One-Hit Wonders / Second-Best Songs: Neneh Cherry And 'Buffalo Stance' For "One-Hit Wonders/Second-Best Songs," Jayna Brown, Black culture researcher at the Pratt Institute, recommends "Kong" by Neneh Cherry. Cherry is best known for her 1989 hit "Buffalo Stance."

Letting Neneh Cherry Mature Past Her 1989 Pop Zeitgeist Moment

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


In 1989, this song hit No. 3 on the U.S. pop charts.


NENEH CHERRY: (Singing) No moneyman can win my love. It's sweetness that I'm thinking of.

MARTIN: That's "Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry. Now, she did follow that up with another Top 10 song back then. So yeah, we are making a bit of an exception for Neneh Cherry with our series One Hit Wonders/Second-Best Songs. That's because Jayna Brown wanted to draw attention to Neneh Cherry's more recent work, music that has gone largely ignored in the U.S. Jayna Brown is the author of "Babylon Girls: Black Women Performers And The Shaping Of The Modern."

JAYNA BROWN: "Buffalo Stance" was a huge hit in the U.S. I mean, hip-hop was already, you know, a marketable commodity. It was a bit like when hip-hop emerged out of what was a much more sort of underground story. And she definitely captured some kind of zeitgeist happening.


CHERRY: (Singing) When you lost your babe, you lost the race. Now you're looking at me to take her place. Who's looking good today? Who's looking good in every way?

BROWN: Neneh Cherry was born in Sweden. Her mother is Swedish and her father from Sierra Leone. Her mother remarried to the jazz musician Don Cherry, who raised Nina from birth. At 15, she went with her father to England. And Neneh then dropped out of school and stayed in England and actually performed with the all-girl punk band The Slits.


BROWN: OK, so the song that I chose is called "Kong," and it came out in 2018. I chose this song because it captures a number of different styles within it. It has sort of the sound of Bristol trip hop - that's Massive Attack and Tricky, Portishead, etc. - as well as this kind of a sultry tone to it, but not sweet.


CHERRY: (Singing) Love forsaken, risk worth taking, spearmint flavors, all my pallet shutters.

BROWN: I think one of the things that happens with these hits is that they kind of freeze the artist in to one moment and especially when the artist is very young and they are seen as capturing the essence of that moment. It's very hard - I mean, particularly in pop music, generally - hard to let these artists grow up, right? So the case for listening to more of her music is that it pushes us to appreciate, you know, an artist maturing. She's my age, so I'm very conscious these days of, you know, life after your 20s (laughter).


CHERRY: (Singing) Bite my head off. Still, my world will always be...

MARTIN: That's Jayna Brown, professor of humanities and media studies at the Pratt Institute in New York City. Neneh Cherry's "Kong" is her choice for our series One-Hit Wonders/Second-Best Songs.


CHERRY: (Singing) ...Will always be another risk worth taking.

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.