Just for a moment, imagine Molly Meldrum deadpanning this intro on Countdown circa 1979: “Live in the Countdown studios, here tonight, from the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire is Ar Rahman, The Pussycat Dolls and Nicole Schcrzinger with their hit new song Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny). Give them a big hand and do yourself a favour…” etc.
What a mouthful and what a perfect example of how the music industry is getting lost up its own belly button.
Let’s tick all the right boxes of this perfect storm of pop clichés:
The Packet Mix Pop Group: As a pop group, The Pussycat Dolls are about as believable as the 1960s cartoon fun of The Archies. At least The Archies had Jughead, alas The Pussycat Dolls — five pole dancers with a recording contract — has one pole dancer that sings a bit. Which leads us neatly to…
‘The Talented One’: Every Packet Mix pop group has a ‘talented one’ and in the end the talented one has high falutin’ ambitions to ‘go solo’. Take That had Gary Barlow, the Pussycat Dolls has Nicole Scherzinger. Not so long ago Nicole determined to ‘go solo’. Trouble was, the public preferred five pole dancers, not one, and they had no idea who this chick (with a name that sounded kinda German, kinda KFC) was?
Featuring: The word ‘featuring’ in a song title is invariably followed by the words ‘Justin’ and ‘Timberlake’ — formally of The Archies who now is thrust from one sound stage to the next in a whirl of miming, popping and hat twirling guest appearances. Confoundingly, in this case Justin’s been gazumped by something called Ar Rahman. Combine ‘Ar Rahman’ with ‘The Pussycat Dolls’ and you have a match made in heaven… a bit like Bombay Duck & Icecream or Fricasseed Curry. Ar wanders about the video looking slightly podgy and bemused, bellowing Jai Ho! almost at random.
Movie Connection: songs from movies are as old as the Jazz Singer, but as the entertainment industries coagulate like cold porridge, the distinctions between a movie, a song and a music video get very lumpy. The connection here lies in Jai Ho ladling a sub-continental quantity of Indian clichés — Ar Rahman may as well be sitting cross-legged on a magic carpet, waggling his head singing ‘goodness gracious me’.
(Parentheses): At some point pop songs became too important; too laden with layers of pathos to be constrained by simple tell-it-like-it-is titles. Spade wasn’t good enough, it needed to be Spade (The Earth Moving Implement). This trend hit its zenith with U2’s Pride (In the Name of Love). Now we have Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny). One wonders if the (parenthesis) is the Hindi translation or if it’s a red herring — Jai Ho (Skanky Ho’s) anyone?
So there we have it: a Packet Mix group of pole dancers, led by the Talented One who sings a bit, Featuring someone other than Justin Timberlake, letting rip with a song from a movie with a title that includes (Parentheses). Perfect? Not quite. Where the hell is Snoop Dogg and his Gratuitous Rap Intro?!