Flashback Fridays: Cheesy Video, Catchy Tune - 'Wadjo' by Nel Oliver

This flashback friday, we take a look at one song that resonates very well in my memory (and I'm sure in the minds of a number of Nigerians) and is hard to forget...and the reason is simple - its catchy chorus. I'm talking about the song 'Wadjo' by Nel oliver. 

Back then, it was a hit of which its video was collage of exaggerated swag and flashy outfits; you could even see the Michael Jackson influence of the 1980s reflecting all through the scenarios. The video was also popular for its ridiculousness which was quite amusing to watch. I like the way Uchenna Ikonne of Comb & Razor put it:
Most Nigerians probably know Nel Oliver primarily for the 1998 ballad "Baby Girl," but amongst my circle of friends and family, this song--or rather, this video--was a running in-joke that just got funnier and funnier with each passing year.
I mean... It was jut so priceless: exaggerated, TV commercial-style drama, overheated histrionics, naff choreography, four-for-fifty kobo Michael Jackson imitators, extreme closeups of prodigiously mustachioed lips, white-framed plastic glasses--it had been a while since we'd seen a Nigerian music video that exulted so gloriously in its unabashed early 80s-ness!
The thing is, though: this joint dropped in 1989/90, by which time it felt absurdly anachronistic. But it was still a lot of fun because it was so... Well, I can't say that we were yet familiar with the term, "camp," but I guess we recognized it when we saw it!
I watched the video again and laughed. Back then, I wouldn't know what was wrong with the video; as far as I was concerned, it could all have been a musical work of art. But looking at it again today, I realized it had many flaws. Apart from the cheesy choreography which had dudes prancing about like malnourished ballet dancers, the camera angles were mostly terrible. The lighting was also poor and in some scenes you could see the cameraman's shadow falling on the artiste and his performers.

But hey...it was in the 80s and music videos didn't look like they do today so its understandable.  
Nel Oliver...is not from Nigeria at all, but from the neighboring Republic of Benin. (Which is probably why he's singing in French, duh!) (Though to be honest, I don't remember even noticing that for a long time--we thought that on the chorus he was exclaiming music funfair! rather than musique d'enfer!) And more than that, long before Angelique Kidjo ever picked up a microphone, Nel Oliver was Benin's first international superstar.
Oliver soon established himself as a sturdy soul star, even becoming the first black African to run his own recording studio (the... interestingly named Spade Music) in Paris, where he recorded releases such as 1983's "I Got A Flash."
Oliver returned to Benin in 1987. In order to facilitate the development of the local music industry, he built Nel Oliver Studio in Cotonou, where he continues to record his own music as well as discovering and producing new artists. A true elder statesman with three decades of achievement under his belt. - Uchenna Ikonne (Comb & Razor)
A more recent pix of Nel Oliver
Definitely a true elder statesman! His 'Baby Girl' song was popular back in the late 90s. I'm not sure if it got played at weddings like such songs get played today. But it was a video that looked way better than 'Wadjo'. I'll give it up to this guy for maintaining a recording studio for over 15 years. You can barely come across any Naija studio that has lasted that long!

1 Screamer(s):

t said...

omg so coool i'm like excited even before watching the video singing wajooo wajo wajo wajo uhhh
wajooo wajo sexy ladyyyyyy
uh uh uhhhh