It's Raining Men

It's Raining Men by krin.jpg

Date Aired
May 10, 2013
Running Time
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Todd plays "It's Raining Men" on the piano.

A one-hit wonder retrospective

Todd: Welcome back to One Hit Wonderland, where we take a look at the full careers of bands and artists who are known for only one song, and this episode [points the guns] is for the ladies.

Video for "It's Raining Men"
Martha: It's raining men
Weather Girls: Hallelujah, it's raining men
[Todd slowly unzips the hoodie and quickly opens up]
Izora: I'm gonna go out

Todd (VO): "It's Raining Men". Hallelujah. Yes, today we're talking about God's gift to ladies' nights and male strip shows across the nation. Oh, my God, this song is...

Todd:, so stupid, but you can't help but enjoy it, right? There's just...

Todd (VO): ...something about this ridiculous freakin' song. Today we're gonna take a look at the two BBW you see there singing the song, the Weather Girls. Believe it or not, those two people are not, in fact, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan in fat suits, but two actual singers with voices powerful enough to flatten even the buffest Chippendale's dancer.

Martha: It's raining men

Todd (VO): Well, it may have been raining men, but it was not raining hits. Their chart success quickly...

Todd: ...dried up. *throat clear*

Todd (VO): I mean, their name was the Weather Girls. When even your name is tied directly to your only hit, you can't be that surprised when you don't have a second, right?

Todd: Well, you'd be surprised. The Weather Girls were a serious group who deserved some serious consideration.

Todd (VO): No way, right? How is this campy novelty act worthy of your respect?

Todd: Well, let's find out. And leave those umbrellas at home because tonight we're gonna get [singing along] absolutely soaking wet! Yeah, don't think too hard about that.

Martha: It's gonna start raining men!

Before the hit

Todd: Now, already in this review, I have made several references to the fact that the Weather Girls were two...ladies of size, let's say. I'm sure there are some who would tell me that it was rude of me to even mention it. As a rebuttal to that, I would like to point out that the Weather Girls' original name was [self-titled album cover of...] Two Tons of Fun.'s gonna come up.

Clip of the Weather Girls performing "Land of the Believer" at the Apollo

Todd (VO): Those particular Two Tons of Fun are Martha Wash and Izora Armstead. Both got their start singing gospel in their local churches,...

Todd: ...but they both started getting interested in their local disco scene in their hometown of San Francisco, and that's where they met a man named Sylvester.

Video of Sylvester - "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)"
Sylvester: Oh, you make me feel
Mighty real

Todd (VO): Sylvester is mostly known nowadays for being one of the very few openly gay artists of his time. Now, disco itself sprang from the gay nightclub scene, know, being open about that kind of thing was still kinda taboo. Even most of [pic of...] the Village People weren't officially out of the closet, and this guy Sylvester, he made the Village People look like Van Halen, so he was kind of a groundbreaker 'cause...he was not shy about it. In fact, he kind of bordered on being a drag queen, although he did not like being called that.

[Montage of Sylvester with Two Tons of Fun]

Sylvester was the one who discovered Martha and Izora and decided to make them his backup singers. He's also the one that named them Two Tons of Fun. If they were bothered by that, they never said anything. God knows I would've been. Sylvester had several hits with those two on backup. I've seen some people say that the girls probably deserve more credit on those songs than he does. And they also release a [double album cover featuring Two Tons O' Fun and Backatcha] few records without Sylvester, meaning they were both his backup and his opening act. [Clip of performance in Japan] A few of their original songs were big hits on the dance charts, but...this was like 1980, 1981. The disco scene had already died pretty abruptly by that point, so they didn't have any real crossover success.

Todd: And then Mother Nature sent them these two men.

Clips of Late Night with David Letterman...

Todd (VO): The first was Paul Shaffer, who most people know nowadays as the bald guy who laughs at David Letterman's jokes. [...and American Bandstand] The other is named Paul Jabara, a guy who wrote [picture at Grammys of Jabara with...] many of Donna Summer's biggest hits.

Todd: Together, the two Pauls wrote a silly song called "It's Raining Men". Jabara offered it to Donna Summer first, but [clip of Summer performing "She Works Hard for the Money"] around this time, Donna found Jesus and was not so much into the dirty, sexy stuff anymore. Allegedly, it offended her so much that she mailed Jabara [picture of...] a Bible the next day. In any case, she turned it down, as did [pictures of...] Cher, Diana Ross, and hilariously Barbra Streisand. I would kill to hear that version.

Todd (VO): [breathy imitation of Barbra over one of her performances] It's raining men, hallelujah.

Todd: Two Tons of Fun weren't particularly interested in recording it either, but eventually Jabara won them over. And to accommodate the new song, he even got them to change the name of the band to...

The big hit

Video for "It's Raining Men"
Martha: Hi.
Izora: Hi.

Todd: Hi.

Martha: We're your Weather Girls, and leave those umbrellas at home!

Todd closes his open umbrella

Martha: It's raining men
Weather Girls: Hallelujah, it's raining men
Izora: I'm gonna go out, I'm gonna let myself get...

Todd (VO): I really can't help it, I think this song is awesome. I mean, it's just so dumb.

Todd: The joke is so belabored that you kind of have to take it as literal. Like...

Todd (VO): ...literally, the skies have opened up and are sending hot guys plummeting towards the ground. Like, they're gonna get absolutely soaking wet with blood and guts covering the street. I...I know that's not where they meant to go with it, it's just hard not to think about it.

Weather Girls: God bless Mother Nature

Todd (VO): Believe it or not, "It's Raining Men" didn't even break the Top 40, but it was a #1 dance hit, and around the time, MTV was redefining what constituted a hit anyway. I have to believe that the video is part of the reason the song got so big because it is a prime slice of early 80s cheese, including gutbustingly literal interpretations of the lyrics, ridiculous sets and outfits, and egregious special effects failures. Christ, I could do a better blue screen than that.

Todd: ["demonstrating"] Seriously.

Todd (VO): Mother Nature is sure rockin' that satin muumuu. You know, I didn't know that women wanted Mother Nature to send them flashers in trench coats.

Martha: Rip off the roof and stay in bed

Todd (VO): Despite being ostensibly a song for hypersexual women, this song caught on as a major gay anthem too for...well, pretty obvious reasons. For one, it's camp as hell, but it's more than just that. Cause you can tell, this was written by men.

Todd: Like, the whole "giggle giggle, we're checking out hot guys" thing. I guess women do appreciate that, but...

Todd (VO): ...that's not generally how women think. They don't fantasize about men as a group; they think about a man, but not men. Like, thinking about entire genders

Clip of...
Motley Crue: Girls, girls, girls

Todd (VO): That's a guy thing. "Whatta Man"?

Clip of same
Salt-N-Pepa: Whatta man, whatta man, whatta man

Todd (VO): That was a song written by women. "It's Raining Men" clearly was not. So when this quickly became a song about men, for men, it probably didn't come as a surprise to anyone. But it also caught on with the hetero-normative mainstream too. I mean, I...I think this song is awesome. And for the most part, it's because they just sell it. Like, they do not hold back.

Izora: Cause' tonight for the first time

Todd (VO): And obviously, neither of them we're gonna give [single cover of "Breakdance" by...] Irene Cara or [cover of self-titled album by...] Whitney Houston any competition in the looks department, but you would never be able to look just by listening to them. They are completely and totally without shame.

Todd: Matter of fact, doesn't Chris Rock have a bit about how the only people with any self-confidence are...

Clip from Chris Rock: Bigger and Blacker
Chris Rock: Big, fat, black women. Nobody likes who the fuck they are except fat black women.

Todd: Well, Chris Rock is qualified to make that statement and I am not, but...

Todd (VO): would not be surprising to me if he was thinking of "It's Raining Men" when he wrote that bit. Cause...listen to them. They just sing it with so much gusto.

Weather Girls: It's raining men!

Todd (VO): Martha and Izora are really good singers too; they contrast well off each other. Izora has the gritty voice, and Martha is the clearer, more Mariah Carey-ish one. And obviously, the novelty of two women who look like that helped sell the song too.

Todd: The big question pun. The big question is, how do you follow a song like that? Well...

The failed follow-up

Todd: Now, a running theme of this show is that artists don't get that second hit because they blatantly tried to recycle their first, and the Weather Girls sadly are one of those groups, but...

Clip of the Weather Girls performing on Top of the Pops

Todd (VO): ...the song they tried to recreate what a little more ridiculous than most. "It's Raining Men" is about womankind being given the gift of hot guys through some bizarre natural/supernatural phenomenon.

Todd: How do write a second that? Well, it turns out Jabara and Shaffer found a way.

Video for "Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man this Christmas)"
Martha: Hi.
Izora: Hi!
Martha: We're your Weather Girls
Izora: Uh-huh!
Martha: And have we got holiday news for you.
Izora: You better listen.
Martha: This is an open letter to Mr. Santa Claus

Todd: Yep!

Izora: Bring me a man
Martha and chorus: Bring me a man, bring me a man
Izora: This Christmas
Martha and Chorus: Dear Santa

Todd: Yes, in the proud tradition of such seasonal classics as [single covers of...] "Monster's Holiday" and "Simpsons Christmas Boogie", we've got a winter wonderland themed reworking of their first hit.

Izora: Come on, Santa, come through
Bring me a man

Todd: [singing, but almost laughing] God bless Father Christmas, he's a single woman too.

Weather Girls: Turn the lights down low
And let it snow

Todd: [can't help but laugh] It's snowing men! Hallelujah.

Todd (VO): Oh, my God, I wish all the bands I covered on this program did a Christmas version of their only hit. Think about it. [Brief clips of originals] "Kung Fu Santa", "Play That Christmas Music, Elf Boy", "Don't tell my heart, my holly, jolly heart." If, for some reason, I ever wind up with a hit, I'm going to immediately repackage it for Christmas. This song goes on for six minutes, by the way.

Todd: Okay, obviously, this song did not become the next "Santa Baby".

Video for "Well-a-Wiggy"
Weather Girls: Oh well a

Todd (VO): The Weather Girls stuck it out for a few years after that, but they could never really get anything else to chart. By the way, this album was titled, tragically enough, [album cover of...] Success. You know, now that I look at this, the manager may have had them play up the whole fat thing a little bit too much. You know, it's weird, where Two Tons of Fun were a very serious, legit group despite the name, the Weather Girls were very jokey.

Todd: Their next album's title track was a cover of Frankie Valli's "Big Girls Don't Cry".

"Album cover

Man: Big girls
Weather Girls: Don't cry-y-y
They don't cry

Todd: And to be honest, the Weather Girls are kind of hard for me to listen to for more than one song in a row because...

Clip of Apollo performance

Todd (VO): ...they...they'd kinda turn the volume to 11 every time they sing. It always makes me feel like I'm being sprayed with spit. If there is one song I'd single out, it'd be "Land of the Believer", which is one of those cool, weird, semi-exotic 80s songs.

Weather Girls: Just take a moment
To sell the moment
Martha: This is the land of the believer

Todd (VO): But no, this was not a hit. They never had another hit, and after their third album flopped in 1988, the two broke up.

Todd shrugs

Did they ever do anything else?

Todd: Yep.

Clip of the Weather Girls performing "Get Up" at Eurovision Song Contest 2002

Todd (VO): Well, first of all, Izora kept the act going and continued performing as the Weather Girls with her daughter Dynelle, and they released a few more albums and toured until Izora's too-early death in 2004. And Dynelle is still keeping the name of the band alive today.

Todd: Martha Wash, meanwhile, had a much better career after leaving the Weather Girls.

Video for Black Box - "Strike It Up"
Black Box: Yeah!

Todd (VO): Turns out the early 90s dance scene was even better for big, booming voices like hers than the late 70s.

Martha: [lip-synched by Katrin Quinol] Strike it up

Todd (VO): Martha Wash recorded some big, big hits during the house dance era, most frequently as the vocalist for the dance act Black Box.

Video for "Everybody Everybody"
Martha: Sad and free

Todd (VO): You will notice that, in this video, the part of Martha Wash is being played by a hot person. That happened a lot. Most people don't remember Black Box anymore, but...

Todd: probably do remember one of Martha's collaborations on another dance act's big song.

Video for C+C Music Factory - "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)"
Martha: [lip-synched by Zelma Davis] Everybody dance now!

Todd (VO): Hell yeah. Again, note the lack of Martha in the video.

Martha/Zelma: Everybody dance now!

Todd (VO): Eventually, she got sick of that and sued to have her name used, and this was right after Milli Vanilli, so it was a big controversy at the time. And she won the lawsuit, and after that, she started putting out her own solo records.

Video for "Carry On"
Martha: I carry on
Oooh-ooh yeah!

Todd (VO): They never became mainstream hits, but the gay community absolutely loves her, like Lady Gaga if Lady Gaga were, like, five times larger. And even though Martha is a straight woman who grew up in the church, she's always been super cool and supportive of them too. You know, a lot more so than the [single cover of Donna Summer - "On My Honor" from Bad Girls] queen of disco herself was, I might add.

Todd: Classy lady, that Martha Wash.

Did they deserve better?

Todd: Eh.

Weather Girls: It's raining men!

Todd (VO): Honestly, if you're gonna check out more of the Weather Girls' stuff, I'd recommend the stuff they made before and after they were the Weather Girls because it was a lot better than most of the things they released under that name. Then again, I didn't think any of their songs were bad either; I mean, I like it as much as the stuff [single cover of "Who's Zoomin' Who"] Aretha Franklin was putting out in the 80s. Yeah, I can see why they didn't take off, but the world certainly wouldn't have been a worse place if the Weather Girls had made it rain a little longer. Seriously, who doesn't like "It's Raining Men"?

Todd: 'em, the Weather Girls get a thumbs up from me. Good night, everyone, careful and watch out tonight for some plummeting, screaming men.

Opens up umbrella and leaves

Weather Girls: Hallelujah!
It's raining men!

Closing tag song: Geri Halliwell - "It's Raining Men"

"It's Raining Men" is owned by Columbia Records
This video is owned by me

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