
  • soul
  • James Brown
  • Betty Jean Newsome
Producer(s)James Brown
James Brown[1] singles chronology

"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" is a song by James Brown and Betty Jean Newsome. Brown recorded it on February 16, 1966 in a New York studio and released it as a single later that year. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2][3] Its title is a word play on the 1963 comedy film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.


  • 1 Song
  • 2 Personnel
  • 3 Chart positions
  • 4 Renée Geyer version
    • 4.1 Track listing
    • 4.2 Charts
  • 5 Other cover versions
  • 6 Sampling
  • 7 Answer songs
  • 8 Uses in popular culture
  • 9 References
  • 10 External links


The song's lyrics, which Rolling Stone characterized as "biblically chauvinistic",[4] attribute all the works of modern civilization (the car, the train, the boat, (Like Noah built the ark,), and the electric light) to the efforts of men, but claim that it all would "mean nothing without a woman or a girl".[1] The song also states that man made toys for the baby boys and girls, and makes a comment about the fact that "Man makes Money", from other men. Before the song's fade, Brown states that man is lost in his bitterness and in the wilderness. Brown's co-writer and onetime girlfriend, Betty Jean Newsome, wrote the lyrics based on her own observations of the relations between the sexes. In later years, Newsome would claim that Brown didn't write any part of the song and argued in court that Brown sometimes forgot to pay her royalties.[5]

The composition of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" developed over a period of several years. Tammy Montgomery, better known as Tammi Terrell, recorded "I Cried", a Brown-penned song based on the same chord changes, in 1963. Brown himself recorded a demo version of the song, provisionally entitled "It's a Man's World", in 1964. This version later appeared on the CD compilations The CD of JB and Star Time.

The released version of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" was recorded quickly, in only two takes, with a studio ensemble that included members of Brown's touring band and a string section arranged and conducted by Sammy Lowe. A female chorus was involved in the recording sessions, but their parts were edited out of the song's final master.[6]

"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" became a staple of Brown's live shows for the rest of his career. Its slow, simmering groove and declamatory vocal line made it suitable for long, open-ended performances incorporating spoken ruminations on love and loss and sometimes interpolations from other songs. It appears on almost all of Brown's live albums starting with 1967's Live at the Garden. Brown also recorded a big band jazz arrangement of the song with the Louie Bellson Orchestra for his 1970 album Soul on Top.

In 2004, "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" was ranked number 123 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.


  • James Brown – lead vocal

with studio band:

  • Dud Bascomb – trumpet
  • Waymon Reed – trumpet
  • Lamarr Wright – trumpet
  • Haywood Henry – baritone saxophone
  • Ian Bridle – piano
  • Billy Butler – guitar
  • Bernard "Pretty" Purdie – drums

Other players, including trombone, bass and strings, unknown

Arranged and conducted by Sammy Lowe[7]

Renée Geyer version

"It's a Man's Man's World"
It's a Man's Man's World by Renee Geyer (song).jpg
Single by Renée Geyer
from the album 'It's a Man's Man's World'
A-side"It's a Man's Man's Man's World"
B-side"Once in a Lifetime Thing"
ReleasedNovember 1974
RecordedAugust 1974
StudioBill Armstrong Studios, Melbourne, Australia
GenreSoul music
LabelRCA Records
  • James Brown
  • Betty Jean Newsome
Producer(s)Tweed Harris
Renée Geyer singles chronology

Australian musician Renée Geyer recorded a version in 1974. The song was released in November 1974 as the second single from her second studio album, It's a Man's Man's World. The song peaked at number 44 on the Australian Kent Music Report, becoming her first Australian top 50 single.

Track listing

Australian 7" Single
  • Side A "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" - 3:30
  • Side B "Once in a Lifetime Thing" - 3:30

Other cover versions

The song has been recorded by many artists in various idioms over the years.

  • Tom Jones recorded the song on his 1968 album The Tom Jones Fever Zone.
  • The Residents recorded the song as a companion single to their album George and James; the video for the song was frequently played on MTV.
  • Dutch musician Waylon (singer) covered this song on his first audition of televisionshow Holland's Got Talent. Later he signed at Motown.
  • Grand Funk released a version of the song entitled "It's a Man's World" on their 1983 album, What's Funk?
  • British band Brilliant recorded a cover of the song in 1985, peaking at #58 in the UK.
  • Christina Aguilera performed a critically acclaimed rendition of the song as a posthumous tribute to James Brown at the 2007 Grammy Awards. Her performance has been voted as the 3rd Most Memorable Grammy Performance of all time.
  • Seal recorded the song for his 2008 album Soul and released it as the second single from the album.
  • Polish diva Edyta Górniak covered this song in the Jak Oni śpiewają Final on 21 November 2009.
  • Polish musician Czeslaw Niemen was inspired by It's a Man's Man's Man's World and recorded Dziwny jest ten świat (Strange Is This World) in 1967, where he discusses mankind's vices and hopes for peaceful future (similarly to John Lennon's Imagine.
  • The cast of Glee, featuring Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) covered the song during season one's twenty-first episode, entitled "Funk", and released it as a single. Quinn was trying to represent the suppressed feeling women feel from men.[14] The song charted in the Canadian Hot 100 chart at 73, UK Singles Chart at 94 and in the Billboard Hot 100 chart at 95.[15][16]
  • Smash star, Katharine McPhee, covered the song during season one.
  • Joshua Ledet covered this song during the eleventh season of American Idol, and briefly during the finale of the series.
  • Van Morisson on A Night in San Francisco
  • Celine Dion on Taking Chances World Tour: The Concert in 2010.
  • Cher on It's a Man's World in 1995.
  • Patricia Kaas on Je te dis vous in 1993.
  • International singer Natacha Atlas recorded a cover for her 2003 album Something Dangerous.


  • Michael Jackson samples the brass introduction from the song for "Bad".[citation needed]
  • "It's A Man's World" by Ice Cube from his 1990 album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted samples this song.
  • The trumpet introduction was sampled by the Wu-Tang Clan for their 2000 song "Gravel Pit" and by Nigerian-Greek rapper MC Yinka in the song "Χαιρετισμός" (Chairetismos) from his album "Αλάνα" (Alana).
  • 2Pac used a sample on the song "Tradin War Stories" from his 1996 album All Eyez on Me.
  • Rapper Beanie Sigel used a sample for his song "Man's World" from his 2001 album The Reason.
  • The song is also sampled on Alicia Keys' song "Fallin'".
  • Macy Gray sampled on her song "Ghetto Love" on her album "Big".
  • The song is also sampled on Guilty Simpson's song "Man's World" produced by J Dilla.[17]
  • The song was most recently[when?] sampled in a live performance by Jennifer Hudson as the prelude to her cover of Aretha Franklin's classic, "Respect".
  • The hip hop band Heavy D & the Boyz, sampled the musical introduction as the same on their track "You Ain't Heard Nuttin' Yet" for the album titled Big Tyme.
  • Young The Giant covered the song released exclusively on a Spotify Spotify Sessions track.

Answer songs

Neneh Cherry released the answer song "Woman" on her 1996 album Man in response to the chauvinism of the original.

The band Napalm Death released the song "It's a M.A.N.S World!", which attacks and parodies the ideas of chauvinism and patriarchy ideas, on their 1988 album From Enslavement to Obliteration.

Uses in popular culture

  • The song was featured in the 1993 film A Bronx Tale, which starred actor Robert De Niro, who also directed the film.
  • The song appeared in the opening of the 2012 comedy hit Think Like a Man, starring Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union and Taraji P. Henson.
  • The song was featured in the 2014 James Brown biopic Get On Up, starring Chadwick Boseman, Dan Aykroyd and Viola Davis.


  1. ^ a b James Brown interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1970)
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 84. 
  3. ^ White, Cliff (1991). "Discography". In Star Time (pp. 54–59) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
  4. ^ It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World: James Brown : Rolling Stone
  5. ^ It's a Woman's World - Page 1 - Music - New York - Village Voice
  6. ^ White, Cliff, and Harry Weinger (1991). "Are You Ready for Star Time?". In Star Time (pp. 29) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
  7. ^ Leeds, Alan, and Harry Weinger (1991). "Star Time: Song by Song". In Star Time (pp. 46–53) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.
  8. ^ " – James Brown – It's A Man's Man's Man's World" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  9. ^ " – James Brown – It's A Man's Man's Man's World" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  10. ^ "James Brown – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for James Brown. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  11. ^ It's a Man's Man's Man's World - James Brown - Awards. Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Accessed on August 3, 2013.
  12. ^ "June 1966/ Archive Chart: 16 June 1966" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  13. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  14. ^ It's A Man's Man's Man's World (Glee Cast Version): Glee Cast: MP3 Downloads
  15. ^ "Hot 100: The Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 122 (24): 46. June 19, 2010. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  16. ^ "Glee Cast - It's A Man's, Man's Man's World". α Retrieved October 10, 2010. 
  17. ^ The Wire - J Dilla - exclusive

External links

  • Song Review from Allmusic
  • Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics

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