This is the last thing I ever wrote for The Word. Writers were asked to submit a long list of songs that never fail to make them happy, from which the editor picked one per writer for a piece that was meant to appear this month but was held over and will now never appear. Which I guess is apt in the circumstances.
There’s nothing purer in pop than the one-hit wonder, the artist who rolls up then buggers off before you’ve had the chance to weigh up their cool – or even remember their name. For months I was convinced I Wish was by Stee-Lo, that being fashionable hip hop slang for aura or style at the time. But it didn’t matter – great as I Wish is, Skee-Lo was never gonna thrive in the alpha male world of big willies and mack daddies.
The lovely opening lines (“I wish I was a little bit taller/I wish I was a baller/I wish I had a girl who looked good/I would call her”) were a beautiful counterpart to all the killers and the hundred-dollar billers who dominated rap in 1995, when I Wish peaked at 13 on Billboard (15 here), and the swingy, uplifting brass and smiling self-deprecation make it an almost impossibly cheerful lovelorn lullaby.
It was a trick he could only play once. Despite the single’s success, his album flopped and after a stalled comeback in 2000, he vanished. I have literally no idea what he’s doing now, but wherever he is, I hope he still smiles when he thinks of this.
And that he’s with a girl who looks good.
Here's the rest of my 10
Sly & the Family Stone – Hot Fun In The Summertime
Terry Callier – Ordinary Joe
Frank Wilson – Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)
The Beat – Twist & Crawl
Digital Underground – Humpty Dance
The Bangles – Walk Like An Egyptian
Beyoncé – Crazy In Love
Salt ‘N’ Pepa – Push It
Kelis – Milkshake