For two weeks in February 1988 “Girlfriend” by Pebbles was #1 on the R&B charts. Written and produced by L.A. Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds “Girlfriend” was squarely in the new breed sound that was taking over the airwaves in ’88. Perhaps not as youth-oriented or as hard-edged as some musical offerings that were coming to prominence in ’88, but “Girlfriend” still had wide appeal. In fact, if we’re giving credit where it should be due, Pebbles was able to construct a musical archetype persona that many who followed her benefitted tremendously from. Put another way if we examine “Girlfriend” and the Pebbles movement of ’88 and then consider the contemporary mainstream musical landscape I don’t think it would take long at all to see her influence still on display.

“Girlfriend” is another great example of the importance of a great song. I know that I’m often in the minority, but the song is the most import artifact to me when I assess the appeal of an artist. The song is the story and when the song is great the story is the song. There may have been a time(or two) in my life that I was a “canine runnin’ round in heat”(relatable). “Girl you must resist” (clearly a predictor of the current consciousness). And of course who could forget “To believe or not to believe, that is the question, it just takes a street degree”(Shakespearean no less). Now some of you may be reading this as me taking a facetious slant, no I’m being quite serious in my analysis here. “Girlfriend” is a story that if you’ve lived long enough you can relate to. A scenario that has played out in countless relationships where after being wronged you seek the wise counsel of a good friend who will tell you the truth.

Put all the above together with a hot beat, a compelling visual, some spoken word by The Deele, and er uh some good negotiation(if you haven’t read L.A. Reid’s book Sing To Me for the backstory behind how Pebbles ended up with “Girlfriend” after it had been promised to another artist, you should) the compound for a bona fide hit was ready to take over early ’88. This is your Love Man here reminding you that once you’ve cried your last cry, that you can step out your door and leave that domicile because there’s always other fish in the sea.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.