Song Of The Day 1/22/2016: The Evasions – “Wikka Wrap”

Disco Doubt – Oh, goodness. "Wikka Wrap." I hope you brought yourself a brown-bag lunch, because there are so many very, very lovely things about this disco novelty single to unpack:
  • Alan Whicker (1921-2013) was an intrepid and well-respected broadcast journalist in the UK. He shot to fame as a correspondent, then got his own BBC news series Whicker's World in the 1960's. The program ran into the 1990's. The episodes were self-contained and filmed all over the world. (Notably, Whicker once got an audience with Haitian dictator  François "Papa Doc" Duvalier two years before the creep's 1971 death.) In America, I'm guessing you could compare Whicker's career to that of Anderson Cooper's for the wide range of subject matter and situations he covered.  He was made a Commander of the British Empire for his lifelong service to the establishment of British telejournalism, exemplified in this undated report on the emerging martial art of karate in Tokyo:

    As you might be able to tell, Whicker's unusual eloquence and delivery style made him easy parody; Monty Python had a go at him in their "Whicker Island" sketch:

  • The Evasions were funk-parody group headed by British TV composer Graham De Wilde and producer Adrian Sear. "Wikka Wrap," a #20 UK hit in 1981 largely based on Tom Browne's "Funkin' for Jamaica," featured De Wilde doing a spot-on impression of Whicker narrating a faux report on the last in funk and the emerging rap scene. 

  • In a beautiful example of there never being such a thing as adverse publicity or sour grapes in England, in 1983 de Wilde was commissioned to write the theme song to the 1980's edition of Whicker's World. Since this happened two years after "Wikka Wrap," one has to assume that BBC producers were familiar with de Wilde's parody to begin with. And that Whicker either approved or didn't mind the parody record.

  • It gets better. If this song rings a bell to some of you '90s hip hop fans, that's because Coolio sampled phrases from "Wikka Wrap" for his 1995 song "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin New)" from the Gangsta's Paradise album. How was the West Coast rapper familiar with this parody of a British reporter nobody in America had ever heard of? Because "Wikka Wrap" somehow climbed to #20 on Billboard's R&B Chart in 1981

  • And it hit #19 on the U.S. dance charts as well.

  • It did not cross over to the Billboard Hot 100 for reasons unknown and almost certainly unfair.

  • There was a 1988 sequel, because the world is a beautiful place full of opportunity.

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