When Britney Spears remixed a Bollywood song on ‘Toxic’: the cultural voyages of sampling


Daft Punk used a sample from a funky 70s Californian musician, Gnarls Barkley used a soundtrack from a western, and even Billy Eilish has reused the sound of a traffic light in a song.

What does it sound like to me – Third installment of the series about songs that include other songs. Check the previous ones here.Today Britney Spears as a pop icon is subjected to all kinds of cultural struggles: from the electrical storm generated by her flirtation with Marxism in an Instagram message to #FreeBritney, the social media campaign that seeks to help the artist to stop to be able to gain legal and financial control of her life, also denying the deviant image that was built of her from 2007. Tamara Tenembaum explains it in “ Britney Spears: madness or rebellion , document the constant coincidences between non-normative femininity and madness throughout history.

Long before that, when his music career was booming and his construction as a pop icon reached its peak, “Toxic” was published. The song was included on Britney Spears’ fourth album in 2003 and its corresponding video clip today has more than 400 million views on YouTube. What many people may not know (despite the fact that the data is clearly indicated in Wikipedia ) is that this song uses samples of a Bollywood song.

Samples produce cultural journeys between eras, styles and contexts: the producer of “Toxic” is the Swedish DJ and remixer Christian Karlsson (better known for being a member of Galantis). Karlsson took a snippet from “Tere Mere Beech Mein” (1981), a song that is part of the soundtrack of the movie “Ek Duuje Ke Liye” ( We are made for each other ), a romantic tragedy that was a success Bollywood in the 80s.

Although the final result may seem like a hit that was incorporated into a homogeneous crowd, the truth is that behind many samples there is usually a music lover. Karlsson acknowledged in an interview a few years ago that he collected vinyl of all kinds of music since he was 4 years old. Insider dissected the remix on YouTube earlier this year, demonstrating the complexity behind the apparent simplicity of certain cultural products.

The entertainment industry is a gigantic copy machine and it is something quite integrated into the way of producing music. But that same industry is also a forgetful monster that continually celebrates authorship and artistic genius. It usually hides the traces of the copies that are produced between works from different periods or the mixes between styles, thus hiding the connections that show how music is an endless story that is continually regenerated sometimes from remixes , versions and all kinds of copies.

In 2017, during Trump’s official visit to France, the national military band performed a mix of various Daft Punk songs. Macron was exultant and even kept pace with his head. Trump, bewildered, was awkwardly maintaining his diplomatic composure. This was a rather curious moment: an electronic music group elevated to the status of a national symbol in the middle of the National Day of France and with the military applauding to the rhythm of the music as if they were in a Primavera Sound bar.

The song “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” (2001) was included in the repertoire. And the curious thing is that in this exercise of communion imposed between cultures, what perhaps many of the attendees did not know is that the famous Daft Punk song uses a sample from “Cola Bottle Baby” (1978), a song by the Californian musician Edwin Birdsong . My whole life is a lie,” someone said jokingly in the YouTube comments on the Birdsong theme. And it is that on many occasions the exercise of borrowing a piece of music is usually penalized morally. Even when there is a legal framework to use the sample. What is not usually done less is to celebrate that two great songs can be a good contribution to culture while maintaining the contradictory binomial that a sampling usually implies: they look alike but they are different.

Like the famous quote (attributed to the 1925 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature Bernard Shaw, although no evidence of it has been found ): “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples, then both you and I will continue to have one. apple each. But if you have an idea and I have an idea, and we exchange ideas, then we will both have two ideas. ” This is the case with “Crazy” (2006) by Gnarls Barkley , which samples “II Carico d’Oro” (1968), a song by Italian composer Gianfranco Reverberi included in the western “The Hanged Clan”, starring Terence Hill.


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