On a fine, springlike morning, two weeks before MTV will declare his ”Thong Song” the ”official anthem of Spring Break 2000,” Sisqó is trying to break his neck.
The platinum-domed pop sensation is standing precariously on a railing some 30 feet above the empty swimming pool under construction in the yard of his spanking new Randallstown, Md., home. Obviously no acrophobia sufferer, he hops from foot to foot, arms outstretched like a tightrope walker, seemingly oblivious to the danger. The pool’s cement bottom — which Sisqó says will soon be embellished with one of the illustrated dragons that he uses as his symbol — looks very hard indeed.
After a few moments, he decides to stop tempting fate. Grinning, he leaps nimbly to the ground and begins to expound on the difference between a hit and a smash.
”The people just love a smash,” he says. ”Like ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ — that was a smash.” He sings the familiar chorus with gusto, alternately snapping his fingers and clapping his hands. A moment later he bursts into Christina Aguilera’s ”Genie in a Bottle,” which he assesses as ”a hit, not a smash.” The Backstreet Boys’ ”I Want It That Way”? ”Hell yeah that’s a smash. I love that song.” He sings a snatch. ”You always know a smash because it just makes you grin from ear to ear.”
The definitive smash, in Sisqó’s not-so-humble opinion, is ”Thong Song,” his randily infectious ode to a swatch of cloth and the women bold enough to wear it. To him, it’s more than the latest leering ditty about the lust-inspiring magnificence of female derrieres. ”’Thong Song’ is really brain food,” he says in all seriousness, referring to the violins woven throughout the tune, the better to educate youngsters about the beneficial effects of classical music. ”You remember ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’? I actually have that kind of riff going on in there.” He grows momentarily misty thinking of his achievement: ”It just hypnotizes you, yo. It’s just one of them songs.”
For 23-year-old Sisqó (né Mark Andrews), the, yes, entrancing ”Thong Song” has booted his solo move into high gear, propelling him out of the R&B ghetto and into mainstream pop territory. Earlier this month, Unleash the Dragon, his debut album, bulleted to No. 2 on the Billboard pop chart, thanks to that increasingly inescapable single. ”When you come up with a tune like that, it’s a good thing and a bad thing,” Sisqó says. ”Now, I gotta outdo the ‘Thong.’ I gotta beat myself ’cause I’m on top.”
A year ago, most folks who had heard of Sisqó (pronounced SIS-co) at all knew him as the distinctively-coiffed frontman of the Baltimore-based R&B quartet Dru Hill, a Boyz II Men-ish bunch specializing in romantic ballads. The group (whose second album, 1998’s Enter the Dru, went double platinum) garnered some primo exposure last year by guest-starring in the video for Will Smith’s ”Wild Wild West” theme song, and Sisqó (minus Dru Hill) joined Smith when he performed the number at this year’s Grammys. ”I love Will, man,” says Sisqó. ”Every chance I get, I thank him. ‘Wild Wild West’ changed my life, dawg.”