"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 hasLeVar 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 3 in September 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.

Contents[edit | edit source]

  [hide*1 Chart performance

Chart performance[edit][edit | edit source]

Chart (1986–1987) Peak


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 AG)[10] 3
Ireland (IRMA)[11] 8
Italy (FIMI)[12] 6
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[13] 10
Netherlands (Mega 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 BillboardHot Dance Club Play[18] 1
US BillboardHot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[18] 3
US BillboardHot Black Singles[18] 1

Gun version[edit][edit | edit source]

"Word Up!"
Single by Gun
from the album Swagger
Released July 1, 1994
Format 12" singleCD single
Recorded 1994
Genre Hard rockheavy metalglam metal
Length 4:21
Label A&M
Gun singles chronology
"Welcome to the Real World"


"Word Up!"


"Don't Say It's Over"


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][edit | edit source]

Chart (1994) Peak


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

Melanie G version[edit][edit | edit source]

"Word Up!"
Single by Melanie G
B-side "Sophisticated Lady"
Released 28 June 1999
Format *12" single
Recorded 1999
Genre *R&B
Length 3:25 (radio edit)

5:23 (single version)

Label Warner Bros.
Producer(s) Timbaland
Melanie G singles chronology
"I Want You Back"


"Word Up!"


"Tell Me"


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 theAustin 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][edit | edit source]

  • Word Up EP[30]
  1. "Word Up" (Radio Edit) – 3:23
  2. "Sophisticated Lady" – 2:43
  3. "Word Up" (Tim's Dance Mix) – 5:31

Chart performance[edit][edit | edit source]

Chart (1999) Peak


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

Korn version[edit][edit | edit source]

"Word Up!"
Single by Korn
from the album Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
Released November 16, 2004
Format 7" single12" singleCD single
Recorded 2004
Genre Hard rockheavy metal
Length 2:53
Label Epic
Producer(s) Jonathan DavisKorn, and Toby Wright
Korn singles chronology
"Everything I've Known"


"Word Up"


"Another Brick in the Wall, Pts. 1–3"


"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 albumGreatest 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][edit | edit source]

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][edit | edit source]

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. The track is featured in the video game Lego Rock Band.

Chart performance[edit][edit | edit source]

Chart (2004) Peak


Australia (ARIA)[36] 28
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[39] 58
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[40] 9
Germany (Media Control AG)[37] 46
Norway (VG-lista)[41] 15
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[42] 47
US BillboardBubbling Under Hot 100 23
US BillboardHot Mainstream Rock Tracks[35] 16
US BillboardModern Rock Tracks[35] 17

Little Mix version[edit][edit | edit source]

"Word Up!"
Single by Little Mix
Released 16 March 2014
Format *CD single
Recorded 2014
Genre *Funk
Length 3:29
Label *Syco
Little Mix singles chronology
*"Little Me"
  • (2013)
*"Word Up!"
  • (2014)

English girl group Little Mix covered the song for Sport Relief 2014. It will be released digitally on 16 March 2014 with a physical release to follow the following day, which will only be available to purchase from Sainsbury's.[43]

Background and release[edit][edit | edit source]

The band first announced the single on 16 January 2014 through their official Twitter.[43][44] The song premiered on BBC Radio 1 on 20 January 2014 during Nick Grimshaw's Breakfast show.[45]

The cover art of the single was revealed on 24 January 2014.[46]

Critical reception[edit][edit | edit source]

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.[47]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.[48]

Music video[edit][edit | edit source]

The shooting for the music video started in early February 2014. The band posted an exclusive picture from the video on 25 February 2014.[49] The video premiered on the Chart Show TV on 28 February 2014[50] and was posted on VEVO on 3 March 2014.[51] It features celebrity cameos from Nick GrimshawLouie SpenceLouis SmithArlene PhillipsMelanie C and Chris Barrie.[52]

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 can't 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. After, 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's 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][edit | edit source]

Digital download
  1. "Word Up!" – 3:26
Digital remixes[53]
  1. "Word Up!" (The Alias Radio Edit) – 3:33
  2. "Word Up!" (Extended Mix) – 4:59
  3. "Word Up!" (Instrumental) – 3:05
CD single[54]
  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

Release history[edit][edit | edit source]

Region Date Format Label
United Kingdom 16 March 2014 Digital download Syco
17 March 2014 CD single (Exclusive to Sainsbury's)

Other cover versions[edit | edit source]

  • Covered by the jazz-funk project "Members Only" in 1987 for the album Members Only.
  • Covered By Spice Girls member Melanie B in 1999 under the alias Mel G.
  • Covered by the band The BossHoss in 2005 on the album Internashville Urban Hymns.
  • Finnish humppa band Eläkeläiset recorded a cover in 2006 for their album Humppasirkus.
  • The instrumental was covered by German artist Jan Delay in 2007, along with the lyrics of 'türlich, 'türlich (Sicher, Dicker), originally performed by Das Bo on his album Mercedes-Dance Live.
  • lately covered by british girl group Little Mix in 2014.

Live cover performances[edit | edit source]

  • American artist Keller Williams included the song in a medley following his infamous "Freaker by the Speaker."
  • Covered by Australian group Taxiride for the "Musical Challenge" segment of the Andrew Denton Breakfast Show on Australian radio station Triple M in the early 2000s.
  • That 1 Guy performs the song as part of his encore at almost every show since the mid 1990s, averaging 200 shows per year.

Appearances in other media[edit][edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.