How Louis Theroux Became a “Jiggle Jiggle” Sensation at 52

Four or five times a week these days, an old friend will contact Louis Theroux and say, “My daughter keeps running around the house singing your rap” or “My wife was practicing for your rap. in his Pilates class. Passing in front of an elementary school, Mr. Théroux has the feeling of being watched, a feeling confirmed when he hears a kid shouting behind him: “My money don’t jiggle jiggle”.

Her agent fielded dozens of requests for personal appearances and invitations to perform. Mr Theroux, a bookish and somewhat anxious 52-year-old British-American documentary maker, turned them all down, not least because, as he said in a video interview from his London home, “I don’t not try to make it as a rapper.

But in a way, he already has: Mr Theroux is the man behind “Jiggle Jiggle”, a sensation on TikTok and YouTube, where it has been streamed hundreds of millions of times. He delivers the rap in an understated voice that bears traces of his Oxford upbringing, giving a fun cadence to the lines “My money don’t jiggle jiggle, it folds/I’d like to see you wiggle, wiggle, for sure .”

For Mr. Theroux, son of American author Paul Theroux and cousin of actor Justin Theroux, the whole episode was strange and a little unsettling. “I’m glad people appreciate rap,” he said. “At the same time, there’s a part of me that has some degree of mixed feelings. It’s a bittersweet thing to experience a defining moment of virality through something that, at first glance, seems so disposable and so far removed from what I actually do in my job. But here we are.

The story of how this middle-aged father of three took over youth culture with a novelty rap is “a disconcerting 21st-century example of the weirdness of the world we live in,” said Mr. Theroux.

“Jiggle Jiggle” gesticulated for years before it became all the rage. It all started in 2000, when Mr Theroux hosted ‘Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends’, a BBC Two series in which he immersed himself in various subcultures. For a episode in the third and final season, he travels to the southern United States, where he meets a number of rappers, including Master P. As part of the show, he decides to rap himself, but he has only a few meager lines: “Jiggle Jiggle / I love it when you squirm / It makes me want to dribble / Want a violin? »

He enlisted Reese & Bigalow, a rap duo in Jackson, Miss., to help shape him. Bigalow cleaned up the first few lines and linked the word “jiggle” with the word “jingle” to suggest the sound of coins in your pocket. Reese asked him what kind of car he drove. His response – Fiat Tipo – led to the following lines: “Driving in my Fiat/You really gotta see it/Six foot two in a compact/No slack but luckily the seats move back.”

“Reese & Bigalow infused rap with an authentic quality,” Mr. Theroux said. “The things that make it special, I could never have written on my own. At the risk of over-analyzing it, the great part, in my mind, was to say, ‘My money doesn’t move, it bends.’ There was something very satisfying about the cadence of those words.

He filmed himself performing the song live on New Orleans hip-hop station Q93, and BBC viewers witnessed his rapping debut when the episode aired in the fall of 2000. It might have been the end of ‘Jiggle Jiggle’ – but ‘Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends’ took on new life in 2016, when Netflix licensed the show and started streaming it on Netflix UK. The rap episode became a favorite, and whenever Mr. Theroux publicized a new project, interviewers inevitably asked him about his foray into hip-hop.

In February this year, while promoting a new show, “Forbidden America by Louis ThérouxMr Theroux sat down for an interview on the popular web talk show ‘Chicken Shop Date’, hosted by London comedian Amelia Dimoldenberg.

“Can you remember the rap you did?” Ms. Dimoldenberg asked, prompting Mr. Theroux to to rhyme in what he described as “my slightly po-faced, dry English delivery”.

“What happened next is the most mystifying part,” he added.

Luke Conibear and Isaac McKelvey, a DJ-producer duo in Manchester, England known as Duke and Jones, extracted the audio from “Chicken Shop Date” and set it to a backing track with a laid-back beat. Then they downloaded the song on their YouTube account, where it has 12 million views and counting.

But “Jiggle Jiggle” became a phenomenon thanks in large part to Jess Qualter and Brooke Blewitt, 21, graduated from Laine Theater Arts, a performing arts school in Surrey, England. In April, the two friends were cooking pasta in their shared apartment when they heard the song and hastily choreographed moves suitable for the track – dribbling a basketball, spinning a shuttlecock – and the “Jiggle Jiggle” dance. was born.

Wearing hoodies and sunglasses (an outfit chosen because they wore no makeup, the women said in an interview), Ms. Qualter and Ms. Blewitt made a 27 second video of themselves performing the routine. It exploded shortly after Ms Qualter posted it on TikTok. Copycat videos quickly emerged among TikTok users around the world.

“All of this was happening without my knowledge,” Mr. Theroux said. “I got an email: ‘Hey, a remix of the rap you did on ‘Chicken Shop Date’ is going viral and doing amazing things on TikTok.’ I’m like, ‘Well, that’s funny and weird.’ »

He broke out of TikTok and entered the mainstream last month, when Shakira performed the “Jiggle Jiggledances to NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Snoop Dogg, Megan Thee Stallion and Rita Ora all showed up dancing to it. Downton Abbey cast jiggle at a red carpet event.

“Anthony Hopkins comes from did one thing yesterdaysaid Mr. Théroux. “That would be too much to call it a dance. It’s more of a tick. But he does Something.”

The whole episode was weird for her three kids, especially her 14-year-old son, who loves TikTok. “‘Why is my dad, the cringest guy in the universe, all over TikTok?'” Mr Theroux said, giving voice to his son’s reaction.

“I left my stink all over his timeline,” he continued. “I think it made him very confused and slightly resentful.”

Ms. Qualter and Ms. Blewitt find it equally surreal to see Shakira and others dancing to their moves. “I almost forget we made this up,” Ms Qualter said. “It doesn’t feel like it happened. It has over 60 million views. You see the number on the screen, but I can’t figure out there are people behind it.

After the original Duke & Jones remix went viral – that is, the one with the vocal track taken from “Chicken Shop Date” – the DJ-producer duo asked Mr. Theroux to redo his voice in a recording studio. That way, instead of just another TikTok earworm, “Jiggle Jiggle” could be available on Spotify, iTunes, and other platforms, and its creators could gain exposure and profit.

In addition to Mr. Theroux, five composers are credited on the official release: Duke & Jones; Reese & Bigalow; and 81-year-old hitmaker Neil Diamond. Mr. Diamond became a member of the crew when his representatives signed “Jiggle Jiggle,” which echoes his 1967 song “Red Red Wine” in the part where Mr. Theroux’s Auto-tuned voice sings the words ” red, red wine”. The song hit the Spotify viral charts overall last month.

Does this mean real money?

“I sincerely hope we can all get the phenom moving. Or maybe a fold,” Mr. Theroux said. “So far it’s been more on the end of the jiggle.”

During his career as a documentary filmmaker, Mr. Theroux explored the worlds of male porn stars, the Church of Scientology, right-wing militias and opioid addicts. In his new BBC series, ‘Forbidden America’, Mr Theroux examines the effects of social media on the entertainment industry and politics. Years before Netflix had a hit show centered on Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Tiger King, Mr. Theroux made a movie about him. American documentary filmmaker John Wilson, the creator and star of HBO’s “How To With John Wilson,” has cited him as an influence.

Now his work has been overshadowed, at least temporarily, by “Jiggle Jiggle”. And like many who go viral, Mr. Theroux finds himself trying to figure out what just happened and what he is supposed to do with this new cultural capital.

“It’s not like I have a catalog and, like, now I can release all my other novelty rap bits,” he said. “I’m clearly not going to visit it. “Come and see Mr. Jiggle himself. It would be a 20 second concert.

About Timothy Ball

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