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Three decades of iconic wonderfulness

Published Tuesday, October 02, 2012 @ 6:18 AM EDT
Oct 02 2012

Late Night with David Letterman observed the 30th anniversary of the iconic disco tune It's Raining Men yesterday with a big end-of-show production number featuring surviving Weather Girl Martha Wash; Paul Shaffer on keyboards; an augmented CBS orchestra; six(!) backup singers; three female dancers; and three male acrobats suspended from ceiling-mounted silk streamers.

No wonder it's Homer Simpson's favorite song.

Why Letterman, you may ask? The song was co-written by Shaffer, the late night host's sidekick/bandleader, and was featured early in the run of Letterman's late night show on NBC- episode 174, which aired on January 12, 1983.

Originally written in 1979 by Shaffer and Paul Jabara, the song was rejected by Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Cher, and Barbra Streisand. Martha Wash and the late Izora Armstead, originally performing as "Two Tons O' Fun," became "The Weather Girls" and released "Men" in October, 1982.

An international hit, it sold 6 million copies worldwide. While it reached #1 on the US disco chart, it only climbed to #46 on the Billboard Hot 100. In April 2001, Geri Halliwell released a cover version that was used in the film Bridget Jones' Diary. It was a big hit in the UK and Europe, but received little airplay in the US.

Used for decades in dozens of films and television episodes, "Men"'s most recent reincarnation is in the Broadway production of the stage musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert- The Musical. It was performed by the show's cast, plus Wash and Shaffer, at the 2011 Tony Awards.

The clip from last night is at the bottom of this post.

My all-time favorite version remains this one. The quality leaves a bit to be desired and the audio is slightly out of sync for the first minute or so, but it's, well, two tons o' fun. Watch the audience, especially when Martha heads into their midst and intimidates those in the aisle seats with her powerful gospel soprano. As Letterman commented later in the show, "They ripped the roof off the joint."

(YouTube video: The Weather Girls perform live on NBC's "Late Night with David Letterman" in January, 1983.)

(YouTube video: Martha Wash and Paul Shaffer lead a lavish (for late night TV) 30th anniversary performance on CBS' "The Late Show with David Letterman".)

Categories: David Letterman, It's Raining Men, Martha Wash, Music, Paul Shaffer, Video, YouTube

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