Jet Lag is Toxic

What a night.

After a calorie-loaded meal at a Mexican restaurant I went to bed at 9pm, and in my Margerita-induced coma forgot to put the mobile phone to flight mode. It did not take long for me to regret it: Three hours later a friend and former colleague called to check on me and offered me a mandate to “clean up” a former customer’s DC environment. I declined, because I already have a job, but primarily because I was too tired to discuss the opportunity.

I know: The definition of stupidity is to keep doing the same whilst expecting different results (I would say it statistically depends on the sample size, but never mind), so I went back to sleep without putting the phone to flight mode.

At 04.30 Thibaut called. I only know one Thibaut, and he knows I am in Santa Clara. The Thibaut who called was a different one, and he was very surprised I talked French. I replied he should not be surprised about my lingual talents, but about the fact I am not Sanel – the guy he tried to reach.

And that did it. I got up, launched my portable speaker and started Spotify. This app is a dear friend and seems to know me better than anyone – this morning it had pity on a poor exile like me and started playing Britney Spear’s 2003 smash hit “Toxic“.

britney
Britney Spears as flight attendant in her 2009 music video for ‘Toxic’

Confession time: I know that Britney Spears is a calculated, synthetic and carefully constructed product of an entertainment industry on the decline – but still: I love her ever since she did it again. And “Toxic” is galactic.

The song was written by Cathy Dennis, an English songwriter who two years before had gained fame by writing “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” for Kylie Minogue (yes, guys, the white dress song). So when she offered “Toxic” to Kylie, the inexplicable happened: The Australian pop star turned the song down – and in search for the next best blonde pop goddess Cathy turned to America, where her secret service / Bollywood / guitar riff amalgamate was made a world hit.

Which made be think: These days, the music industry does not only construct their own heroes – also the writing of songs has become a multinational endeavour. Because Cathy was not the only one working on the song. She had help from three Swedish songwriters: Christian Karlsson, Pontus Winnberg and Henrik Jonback. (Yes, from the land of ABBA.) And the sample that sounds so bollywoody is indeed from an Indian film: Tere Mere Beech Mein (Thank you, Thomas).

At 0:32 of the song, Britney sings “I need a hit, Baby give me it”, and Cathy Dennis said: “Ok.”

To sum this up – it is time to drive to work: Toxic was covered by many different artists – but the most exotic, deconstructed version comes from Yaël Naïm, an Israeli-French singer songwriter (Yes, the MacBook Air girl). So if you simultaneously happen to love Britney Spears, Natasha Atlas and Irit Dekel, then this is your version.

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