S2-E11 Iko Iko

The Dixie cups

Pour ce 11e épisode, nous allons intensifier les flammes allumées par Venus dans l’épisode précédent.

S2-E11 Iko Iko (Jock-a-mo)

You can find a summary in English below.

Pour la version 2019 de Justin Wellington c’est ici

Pour un best du Iko Iko challenge sur TikTok, c’est ce lien.

Celle de 1982 des Belle Stars c’est par là
La version de 1965 des Dixie Cups est là
La version « originale » Jock-a-Mo 1953 par James super Boy Crawford est ici.

For my Friends who don’t speak French a summary in English. I hope it can help to follow what I say :

For this 11th episode, we will intensify the flames lit by Venus in the previous episode.

Sample of  the cover of Belles stars Iko Iko

The group is called the Belles Stars and they released their version of « Iko Iko » in 1982. Like Bananarama, it is an all-female group, but the Belles Stars are 7 and they don’t just sing. These 7 musicians come from the English ska scene where groups generally have a large number of participants, like Madness for example. It is also the producer of Madness who made their first single. « Iko Iko » was their first hit of 1982, preceding « The Clapping song » (another cover) and especially « Sign of times ». The following years were less successful and the group finally broke up in 1986. But the same year, their « Iko Iko » enjoyed a second career, notably in the US, being used in the soundtrack of the movie Rain Man (with Dustin Hoffman). So much for the 80’s, but nowadays it’s mostly this version that we hear:

Sample of  Justin Wellington’s version

The version by Justin Wellington, originally from Papousia-New Guinea, brings a very summery color to the song. Released in 2019, it quickly became viral on the TikTok social network where all apprentice dancers in the world can choreograph the song, usually in duets. TikTok users usually film themselves moving in sync with the music or performing specific dance moves in response to the lyrics of the song, including the My Bestie, your Bestie. The 2019 version text tells us about an evening around the fire that quickly turns into a fiesta and no one can resist it.

My bestie and your bestie/Sit down by the fire/Your bestie says she want party/So can we make these flames go higher

A piece that encourages to party.

But that’s not what the Belles Stars’ version of the 1965 hit « The Dixie Cups » (an all-girl vocal group from New Orleans) is all about.

  Sample of the Dixies’ version

So what became My bestie and your bestie etc was:

  My grandma and your grandma

Were sittin’ by the fire

My grandma told your grandma

« I’m gonna set your flag on fire ».

Which obviously has nothing to do with it. This story of a grandmother who wants to burn a flag is not very clear, like the rest of the song. It must be said that the three girls of the Dixies Cup sing from memory a song heard in their youth, perhaps sung by their grandmothers? The text may be more explicit in the original version recorded in 1953 and entitled « Jock-a-mo ».

Sample of Jock-a-mo

James « super boy » Crawford composed it after a parade of « Mardi Gras Indians » at the New Orleans Carnival. The Mardi Gras Indians are African Americans who march in costumes inspired by Native American ceremonial dress. 

Sugar Boy text says:

My spyboy puts your spyboy

Sittin’ by the fire

My spyboy told your spyboy:

I’m gonna set your flag on fire

Here it is clearer: it is a lookout from one tribe who meets a lookout from another tribe and threatens to set fire to his standard!

So we summarize: A song inspired by the American Indians was born in New Orleans, was taken up in England, then reinvented in Papua New Guinea and went viral on TikTok! 

By the way don’t ask me what « Jock-a-mo » means, James « super boy » himself said he had no idea!

Before slipping the Dixies Cup version in your ears, see you soon for a new episode of Ils Ont Repris Ma Chanson.