One-Hit Wonder, “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls, Explained

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Forget the weatherman, we want to hear from The Weather Girls.

The Weather Girls were an uptempo disco duo in the late ’70s and ’80s most famously known for their song “It’s Raining Men.” Here we’ll dive into the origins and legacy of the song that sings about a 100 percent chance of, well, men. 

The origins and The Weather Girls

“It’s Raining Men” was written in 1979 by Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer. Shaffer would later go on to be the bandleader for David Letterman’s late-night show, and Jabara had previously written hit songs for Donna Summer, such as “Last Dance” and “No More Tears.” And initially, Jabara intended to write “It’s Raining Men” for Summer to sing.

“Paul Jabara called me up and said, ‘I’ve got a great song for Donna Summer. I want you to write the song with me. What do you think about “It’s Raining Men?”’ We wrote it in one afternoon,” Shaffer said in an interview with Vanity Fair

But when it came down to it, Summer rejected the song. 

“Lyrically she hated it because she had become a born-again Christian,” Shaffer said. “She thought it was blasphemous. She called Paul and said, ‘I hate the song. Oh, we’ve lost you.’ And then she sent him a Bible the next day.” 

That’s where The Weather Girls came into the picture. But before they were The Weather Girls, they were, somewhat tongue in cheek, named Two Tons O’ Fun. The two tons in question were singers Martha Wash and Izora Armstead. The pair had met at a young age and would both end up singing together in the gospel group N.O.W. (News of the World). After their partnership solidified and after several releases as Two Tons O’ Fun, the songstresses changed their band name to support the release of “It’s Raining Men.”

“Paul went on to find Two Tons O’ Fun and they tore it up,” Shaffer continued to explain. “He had them record it as The Weather Girls, and there it was, a No. 1 dance song. Dave had them on the show, too, in 1983.”

A successful storm and gay anthem

The Weather Girls officially released “It’s Raining Men” on September 10, 1982, as the lead single from their studio album Success. It’s a post-disco song that leans into elements of R&B, soul, and dance music. The track hit the number-one position on the dance charts in the United States and was nominated for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 26th Grammy Awards. 

In addition to its commercial success in the United States, the lyrics and message of “It’s Raining Men” were quickly perceived as a gay anthem and adopted by the gay community. Despite being sung from a female perspective (God bless Mother Nature, she’s a single woman too), the song also objectifies men in such a way that was not happening in the ’80s. This message was not lost on the gay community, and they interpreted it as recognition of their culture. “It’s Raining Men” was frequently played at gay dance clubs, not unlike the attention that “Y.M.C.A.” by The Village People received.

A one-hit wonder

The song not only peaked at the top spot on the dance charts in the U.S., but it stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for a whopping eleven weeks. Even after that, though, the song proved to have incredible staying power. In 2017, “It’s Raining Men” topped the Spotify Rewind charts. 

Despite its success, The Weather Girls never released a song that was as successful as “It’s Raining Men.” The Weather Girls eventually disbanded in 1988, six years after the initial release of “It’s Raining Men.” Later in life, Wash would relive the success of the song with drag queen/television judge/musician RuPaul by releasing the collaborative song “It’s Raining Men… The Sequel” in 1998.

Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images

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