Greatest Un-Hits: Neneh Cherry, “Buddy X” (1993)

Written by Greatest Un-Hits, Music

A look at songs that aren’t necessarily good or bad, merely ones that, because of the climate of the music world during their release, somehow, someway, were not the massive hit songs they should logically have been.

Neneh Cherry’s biggest hit in the U.S. was “Buffalo Stance,” which topped out at #3 in 1989. When Cherry returned in 1993, it wasn’t like the pop music climate had changed all that much—synthetic beat-driven, New Jack-lite dance pop was still a big deal. Hell, even Bobby Brown was still a legitimate star, and not yet deeply depressing and alarmingly sweaty.

That meant Neneh Cherry should have done just fine with “Buddy X,” the third single off Homebrew, after the poorly chosen and uncharting previous selections “Money Love” and “Move With Me,” which were as impenetrable and weird as the Enigma songs they were clearly meant to suggest. “Buddy X” tapped into another mini-fad: pop songs in which women called out men for being dogs and players.

“My Lovin,” “I Gotta Man,” “Buddy X.” This was the Three Tenors of early ’90s gender studies pop. “My Lovin'” was the Pavarotti of course, “I Gotta Man” (at least Positive K’s voice-modulated fake-lady voice) was the Domingo. “Buddy X” was the other one who’s name nobody can remember.

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New Jack done by a woman who sounds and also kind of looks like Vanessa Williams, tapping into the zeitgeist? That got Neneh Cherry a weak, forgotten #43 single. Homebrew didn’t chart. Cherry remixed and re-released the single in 1999 and called it “Buddy X ’99,” ostensibly because TLC and Destiny’s Child had struck a nerve with “No Scrubs” and “Bills, Bills, Bills.” It still wasn’t a hit.