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My Signature Song: 'No Scrubs'

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

We've been hearing about your signature songs this summer, a song so important it almost becomes a part of you. Karan Nevatia (ph) remembers the first time that he heard these notes...

(SOUNDBITE OF TLC SONG, “NO SCRUBS”)

SIMON: He was a high school senior flying back from a "Harry Potter" conference and listening to Spotify.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO SCRUBS")

TLC: (Singing) A scrub is a guy...

SIMON: He thought the tune was kind of catchy, but that's not the moment that made "No Scrubs" by TLC his signature song. Oh, no. It was this moment a few months later...

KARAN NEVATIA: One day I was just sitting in the yearbook office just working on something, and I was playing music in the background. And one of the songs I was playing was "No Scrubs."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO SCRUBS")

TLC: (Singing) A scrub is a guy that thinks he's fly and is also known as a busta'. Always talkin' about what he wants...

NEVATIA: And because of who I am, which is, like, a nerdy Indian dude, kind of, like, took people aback when they came in and they saw me singing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO SCRUBS")

TLC: (Singing) So no, I don't want your number. No, I don't want to give you mine. And, no, I don't want to meet you nowhere...

NEVATIA: After that, it just became kind of part of my identity.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO SCRUBS")

TLC: (Singing) No, I don't want no scrub. A scrub is a guy that can't get no love from me...

NEVATIA: Sooner or later, the whole school kind of knew that I was the guy who was singing "No Scrubs" all the time. They would pull out their phones. They would start Snapchatting my performances. So yeah, there's tons of videos that exist out there.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

NEVATIA: (Singing) I don't want no scrub. A scrub is a guy that can't get no love from me.

It felt like I was putting smiles on other people's faces, and that made me feel good. I'm an introvert, and, like, I've never been a singer. I'm kind of a horrible singer. But once I started singing "No Scrubs" over and over, it kind of became second nature to me.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

NEVATIA: (Singing) No money. Oh, no. I don't want no scrubs. No...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO SCRUBS")

TLC: (Singing) No scrubs. No, no. No...

NEVATIA: Like with most high school students after they graduate, I felt like I was losing touch with a lot of my friends and the people I knew in high school, that "No Scrubs" was something and that kind of, like, kept us together. Because every time someone would hear it on the radio, they would mention to me that, oh, they heard "No Scrubs" on the radio today, and they thought of me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO SCRUBS")

TLC: (Singing) If you don't have a car and you're walking, oh yes, son, I'm talking to you. If you live at home with your momma, oh yes, son, I'm talking to you.

NEVATIA: It was also something that I brought with me to the new groups and people that I met in college. I would perform it for any, like, new student groups that I joined. Something, like, I worry about after college is, like, losing touch with people again, like, happened in high school. And I think that "No Scrubs" will continue to be something that will keep us connected together.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO SCRUBS")

TLC: (Singing) No scrub. No, no. No scrub. No, no...

SIMON: Karan Navatia and his signature song "No Scrubs" by TLC. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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