It is now the end of the year and we are looking at the top 5 most recognized African songs that have ever come out. The obvious limitations to the list are somewhat obvious….some songs were never put on video, so while they were popular, they don’t make the list. The only criteria is that they should have been popular on more than one continent. Here we go.
5. Almost anything by Koffi Olomide
Koffi Olomide had people waiting with bated breath for his shows. It could have been his ndombolo dancers that attracted them, but it was his ability to sing, and put on a great performance, that kept them coming back. Couldn't find his older stuff, but his new stuff is very popular around the world. This particular video is reminiscient of his older style. If you look hard enough you might spot a younger Fally Ipupa.
4. African Queen - 2Face Idibia
African Queen has got to be the most downloaded song by an African artist on Myspace, Itunes, CD baby, and Calabash Music (to name a few). It celebrates African beauty and has a feel-good sound about it. Besides, he's right....we are all African Queens or know one we can celebrate!
3. Pata Pata - Miriam Makeba
Pata Pata is one of Miriam Makeba's most famous songs. It is also called the click song because she clicks in her vernacular as she sings the song. I don't think it will ever go out of style. There are many different video versions with her singing the song, but I like the original one. It still has the ability to make you want to sing.
2. Malaika - Fadhili Williams (later made famous by Miriam Makeba)
This song is surrounded by a lot of controversy due to copyright issues. Fadhili William Ndawida (known as Fadhili Williams), a Kenyan singer/songwriter, wrote this song in 1960 and recorded it with his band, the Jambo Boys. Unfortunately he did not copyright his song and so did not benefit from the royalties and resulting success that came about when Miriam Makeba recorded the song. At the time of his death he was still fighting for the copyright rights.
1. Yeke Yeke - Mory Kante
This has got to be THE most recognized song in the entire world! I don't think I have met anyone who has not heard it, from Turkey to France, Nigeria to South Africa, Tunisia to Kenya, this song is well-loved. There have been several remixes but, in my mind, the original is still the best!