Rewinding the Charts: In 2001, 'Lady Marmalade' Got a Makeover
Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and P!nk took Labelle's 1975 No. 1 to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for a second time.
HOW MANY POP DIVAS DOES IT TAKE to remake "Lady Marmalade"? In 1975, Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash – performing as Labelle – turned the risque (for its time) funk potboiler into one of the decade's most distinctive hits. Twenty-six years later, four of the brashest stars of the 2000s – Christina Aguilera, P!nk, Lil' Kim and Mya – plus Missy Elliott (who produced the track with Rockwilder and Ron Fair and raps on it), rerecorded "Lady" and duplicated its chart success at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The remake, which was featured on the soundtrack to the Baz Luhrmann-directed musical film Moulin Rouge!, spent its first of five weeks at No. 1 on the June 2, 2001, chart. The song also won the Grammy Award for best pop collaboration with vocals in 2002, and its burlesque-style music video (with a cameo by Elliott) won video of the year at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards.
Written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan (and inspired by New Orleans sex workers), "Lady Marmalade" is one of nine songs to top the Hot 100 in both its original iteration and reworked form; the latter's lyrics were altered slightly to fit the movie's premise. The track became Lil' Kim and Mya's first (and, so far, sole) Hot 100 No. 1, P!nk's first of four and Aguilera's fourth of five.
Fifteen years later, Aguilera, 35, who serves as a coach on NBC's The Voice, and P!nk, 36, are both prepping new albums on RCA. In March, Lil' Kim, 39, made her first Billboard chart appearance since 2010 when "#Mine" (featuring Kevin Gates) charted on the Rap Digital Songs list. The same month, Mya, 36, notched her highest-peaking entry, Smoove Jones (No. 30), on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart since 2003. In December 2015, Elliott, 39, was honored as the inaugural innovator of the year at Billboard's Women in Music celebration.
A version of this article first appeared in the June 4 issue of Billboard magazine.