When Shahid Nazir arrived in London from his native Pakistan a year ago, he cannot have imagined where his new life would lead him. Shahid got a job selling fish at one pound each — that’s $1.60 — from a market stall in east London.
But from these humble beginnings, Shahid has rocketed to national — even international — fame. He has become the latest Internet sensation with a song entitled “One Pound Fish.”
The song has landed him a recording contract. It all began when Shahid’s boss at the fish stall told him to shout his sales pitch to attract customers. Shahid sang instead: “C’mon ladies, c’mon ladies… one pound fish!! Have a, have a look! One pound fish!”
And, he says, his little ditty proved highly popular with the fish-buying public.
“Everyone said your song is so catchy. Your voice is very good. You should be a popstar. The people loved the song and some even said: sing it again or we won’t buy any fish,” says Shahid.
The song quickly reached a wider audience. A customer filmed the performance on his smartphone, uploaded the video to YouTube and 4.5 million hits later, the fish vendor is wallowing in global celebrity. He now has 28,000 followers on Twitter (@Real1PoundFish) and he can hardly believe his good fortune. “I never, never thought that I would one day become famous,” he says.
Cashing in on this instant celebrity, Warner Music signed up Shahid, remixed his vocals with a Bangra backing track and shot a video of him shimmying with scantily clad Bollywood dancers. Warner’s Anton Partridge is cautiously confident about the single.
“I would hope to at least break the Top 40,” says Partridge. “From there, we will start seeing where the record will go.”
But pop music critic Mark Sutherland is not impressed. “One Pound Fish” may have caused a splash on the Internet, he says, but converting that to commercial success won’t be easy. Clicking on a free YouTube video is one thing, persuading people to buy the single is a different matter. Sutherland says Shahid should prepare for disappointment.
“The music business sadly is a precarious place,” says Sutherland. “I think if I was him, I’d probably keep the day job on for a while yet.”