4 or 5 instances every week lately, some outdated pal will contact Louis Theroux and inform him, “My daughter retains going round the home singing your rap,” or, “My spouse was exercising to your rap in her Pilates class.” Passing by a major college, Mr. Theroux has the sensation he’s being watched, a way confirmed when he hears a child name out behind him: “My cash don’t jiggle jiggle.”
His agent has been fielding dozens of requests for private appearances and invites to carry out. Mr. Theroux, a 52-year-old British American documentary filmmaker with a bookish, considerably anxious demeanor, has turned all of them down, not least as a result of, as he put it in a video interview from his London residence, “I’m not making an attempt to make it as a rapper.”
However in a means, he already has: Mr. Theroux is the person behind “Jiggle Jiggle,” a sensation on TikTok and YouTube, the place it has been streamed lots of of tens of millions of instances. He delivers the rap in an understated voice that bears traces of his Oxford schooling, giving an amusing lilt to the traces “My cash don’t jiggle jiggle, it folds/I’d prefer to see you wiggle, wiggle, for certain.”
For Mr. Theroux, a son of the American writer Paul Theroux and a cousin of the actor Justin Theroux, the entire episode has been odd and a bit unsettling. “I’m happy that individuals are having fun with the rap,” he stated. “On the similar time, there’s part of me that has a level of blended emotions. It’s a bittersweet factor to expertise a breakthrough second of virality via one thing that, on the face of it, appears so disposable and so out of protecting with what it’s that I really do in my work. However there we’re.”
The story of how this middle-aged father of three has taken maintain of youth tradition with a novelty rap is “a baffling twenty first century instance of simply the weirdness of the world that we dwell in,” Mr. Theroux stated.
“Jiggle Jiggle” gestated for years earlier than it turned all the fashion. It began in 2000, when Mr. Theroux was internet hosting “Louis Theroux’s Bizarre Weekends,” a BBC Two collection by which he delved into varied subcultures. For an episode within the third and closing season, he traveled to the American South, the place he met plenty of rappers, together with Grasp P. As a part of the present, he determined to do a rap himself, however he had only some meager traces: “Jiggle Jiggle/I like it while you wiggle/It makes me need to dribble/Fancy a fiddle?”
He enlisted Reese & Bigalow, a rap duo in Jackson, Miss., to assist him work it into form. Bigalow cleaned up the opening traces and linked the phrase “jiggle” with the phrase “jingle” to recommend the sound of cash in your pocket. Reese requested him what sort of automobile he drove. His reply — Fiat Tipo — led to the traces, “Driving in my Fiat/You actually must see it/Six-feet-two in a compact/No slack however fortunately the seats return.”
“Reese & Bigalow infused the rap with a real high quality,” Mr. Theroux stated. “The weather that make it particular, I may by no means have written by myself. On the threat of overanalyzing it, the genius a part of it, in my thoughts, was saying, ‘My cash don’t jiggle jiggle, it folds.’ There was one thing very satisfying in regards to the cadence of these phrases.”
He filmed himself performing the music dwell on the New Orleans hip-hop station Q93, and BBC viewers witnessed his rap debut when the episode aired within the fall of 2000. Which may have been the tip of “Jiggle Jiggle” — however “Louis Theroux’s Bizarre Weekends” acquired new life in 2016, when Netflix licensed the present and began streaming it on Netflix UK. The rap episode turned a favourite, and every time Mr. Theroux made the publicity rounds for a brand new undertaking, interviewers would inevitably ask him about his hip-hop foray.
In February of this yr, whereas selling a brand new present, “Louis Theroux’s Forbidden America,” Mr. Theroux sat down for an interview on the favored internet discuss present “Rooster Store Date,” hosted by the London comic Amelia Dimoldenberg.
“Are you able to keep in mind any of the rap that you simply did?” Ms. Dimoldenberg requested, prompting Mr. Theroux to launch into his rhymes in what he described as “my barely po-faced and dry English supply.”
“What occurred subsequently is probably the most mystifying half,” he added.
Luke Conibear and Isaac McKelvey, a pair of DJ-producers in Manchester, England, generally known as Duke & Jones, plucked the audio from “Rooster Store Date” and set it to a backing observe with an easygoing beat. Then they uploaded the music to their YouTube account, the place it has 12 million views and counting.
However “Jiggle Jiggle” turned a phenomenon thanks largely to Jess Qualter and Brooke Blewitt, 21-year-old graduates of Laine Theater Arts, a performing arts school in Surrey, England. In April, the 2 associates had been making pasta at their shared residence after they heard the music and unexpectedly choreographed strikes suited to the observe — dribbling a basketball, turning a steering wheel — and the “Jiggle Jiggle” dance was born.
Sporting hooded sweatshirts and shades (an outfit chosen as a result of they weren’t carrying make-up, the ladies stated in an interview), Ms. Qualter and Ms. Blewitt made a 27-second video of themselves performing the routine. It blew up shortly after Ms. Qualter posted it on TikTok. Copycat movies quickly sprang up from TikTok customers world wide.
“This was all happening with out me figuring out about it,” Mr. Theroux stated. “I acquired an electronic mail: ‘Hey, a remix of the rap you probably did on “Rooster Store Date” goes viral and doing extraordinary issues on TikTok.’ I’m, like, ‘Properly, that’s humorous and peculiar.’”
It bursted out of TikTok and into the mainstream final month, when Shakira carried out the “Jiggle Jiggle” dance on NBC’s “The Tonight Present Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Snoop Dogg, Megan Thee Stallion and Rita Ora have all posted themselves dancing to it. The forged of Downton Abbey jiggle-jiggled throughout a purple carpet occasion.
“Anthony Hopkins has simply carried out a factor yesterday,” Mr. Theroux stated. “It might be an excessive amount of to name it a dance. It’s extra of a twitch. However he’s doing one thing.”
The entire episode has been unusual for his three kids, particularly his 14-year-old son, who’s massive into TikTok. “‘Why is my dad, probably the most cringe man within the universe, in all places on TikTok?’” Mr. Theroux stated, giving voice to his son’s response.
“I’ve left my stank throughout his timeline,” he continued. “I feel it’s made him very confused and barely resentful.”
Ms. Qualter and Ms. Blewitt discover it equally surreal to see Shakira and others dancing to their strikes. “I nearly overlook that we made that up,” Ms. Qualter stated. “It doesn’t really feel prefer it’s occurred. It’s acquired over 60 million views. We see the quantity on the display screen, however I can’t comprehend that there are individuals behind it.”
After the unique Duke & Jones remix went viral — that’s, the one with the vocal observe taken from “Rooster Store Date” — the DJ-producer duo requested Mr. Theroux to redo his vocal in a recording studio. That means, as an alternative of being simply one other TikTok ear-worm, “Jiggle Jiggle” might be made obtainable on Spotify, iTunes and different platforms, and its makers may achieve some publicity and revenue from it.
Along with Mr. Theroux, 5 composers are credited on the official launch: Duke & Jones; Reese & Bigalow; and the 81-year-old hitmaker Neil Diamond. Mr. Diamond turned a part of the crew when his representatives signed off on “Jiggle Jiggle,” which echoes his 1967 music “Crimson Crimson Wine” within the half the place Mr. Theroux’s Auto-tuned voice sings the phrases “purple, purple wine.” The music hit the Spotify viral charts globally final month.
So does this imply actual cash?
“I sincerely hope we will all make some jiggle jiggle out of the phenomenon. Or possibly some fold,” Mr. Theroux stated. “To date, it’s been extra on the jiggle finish.”
In his profession as a documentary filmmaker, Mr. Theroux has explored the worlds of male porn stars, the Church of Scientology, right-wing militia teams, and opioid addicts. In his new BBC collection, “Forbidden America,” Mr. Theroux examines the results of social media on the leisure trade and politics. Years earlier than Netflix had successful present centered on Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who is best generally known as the Tiger King, Mr. Theroux made a movie about him. The American documentarian John Wilson, the creator and star of HBO’s “How To With John Wilson,” has cited him as an affect.
Now his physique of labor has been eclipsed, not less than quickly, by “Jiggle Jiggle.” And like many who go viral, Mr. Theroux finds himself making an attempt to grasp what simply occurred and determine what he’s speculated to do with this newfound cultural capital.
“It’s not like I’ve a catalog and, like, now I can launch all of my different novelty rap fragments,” he stated. “I’m clearly not going to tour it. ‘Come see Mr. Jiggle himself.’ It might be a 20-second-long gig.”