I don’t know if you’re heard it yet, but the Pussycat Dolls’ “English interpretation” of “Jai Ho,” the Oscar-winning song from “Slumdog Millionaire” came onto the Billboard 100 in last place, No. 100, a few days ago. There’s a snippet of the song up on PCD’s website, and a number of stations, including KIIS here in Los Angeles are already playing it. It apparently came out the day after the Oscars.
I’m of two minds here-it’s a brilliant marketing masterstroke by Geffen chairman and producer Ron Fair. Smart, smart move. Plus, since the “Slumdog Millionaire” soundtrack is on Interscope (Geffen’s parent), as are PCD, there were no legal clearance issues. The website even stresses how PCD “teamed up” with composer A. R. Rahman for this remake, which was recorded in London. The video was shot in a train station in Vienna. Forget about the original location of Mumbai.
However, artistically, it just makes me want to cry. Why can’t Top 40 radio play the real thing? The PCD version opens the same with the adrenalin-rush of claps that gets your heart racing, but Nicole Scherzinger’s anodyne vocals are no match for Sukhwinder Singh’s soaring singing. When the PCD sing “Jai Ho” at the end of the chorus, it’s as cringe-worthy as when singers like Pat Boone in the ’50s used to remake songs done first by black artists to get them on the mainstream charts. I don’t care that I have no idea what they’re singing about in Hindi in the original. In fact, that’s part of what I love. My reaction to the power of the song is strictly visceral. “Jai Ho” is all about feeling and the beat and emotion, not about “You are my destiny” or whatever PCD is singing.
Regardless, I bet this goes through the roof as the country is obsessed with “Slumdog Millionaire” right now and “Jai Ho’s” beat is so infectious that not even the PCD, who will no doubt perform it on tour with Britney Spears, can ruin it. But we hope radio program directors take it upon themselves to play the original instead of this faux version.
Want more music news and analysis? Sign up now for HitFix Blog Alerts and get The Beat Goes On in your inbox every day.
Don’t stop the music! Click here to add The Beat Goes On to your iGoogle, My Yahoo or My MSN experience today.
Not part of the HitFix Nation yet? Take 90 seconds and sign up today.