Look, we’re going to keep this short. It’s Sisqo’s birthday today. He is turning 40. Somewhere out there right now, Sisqo – the man who, with production duo Tim & Bob, co-wrote “Thong Song,” the world’s most extra dedication to some pants – is opening presents, blowing out candles on a cake and thinking about his hopes and dreams for the future. Truly, we hope he has a nice time and wish him all the best.
Anyway, for a long time now, we’ve been searching for an excuse to talk about “Thong Song.” Here is a song that is: i. entirely about a little triangle of material attached to some string that goes up the butt, and; ii. deeply catchy and emotional. Other songs that were popular in 2000 may have since been forgotten (see: “Coming Around” by Travis and “Feel the Beat” by Darude), but “Thong Song” has lived on, thriving in karaoke booths and wedding party dance-floors and bedrooms (?) ever since.
So, to celebrate the fact Sisqo has been alive four decades and his legacy for half that time, we thought we’d give “Thong Song” the same treatment as when Blazin’ Squad came back in the charts for a bit, or when Steps released one really good song then disappeared again. That’s right: it’s a Noisey Roundtable.
OKAY FIRST: WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF “THONG SONG” IN 2000 OR THEREABOUTS?
HANNAH: This song exists to let all the ladies know what guys talk about (“You know, the finer things in life / A heh heh heh”), and from this moment on I and every other nine-year-old girl with a copy of Now This Is What I Call Music Vol. 45 would believe that guys talk about thongs.
I did not previously know what a “thong” was before Sisqó’s “Thong Song” (right, so, they’re buttless-knickers where the material literally gets up in your arse – OK). Sisqó knows those onomatopoeic pants are worthy of an entire song. He wrote this exultant banger prior, even, to the revelatory stages of his thong journey. To Billboard he said: “I’d never actually seen one before…I remembered first seeing one and it was like ‘The Ten Commandments’ when Moses went up and his hair was black and then came back down and it was silver…The thong was stone tableted into my mind.” He encapsulated that mood and served it on to us. His song was our stone tablet.
JOEL: In 2000 I was 12 and just on the cusp of being interested in thongs and the areas thongs covered and obscured and I remember: 1) Thong Song being the naughtiest song ever recorded, I truly could not believe Sisqo was allowed to do this, how was he not arrested by the police and; 2) overnight, a switch in my head went from ‘not knowing about thongs’ to ‘extremely knowing about thongs’, and I’m pretty sure that went for everyone, on the entire planet. Like: people vaguely knew about thongs. Then Sisqo sang about thongs and they really knew about thongs. Everyone started looking at each other with a new light in their eyes. A light that said: “Thongs!”
DAISY: I genuinely don’t remember this coming out because I was eight years old at the time, but I do remember wanting to have a thong peeking out my jeans, so perhaps these two facts are related. Looking back, I can now see why my mum didn’t want her eight-year-old to wear some visible butt string, but at the time I just thought she was being boring.
EMMA: Even though I was just ten years old at the time, I can say with a great degree of certainty that it changed my life. The same way Bloodhound Gang’s “Bad Touch” introduced me to sex from behind, and Weezer’s “Hash Pipe” introduced me to weed (my mam had to break this to me in the middle of HMV by way of explaining why I wasn’t allowed to buy the single), “Thong Song” is solely responsible for introducing me to the humble thong. It literally expanded my worldview – on pants. Not long after that, I went to Tammy Girl and bought a three-pack of so-called “thongs” with the Paul Frank logo on. What a time to be alive.
LAUREN: “Thong Song” came out when I was five but even at that young age my instincts were sharp and I knew a fucking belter when I heard one. My mom tried to shield me from the, in fairness, quite arse-heavy music video when it came on TV but it was too late. The beat compelled me, to the point where I would routinely have to be stopped from wailing “LET ME SEE THAT THOOOOONG” while twirling in my socks on my nan’s kitchen tiles.
AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SONG TODAY? DOES IT STILL BANG?
EMMA: Bury me to it. Every time there’s a key change, lower me another inch deeper into the ground. That is how I wish to go. The spirit of “Thong Song” perfectly encapsulates how I hope to be remembered by my loved ones: horny, but incredibly polite.
HANNAH: In the staccato strings, the sort preserved for opening some Shakespearean scene, and in the mad modulating key changes, he presents: the woman in thong. The bravado, the swagger, the emotional range not for death and destruction, unrequited secret love, war and peace. This is a man who wants nothing, nothing but to see the thong.
The line that personally held the most mystery over the years was the bit about taking a dump like a truck??? – faecal matter? Again – this is what guys talk about wanting? Much to learn. But the whole song is perfect. “This is pretty much like my ‘Thriller’ – it’s like a moment in time,” he said in some interview. Fuck “Thriller” to be frank, this is “Thong Song.”
JOEL: It absolutely fucking slaps and the key-change is the greatest eleven seconds in music.
LAUREN: The key change gets a lot of attention – for good reason; Christian theologians agree that it was the exact sound that rang out as Christ ascended to heaven, jackhammering a cloud, after rising from the dead. As such, however, the “that thong, thong, thong, thong, thong” line goes under-recognised, which is a shame, as it’s an important image and the repetition really allows Sisqo to move through some complex emotions about the thong: realisation, acknowledgement, excitement, self-examination, acceptance.
DAISY: “Thong Song” has the melody of a deeply moving and genuinely earnest love song, and the lyrics of what you might shout at your mate while she’s dancing on the podium at G-A-Y late at 3AM before you both get kicked out for disorderly behaviour. Yeah it bangs.
THE VIDEO. DISCUSS.
JOEL: Don’t dare watch it because I’m at work and don’t want to get fired but best I remember it’s a lad with silver hair doing an MJ spin on a stack of oiled butts, i.e. the millennium’s first masterpiece.
DAISY: Sisqo is wearing white leather studded gloves, with just two fingers, like a hoof. That's mainly what I've been fixated on this entire time. The hooves.
HANNAH: Such is the stirring magnificence of the thong that Sisqo manages to hover-run on the up-stretched hands of a dancing bikini-clad crowd to a neon Eurovision stage. At the height of his fervour there (3.21) he is just ad libbing body parts (“your breasts… your feet”) and, idk. You feel it, man.
LAUREN: In this music video Sisqo is so truly elated by all the butts he sees that he does a one hand cartwheel, which is both absolutely sick and tells you everything you need to know.
EMMA: I like how it opens with a kid discovering a thong for the first time. A warm nod to his own personal experience of coming into contact with the garment at a fairly late age, which in turn inspired the song we know and love today. Truly, this is a universal journey of curiosity and wonder, and Sisqo acknowledges it as such within the first few seconds of the video. From there it mostly resembles every other video from the year 2000: baggy pants, weird gloves, and Sisqo showing off his belly button tattoo by doing a cheerleader’s tumbling routine behind a row of women tanning their arses on the beach. Classic stuff!
IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL OPINION, WHAT LEGACY WILL THONG SONG LEAVE BEHIND?
LAUREN: “Thong Song” occupies an important place in the 90s/00s horny canon (other entries include “My Neck, My Back,” and, naturally, “Horny” by Mousse T) which is an eminently more hallowed group than the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It will live on every time the VICE and Noisey editorial staff play it aloud every Friday at 4PM while some woman from across the office shouts “Not everyone wants to listen to ‘Thong Song!!!!’” They do if they’re not shit, Sarah.
EMMA: The last time I visited New York City a man catcalled me by singing “The Thong Song” directly at my arse all the way down the block, and I was pleased. If Sisqo knew this, I think he would be as impressed as I am with the impact his masterpiece has had on sexual politics.
Hannah: Immediately I, a literal prepubescent child, went out and bought a blue and silver nylon thong from an independent high street retailer for mature women. Was my mum happy about it? She was a coward. Anyway. It holds its rightful place in every millennial child’s horny coming of age story, along with T.A.T.U’s “All The Things She Said”, Xtina’s “Fighter,” and humping pillows and showerheads. Plus, COME ON, it’s just “Thong Song”, isn’t it. You logically know there’s nothing that could be legitimately *clears throat* sexy about this song. How could there be? But think about it. Think about it some more. There it is – it’s made you horny, hasn’t it. That’s the magic of “Thong Song”.
JOEL: It’s a Top 10 karaoke song and will be until the sun burns out of the sky but I don’t feel anyone else will talk about this so the real legacy of Sisqo’s Thong Song is: How Deep Is Your Love by The Rapture, which is the exact same song. I know HDIYL came out seven years ago but it baffles me we don’t talk about this every day.
DAISY: IDK, man. Thongs… we like them?
SHOULD SISQO MAKE A COMEBACK?
DAISY: I'll say it before, and I'll say it again: no one should ever make a comeback – unless it's once, at an Olympic Opening Ceremony. I don't care who you are, nobody wants to see you coke-bloated and 40, slowly and sadly gyrating to a song about butts. Although actually, now I've written it down, maybe they do… OK they do.
HANNAH: Sisqo performed a rendition of “Thong Song” (2000) at his own wedding. His wedding was this year (2018). Sisqo should not make a comeback.
JOEL: No. Remember when Sir Mix-a-Lot did “Put ‘Em On The Glass?” You do not, and neither does anyone else (I would argue that even Sir Mix-a-Lot has forgotten that he did this). “Thong Song,” like “Baby Got Back,” is an ass-centric one-hitter that can never be topped. Sisqo knows to leave things alone. We ought to, too.
LAUREN: Some art is simply timeless. If Sisqo wants to attempt a comeback, then more power to him, I wish him success. But he should know that it is not entirely necessary. For he has already done what few men before him have managed: he has made a cultural artefact that will live forever. People will always love arses, and they will always love getting three pints in and screaming along to songs where the chorus involves simple vowel sounds (see also: “Agadoo”; “heeeeey Macarena”). In “Thong Song,” Sisqo gave us everything we hold dear.
EMMA: As the enduring strength of “Thong Song” can testify, Sisqo never truly left.
This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.