All of us were also getting to play over-the-top characters and be loud and vibrant and kickass, stomping around in our big heels, all in unison together like that. I remember the confetti going off at the end -- I mean, how fun is that, just being part of such a powerful moment?
Mya: I do remember working with [choreographer] Tina Landon in rehearsal, and us all being there together, like, “Wow, I feel like I’m in a girl group!” I’d never experienced that before, but I loved it. I think being on the road forever by yourself, it gets a little lonely, and not as much fun when everyone around you is just business, including the dancers and the staff. But when you’re there with other artists who totally relate to what you have been through, it’s really freeing, and it’s such a fun place to be. You can really let your hair down.
There were a lot of jokes in rehearsal, a lot of running around the studio; we went out to lunch together. I cherish those types of moments, because being solo for so long, it’s very rare that you can truly let go because you’re always on guard… the boundaries between business and friendship can be a little bit of a task. But that was amazing to experience, because, hey, these are girls that are just like me.
Luhrmann: There was some comment at the time, going, “Okay, so these are young women running around in their underwear?” There was some pushback -- I think about what’s going on now with Cardi B and Megan The Stallion -- [because] they presented themselves as “I own this, I am strong, I have the upperhand here, it’s me.” I think that’s something that was inherent in [Moulin Rouge!].
Fair: When we finished the record, I brought it to Interscope’s phenomenal head of promotion, Brenda Romano. As an A&R guy, the person who matters the most to me is the head of promotion, because I want my record to work on radio. She’s in New York; she takes it over to Z100 and Hot 97. So Z100 says, “We’re sorry, but we don’t play covers.” So Brenda calls me, I remember it clear as day, and goes, “Ron, I don’t know how to break the news, but I’m really sorry -- we’re gonna have a problem at Z100 because they don’t want to play covers. That’s not what they do.”
She called back four hours later, and she said, “Hot 97, the rhythm station, went crazy, and they put the record on the air.” The phones lit up like in the movies, like That Thing You Do!, it was like, out of a movie where all of a sudden, the phones at the station light up. By the end of the day, Z100 reversed themselves and added the record.
Wasserman: The way that it exploded was just the way Billie Eilish explodes, or the way Taylor Swift explodes -- it’s just because it’s good, and because it speaks to somebody. Jimmy was excited, and it all goes back to Baz Lurhmann, because Baz knows how to work it. All these people want to be around him -- they want to be in that little twirl of fairy dust that’s Baz. Baz walks around with sparkles. I can’t explain it. You want to be in the sparkles.
Fair: The Holy Grail of a song from a soundtrack is that you have a No. 1 record the weekend the movie opens -- and we hit the mark on this one. So it’s another thing: the record peaked when the movie opened, and that’s part of why, when people went to see the movie, they thought they were gonna see Christina, P!nk, Mya and Lil Kim in the movie. The timing was perfect… In those days, the commercial single sales were a big component of the chart positioning. “Lady Marmalade” became [a rare] no. 1 record that achieved that ranking without any sales at all, just on airplay, because Jimmy was wise enough to not ever put out a commercial single so people had to buy the album. And then Moulin Rouge! became a cultural phenomenon.