Ten years ago this week, “Lady Marmalade” was celebrating its fifth and final week at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. The Missy Elliot-produced single appeared on the soundtrack to the Oscar-nominated film “Moulin Rouge!” and won Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil Kim and Mya a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. The smash video featured the sexy songbirds as lingerie-clad ladies of the night at a Paris brothel and took home the MTV VMA for Video of the Year. It was kind of a big deal.
The song lives on in the clubs, where we heard it this weekend while out celebrating NYC Pride and the passage of the groundbreaking same-sex marriage equality bill in New York. When the tune started booming over the sound system, everyone on the dance floor went bonkers. The crowd remembered every word; some even knew the choreography.
This got us thinking about who would fill Pink and the Queen Bee’s hooker boots today. Sure, hip-hop stars call on their friends in rhyming for first-rate mega-collaborations all the time, but it’s been a while since we’ve see an all-star pop star explosion of this magnitude. Can anyone hold a candle to Xtina and the gang? Read on for our ideas.
When “Lady Marmalade” debuted in 2001, the biggest star on the bill was Christina Aguilera. On the heels of her mega-selling debut, Christina was one of the top music stars in the world. One of, not the. That’s not a slight on Aguilera, but it is what it is. And it’s important when it comes to identifying an appropriate 2011 replacement because it disqualifies a few people, namely Beyonce and Lady Gaga. It’s hard to say which singer is bigger – Beyonce has been at it for years and has amassed a massive and fervent fanbase, while Gaga is most certainly the most zeitgeisty pop star in the world right now – but regardless, both are too big for our 2011 “Marmalade” remake.
That narrows the field a bit, leaving only a few A-list divas. The biggest of those is arguably Rihanna, whose appreciation of corsets and sexy dance moves makes her a natural replacement for Aguilera. Rihanna songs are omnipresent on the radio now in the exact way Aguilera’s were back in ’01, and while she may not have Xtina’s killer pipes, she does have seven No. 1 singles and five top ten albums, making her a perfect stand-in for our top diva.
When Pink joined the “Lady Marmalade” team she had just one album under her garter belt. Perry has two, so we think that despite her almost record-breaking string of recent No. 1 hits, she’s a better fit for the No. 2 position in our fantasy “Marmalade” remake than the more-prolific Rihanna. Like her real-life friend Ri-Ri, Perry is well-known for her daring ensembles (whipped cream cannon bra, anyone?), so we’re pretty sure she’d be comfortable sporting the required risqué boudoir garb as well.
When “Lady Marmalade” landed, Lil Kim was the biggest female MC in the game. (Random fact: with “Lady Marmalade,” Kim became the first female rapper in history to have a single reach the top of the Billboard singles chart!) So it only makes sense to recast her role with the current queen of rap: Nicki Minaj. (Given the beef between Kim and Minaj, we don’t image she’d be happy about our selection.) Nicki’s debut LP, Pink Friday, debuted atop the Billboard 200 album chart – a position Kim never achieved with one of her solo albums – and she is enjoying her first top ten solo single with the awesome "Super Bass." She’s the queen of the game right now, and (again), we think she’s be into the required skimpy outfits: after all, Minaj has quite a figure to show off.
Filling Mya’s shoes is ironically the most difficult because she always seemed like a random choice for the original lineup. So we thought we’d shake things up a little bit too and nominate Kesha. Since Rihanna, Perry and Minaj are all pretty much picture-perfect, we thought maybe Kesha, she of brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack, would rough things up a little bit. And whatever your thoughts on the “Tik Tok” singer might be, remember Mya’s solo part is relatively brief anyway … And Kesha might ride in on a unicorn, which is very 2011.
Who do you think would be a perfect fit for a revamped “Lady Marmalade”? Let us know in the comments.