|"If Your Girl Only Knew"|
|Single by Aaliyah|
|from the album One in a Million|
|Released||July 12, 1996|
|Recorded||1996; Pyramid Studios|
(Ithaca, New York)
|Aaliyah U.S. singles chronology|
|Aaliyah Eurasian singles chronology|
"If Your Girl Only Knew"
"If Your Girl Only Knew" is a song by American singer Aaliyah from her sophomore studio album One in a Million (1996). The song was written by both Missy Elliot and Timbaland with the latter producing the song. Musically "If Your Girl Only Knew" is a Funk and Pop song that features keyboard and organ work along with guitar licks. Lyrically the song is about chiding a man for hitting on them when he already has a girlfriend. The song was released as the albums lead single by Blackground and Atlantic records on July 12, 1996. Upon its release the song was met with generally positive reviews from critics, with many praising Aaliyah's vocal delivery on the record.
Commercially "If Your Girl Only Knew" performed well, peaking at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 on the week ending on October 19, 1996. The song was just as successful on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart topping the charts at number 1 for two consecutive weeks. The song also charted well on the US Rhythmic chart peaking within the top 10 at number 6, during the week ending on November 2, 1996. Towards the end of 1996, it was reported by Billboard that the song had sold over 600,000 copies in the United States.
Internationally "If Your Girl Only Knew" performed moderately well peaking within the top 20 at number 20 on the Recorded Music NZ chart in New Zealand. In Europe the song peaked within the top 40 at number 21 on the UK official charts on the week ending on August 24, 1996. In 1997 the song was re-released in the UK as a double single with "One in a Million" and the song reached a new peak position within the top 20 on the Official charts. On the UK official R&B charts the song was performed even better peaking within the top 5 at number 4. According to the UK Official Chart company the originally released single of "If Your Girl Only Knew" is Aaliyah's tenth best selling single in that region.
While discussing the musical direction for her second studio album "One In A Million" Aaliyah stated in an interview with Billboard, "I wanted to maintain my smooth street musical image but wanted to be funky and hot yet sophisticated". "If Your Girl Only Knew" was described by Atlantic product development director Eddie Santiago as "a very funky mid-tempo track with lots of heavy keyboard and organ work along with live drums and a thumping bass line". The song was produced by Timbaland and it was one of the earliest songs that she recorded for the album with him along with "One in a Million". Promotional copies for the single was serviced to R&B and cross over stations on July 12, 1996 and the song was also digitally uploaded to those same stations that following Monday.
"If Your Girl Only Knew" is a funk and pop song and it has been described by critics as being "teasingly witchy" and "sassy". The production on the song features a "a slap bass melody over boom bap drums accentuated by hand claps over the snares and clattering cymbals and hi hats". In addition the song's production features "retro" guitar licks and an organ which are prominent throughout the song.
On "If Your Girl Only Knew" Aaliyah "reveals a more assured vocal style, as well as a more flexible range". Also on the song she utilizes her lower register more as she chides a man for hitting on her when he already has a girlfriend. "The content is raw, with melodies aplenty throughout, with key lyrics like 'She would probably leave you alone/She would probably curse you out and unplug her phone/I bet she'd be glad that you was gone/And then she wouldn't have to worry'". According to Quentin B. Huff, "Aaliyah's narration isn't completely disinterested in his advances ("If your girl only knew / that I would want to kick it with you") but something tells me this guy is running the risk that she'll tell his girlfriend what's been going on".
In his review of the song, Larry Flick from Billboard described it as a "wickedly infectious jeep chugger" and felt that Aaliyah's break from public view in between albums was "well spent". He also praised Aaliyah's vocal styling, saying: "She reveals a more assured and fully realized vocal style as well as a more flexible note range". Dimitri Ehrlich of Entertainment Weekly described the song as a "low-key funk tune" and commended the overall message of the song, writing: "The message is an enduring one and the sparse, robotic rhythm is entrancing". In a review of One in a Million, Connie Johnson of the Los Angeles Times called the song "teasingly witchy". Shannon Marcec from Complex felt that Aaliyah delivered her sweet but haunting vocals on one of Timbaland's best beats. Marcec also mentioned that the lyrics made the song one of Aaliyah's hottest song. Quentin B. Huff from PopMatters felt that on the song that "Aaliyah sounds amused, playful even, and if his girlfriend didn't already know about his shenanigans, I gotta believe she would have figured it out when she heard the song in heavy radio rotation (smirk). When you think about it that way, this is a nightmare for this guy, but funny for us -- he tries to "kick it" with Aaliyah and gets his attempt at being a player broadcast in one of her songs".
"If Your Girl Only Knew" was released as the album's lead single on July 12, 1996 and it debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 34 during the week of August 31, 1996. The song reached its peak at number 11 , eight weeks later on the Billboard Hot 100 during the week of October 19, 1996. On the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart the song debuted at number 12 for the week of August 31, 1996. on September 28, 1996 during the songs fifth week on the chart it reached its peak at number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and it stayed at number one for two weeks. According to Datu Faison from Billboard "Key factors leading to Aaliyah's big 5-1 leap include a 20% unit increase at R&B core stores, which pushes an identical 5-1 jump on hot R&B singles sales. Audience impressions increase another 9%, moving the record 9-7 on Hot R&B airplay". The song also peaked within the top 10 at number 6 on the rhythmic charts during the week of November 2, 1996. Towards the end of 1996, it was reported by Billboard that the song sold over 600,000 copies in the United States.
Internationally "If Your Girl Only Knew" was also a success in the UK when it was originally released by itself peaking within the top thirty of the Official UK singles chart at number 21 on August 24, 1996. In 1997 the song was re-released as a double single with "One in a Million" and it reached a new peak position at number 15 on May 24, 1997. Also in the UK the song peaked within the top 10 at number 6 on the UK Official Dance charts on August 18, 1996. On the UK official R&B charts the song also peaked within the top 10 at number 4 on August 25, 1996.  According to the Official Charts Company the solo version of "If Your Girl Only Knew" is Aaliyah's tenth best selling single in the UK. Meanwhile the version that was released as a double single with "One In A Million" is her sixth best selling single in that region. In Japan, "If Your Girl Only Knew" peaked at number four on the Tokio Hot 100 chart . In the Oceania region of the world the song peaked within the top twenty at number 20 in New Zealand on October 20, 1996.
The video for "If Your Girl Only Knew" was directed by Joseph Kahn and it was sent to local and national videos shows on July 8, 1996. The video featured cameos from celebrities such as Missy Elliott, Timbaland, 702, Lil' Kim and even Aaliyah's brother Rashad Haughton. In an Interview with Vibe Kameelah Williams from the R&B group 702 recalled that either Aaliyah or Missy Elliot invited her group to be a part of the music video. According to Williams she and her band-mates were told that they were going to be on Motorcycles and that they had to wear all black for the video. Williams also had a solo cameo in the video in which she is shown arguing with her on-screen boyfriend in an elevator. Williams explained, "She gave me a little cameo so I was like, 'Okay, that's my home girl.' She let me do a little scene by myself with this guy fighting in the elevator so that was my little Aaliyah cameo".
The video begins with Aaliyah, her brother, and their clique arriving to a party on motorcycles. She wears a dark leather outfit with her trademark sunglasses and bandana. Scenes include Aaliyah sitting in a futuristic chair, at a party (the party scene is shot in black-and-white, but Aaliyah remains in color), Aaliyah and various others in an elevator, and also a close-up of Aaliyah's face. Color editing is used on her eyes here, and they change color towards the end of the video.
The music video for "If Your Girl Only Knew" made its television debut on both BET and The Box for the week ending on July 21, 1996. Eventually the video was the sixteenth most played video on BET for the week ending on September 8, 1996. On MTV the video made its television debut on the network for the week ending on July 28, 1996. For the week ending on October 6, 1996 the video was the twenty-eighth most played video on MTV.
According to Atlantic Records VP Manny Bella "Every component of the project-including the video, a television campaign, and other promotions- was in place before the single went to radio". In order to promote the single Aaliyah went a promotional radio tour where she connected with the radio audience. Bella mentioned ,"Aaliyah rode a tour bus through several markets and connected to radio in every one". Certain topics that Aaliyah discussed while on her promotional radio tour included issues related to education. Black-ground records president Barry Hankerson stated ,"While at the stations she discussed fundamental issues on air, such as getting good grades in school and how she balances school and her career. In September 1996 Aaliyah made an appearance at MTV's sixth annual Rock N' Jock event which aired on MTV on October 26. During the event she participated in the celebrity basketball game and performed her song "If Your Girl Only Knew" during the half time show. On November 16, 1996 Aaliyah performed the song on Soul Train.
In 2016 Swedish singer-songwriter Erik Hassle paid tribute to Aaliyah by releasing his own version of the song entitled "If Your Man Only Knew". "If your Man Only Knew" was written by Hassle, Daniel Ledinsky and Alexander Shuckburgh and on the song his voice is being showcased. According to Brennan Carley from Spin " Hassle also knows his way around a solo hook too, and his new song "If Your Man Only Knew" is gorgeous proof. At ends both melancholic and resentful, the tune's a big, bold, front-and-center vocal showcase for the singer". Both Lewis Corner and Amy Davidson from Digital Spy praised the song by saying that "it's a cool slice of R&B-pop and that the song will do in today's music climate".