Okays. Valentine has come and gone…with a lot of mushy feelings, empty wallets and promises. However, as an incurable romantic and someone who loves music, the period got me thinking about the best love songs…in my native tongue, Yoruba, ever recorded (The one in English language (foreign) is supposed to be written by Lilian (@lilysville) and she has refused to…pester her!). Here is my top ten Yoruba love songs…hope you get and grok them like I do.
- “Olo mi gbo temi o” by Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey: released in 1962 (I think), this song from Obey’s second album was said to have been the launching pad for an amazing music career and rightfully so. The song taps directly into conjugal love felt by a newly-wedded man to his bride and his desire to show it. Apart from the lyrics of the song, the drumming is also very on point. There is no man alive who understands Yoruba language that does not love the song. Quote me.
- “Ololufe” by Orlando Julius Ekemode: Some believe that the (supposed) co-founder of the Afrobeat genre Magnum Opus is “Jagua Nana” but for me it’s “Ololufe”. Sang from the viewpoint of a man begging his wife, the lyrics shows what defines a Yoruba marriage/man as successful. For me though, what killed the song is the sound…it transports me to a place where I was in the days of innocence…the horns, trumpet and sax are so on point that it pushes me to the edge of tears. And when you grok the meaning of the words… (grabs handkerchief)
- “Olo mi” by Tosin Martins: This is THE wedding reception song. I can write a whole website analysing what I love about the song: The instrumentals are so on point that they alone woulda been a world-class song (not surprising considering the calibre of the producer); then the wordings are themselves a work of art and written from the viewpoint of a young man wooing a maiden for marriage that would be for better or worse till the day they are old; the synthesis of these two elements to bring a song that makes everyone want to get married…again if necessary
- “My love” by King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal 1 (KWAM1): I’m a huge KWAM1 fan but that has nothing to do with the worthiness of this song on this list. Though delivered in a laid-back song-speech and laced with some English words in between, the song with its wonderful use of keyboard and other instruments makes a delightable listening (especially during a downpour with your hands around your beloved) and everyone can relate to it. It is a wonderful example that Yoruba music can be without loud sounds.
- “What a feeling” by Beautiful Nubia: There is a reason this song was a top song for about two years when it came out. The lyrics, though some(chorus) are in English, are poetic and evocative, showing the way a Yoruba man should who a lady he intends to marry (bringing in friends and family). The use of English and Yoruba languages makes the song a top one for westernized Yorubans. And the back-up voices are so angelic! (Especially towards the end). The trumpets solo at the start of the song is very definitive.
- “Baby Jowo” by Victor Olaiya: I’m not a fan of the re-mix with Tuface Idibia, but the original has me any day of the week. Written for a betrothed whose fiancée is about leaving and doesn’t want her to go because of his increasing need for sexual attention, I would say it’s the Yoruba version of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual healing” ( or is it the other way round?!). Baba Olaiya was his classic self in this piece, with the instrumentals on point. Personally, my best from the Highlife legend
- “Eji Owuro” by Shola Allyson: This song rightfully shot the lady into fame in the mid-2000s. Yoruba female musicians are few and far between (except for the Gospel-choir ilk) and so love songs from them are rare. However, discounting female favouritism, this song stands tall amongst the others due to its poetic lyrics (by a young woman telling her lover how she wants to beloved), it’s arrangement and it’s sound. The only reason it didn’t crack the top 5 is because of the quality of the song which is a little bit lower than the song deserves. Can I get a remix?! AMEN!
- “Romeo and Juliet” By Jide Chord: One of my favourite Yoruba artistes, I was smitten and fell in love with love all over again when I first heard the song. The mellow mood of the song, coalescing of the two voices (he had a female on the track), the interplay of lyrics between both male and female as they try to describe their love and makes promises, the subtle backup singers and the instrumentals makes me wanna fall in love for the first time again. I even promised to call my wife ADEDIWURA just so I can always sing this song for her….when that times comes. *grins*
- “Aisan” by Lagbaja: From the very complete album “Africano” in 2005 comes this complete song. Who said foreign instruments like piano and violin can’t be used effectively with local languages? Lagbaja has proved this wrong many times, none better than this beautiful song. The piano work is brilliant. The lyrics take the love song from an unconventional angle: a young man telling his beloved that love is a sickness that they both are unwilling to get a cure from. The mix of indigenous instruments towards the middle to the end is a pure blend of musical genius. Makes we wanna get sick with love
- “I remember my darling” by IK Dairo: This should be the most controversial entry (I admit). But there is something about this song that situates you in the 60’s, making you wonder how love and relationships were then. How you favourite old couple (grandparents?) wooed each other and the sweet nothings that they whispered…and you imagine how you would be as an old couple too. The crowd-like way the song is sang, lends to it an ephemeral effect that makes you wanna be part of life by loving again and again (same effect as going to church/mosque and doing things in unison). There is a reason the Queen of England gave him an MBE
- Number 11?! Yes! It’s the honourable mention list….all the other love songs every done mainly in Yoruba language!
P.S. A special mention is “Sisi Bisi” by Eddy Okonta….a song I personally dedicate to Adebisi (aunty oni cocktail @PurpleEllipsis) … Babe Eddy murdered this song very well…another “Sexual Healing” wannabe. (still looking for it’s link)