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Cameo – Word Up

Posted by Big Boo on October 17th, 2008

Whilst idly channel hopping the other night I stopped for a while on VH1 because they had one of their themed compilation shows on, in this case it was a Top 40 Party Songs from the 1980s, or some such wording anyway.  Early on in the listing came one of those songs that everybody will instantly remember, Word Up, by Cameo.

Word Up is one of those songs that is instantly recognisable, mainly due to the fact that Larry Blackmon, founder and lead vocalist of the band, sang it in such a distinctive way.  His voice comes across sounding almost robotic, so I’m assuming it must have been going through some kind of filter in order to achieve this affect.  Either that or the tight lycra trousers and even tighter looking red plastic cod piece Larry wore in the video was responsible for the voice changing effect.

Cameo are an R&B band formed in 1974 under the name the New York City Players, which to my mind sounds more like a performance art group than a band!  In 1976 the band was renamed Cameo, amid fears that the old name might be confused with another group called Ohio Players.

Word Up has proved to be a very successful song, and really brought Cameo a lot of airplay and attention when it was released in 1986.  The song has been covered many times, most notably by US rock band Korn and ex-Spice Girl Mel B, who’s version featured on the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack.

Below you can find the original version of Word Up, and see that red cod piece for yourself.  Star Trek: The Next Generation fans may also be interested to know that the police detective in the long trench coat was played by Geordi La Forge actor Levar Burton.