|Format Maxi single|
Genre Dance-pop, electropop
|Released March 27, 2001 (2001-03-27)|
"Play" is a song recorded by American entertainer Jennifer Lopez for her second studio album, J.Lo (2001). It was released on March 27, 2001, as the album's second single. The song was written by Cory Rooney, Christina Milian, Arnthor Birgisson, and Anders Bagge, with production done by the latter two under their production name, Bag & Arnthor. A dance-pop track, it was noted for its funky vibe, compared to the works of Madonna by critics. Over an electric guitar and a funky beat, Lopez sings about pleading a DJ to play her favorite song.
- Composition and critical reception
- Chart performance
- Music video
- Live performances
- Cover versions
- Credits and personnel
"Play" was a commercial success, peaking at number 18 on the US Billboard Hot 100 while charting within the top ten in over ten countries. Most notably, it reached number three in the United Kingdom. Its futuristic-themed music video was directed by Francis Lawrence. Additionally, "Play" was performed live by Lopez on numerous occasions, including at her Let's Get Loud concerts.
After a high-profile title role in the musical biopic Selena (1997), Lopez began developing her own career in music, later being signed to Work Records by Tommy Mottola. Her debut album On the 6 (1999) became an instant commercial success, and spawned the Billboard Hot 100 number one song "If You Had My Love". This led her to begin recording new material for her second album in April 2000. Initially, the album was to be called A Passionate Journey. During this period, Lopez began to transition into a sex symbol and was nicknamed J.Lo by the public, which is known as a nickname and "public persona". Hence, she instead released an album entitled J.Lo, which she credits as being more "personal" and "romantic" than On the 6. "Love Don't Cost a Thing", the album's lead single, was globally premiered on November 16, 2000.
Composition and critical reception
"Play" is a dance-pop song with a length of three minutes and thirty-three seconds (3:33). It was written by Anders Bagge, Arnthor Birgisson, and Cory Rooney, with production from Bag & Arnthor. Before she made her own debut as a recording artist, actress and singer Christina Milian also co-wrote and performed background vocals on "Play". Lopez recorded her vocals for the song with Robert Williams at Murlyn Studios, Stockholm as well as the Sony Music Studios in New York City. The song was later mastered by Ted Jensen. On the song, Lopez pleas with a nightclub DJ to "play her favorite song", containing lyrics such as, "Play, come on DJ/ Play that song/ Play it all night long/ Just turn it up and turn me on". It contains a "shuffling" electric guitar, as performed by Paul Pesco, over a "whistling electronica dance beat." A writer from Telegram & Gazette noted the track to be "Madonna-esque."
Allmusic's MacKenzie Wilson said "Play" "coincided with Lopez's funky style". Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine commented that "so many of the tracks" on the album "sound like they're straight out of 1986". He then went on to opine that "I'm Real" or the "funky" "Play" would have made a "brave" choice for the album's lead single, instead of "Love Don't Cost a Thing". A writer from The Indianapolis Star dismissed the album and its sexual content, while also using the explicit "Play" as an example of it not being appropriate for Lopez's target audience, who are predominantly preteens. Jake Barnes of Yahoo! Music UK noted "Play" to resemble the music of Prince.
"Play" experienced moderate commercial success. For the week of April 7, 2001, "Play" debuted at number 76 on the Billboard Hot 100, winning the "Hot Shot Debut of the Week" title. It also made its debut at number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay Chart. The following week, it jumped to number 46 on the Hot 100 and number 47 on the Airplay chart. For the week of April 21, "Play" jumped to number 28 to both charts. The song peaked at number 18 on the Hot 100 for the week ending May 19, failing to break into the top ten. "Play" also proved to be one of her strongest radio hits, peaking at number seven on the Hot 100 Airplay chart. In addition, the single peaked at number six on the Billboard Pop 100 as well as two on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. In Canada, it peaked at number five.
"Play" is one of Lopez's seventeen top-ten hits on the UK Singles Chart, having peaked at number three on May 12, 2001. It remained on the UK charts for a total of twelve weeks. On April 29, 2001, "Play' debuted at number 21 in Australia, where it eventually peaked at number 14 five weeks later. The Australian Recording Industry Association certified it Gold, marking sales of 35,000 units. In New Zealand, "Play" debuted at number 48 on April 22, 2001. It became a top-ten hit there, peaking at number seven a month later. The song peaked at debuted at number eight in Italy on April 26, 2001. Elsewhere, it peaked at ten in Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland.
The mainly computer generated music video for "Play" was directed by Francis Lawrence. Set in a futuristic multi-level spaceship, the clip begins with Lopez strutting into the boarding area whilst the other passengers gaze at her in awe. The video then cuts to Lopez, now on the plane, relaxing with a pair of headphones on listening to music. Various shots showing the plane's exterior are inter cut with these scenes of the singer. Lopez is then seen entering a room through sliding doors with a new outfit. The doors lead to a club filled with dancers. Intercut with these scenes are Lopez dancing solo on a platform, later joined by back-up dancers. Towards the music video's conclusion, Lopez asks the DJ (who takes the avatar of an iris) to play her favorite song. Its final shot depicts the plane flying towards the horizon. The music video, much like "Love Don't Cost a Thing", also features Cris Judd as a back-up dancer, who would later go on to become her second husband months later.
On January 12, 2001, Lopez performed "Play" along with "Love Don't Cost a Thing" live during an appearance on Top of the Pops. In February 2001, Lopez appeared as a featured performer at a special Total Request Live event, CBS Sports Presents: MTV's TRL The Super Bowl Sunday, which occurred in Tampa, Florida at The NFL Experience theme park. Songs such as "Play" and "Love Don't Cost a Thing" were included on her setlist. From September 22–23, 2001, Lopez performed a set of two concerts in Puerto Rico, entitled Let's Get Loud. These served as the first concerts of her career, in which she was, "flanked by a 10-piece orchestra, a five-person choir and 11 dancers." "Play" was included on the concerts' set list.
In 2004, South Korean girl group Baby V.O.X. covered "Play" in Korean and English for their final album, Ride West, with participation from Lopez.
Credits and personnel
Credits adapted from the liner notes of J.Lo.