Wednesday, February 3, 2021

"Girlfriend" by Pebbles

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3394
Date:  01/30/1988
Debut:  74
Peak:  5
Weeks:  20
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop, New Jack Swing

Pop Bits:  This California native, born as Perri McKissack, got an early start in the music biz when at age 16 she starting singing backup for the R&B outfit Con Funk Shun. She also began writing music and Con Funk Shun would record one of her songs, "Body Lovers" (co-written with band member Michael Cooper), for their 1981 album 7. After a period of floundering and failed deals, Pebbles decided to take a major stab at a solo career and with financial help from her then-husband, she wrote and recorded the song "Mercedes Boy" and shot an accompanying video. She shopped both around to labels and MCA Records took the bait. Her first venture for the label was recording the song "Love/Hate" for the Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack. It was released as a single, but failed to chart. She then moved on to finish up a self-titled debut album. This first single was released and it clicked at R&B where the song topped out at #1. The attention there helped the song cross over to the Pop chart and eventually it would reach the Top 10. It also got to #24 at Dance. Pebbles would go on to earn a Grammy nod for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, for the song.

ReduxReview:  Yes, so many times have me and my friends recited the spoken word part of this track emphasizing "I'm out the door, babe! There's other fish in the sea!" It was such a great, defiant phrase and luckily the whole song was just as juicy and good. Still, when someone ends a comment with "girlfriend" I just automatically mimic the little do-dit, do-dit keyboard part from the song. It's like a Pavlovian response. This was just an awesome tune expertly crafted and produced by L.A. Reid and Babyface. It was also very timely with its New Jack Swing feel. It all added up to a can't-miss hit. It really should have topped the Pop chart, but at least it got most of the way there.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) McKissack got the name Pebbles from her grandfather. Apparently, he nicknamed her that when she was about 10 years old. The name stems from the daughter character on the animated TV show The Flintstones. Once her grandfather started to use the nickname, it caught on and stuck. When she kicked off her solo career, she decided to use the singular moniker.  2) Pebbles was not supposed to record this song. It was originally promised to another singer, former Miss America Vanessa Williams for her debut album. Written by L.A. Reid and Babyface, the pair talked about the song with Pebbles when visiting her in the studio. After playing the demo track for her, she wanted the song. Reid and Babyface said they had a preliminary deal with Williams, but Pebbles knew money talked and feeling that it was a hit, she offered the pair a better deal, which apparently included two new cars. Needless to say, Reid and Babyface jumped on the offer and also agreed to produce the track. According to L.A. Reid's 2016 tell-all book Sing to Me, Williams never spoke to him again after handing the song over to Pebbles. Pebbles not only got the song, but ended up with Reid as well. The two began an affair and got married in 1989 after she divorced her husband. Pebbles and Reid would split in '96.


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