During Thursday’s episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Elliott, 47, had a very special surprise for Mary Halsey, who went viral over the summer after posting a video of herself performing “Work It” online — complete with all the song’s sound effects — that got Elliott’s seal of approval.
After Halsey, who was a scheduled a guest on DeGeneres’ talk show, was asked by the host to perform the song for the live studio audience, Elliott made a surprise appearance midway through the track to rap alongside her “sister.”
Although the viral star understandably had a quick freak out after realizing what was happening, she quickly regained her composure and the pair continued the song together with their arms around each other.
Ahead of her performance, Halsey gave DeGeneres a little backstory — and how she got the idea to sing “Work It” in the first place.
The viral star explained that every year, Rhode Island’s Goddard Park holds a karaoke contest, and that this was her second time performing the rapper’s song there — but her history with the song actually goes back over a decade!
“I’ve been singing that song for 15 years,” she remarked, adding that she’s been calling herself Elliott’s “funky white sister” for just as long, as a way to fill in the time between when the song begins and the actual rap starts.
She went on to share that she first learned the tune in 2003, in order to compete in a karaoke competition.
“The song had come out in 2002 and it was really popular. And I said, I could do that song — maybe I could try. I learned, I read the words, I studied it, and the reaction I got was so positive that it became my go-to song. Everybody wants to hear it.”
After the performance, DeGeneres asked Elliott what it was about Halsey’s tribute that stood apart from other ones that she had seen online.
“Everything,” Elliott replied. “When she first said, ‘Missy’s funky white sister,’ I’m like, ‘Who is this?!’ So when I listen, I’m like, she know[s] all the words, but the sound effects — she made the elephant noise, all of that….I thought it was the most amazing thing.”
The rapper then surprised Halsey by giving her a one-of-a-kind t-shirt, which was signed by Elliott to her “funky white sister,” while DeGeneres gifted her a jacket emblazoned with the phrase.
After posting a video of herself performing the song on Facebook over the summer, Halsey told WPRI that while she thought the video would get some attention, she had no idea it would be remotely as successful as it was.
“I thought I’d get a few hits, so I wrote, ‘Please share, I want to go viral,’ and it took off from there,’ Halsey explained. “Then the hits kept coming. Halsey says, ‘I knew it would be big but I had no idea it would be this big.”
Perhaps sensing what was to come, Halsey went on to share that she would like to meet Elliot, adding, “I see it in my future.”