Ladies and gentlemen, gather round. I have some tragic news to share with you. I'm sure you fondly remember Sisqo's classic 1999 twerking anthem, the "Thong Song." Both the song and the legendary video that accompanied it have stood the test of time. The video featured cameos by some of hip-hop's most popular acts at the time, Ja Rule and Method Man, plus the other members of Dru Hill, the group Sisqo temporarily split from to pursue a solo career. It also boasted over-the-top acrobatics from Sisqo and his backup dancers, and minimal, but cute, choreography from the many diverse women featured. Remember that word: diverse. We'll be coming back to it.
Sisqo served legitimate vocals on the original "Thong Song," unabashedly making it known just how much he appreciates the feminine undergarment. His approach to the hook and bridge progressed from in the pocket in the beginning, to full-out, impassioned belting by the end. And the production? The strings, my God, the strings. From the moment the track opened, listeners were immediately swallowed into an orchestral whirlwind that sounded like no other R&B/hip-hop song that was out at the time. Mix all of that greatness together and you have a song that still hits like it just dropped this year, instead of 18 years ago.
Even though literally nobody asked for it, a rework of the "Thong Song" has found its way to us in 2017. And holy shit, is it a gut punch of disappointment. Produced by Norwegian trio JCY, the new version sounds exactly like every other pop-EDM song on the radio. The offensively adorable production gives Sisqo zero room to stretch his vocal wings, so he doesn't. He shined on the hook and bridge on the original song; in the updated track, he's a shadow of himself.
The video for the new song is just as depressing. Where the original featured women of all ethnicities and colors, the new one largely features white women, with a few light-skinned and racially ambiguous women thrown in for good measure. Not a dark-skinned woman in sight. The "Thong Song" has effectively been whitewashed.
The new video was also missing legit choreography (no half-stepping)—but Sisqo gets a pass for that. He told BuzzFeed that he was injured just before shooting the new visuals; on top of that, he said he had little time to get the new moves down.
"I'd just done a show on the complete opposite side of the country where I dislocated three ribs," Sisqo said. "The epitome of insult to injury was the couple of hours we had to learn brand new choreography for the video right before recording it, where in most cases, you get a week to learn a new routine."
There are definitely worse things to be upset about in 2017. But for just one moment, we should be allowed to mourn a song, and video, that deserved so much better. You can watch the new "Thong Song" above, but don't say I didn't warn you.