How many years has ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ been stuck in your head? Ruffly 17 years? Or did it pop back in your head just now looking at the song’s name after years of blissful silence? Either way, the hook has got staying power. A power that dates back to as early as 1959 and possibly before.
Answering the age old question of who exactly let the dogs out is more complicated than anyone ever thought. Fortunately, Ben Sisto has dedicated seven years to exploring and exposing a story steeped in show business, legal battles, female empowerment, artistic integrity and one very catchy hook.
Sisto, a marketer and cultural programmer for the Ace Hotel in New York, first fell down the rabbit hole in 2010 when he learned it was “Who Let The Dogs Out”’s 10 year anniversary. At the time, its Wikipedia page gave a simple, uncited explanation that the original song was recorded off a parade float by a hairdresser named Keith.
Unemployed at the time, Sisto made his mission of the day to fix that citation. Now, almost a decade later, Sisto has finally pieced together the song’s origin…
The documentary ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ follows an Inconvenient Truth/Ted Talk style presentation that Sisto does across North America. It’s a live talk that explains the story of ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ and is accompanied by a museum of over 250 LPs, CD, tapes, magazines, shirts, toys and other ephemera related to the song. The collection is home to objects from the US, UK, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan and various other places, acquired over a period of approximately 7 years.
Between the live talk segments, we follow Ben on the dog journey from the Baha Men in Trinidad and Tobago, meeting Steve Greenberg, the New York based pop hit producer of the song (also classics like Hanson’s Mmmbop) and even to hairdresser Keith in London, all in the hopes of finding out the truth.
Sisto was able to create the thesis to his life’s work - the idea that everything is based on prior art, and everything is source material for future art.
It’s from this mantra that the dogs were let out.. and we are here to explore who did it.