HomeTechnologyHow Louis Theroux became a 'Jiggle Jiggle' sensation at 52

How Louis Theroux became a ‘Jiggle Jiggle’ sensation at 52

Four or five times a week these days, some old friend contacts Louis Theroux and says, “My daughter is still singing your rap around the house” or “My wife was working out to your rap in her Pilates class.” . Passing by an elementary school, Theroux gets the feeling that he is being watched, a feeling that is confirmed when he hears a child shout behind him: “My money is not moving.”

His agent has been responding to dozens of requests for personal appearances and invitations to perform. Mr. Theroux, a 52-year-old British-American documentary filmmaker with a bookish and somewhat anxious demeanor, has turned them all down, not least because, as he said in a video interview from his London home, “I’m not trying to to succeed as a rapper.”

But in a way, he already has: Theroux is the man behind “Jiggle Jiggle,” a sensation on TikTok and YouTube, where it has been viewed hundreds of millions of times. He delivers the rap in an understated voice that bears traces of his Oxford upbringing, lending an amused tone to the lines “My money don’t move, move, bend / I’d like to see you move, move, sure.”

For Mr. Theroux, son of American author Paul Theroux and cousin of actor Justin Theroux, the whole episode has been strange and a bit unsettling. “I’m glad people are enjoying rap,” he said. “At the same time, there is a part of me that has a degree of mixed feelings. It’s a bittersweet thing to experience a big moment of virality through something that, at first glance, seems so disposable and so out of step with what I actually do in my work. But there we are.

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

“Jiggle Jiggle” was brewing for years before it caught on. It began in 2000, when Mr. Theroux presented “Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends,” a BBC Two series in which he delved into various subcultures. For an episode in the third and final season, he traveled to the southern United States, where he met several rappers, including Master P. As part of the show, he decided to do a rap himself, but he only had a few lines: “Jiggle Jiggle/I love it when You move/Makes me want to dribble/Would you like a violin?”

He enlisted Reese & Bigalow, a rap duo in Jackson, Mississippi, to help him get in shape. Bigalow cleaned up the first lines and linked the word “jiggle” with the word “jingle” to suggest the sound of coins in the pocket. Reese asked him what kind of car he was driving. The response from him, Fiat Tipo, led to the lines: “Riding in my Fiat / You really have to see it / Six foot two in a compact / No slack, but luckily the seats go back.”

“Reese & Bigalow infused rap with a genuine quality,” Theroux said. “The elements that make it special, I could never have written on my own. At the risk of over-analyzing, the cool part of this, in my mind, was, ‘My money doesn’t move, it moves, is folded.’ There was something very satisfying in the cadence of those words.”

He filmed himself performing the song live on New Orleans hip-hop station Q93, and BBC viewers witnessed his rap debut when the episode aired in the fall of 2000. That could have been the ending of “Jiggle Jiggle,” but “Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends” got new life in 2016, when Netflix licensed the show and began streaming it on Netflix UK. The rap episode became a favorite, with every Whenever Theroux made the publicity rounds for a new project, interviewers would inevitably ask him about his foray into hip-hop.

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

“Can you remember any of the rap you did?” Ms. Dimoldenberg asked, prompting Mr. Theroux to throw yourself into their rhymes in what he described as “my delivery in dry, slightly moody English”.

“What happened afterwards is the most puzzling part,” he added.

Luke Conibear and Isaac McKelvey, a pair of DJ-producers in Manchester, England, known as duke and jones, ripped the audio from “Chicken Shop Date” and set it to a backing track with a laid-back beat. then they went up the song to his YouTube account, where he has 12 million views and counting.

But “Jiggle Jiggle” became a phenomenon thanks in large part to Jess Qualter and Brooke Blewitt, 21-year-old graduates of Laine Theater Arts, a performing arts school in Surrey, England. In April, the two friends were making pasta in their shared apartment when they heard the song and quickly choreographed moves appropriate to the floor (dribbling a basketball, spinning a shuttlecock) and the “Jiggle Jiggle” dance was born.

Wearing hoodies and sunglasses (an outfit chosen because they weren’t wearing makeup, the women said in an interview), Ms. Qualter and Ms. Blewitt made a 27 second video of themselves performing the routine. It blew up shortly after Ms. Qualter posted it on TikTok. Imitation videos soon emerged from TikTok users around the world.

“All of this was happening without my knowledge,” 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 left TikTok and became popular last month, when Shakira performed the “Jiggle Jiggledancing on NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Snoop Dogg, Megan Thee Stallion, and Rita Ora have been posted dancing. The cast of Downton Abbey jiggle-jiggled during a red carpet event.

“Anthony Hopkins just i did something yesterdayTheroux said. “It would be too much to call it a dance. He is more of a tick. but he is doing something.”

The whole episode has been strange for her three children, especially her 14-year-old son, who is very into TikTok. “’Why is my dad, the most embarrassing guy in the universe, everywhere on TikTok?’” Theroux said, voicing his son’s reaction.

“I’ve left my stink on your entire timeline,” he continued. “I think she has left him very confused and a little resentful.”

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

After Duke & Jones’ original remix went viral — namely, the one with the vocal track taken from “Chicken Shop Date” — the DJ/producer duo asked Theroux to redo his vocals in a recording studio. . That way, instead of being just another TikTok worm, “Jiggle Jiggle” could be available on Spotify, iTunes, and other platforms, and its creators could get some exposure and benefit from it.

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

So does this mean real money?

“I sincerely hope that we can all get something out of the phenomenon. Or maybe some crease,” Theroux said. “So far, it’s been more on the extreme end of the shakeout.”

In his career as a documentary filmmaker, Mr. Theroux has explored the worlds of male porn stars, the Church of Scientology, right-wing militia groups and opiate 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 around Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as the Tiger King, Theroux made a movie about him. American documentarian John Wilson, the creator and star of HBO’s “How To With John Wilson,” has cited him as an influence.

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

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

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