"Work Bitch" (stylized as "Work B**ch!") (clean version: "Work Work") is a song by American recording artist Britney Spears. It severed as the first single from her eighth full length studio album, Britney Jean. It was released on September 17, 2013, by RCA Records.
Previously, in 2012, Spears and will.i.am collaborated on the song "Scream & Shout"; will.i.am was later announced in March 2013 as the executive producer for Spears' eighth studio album. In preparation for the single and album, Spears began working with a vocal coach and choreography collaboratively. "Work Bitch" was confirmed by Spears on September 7, 2013, during the video's filming. On August 20, 2013, Spears' official website launched a countdown titled "All Eyes on Me" counting down to September 17 which lead fans to speculate that this was, in fact, the single's title. In response, Spears told fans that new music was coming, "Much sooner than you think".
On September 10, 2013; Spears confirmed "Work Bitch"'s worldwide radio premiere for September 16, 2013, at 6 pm ET on her official Twitter account, following up with a second tweet, "Work Bitch will be available on @iTunesMusic that night at 12:01 am ET, Sept 17th... are u ready?! #YouBettaWorkB #1Week". On September 11, Spears revealed the writers of the song. On September 12, Spears revealed the official single cover. The artwork features Spears posing in front of a vanity mirror, wearing a bedazzled leotard complete with feathered shoulders. A small sign can be seen behind her reading "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas", referencing her upcoming Las Vegas residency. The song leaked in full on September 15, 2013, one day before it was due for release on iHeartRadio and was therefore premiered a day earlier than scheduled. A clean version of the song, titled "Work Work" has also been released.
Upon its release, "Work Bitch" received mostly positive reviews from music critics. A writer for Billboard described the track as a "full-on club banger with Spears giving fans the secret to her success". Writing for MuuMuse, Bradley Stern complimented the song as a "thrilling, thunderously bold slice of forward-thinking dance-pop". A reviewer for PopJustice called the track "amazing", and suggested that the lyrical content "has the right attitude for a Blackout 2.0 sort of album". Michael Cragg from The Guardian felt that "Work Bitch" is a "pretty relentless onslaught that reflects pop's current love for chucking in everything up to and including the kitchen sink", but felt that Spears' personality "[made] sure she hasn't been fully obliterated by will.i.am's production sledgehammer". Chris Eggertsen from HitFix called that it was a "perfect club track", but questioned how it would perform on mainstream radio. However, Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine gave a negative review for the song, opining that it "follows the current EDM model of painfully aggressive, treble-heavy beats, harsh synths, and tuneless hooks, but makes even "Scream & Shout" sound like a melodic feast". Caryb Ganz of Rolling Stone noted that "Will.i.am draws up the perfect nü-Britney blueprint: a squelchy thumper that's light on singing and heavy on hilarious directives barked in an English accent... Blasts of clubby synths do most of the work, while Britney winks at the world".
The song debuted on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 at number 12, marking Spears' 31st song on the chart and the fifth highest debut of her career on the chart, and her seventh in the top 20. It also marked Spears nineteenth top 20 hit and overall her twenty-third top 40 hit. It also entered the top ten on the Hot Digital Songs chart at number six. "Work Bitch" has sold 174,000 copies in its first week, marking Spears' highest first-week sales since her 2011 number-one hit "Hold It Against Me". With its debut on the Pop Songs at number 25, the song marks Spears' 31st chart entry, pushing her past Mariah Carey (30) for the second-most entries to the chart's October 3, 1992, launch. In its second week, the song fell to forty-one on the Billboard Hot 100. The following week, it climbed back to thirteen after the release of the accompanying music video.
The music video for "Work Bitch" was shot by Ben Mor, who had previously worked on the video for Spears and Adams' 2012 single, "Scream & Shout". The visual effects for the music video were provided by HOAX Films, who completed sky replacements shots, set extensions and cleanup. It is produced for Black Dog Films/Little Minx, executive producer Coleen Haynes and producer Tony McGarry. Spears revealed she was rehearsing for something "top secret next week", on August 29. Filming took place in Malibu, California, on September 7, 8, 9, and 10. On the first day, Spears tweeted, "Hot day on set... ;) A little dirty, little flirty, danced my ASS off. Stoked for tomorrow!" following the tweet up with a still of herself in a yellow and black bra with long, black gloves. Spears released a sneak peek of the video on September 26, 2013 through her Instagram account. The full version of the music video premiered on October 1 on The CW Television Network, during the second day broadcast of the iHeartRadio Music Festival. The original airing of the premiere in the United States was viewed by 1.09 million viewers and received a Nielsen rating of 0.4/1 in the key adults 18–49 demographic, up 33 percent from the previous night.
Spears revealed that the video was supposed to have more sexual scenes; however, she edited many scenes out. "Because I am a mother and because, you know, I have children, and it's just hard to play sexy mom while you're being a pop star as well. I just have to be true to myself and you know, feel it out when I do stuff." Mor replied to the singer's comment, saying he never forced or made her do what she didn't want to during the video shoot, and continued, "She's in complete control the whole time. It was easy to make a racier cut only because of the extras and the cutaways, and that's it." Spears' manager Larry Rudolph and father Jamie Spears also released a statement, revealing that "Britney is never pressured into anything. She reviews all creative and for her 'Work Bitch' video she discussed toning down some parts in finding a balance of sexy and being a mom."
Mor said the video is not story-based as Spears' previous videos, but it has "more of a theme ... rather than a narrative. This one is basically [saying] 'The queen is back and she's about to show all these bitches how it's done.' It's her being really fierce and taking back her throne in a way." The video opens with several intercalated shots of the singer, who portrays a dominatrix, and her dancers in front of a pool, and a car, and in the middle of the desert After singing "Party in France? You better work bitch," we see Spears at the top of Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino dancing. According to Bruna Nessif of E! Online, we also see Spears channeling the erotic romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey throughout the video, with the singer "whipping some woman ... and using a riding crop". Product placement for Spears' fragrance Fantasy and Beats by Dre's Pill wireless speakers can also be seen.
Upon its release, the video received positive reviews from critics and fans alike, with some describing it as Spears' best video in nearly a decade. Bruna Nessif of E! Online praised the singer's figure, saying the video is "everything Britney Spears fans could want and more," adding, "There is just so much going on, we don’t even know where to start! But how about Brit's bangin' body? Yes, let's start there." Mike Wass of Idolator compared the desert scenes to the ones of Ciara's "Got Me Good" (2012), and wrote, "not only does [Spears] look absolutely gorgeous in an array of skimpy outfits, there’s some life in her eyes and, dare I say it, a spring in her step." The Hollywood Reporter contributor Sophie Schillaci thought the video was a return to Spears' early 2000s, comparing it to "I'm a Slave 4 U" (2001) and "My Prerogative" (2004). A reviewer for Fuse called the video a "sleek and sexy" return to form, while Ryan Roschke of Popsugar commented that "even though the premise of the video is a little unclear, we're going to go ahead and give Brit an 'A' for 'Abs.'" Similarly, Sharnaz Shahid of Entertainment Wise thought "the pop princess oozes sex appeal" and "is back to her old provocative ways."
Jocelyn Vena of MTV felt Mor "wasn't lying" when he said the video would show a more adult side of Spears, and argued the clip proves the singer is "ready for her next era to launch." Samantha Highfill from Entertainment Weekly described the video as a prequel to Beyoncé Knowles' "Run the World (Girls)", saying that it had a similar desert setting, "sexy" clothes, wavy hair, wild animals and both are all-female dance numbers. He further viewed Spears' video as "as offensive to women" but concluded that "However, the more I thought about the songs and watched the videos, the more I realized that even though Beyoncé’s song is all about the power of women — girls do run the world, after all — Britney's is too. Sure, Britney is a little blunter in finding a way to, er, 'encourage' women to work hard, but the song is about the fact that women can and should work hard and find success." A mixed review came from HitFix's Melinda Newman, who wasn't too impressed with the production, noting, however, that Spears' "dancing has certainly improved" and that "it's clear that she's definitely doing so much better than she was just a few years ago." In the United Kingdom, the music video was banned from airing on television before 10 PM, for displaying "a number of risqué scenes featuring bondage gear and Spears whipping her dancers." Music channels such as MTV and The Box requested a clean edit of the video to air through the day, as a heavily censored version of the song titled 'Work' is also available.
- Despite Myah Marie singing the song it is confirmed that Britney had recorded a version of the full track.
- In later years, Britney pre-recorded her vocals specifically for live performances after allegations heightened of the song not being sang by her.
Credits adapted from the liner notes of "Work Bitch" CD single.