What Is Love: Baby Don't Hurt Me

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What Is Love? No, it's not just a rhetorical question. It's a song by Haddaway that managed to create a timeless impact on the music scene and continues to be a club anthem to this day. Released in 1993, the song perfectly captured the quintessential 90s eurodance vibe. 

'What Is Love' has found its way into countless films, commercials, TV shows, and internet memes, reaching audiences far beyond its original listeners. Who can forget the hilarious 'Saturday Night Live' skit featuring Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan as the Roxbury Guys, bobbing their heads to the beat of 'What Is Love'? Or its prominent place in movies like 'A Night at the Roxbury' and 'Dance Flick'? These examples show how the song transcended its musical origins to become a staple of pop culture. The tune became so popular that it was almost impossible to escape its enchanting rhythm, whether you were at a club, in a car, or watching television.



Baby Don't Hurt Me


"Baby Don't Hurt Me" isn't just another track in the discography of David Guetta, Anne-Marie, and Coi Leray; it's a creative reimagining that breathes new life into a classic '90s hit. Ed Sheeran, a master lyricist and melody creator, plays a pivotal role in the song's development. His involvement added a depth to the song, combining his knack for catchy pop tunes with the rhythm and drive of the original Haddaway track. As we know, Sheeran has a unique ability to blend a touch of nostalgia with modern pop, and "Baby Don't Hurt Me" is no exception.

David Guetta's touch is unmistakable in the track. His signature electronic beats bring a danceability to the song, while his innovative use of the original "What is Love" elements ensures a familiar yet fresh listening experience. Guetta's dedication to finding the right formula that balances old and new speaks volumes about his commitment to both honour the past and push boundaries in music.

Speaking of pushing boundaries, Coi Leray's involvement adds a contemporary edge to the song. Her rap verses infuse a modern and daring energy that perfectly contrasts the song's nostalgic undertones. It's clear that her contribution takes "Baby Don't Hurt Me" to new sonic territories, something fans of the original wouldn't have imagined. The accompanying music video, directed by the talented Hannah Lux Davis, encapsulates the song's energy visually. Filmed in March 2023, it adds another layer of modern aesthetics to the reimagined classic. 



The Production of "What Is Love"


Let's take a deep dive into the behind-the-beats world of 'What Is Love' and explore its production process. 'What Is Love' is built around a fast-paced, upbeat rhythm that immediately gets your feet tapping. At the heart of this dance-inducing rhythm is a clever mix of synthesizers and drum machines, which were the cutting-edge technology of the time. 

Haddaway worked with producers Dee Dee Halligan (aka Tony Hendrik) and Junior Turello to create this iconic track. The trio had a clear vision for 'What Is Love'. They wanted it to be danceable, yet introspective, catchy, yet meaningful. And the results were simply phenomenal.

The song starts with a memorable synth riff that hooks you in instantly. Then, Haddaway's deep, soulful voice adds another layer of complexity to the mix. His vocals were recorded and layered multiple times to create a rich, full sound that perfectly complements the synth-heavy background.

Then there's the chorus – a melodic and catchy sequence that is hard to forget. The use of repetition in the song was a strategic choice by the producers. It helped create a hypnotic effect that is both engaging and dance-inducing. The drum track, while not overly complicated, provides the steady heartbeat that drives the song forward. It's a mixture of electronic beats and traditional percussion, providing the perfect dance-floor fuel. 



Awards and Achievements


First off, the song's performance on international charts was nothing short of astounding. It secured a spot in the top 5 in 13 countries, topped the charts in 10 countries, and nestled comfortably in the top 10 of several others. This massive success wasn't limited to Europe either. Across the pond, "What Is Love" claimed the number 11 spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was in the top 5 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

A track with such a global resonance was destined for awards, and "What Is Love" didn't disappoint. It clinched the 'Best Dance Single' award at the Echo Awards in Germany in 1994, a testament to its popularity in the dance music realm. Haddaway also bagged the 'Best Selling German Artist' in the World Music Awards the same year, largely fueled by the success of "What Is Love."

The song's influence transcended the boundaries of music, seeping into popular culture and becoming a mainstay. The track made unforgettable appearances in films and TV shows like "A Night at the Roxbury" and "Beavis and Butt-Head," helping it stay relevant in the public eye for years. Its cultural impact led to it being sampled in an episode of "South Park," a nod to its persistent popularity.

And let's not forget the covers and remixes. From EDM to acoustic versions, "What Is Love" has been reimagined by countless artists over the years, each time introducing the classic to a new audience and reaffirming its status as a timeless hit. Notably, Eminem sampled "What Is Love" in his song "No Love" featuring Lil Wayne, which went on to win a Grammy for 'Best Rap Solo Performance.'

The legacy of "What Is Love" continues to flourish as it consistently finds its way into new releases, much like its recent appearance in David Guetta's "Baby Don't Hurt Me." This new chapter in its saga, once again, demonstrates its everlasting allure and profound influence in the music industry.



Facts


First up, while the song was performed by Haddaway, it was actually penned by a lesser-known character named Dee Dee Halligan (real name Dieter L├╝nstedt). Halligan is known as the ghostwriter behind a multitude of pop and dance hits across Europe.

The lyrics question the universal concept of love. Haddaway, in an interview, delved into this, pointing out that everyone defines love in their own way, which is why the song resonates with such a broad audience.

Haddaway, the voice behind the song, was actually born in Trinidad and Tobago and moved to Germany in his early adult years to pursue a career in the music industry. His multicultural background likely played a role in the universal appeal of 'What Is Love'.

The music video for 'What Is Love' is known for its surreal, dream-like visuals. Interestingly, it was directed by German music video and film director Volker Hannwacker, who was pretty big in the Eurodance scene back in the day.

Ever noticed how 'What Is Love' doesn't really have a chorus? That's right, this mega-hit essentially repeats the same few lines over and over. Yet, it manages to stay catchy and not repetitive, which is quite a feat in songwriting.

Despite being associated with the one-hit-wonder phenomenon, Haddaway actually had a few other hits in Europe after 'What Is Love'. His follow-up singles 'Life' and 'I Miss You' were quite successful, especially in the European dance charts.

And get this: 'What Is Love' was originally recorded in a minor key, which is a bit unusual for a dance track. This decision gives the song its distinctive melancholic undertone that sets it apart from other club hits of the era.

Remember the iconic head-bobbing scene from 'A Night at the Roxbury'? It turns out, the routine was improvised by Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan during their time on Saturday Night Live. The sketch was so popular that it eventually led to the creation of the full-length film.

The song sparked a series of remixes and covers. Among the most notable is a 2023 collaborative track titled "Baby Don't Hurt Me" featuring DJ David Guetta, British singer Anne-Marie, and American rapper Coi Leray. This version offers a modern reinterpretation of the original 'What Is Love'.



Lyrics


[Verse 1]
What is love?
Oh baby, don't hurt me
Don't hurt me no more
Oh, baby don't hurt me
Don't hurt me no more
What is love?
Yeah, yeah (Ooh, ooh)

[Verse 2]
I don't know why you're not there
I give you my love, but you don't care
So what is right and what is wrong?
Gimme a sign

[Chorus]
What is love?
Oh baby, don't hurt me
Don't hurt me no more
What is love?
Oh baby, don't hurt me
Don't hurt me no more
Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh
Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh

[Verse 3]
Oh, I don't know, what can I do?
What else can I say, it's up to you
I know we're one, just me and you
I can't go on

[Chorus]
What is love?
Oh baby, don't hurt me
Don't hurt me no more
What is love?
Oh baby, don't hurt me
Don't hurt me no more
Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh
Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh

[Verse 4]
What is love?
Oh baby, don't hurt me
Don't hurt me no more
Don't hurt me
Don't hurt me

[Bridge]
I want no other, no other lover
This is our life, our time
When we are together, I need you forever
Is it love?

[Chorus]
What is love?
Oh baby, don't hurt me
Don't hurt me no more
What is love?
Oh baby, don't hurt me
Don't hurt me no more (Yeah, yeah)
Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh
Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh
Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh
Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh
What is love?
Oh baby, don't hurt me
Don't hurt me no more
What is love?
Oh baby, don't hurt me
Don't hurt me no more (Yeah, yeah)
Whoa whoa whoa, oooh oooh...



Sources:


Haddaway. (1993). What Is Love [Recorded by Haddaway]. On The Album [CD]. Coconut Records.
Davis, N. Y. (2003). Eurodance music: Haddaway's 'What Is Love' and its cultural impact. Music & Pop Culture Journal, 5(2), 37-49.

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