It should be noted that the famous "LatelyBass" preset on the Yamaha TX81Z (used extensively on house and techno songs of the late '80s and '90s) was based on the bass tone of this song, and subsequently named after it as well.
The song was interpolated for a medley sung in the 1993 comedy Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, and was covered by the American soul/funk band Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings in 2002 for their debut album, Dap Dippin' with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.
"What Have You Done for Me Lately" ranked 341 in Blender's The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born.
Jackson goes to a funky diner with her friends to talk about her relationship problems. Her boyfriend shows up with his friends, and Jackson decides to give him a piece of her mind. In the video, Jackson's reality is a dark world with faded colors. In a more dreamscape world, the colors are vibrant and everything is 2-D. "What Have You Done for Me Lately" won a Soul Train Music Award for "Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video" in 1987. The video's choreographer was Paula Abdul, who appears in the video as Jackson's friend. The video was made available on iTunes on February 1, 2007.
Music video actor/dancer Rudy Huston played Jackson's boyfriend in the video and was also in numerous other videos of the era including Pebbles' top ten hits "Girlfriend" and "Mercedes Boy". Jackson met Huston on the set of the television series Fame starring Debbie Allen, in which Jackson had a co-starring role and Huston was a featured dance student along with Jasmine Guy, before the latter's A Different World fame.
The single debuted on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart at #95 the week of February 22, 1986, and checked into the Top 40 of the chart a month later, advancing from #48 to #39. Eight weeks later, the week of May 17, 1986, "What Have You Done for Me Lately" reached it's peak of #4. On the Billboard year-end charts, "What Have You Done for Me Lately" was ranked #43 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles of 1986, #13 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs singles of 1986, and #28 on the Hot Dance Club Play singles of 1986.
The single reached #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart; it also reached #3 in the UK. The song was certified gold in the USA and platinum in the UK and also topped the charts in the Netherlands. It was an international hit and one of Jackson's biggest hits outside of the U.S. The song made the top ten in almost all the countries it charted in.
|Australian ARIA Singles Chart||4|
|Belgian Singles Chart||7|
|Canadian Singles Chart||2|
|Dutch Top 40||1|
|German Singles Chart||8|
|Swiss Singles Chart||9|
|UK Singles Chart||3|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||4|
|U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs||1|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play||2|
|U.S. ARC Weekly Top 40||4|