Doo Wop (That Thing)

"Doo Wop (That Thing)" is the debut solo single from American recording artist Lauryn Hill. The song is the lead single from her debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It was written and produced by Hill. The song was officially released in October 1998, after it was initially released as a radio only single, two months prior.

"Doo Wop (That Thing)"
Single by Lauryn Hill
from the album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
  • "Lost Ones"
  • "Forgive Them Father"
ReleasedOctober 27, 1998
StudioChung King Studios, New York City; Marley Music, Inc., Kingston
  • 5:20 (album version)
  • 3:51 (single edit)
Songwriter(s)Lauryn Hill
Producer(s)Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill singles chronology
"Doo Wop (That Thing)"
Audio sample

It was Hill's first and only US Billboard Hot 100 number-one to date, "Doo Wop (That Thing)" became the first single by a female artist since Debbie Gibson’s 1988 single "Foolish Beat", to reach number-one in the US, that was written, produced and recorded by one sole woman;[2] it debuted at number-one on the Hot 100, making it the tenth song in the chart's history to do so,[3] the first debut single to do so,[4] and the first solo hip hop song to do so.[5] It was the first song by a female rapper to peak at number-one on the Hot 100,[6] and the only solo song by a female rapper to debut at number at number-one.[7] The song stayed at number-one for two weeks, making Hill the third female solo artist to do so with a song that debuted at number-one, following Mariah Carey and Celine Dion,[8] while also setting the record for the longest-running number-one by a solo female rapper, holding that record for almost 19 years.[9] It also peaked at number-one on the Hot Rap Songs chart, making her the first female artist to top both charts simultaneously.[10] The song experienced similar success abroad, reaching number-one in Iceland, and peaking within the top ten in various other countries worldwide. In the United Kingdom the song peaked at number-three, debuted at number-one on the UK Hip Hop and R&B Chart,[11] and has been certified Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry.

The song was named the best single of the year by Rolling Stone.[12] It won Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song at the 1999 Grammy Awards. According to Apple Music, It is one of the most streamed songs of the 1990s.[13] NPR named it one of the 300 most important songs of the 20th century.[14] The song's accompanying music video won four awards at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards, including the top prize Video of the Year, becoming the first hip hop video to win the award,[15] and made Hill the first solo black artist to win.[16] At the Soul Train Music Awards the song was awarded the Michael Jackson Award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video. In 2001, VH1 placed it on their list of the '100 Greatest Videos'.[17]


The song is a warning from Hill to African-American men and women caught in "the struggle". Both the women who "[try to] be a hard rock when they really are a gem", and the men who are "more concerned with his rims, and his Timbs, than women", are admonished by Hill, who warns them not to allow "that thing" to ruin their lives. The chorus seems to promote egalitarianism between the sexes, but the overall message of the lyrics has been described as conservative.[18]

In terms of production value, Hill borrows heavily from elements of soul music and doo-wop, lending credence to the song's title. One such example is the opening riff of late 1960s soul hit "Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.)" by Edwin Starr which Hill uses certain distinct elements of, as can be heard in the opening of this song.

Release and receptionEdit

"Doo Wop", released in 1998 as her first solo song from her debut album, was a major success. It became the 10th single to debut at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100, and the first by a female rap artist. It stayed there for two weeks in the fall of 1998. On Billboard's R&B Singles chart, it reached #2 for three weeks in November 1998, held out of the top spot by "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here" by Deborah Cox. It won two Grammy Awards the following February. The success of "Doo Wop" and the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album established Hill as a success outside of her group, The Fugees. In 1999, "Doo Wop (That Thing)" was ranked at number two to find the best music of 1998 on The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop annual critics' poll, after Fatboy Slim's "The Rockafeller Skank".

Awards and recognitionEdit

At the 41st Annual Grammy Awards, "Doo Wop (That Thing)" won two awards: Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.[19] The song is included as number 359 on the Songs of the Century list.[20] The BBC ranked the song as the 21st greatest hip hop song of all time, being one of the two only songs by female artist to make the list.[21] NPR named it one of the most important songs of the 20th century.[14]

The song's music video won four 1999 MTV Video Music Awards for: Best Female Video, Best R&B Video, Best Art Direction, and Video of the Year. In 2001, VH1 ranked it number 71 on their list of the '100 Greatest Videos'.[17] PopSugar ranked it as the 15th most iconic music video of the 90s.[22]

Music videoEdit

The song's music video was Directed by Monty Whitebloom & Andy Delaney, Bigtv, and filmed in Manhattan's Washington Heights in New York City, with the video showing two Hills singing side by side at a block party. On the left side of the split screen, the 1967 Hill dressed in full retro-styled attire, complete with a beehive and a zebra-printed dress, she pays homage to classic R&B and doo wop, and on the right side of the screen, the 1998 Hill is shown in a homage to hip hop culture.[23] Slant Magazine's Paul Schrodt praised the "Doo Wop (That Thing)" music video, stating "The resulting split-screen music video is the most flabbergasting testament to what the neo soul movement is all about."[24]

Track listingEdit



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[62] 2× Platinum 140,000 
United Kingdom (BPI)[63] Platinum 600,000 
United States (RIAA)[64] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Cover versions and samplesEdit

In 1999, Filipino rapper Francis Magalona recorded a parody version titled "Bading ang Dating" which appears on the albums Interscholastic and The Best of Francis M (2002).

Kanye West's protégée Teyana Taylor, signed in 2012 to his G.O.O.D. Music label, released a mixtape in early 2012 called The Misunderstanding of Teyana Taylor, which draws particular influence from much of Hill's work. One of the tracks, "Lauryn's Interlude", features Taylor performing a shortened, a capella performance of Hill's classic song.[65]

The American avant-garde band Mr. Bungle often performed an excerpt of the song as an outro for their song "Travolta (Quote Unquote)" while simultaneously playing Hemanta Mukherjee's "Ei Raat Tomar Amar" during live shows in the late 1990s.

Devendra Banhart has covered the song during live performances including Bonnaroo 2006, the Pitchfork Music Festival and Tim Festival 2006, in Brazil.

Amy Winehouse also incorporated the song into her own "He Can Only Hold Her" at live concerts in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Rihanna covered the song while on Kanye West's Glow in the Dark Tour in 2008.

The song was covered in Spanish by Anita Tijoux in a collaboration with the producer Quantic in 2013.

The 2014 Glee episode "Back-up Plan" includes a cover version performed by Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) and Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera).

The 2015 film Pitch Perfect 2 included a cover of the song by singer Ester Dean who performed the hook of the song in the Riff Off.

Drake sampled the song in "Draft Day", from his 2019 compilation album Care Package.

Phemza The Kween recorded the cover of the song.

In July 2014, French producer MKL released a remix of "Doo Wop".[66]


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External linksEdit