Saturday, November 14, 1998

Lauryn Hill “Doo Wop (That Thing)” debuted at #1

Doo Wop (That Thing)

Lauryn Hill

Writer(s): Lauryn Hill (see lyrics here)

Released: August 10, 1998

First Charted: October 3, 1998

Peak: 12 US, 38 GR, 29 RR, 2 RB, 3 UK, 2 CN, 35 AU, 18 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.6 UK, 1.24 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 176.18 video, 366.27 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Lauryn Hill is “generally remembered as one of the greatest rappers and singers of an era when singers didn’t really rap and rappers didn’t really sing.” SG She grew up in a suburban South Orange, New Jersey, in a middle-class family. Her parents were amateur musicians and Hill was drawn to “her mother’s stack of old soul records.” SG In 1990, she became a member of the hip-hop group the Fugees with whom she released two albums, including 1996’s #1, multi-platinum album The Score. Then she bolted for a solo career.

Her one and only studio release, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, was “a near-perfect album” SG which blended rap and R&B and was hailed as a neo-soul classic. Author Fred Bronson says “critics placed the album in the same category with seminal works like Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions.” FB She wrote and produced it herself and wound up with Grammys for Best Album and Best New Artist.

“Doo Wop (That Thing)” was the album’s lead single, although that wasn’t originally the plan. However, after the album had been out two months and gone double platinum, the record company wanted a commercial single. The song debuted at #1, becoming her only top-ten hit. It is “a bright, peppy, joyous track, and it features Hill both singing and rapping about as well as anyone can sing or rap.” SG It was “interpreted as a message to other female artists, who relied more on their bodies than their minds, like rapper Lil’ Kim.” FB “James Poyser, a prolific collaborator who’s now a full-time member of the Roots, added a prim, icy piano line. Hill’s collaborators jumped in with jubilant horn-stabs, DJ scratches, and a Motown-style string arrangement that really hits hard on the bridge.” SG

“For the ‘Doo Wop’ video, Lauryn Hill pulled off a neat trick…In splitscreen, we see two different Lauryn Hills at two different neighborhood jams on the same Washington Heights block — one in 1967, one in 1998. The old-timey Lauryn sings; the then-contemporary one raps…That bit where the two different Lauryns do the same shimmy-sway move in unison? Cinematic magic, baby.” SG


  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 873.
  • SG Stereogum (6/20/2022). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia

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First posted 7/24/2023.

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