As far as I am concerned, February 15, 2000 is a seminal day in music history. And yes, I am using both meanings of “seminal” in that previous sentence. On that fateful day, a silver-haired crook named Mark Althaven Andrews landed a dragon of a pop song on the earrings of humanity. His saga song, “Thong Song” would go on to top music charts around the world. Even after 20+ years, “Thong Song” generates millions of streams and can be regularly heard in radio and TV / movies. So you’re probably thinking that Mark Andrews would still have to cash out some impressive “Thong Song” royalty checks? Unfortunately, for Mr. Andrews, better than his stage name, Siska, the story is a bit more complicated. Those royalty checks are actually going to the man who wrote Ricky Martin’s “Livin ‘La Vida Loca”.
A song is born
The origins of “Thong Song” can be traced to two makers, Tim Kelly and Bob Robinson. “Tim and Bob”, which was well known and credited, was at the top of the music world thanks to hit films made for artists such as Monica, Boys II Men, TLC, Madonna and 112. They were actually 112.
Tim and Bob won back-to-back Best R&B album Gramim for their work in Boys II Men’s “II” (1994) and TLC’s “CrazySexicool” (1995).
In 1996, a Baltimore singing group called Drew Hill released their debut debut album. Thanks to the album Platinum was largely the singles “In My Bed” and “Never Make a Promise”, both of which hit # 1 on Billboard’s R & B / Hip-Hop singles chart.
Drew Hill’s 1998 follow-up to “Enter The Drew” was largely a smash hit “How Deep Is Your Love” thanks to the double-platinum Jackie Chan / Chris Tucker used in the final credits scene in the Box Office Monster Gaya, “Rush Hour”, which was released three months after the album.
Despite their growing success, for some reason, one of Drew Hill’s members, Woody Rock, left the group in 1999. Months passed while the remaining members debated how to proceed. When they debated, Sisko told his manager Kenneth Creer that he wanted to make a solo record. Sisakau really hoped that a successful solo album would rule and Drew Hill (technically re-adding btw, it is ending to a great extent).
Kenneth Creer tapped Tim and Bob to produce Beats and eventually became Cisco’s debut solo album, “Unleashed the Dragon”.
In November 1999, “Unleash the Dragon” and the album’s lead single “Got to Get It” were removed. “Got to Get It” is a great song to date. I still regularly drag on Spotify. Actually I just play the hit.
“Get to Get It” was a moderate success to reach # 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it was not enough to push the album into the mainstream.
Like we said earlier, “Thong Song” originated from Tim & Bob. Tim created the original demo beat produced on a remix of Wes Montgomery’s cover version of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby”. Tim’s demo version featured real violins from “Eleanor Rigby”.
Sisko took a demo of Tim and Bob and proceeded to tweak it into something of his own.
He hired an LA studio musician named Bruce Dokov, who violated his own version of “Eleanor Rigby”, which you hear straight out of the gate and supported the entire song.
Sisko set out to pen some songs. As he reads in interviews over the years, Sisko practically wrote the entire song in one evening – before nightfall he went to the recording studio – during a sexual encounter with a girl who was wearing a red thong. If you listen to the song now, it is essentially a moment for the climax of her sexual encounter. Simple, but brilliant.
Livin ‘La Vida Loca
As you may remember, in three volumes of “Thong Song”, Sisko Crones:
“Cuz she was livin la vida loca!“
During their recording session, Tim and Bob warned Sisko that they would legally need to obtain permission (or “the obvious”), as it referenced Ricky Martin’s smash hit # 1 song “Livin ‘La Vida Loca” , Which was released a few months ago.
According to Tim and Bob, as reported in a recent Vice.com documentary, Sisko assured him that he was friends with Ricky and that they would get everything cleared up.
It is unclear whether Sisqio simply forgot or perhaps he said something to Ricky. Unfortunately, Ricky was not the person who needed permission. There must have been a man named the gatekeeper…
Desmond Child is one of the most successful songwriters ever. Here are quick samples of some of his hits over the decades:
- “I Was Made For Lovin ‘You” – Kiss (1979)
- “You Love the Bad Name” – Bon Jovi (1986)
- “Livin on a Prayer” – Bon Jovi (1986)
- “Dude (looks like a woman) – Aerosmith (1987)
- “Poison” – Alice Cooper (1989)
- “How Can We Lovers” – Michael Bolton (1998)
For Ricky Martin, Desmond wrote and produced his 1998 song “The Cup of Life” and 1999’s “Livin La Vida Loca”.
Like all of us, Desmond cannot escape “Thong Song”, as it was released in February 2000 on that awe-inspiring day. When he listened to his songs so prominently, his lawyer reached out to Def Jam owner Def Jam, who would “remove the dragon”.
Negotiations over rights, permission and royalty dragged on for months.
If Ciccio approved the song, it became a hit, he could probably pay Desmond a nominal, maybe a few hundred dollars as a flat fee. Now that song was an earth-shattering global hit, Desmond was in a position of power. And he did not want a nominal flat fee. He wanted an ownership stake. A larger.
When the dust settled, Desmond Child eventually moved away from royalty, and not just with a short cut, but the lion’s share of the song’s publishing rights.
According to Tim and Bob in the Vice documentary, as soon as the verdict came twenty years ago, their royalty investigations were almost nothing. And to date, the combined Tim, Bob and Cicco from Desmond “Thong Song” makes the trio.
That’s why the songwriter behind “Livin ‘La Vida Loca” was originally the owner of “Thong Song”. These are the two songs, out of nearly 100, that have enabled Desmond Child to gross $ 200 million.
For his part, Cisco does not seem too upset by the whole experience. As his solo career cooled down, guess what happened? Drew Hill again! As he predicted. He still performs actively with Drew Hill today (when there is no epidemic). She is also not ill for her performance of “Thong Song”. He also played it in his marriage.
If you are interested in the full oral history of “Thong Song”, sit down and enjoy this 18-minute voice documentary:
every Breath You Take
If this story sounds familiar, it’s because Sting and Puff did the same thing to Daddy exactly two years ago.
In 1997, Puff Daddy released “I’ll Be Missing You” as a tribute to his friend, the notorious B.I.G., who was assassinated in March of that year. Didi’s song was composed on a sample of guitar riffs from “Every Breath Tumme Take”, a song Sting wrote for The Police in 1986. Unfortunately no one from Didi’s Bad Boy label thought to get permission to sample the song from Sting. be released. By the time Didi and Sting’s lawyers began the conversation, “I’ll Be Missing You” was shedding light on the global charts.
In the end, Sting received 100% of the song’s publishing royalties. Didi’s remix would become the best-selling single ever, with sales of over 7 million copies.
In 2010, Sting’s former business manager claimed that “Every Breath You Take” accounted for more than 1/4 of all Singer’s lifetime income, somewhere in the $ 20- $ 40 million range up to that point. Is in The business manager further claimed that the remix earned Sting an average of $ 2,000 in income from that one song every day of the year. Approximately $ 730,000 per year.
And this was a decade ago, before the rise of all major streaming platforms today! Would it be safe to assume that Sting earned $ 60- $ 80 million to close his song? Maybe a few million per year in royalties between the two song versions?
Here’s the best part (for Sting) – any physical contribution of Sting to “Take every breath you take” was used in the final “I’ll Be Missing You” sample. The Diddy remix is built on a guitar riff that was written and performed by Sting’s police band Met Andy Summers. Unfortunately, Andy never pushed for his share of the song’s credit.
What are the lessons with these stories?
1) Always get permission before something becomes popular.
2) Always get credit when the credit is outstanding!