Celebrating its 30-year anniversary, “It’s Raining Men” is a fun, campy and upbeat song that is still belted out at every neighborhood karaoke joint–at least in my neighborhood. Truthfully, though, who can deny the irresistible charm of the hit song originally recorded by the duo known as The Weather Girls in 1982?
“It’s a classic now,” said Martha Wash, one half of The Weather Girls in an interview last year when asked about the song. “We did not want to record that song, but the songwriter begged us to. Everybody had turned it down–Donna Summer, Cher, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand. We relented and recorded it in ninety minutes and walked out of there thinking that was it. Paul (the songwriter) pushed the song.” “It’s Raining Men” charted on the R&B, Disco and Hot 100 charts almost instantly, reaping success nationally and abroad.
I remember the song, and while not necessarily an early fan of the song, I was mesmerized by the vocals of the singers Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes. In the 80s and 90s, Wash had been the featured lead vocalist on numerous hits—from C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” and Seduction’s “You’re My One and Only (True Love,” to Black Box’s “Everybody Everybody” and “Strike it Up.” Yet, she had gone uncredited due to the tendencies of those producing the songs to use models to “perform” the songs in video and on stage, lip synching to Wash’s vocals.
I remember watching the videos of the aforementioned songs in the 90s as a teen and recognizing the disconnect between what I was seeing and what I was hearing, mainly because Martha Wash’s voice was recognizable and familiar. She had been quite popular as part of the effervescent duo known as The Weather Girls. I was confused as to why someone else was mouthing the words to Martha Wash’s voice. To learn the truth later–that it was because of her physical appearance that she was not allowed to sing in front of a camera the songs she sang so powerfully in the studio–impacted me in a surreal way. I didn’t understand the logic because the Weather Girls’ classic tune “It’s Raining Men” was a hit.
“It’s Raining Men” celebrates 30 years this year and brings to mind the walls, ceilings and roadblocks women of different shapes and sizes had to kick down to share their voices and what they had to further endure, even after their measurable phenomenal success as a music act. Now an icon within the gay community on the level of such divas as Patti Labelle, Mariah Carey, Madonna and Beyonce, Martha Wash uses her influence to serve as an activist on the HIV awareness front and still sings “It’s Raining Men” for her adoring public from time to time. When asked last year after a performance of the song at the Tony Awards if she was tired of it, she replied, “A cult classic will never die. Everyone wants to sing that song.”
-Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is a music writer based in Maryland. Her bylines have appeared on SoulBounce.com, Honey Magazine, ForHarriet.com, and other print and digital spaces. Visit her website at KhadijahOnline.com.