Saturday, June 2, 2001

“Lady Marmalade” hit #1…again

First posted 2/2/2021; updated 2/11/2021.

Lady Marmalade

LaBelle

Writer(s): Bob Crewe, Kenny Nolan (see lyrics here)


Released: November 5, 1974


First Charted: December 14, 1974


Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 3 RR, 11 RB, 17 UK, 11 CN, 13 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 2.0 UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 15.2 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

Lady Marmalade

Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, & Pink


First Charted: April 6, 2001


Peak: 15 US, 19 RR, 25 A40, 43 RB, 11 UK, 17 CN, 13 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 0.26 US, 0.97 UK, 5.5 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio,389.7 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Lady Marmalade,” written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan, was first recorded in 1974 by the Eleventh Hour, a studio group fronted by Kenny. The song was inspired by New Orleans’ prositutes in the red-light district of the French Quarter. SF Producer Allen Toussaint heard the track and wanted LaBelle – comprised of Patti LaBelle, Noan Hendryx, and Sarah Dash – to record it. The Philadelphia trio had been around more than a decade and landed five top-40 hits on the R&B chart, but they hadn’t charted since 1966. Personnel and label changes led them to Epic in 1974 where their recording of “Lady Marmalade” became “an outrageous party anthem” SF and an early favorite of the disco era. The song ruffled the feathers of some who saw it as glamorizing prostitution. SF

The song reached the top in 1975, knocking Frankie Valli’s “My Eyes Adored You” from the pinnacle. It marked only the third time in history that a songwriting team succeeded themselves at #1. BR1 LaBelle didn’t make it back to the top-40 on the pop chart, but as a solo artist Patti LaBelle resurfaced in the mid-‘80s with the top-20 hit “New Attitude” and the #1 duet with Michael McDonald, “On My Own.”

Meanwhile, the song experienced several revivals. In 1987, Italian pop star Sabrina recorded the song and had some minor success in Belgium and France. In 1998, the girl group All Saints took their version to #1 in the UK. Three years later, Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Pink recorded “their naughtier version” AMG with the song’s setting changed from New Orleans to the Paris nightclub Moulin Rouge. WK

The song was used in director Baz Luhrmann’s modern-day musical Moulin Rouge! about a brothel in Paris at the turn of the century. A number of big name artists were tapped to do cover songs for the soundtrack, but the version of “Lady Marmalade” had the most superpower behind it. When it topped the charts in June 2001, it marked the ninth time in chart history for two versions of a song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart. BR1 It became the only song to top the UK and U.S. charts twice. SF It also gave Crewe and Nolan the distinction of the longest span of #1 hits, dating back more than 38 years to “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by the Four Seasons. BR1


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Patti LaBelle
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Christina Aguilera
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Lil’ Kim
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Mya
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Pink
  • AMG All Music Guide review of the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack by Brad Kohlenstein
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). New York, NY; Billboard Books. Pages 399 and 913.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

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