"Black Widow" is a song by Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, from her debut studio album, The New Classic. The song's hook is sung by British recording artist Rita Ora, and its lyrics chronicle subjects of revenge and feminism in a failed romantic relationship. "Black Widow" was written by Azalea, Katy Perry, Sarah Hudson, Benny Blanco, and duo Stargate; the latter also produced the song. Initially a track recorded by Perry for her fourth studio album, Prism (2013), the song was excluded from its track listing, however Perry handed the demo to Azalea for her to complete.
On July 8, 2014, the song impacted on mainstream radio stations in the US as the fifth single from The New Classic and the accompanying music video for the song was released on August 13, 2014. "Black Widow" has been described as "channeling the trap" genre, containing an ominous steel drum rhythm, heavy bass and a sparse beat. The song peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Azalea's third top-ten hit, following "Fancy" and "Problem". The song also became Ora's first top-three hit in the US. It has also reached number four in the UK and number fifteen in Australia.
ts composition has been the subject of music critics' comparisons to Perry's "Dark Horse". Other journalists, praised its beat and Azalea and Ora's vocals. "Black Widow" charted due to strong digital sales during the debut week of The New Classic. Accordingly, before becoming a single it achieved peaks of number 91 in the United Kingdom and number 86 in Australia, and appeared on several component charts. Azalea has performed the song live as part of the set list for her first headlining tour, The New Classic Tour (2014). The song is featured on the video game series Just Dance 2015.
In early 2013, Azalea became friends with American singer Katy Perry through Chris Anokute, an A&R at Azalea's record label Def Jam Recordings. Anokute, who previously was an A&R for Perry at her label Capitol Records, told Azalea that Perry was a fan of her music. When Azalea was nominated at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, Anokute asked Perry if she could promote Azalea's nomination in her category for Artist to Watch. Perry then took to Twitter to rave about Azalea's music, and Azalea later consulted Anokute about a future collaboration with Perry. Shortly afterward, Azalea and Perry begun working together with the latter's frequent collaborator Dr. Luke, but the collaboration proved unsuccessful. Azalea then heard about a song Perry recorded, "Black Widow", which was going to be given away to another artist. The song was initially written as a last-minute addition to Perry's fourth studio album, Prism (2013), but the composition finalized only after the album's release. Azalea described the track as "a legend" and a "mysterious record", before she could finally hear it.
On 4 June 2013, Azalea confirmed that British recording artist Rita Ora would feature on her debut studio The New Classic, after previously announcing Ora's feature on 26 December 2012. She stated, "I had a song in mind, and I need a woman with a big voice to sing the chorus because I can't do it". Azalea then asked Perry if she could record "Black Widow" for her album, which Perry then agreed to. The record, however, was never sent to Azalea and on 1 August 2013, she denied that Ora would be collaborating with her on the album. Azalea then met Perry for the first time, as her supporting act at the iTunes Festival that year. At the festival, Perry approached Azalea with an offer to record "Black Widow" as she felt the song would suit her better. Azalea was then invited to Perry's after party that night, where the two exchanged numbers, and Perry sent Azalea the record. When Azalea received the song, it only consisted of a hook and a beat. She initially wanted Perry to sing the song's hook, but Perry was unable to because of time constraints. In an interview, Azalea mentioned, "It needed someone who could really sing, as Katy's voice is awesome. The sky's the limit for Rita. Rita's a superstar and she will only get bigger. Rita is a great fit. Her voice can blow people away." Azalea and Ora then begun the recording "Black Widow" in November 2013 after the MTV Europe Music Awards, but only completed it in January 2014.
The final version of "Black Widow" was co-written by Azalea, Perry, Sarah Hudson, Benny Blanco, and its producers StarGate. Tim Blacksmith and Danny D. were responsible for the song's executive production and production co-ordination. StarGate provided the track's instrumentation and programming. Azalea and Ora recorded their vocals for the song at Record Plant and Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, and Jungle City Studios in New York. Their vocals were engineered by Daniel Zaidenstadt and Eriksen, while Miles Walker was credited as the track's assistant vocal engineer. Phil Tan completed the mixing process at Ninja Club Studios in Atlanta, with the assistance of Daniela Rivera. The song was originally rumoured to be produced by both duo StarGate and Benny Blanco, though upon the release of the album, Blanco was only credited as a songwriter.
On 26 February 2014, in an interview with Los Angeles radio station Power 106, Azalea stated that the album's fifth single would be written by Perry and feature an undisclosed female artist. A 90-second preview of "Black Widow" was released on 11 April 2014. The song's full version then leaked online on 17 April 2014, five days prior to the release of The New Classic on 22 April 2014. In an interview with music website HotNewHipHop on 3 June 2014, Azalea confirmed the song as the forthcoming fifth single from the album. It was released on 14 September 2014 in the United Kingdom.
"Black Widow" was met with generally mixed to positive reviews from music critics. Brittany Spanos of Rolling Stone called "Black Widow" a "great song" and praised its "hypnotic chorus." Rory Cashin of Entertainment felt the track had "future hit written all over it", and lauded Ora's "sing-along chorus", Stargate's "fantastic" production, and considered the song to be a "darker alternative" to "Dark Horse". MTV Buzzworthy's Nedeska Alexis placed the song in her list of the 4 Songs You Have To Hear from the album, and said Perry "worked her magic on the track."
On the week ending 17 August 2014, the song advanced 15-8 on the Hot 100 becoming Azalea's third US top 10 hit. The ascent made Azalea the third female act to score three top 10 spots simultaneously in the Hot 100, after Ashanti, Adele and Ariana Grande, with the latter also doing it on the same week as Azalea, marking the first time in Hot 100 history that two acts each tripled up in the chart's top 10 simultaneously. The pair's team-up, "Problem," fell 6-7 (after reaching No. 2 for five weeks) and Azalea's former seven-week No. 1 "Fancy," featuring Charli XCX, slid 3-5 "Black Widow" had sold 2,119,182 copies in the US, as of 28 December 2014, and peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100.The song was one of four different songs to be held off from number one by Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" and Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off", which held the top two positions for 11 consecutive weeks.
On 3 June 2014, Azalea confirmed an accompanying music video for the song, stating, "We're gonna have a very crazy music video, with a lot of other people that you guys may know, playing different characters. I'm really excited about it." Ora also talked about preparing for the video in June, "It is going to be amazing; I can't even tell you what's going to happen because I am sworn to secrecy. It is going to be major. You've seen her video for "Fancy"? She loves a theme and the theme for this one is fucking genius. All I am saying is I am in training for days for this video." The video was shot in mid-July in Los Angeles. On 8 August 2014 during a performance, Ora announced that the video should premiere officially on 11 August 2014. On 11 August 2014, a 16-second teaser for "Black Widow" was uploaded on Azalea's VEVO channel. The video was directed by Director X and Iggy Azalea and premiered through VEVO on 13 August 2014. Daps was the second unit director for the music video. American actors Michael Madsen, Paul Sorvino, and actor/rapper T.I. also appear in the video. On 14 August 2014, exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from the video set was shown on the second episode of MTV's show House of Style, hosted by Azalea and where she revealed the visuals are inspired by 70s kung fu films and Tarantino movies.
"Black Widow" was first performed by Azalea and Ora together at Wireless Festival in London on 4 July 2014.The song was also included in the setlist of The New Classic Tour. Azalea and Ora performed the track in spiderweb-inspired catsuits at the 31st annual MTV Video Music Awards, on 24 August 2014. Ora then also joined Azalea's set on stage at the Budweiser Made in America Festival in Los Angeles on 30 August 2014, to perform the song. They performed it again together on The Ellen DeGeneres Show's season 12 premiere week on 9 September 2014. Azalea and Ora also performed "Black Widow" in the fourth episode of Saturday Night Live's season 40 on 25 October 2014
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