Songs We Wish We Could Forget: Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out?"

Arenas and stadiums are no longer safe havens...
  |   Comments

Baha Men - Who Let The Dogs Out?Not since “Macarena” has a song so thoroughly infested sporting events like Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out?” Sure, there are other sporting event staples out there, but they’ve stood the test of time. Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” Rednex “Cotton Eyed Joe.” OK, so that last one is awful, but at least it mildly amusing in its awfulness. Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out?” on the other hand is one of the most annoying songs I’ve ever heard. It doesn’t just lack quality. It isn’t just stupid. It genuinely irritates me to have to listen to it. There are many reasons why I don’t like going to sporting events even though I love sports, but fear of songs like this one certainly are on that list.

I’ll give the song this; it doesn’t try and mislead you in its obnoxiousness. There is no Trojan horse here. The first thing you hear is some guy yelling, “Who let the dogs out?” followed by the response of men barking just as irritatingly. In nearly all the lyrical representations I’ve read of this song, they all express this barking as “woof” but I don’t think that’s quite apt. They aren’t woofing. Quite frankly, there is no way I can think to express in words the sound they are making. Granted, it sounds like the sound some dogs make. It almost sounds like they are saying “who” but in a very quick and aggressive way. Either way, it annoys the hell out of me. Then, they do it again… and again… and again and so now we are 15 seconds into the song and I already hate it. There is no coming back from this. They could have made this a 15 second song and I would have already signed off on declaring it one of the worst songs of all time.

Then, there is the issue of what exactly the blue hell these assholes are yelling about. Have some dogs literally been let out? Were they having a party and one of the guests showed up and didn’t lock the gate and now their two pugs are out in the street and they’ve taken off after some squirrel they saw? So now the host is angry because he has to keep his eye on the burgers but somebody has to go get those damn dogs back and so naturally he’s asking who let the dogs out because he’s going to go make that person go get the dogs because it is their fault. Then, some guys start barking because there idiots. Honestly, that would make a better song.

However, it would appear these “dogs” are actually men, and of course it is always nice to refer to people as animals. At the very least, it seems the Baha Men are throwing themselves in the mix. If that’s the case, they probably let themselves out since, you know, they are human beings. Unfortunately, while we can make presumptions, this song never answers the question, “Who let the dogs out?” or the question, “Why are these jackasses barking like dogs?”

The song does appear to be about some sort of party, but I’ll be honest I’ve seen a few different versions of the lyrics on the internets and none of them make much coherent sense. In fact, one particularly lazy YouTube video creator simply transcribed the lyrics as “Gibberish” for a large portion of the song. Well, it was the word “gibberish” followed by about a dozen exclamation points because they are, of course, an idiot. Plus, it would appear that multiple websites selling wedding songs have the lyrics wrong also. This, naturally, leads me to imagine a hellscape where you are stuck at a wedding where “Who Let the Dogs Out?” is played. Needless to say, if I were in such a situation, I’d be taking my present back and not showing up for either the bride or groom’s next wedding. Of course, that’s on the Baha Men, and also Anslem Douglas, the guy who actually wrote and first recorded the song. He’s not getting away without any scorn. The blood is on your hands, Anslem! However, I do believe I finally found the actual lyrics of the song by combining words and my ears, but if I am wrong it doesn’t matter that much. Every version of the lyrics is incredibly stupid.

Anywho, it appears the party is going well, as everybody is having a ball. Also, pretty much every line in the verses of this song are followed by the words, “Yippie Yi Yo” which is, in accordance to the long standing wishes of this song, really annoying. Anyways, the fellas “start the name callin” and “the girls report to the call.” As such, my guess is that this isn’t name calling as we are accustomed to, but more along the lines of “Hey Shoshanna, get over here.” Then, naturally, Shoshanna and the other ladies respond, because who can resist the charms of atrocious musicians? I am curious, however, as to whether or not these ladies were already at the party and they just sort of were all called over, or if they weren’t at the party and they were called to show up. If the latter is the case, did they just sort of shout down the street or actually call them on phones? If I know the Baha Men, and I think I do, it was likely the former.

The song gets more confusing in the next verse, because it is sung really fast and because the lyrics make no sense even when read. They go as follows: “I see de dance people had a ball/’Cause she really want to skip town/Get back gruffy/Get back scruffy/Get back you flea infested mongrel.” I don’t know who these “dance people” are or why this statement is in the past tense when the rest of the song is in the present tense. Maybe it isn’t in the past tense and I just can’t get a good transcription, but it really sounds like the past tense to me. It would appear the dance people had their ball because some woman really wanted to skip town, and presumably still do since this is in the present tense. Anyway, this isn’t what really sticks out to me about this part of the song.

That would be the stuff about the gruffy, scruffy, flea infested mongrel. I am fairly certain we aren’t talking about an actual dog here, but a person. Apparently, a person that needs to be held back, perhaps from a lady? That’s the vibe I get. The scruffy part I get, clearly he’s going for the Han Solo look, but is this dude actually flea infested? If so, maybe that’s why the Baha Men, or at least the Baha Man singing this part of the song, is keeping him back. He doesn’t want him spreading his fleas. Then, there is the gruffy part, which of course means nothing. I always find it disconcerting and unpleasant when human beings are compared to animals, and this song certainly plays to that. I balk at the idea of a guy being called a “flea infested mongrel” regardless of the circumstances. Also, the panting that follows this verse is creepy. When a dog pants it’s because they are cooling down. However, a person rhythmically panting takes on very different connotations.

The next verse says: “Gonna tell myself ‘Hey man, don’t get angry’/To any girls calling them canine/But they tell me ‘Hey man, it’s a party’/You put a woman in front and her man behind.” I think the word “Huh?” suffice as a critique of this portion of the song, or quite frankly the song in general. Also, “Wow, this is possibly the worst song ever,” would do as well. It would appear the guy who frequently calls men dogs and refers to a guy as a “flea infested mongrel” is none too pleased when a woman does the same thing. Oh, so it’s one of those things. The, “We can all ourselves that but you can’t,” way of thinking. Or, perhaps, it has to do with the different ways in which dog is being used. I don’t feel that when the song says “Who let the dogs out?” they mean “dog” as a synonym for “cad” or as a derogatory jab at their looks. That’s not to say I really know what they mean by it, because this song makes no sense. It might just be empty slang. Honestly, I don’t really care. I can’t stand this song.

After another rousing edition of the chorus we get to this following lovely set piece: The singer isn’t even really singing, he’s just yelling, and he can’t even do that in tune. What’s he yelling, you ask? “A doggy is nuttin’ if he don’t have a bone/All doggy hold ya bone, all doggy hold it.” The only thing to say here is, “Sweet fancy Moses.” I mean, they have to be going for the obvious double entendre here, right? I don’t know what would be worse, to be fair. Would it be dumber and more awful if this is a clumsy sexual double entendre asking men to hold their business region, or if they are literally talking about an actual bone? Considering that it seems quite clear that when they say dog early in the song they are talking about men, I highly doubt this is literally about dogs, and thus I find it hard to believe bone isn’t a euphemism. You know, people often are disgusted by the extremely explicit nature of many rap songs, and while I do find a lot of that shit vile (mostly because they treat women so horrendously), this is incredibly offensive in its own way. It’s offensive to my intelligence and it is an affront to music itself. It may not be the first song to tell men to grab themselves, but it is the most stupid.

Then, we get a couple more choruses, another take on the gruffy/scruffy part of the song, and then a nearly impossible to decipher rap. I truly have no clue what the guy are saying when I listen to it, so I’m just going based on what I think are reliable lyrics. “Well, if I am a dog, the party is on/ I gotta get my groove 'cause my mind done gone/ Do you see the rays comin' from my eye/ Walkin' through the place that Digi-man is breakin' it down?/ Me and my white short shorts/ And I can't see color, any color will do/ I'll stick on you, that's why they call me 'Pit bull'/ 'Cause I'm the man of the land
When they see me they say, ‘who’?” The words “my mind done gone” might be the truest thing stated in this song, because clearly the person that wrote it has the same intellect as an avid PCP user. Also, I don’t know what kind of rays are coming from his eye. Is he Cyclops from the X-Men? Does he have X-ray vision? Something else to do with the letter X?

I also find it unusual that he’s wearing white short shorts. Short shorts, or hot pants in the parlance of our times, are usually reserved for women and pre-Fab Five basketball players. I’m not saying a man can’t wear white hot pants. I’m just saying it is a strange fashion choice. My favorite line of the song might be the next one, however, about how he’s color blind so any color will do. I understand it is supposed to be a, “I’ll try and get busy with ladies of any and all races, even Pacific Islanders!” sort of thing, but that’s not why I like it. I like the fact that the color blindness has to do with the fact he’s a “dog.” Of all the traits of a dog he could choose to put on himself, he goes with the colorblindness. It’s the much less heralded follow up song to “Hungry Like the Wolf” entitled “Colorblind Like the Dog.” As you can see, the reason I like this lyric is not because it is good, but because it is so amusingly stupid.

After that, we are cruelly subjected to the chorus a couple more times, and each chorus contains two renditions of “Who let the dogs out?” followed by obnoxious barking. Finally, mercifully, the song ends. It may only be 3:18 but it feels so much longer than that. You know, many of these songs considered the worst ever have something good about them. Maybe the lyrics are bad but the song sounds decent enough. Maybe they have a couple of good moments at least. At worst, there is nothing good but the songs aren’t necessarily atrocious. None of this applies to this song. It is one of the absolutely worst things I have ever heard in my life that I had no moral objection to. It is beyond stupid. It is beyond annoying. How anybody ever liked this song baffles me. It is practically atonal and the lyrics are in their own league of idiocy. It seems like it is supposed to be a feel good party song. There’s all the talk of parties and dancing and ladies and it is sung by Caribbean men and the Caribbean is, of course, often associated with the summer and partying and what have you. At the very least, that is the image crafted to sell rum. This song makes me feel genuinely unhappy. It aggravates me that much. Making somebody listen to this song could be classified as psychological abuse. Playing it to prisoners might be in violation of the Geneva Convention. In short, Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out?” is so horrible it almost redefines the word.