Originals vs Covers: Don’t Cha

Let’s get one thing clear before we start out. I know this isn’t strictly a ‘cover’, more a ‘re-release’, but I’m going for it anyway. It’s a pretty interesting story that hardly anyone knows and gives a little insight into the cut-throat world of record companies and chart success.

dontcha

At the beginning of January 2004, Cee-Lo Green was working with friend Tori Alamaze in his home studio, lending his production skills to help launch her solo career. Green’s dirty, catchy groove adapted the “don’t you wish your boyfriend was swass like me” hook from Sir Mix-a-Lot’s 1988 “Swass”, framing it in a sparse, urban arrangement. If you listen carefully, you can also hear Cee-Lo sing the response backing vocals on the verses. Shortly after signing to Universal Records later that year, Alamaze decided to end her contract early when “Don’t Cha” didn’t chart as well as expected.

Shortly after, Cee-Lo Green was approached by Interscope to produce for the Pussycat Dolls. Keen to garner favour with Interscope after having merged with DreamWorks, he suggested “Don’t Cha” as a lead single. Interscope promptly filed the paperwork and bought exclusive rights to the song. The song was given a mid-naughties pop make-over with the obligatory rap verse (a la Busta Rhymes), horns in the chorus, thicker rhythm and – obviously – the Pussycat Dolls replacing Tori’s vocals. It is, however, essentially the same session from Cee-Lo’s home studio.

In May 2005, while Tori’s version was still lurking in the Billboard R&B chart, the Pussycat Dolls re-release started creeping up the Billboard Hot 100, eventually reaching critical mass in September. At one point, “Don’t Cha” was the best selling single in 18 countries simultaneously, and at the time this article was published ranks as one of the top 150 best-selling singles of all time.

I don’t know about you, but If I were Alamaze, I would be pretty miffed. Pretty miffed indeed.

What do you put the success down to? Backing from a bigger record label? A saucy music video? Are the Pussycat Dolls better singers?

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Guy Perchard

Digital editor & recording specialist at Red Dog Music
As well as being the marketing man-about-town at Red Dog Music, Guy is a busy, award winning record producer and mixing engineer. He is also partial to a chorizo stromboli for elevenses.

3 Responses to “Originals vs Covers: Don’t Cha”

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  1. Good article, as with most music, timing plays a crucial part as well as money and the right distribution/marketing.

  2. Good article, as with most music, timing plays a crucial part as well as money and the right distribution/marketing.

  3. Allan Kelly says:

    "Alamaze decided to end her contract early when “Don’t Cha” didn’t chart as well as expected" – bad luck.

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