I dare you to come up with a better song that Buffalo Stance by Neneh Cherry off of her 1989 album “Raw Like Sushi.”
Specifically all six minutes of the 12″ Mix – I think the version you’d generally hear on the radio – which is how I first came to the song when I was 12 or 13. I’d keep a radio on all night long tuned to KCJK 105.1 JACK FM, an adult alternative station which I thought was unique to Kansas City, I later came to find out it was a Cumulus Media station that broadcasted in most major markets in the United States. Buffalo Stance by Neneh Cherry played every night on their automated DJ’s playlist at some time around 10:30 PM, when I’d be trying to fall asleep and failing because I had a radio playing right next to my head all night.
Anyway, there was this song that would play at around 10:30 PM each night, and I’d never be able to pick out the lyrics, so I could never figure out what the song was actually called, but I was able to gather like three things from it:
- It started with like a rap section, then there was this transition into a chorus which was like a normal pop song, then it kind of bridged back into a rap bit
- Whatever the instrument under the chorus was sounded like a distorted guitar and, due to the mediocre acoustics of my Sony Clock Radio, it stuck out the most in what I heard
- It sounded like an early nineties song, like it had an early nineties – and I mean early early nineties, like 1990-91 or so, vibe
After a while, JACK FM switched up the automated playlist and it got replaced by something else, probably a Train song because they played so much Train on that station, dear god, so much Train.
It took me like six years to figure out what the song was actually called. I remembered the song, like it’d come back to me every now and then, the song with the little bridge into the chorus with the synth guitar thing kinda like whatever font was used in Robot Rock by Daft Punk, it started like a rap song then was like a pop song and had this saxophone bit too, all that, the chorus was like “no body caaaaaaan… b-dum dum dum dum”
There were three songs like this in my history, ones that took years of searching to finally find:
- Buffalo Stance by Neneh Cherry, the song this whole post is about, which took an hours-long YouTube deep dive to find
- Movierecord by Penguin Village, which was used in The 720 Skate Trick Video. This was before I had Shazam access, so I couldn’t just hold the ol’ phone up and have it tell me where it was from. I think, if you dig deep enough in the comments, my frantic search for the song title is still there from like 2011.
- A cover of the Saints’ Do The Robot by Sisley Treasure’s band Sisely and the Safety Pin-Ups, which I guess was her band before Shiny Toy Guns. It played on my Dad’s Sirius Satellite Radio receiver at some point before a campout back in 2006 maybe? That song is lost to time, she posted it on her MySpace page, and like anything posted on a MySpace page back then, it’s long gone. If anyone has access to this MP3, I’d like it, I suppose, but I don’t expect anything
This is the most frustrating thing about listening to music. So much of music’s curation is without effort, through idle radio station listening, or Spotify playlists, or Pandora stations, or simply hearing songs in public. When I look back at my favorite artists of today and try to remember from where I learned of them, there’s a fascinating variance (and I recommend other people try to do the same). Back then, when I listened to the radio all of the time almost to my health’s detriment, I’d learn from what the DJs said. Now, I don’t think I’ve seriously listened to a radio station for the past four years or so.
I do some curation, I’ve found that following record labels helps with finding artists similar to the ones that I know I like. Still, my favorite song from last year was an autoplayed YouTube video recommendation, which is kind of the modern equivalent of turning on the radio to a great song for the first time. My favorite song of 2016 was from an artist I’d learned of because his song was played in an Old Navy.
With Shazam, and the fact that I’m almost never discovering purely from a radio station or store speakers with no other visual representation of what’s playing, that needing to chasing down a song like Buffalo Stance likely won’t return in the future. That’s probably good? It’ll save me some work, I guess.
With that added convenience comes the realization that I won’t have the experience I had in late 2012 searching from youtube video to youtube video, other late eighties/early nineties hits – Good Vibrations, Gonna Make You Sweat, Another Night – circumlocuting until I found the song that I’d only remembered in pieces from youth. So maybe I’ll miss that, the feeling of discovery, a sort of spelunking through my memories.
And, no, perhaps I didn’t actually prove the point that it’s the best song of all time, but at least I’m going to play the outro for you. Also, I don’t know if that was a six minute read or not, I’m horrible at judging that. But please let me play you out: