When the dog's right foot is pressed it moves and sings a pop version of a calypso from Trinidad entitled 'Who let the dogs out'. The pop version of this calypso was a notable example of a calypso going global.
Here is a toy dog which sings, and moves - in a rather sinuous way - to, the globally popular song ‘Who let the dogs out?’. The dog was made in China and sold in Britain in the early 2000s, when versions of the song were widely played.
‘Doggie’, as the original song was entitled, was written and recorded by Anslem Douglas, a popular and accomplished calypso artist in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The recording was released for 1998 carnival in Trinidad and proved a great success.
In the following two years it caught the attention and interest of a whole range of singers and producers outside T & T who were keen to record the song. Douglas decided to sell the song rights to the Baha Men, who in 2000 brought out what is probably the most popular recording of the song. It won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording in 2001.
Through the early 2000s the song was recorded in different versions and styles by a host of recording artists internationally and was used in a remarkable number of films.
The original calypso recording by Douglas has a sweeter musical tone to it and is rhythmically closer to calypso and soca dance beat in Caribbean carnival than other and later versions. It is lyrically very much in the calypso tradition, dealing with a topical subject - how women view how men view them – and wittily spicing up the song’s content with double meanings. The burden of the song is that if women see men as dogs, maybe men will just be dogs!
Eventually Grant and Belasco successfully sued the American entertainer. Although many Trinidadians were reputed to be disappointed at Anslem Douglas’s decision to sell the rights to his song, his action may reflect a lesson well learned.
This dog, basically a toy, offers insight into a commercial world in which a calypso from the tiny island of Trinidad can be reworked to reach the pop charts of countries all round the world, while a factory in China spots a great commercial opportunity manufacturing a furry bulldog which can sing the song and ‘dance’ to it. Interesting in itself, the dog is even more interesting for its backstory and what can be learnt from it!
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