Iko Iko (My Bestie) sparkles in France
Justin Wellington

THANKS to social media platform TikTok, the reggae cover of Iko Iko (titled Iko Iko My Bestie) by Justin Wellington and Small Jam took off like a rocket globally last year.

The song was on October 6 certified diamond in France by the National Syndicate of Phonographic Publishing (SNEP) for streaming and sales exceeding 300,000 units.

This is the latest in multiple certifications for the song which has scaled several European charts, making the top 10 in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, and Switzerland.

Iko Iko (My Bestie) has so far been certified platinum in Austria, 2x platinum in Italy and platinum in Switzerland. It has been certified gold in Portugal, Denmark, Germany and Belgium.

In a previous interview with the Jamaica Observer, Wellington, who is originally from Papua, New Guinea, said he was drawn to reggae from an early age.

"Reggae and island-based genres of music are my favourite and always my genres of choice for my recordings," said Wellington, who lists Lucky Dube, Toots and the Maytals, and Bob Marley as his inspiration.

Iko Iko, under the original title Jock-A-Mo, was written and released in 1953 as a single by James "Sugar Boy" Crawford and his Cane Cutters, but it failed to make the charts.

The 1960s girl group The Dixie Cups took their version to number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965, while Dr John hit 71 in 1972 with his version.

British girl group Belle Stars covered the song in 1982, but it wasn't until in 1989 that their version reached 14 in America.

Released in 2017, Wellington's version of Iko Iko was recently picked up by American label RCA Records after it went viral on social media.

"I've loved the song since I was a kid. The versions that I loved in my childhood were those by the Dixie Cups and Belle Stars," he told the Observer.

"My version of Iko Iko (subtitled My Bestie) was released in 2017, and it was actually arranged and produced by several different people, including myself as well as DJ Liamz," Wellington continued.

The singer shared the difference between his version and the other covers.

"It has a powerful island energy to it that people just love. But also, I believe that there has always been an unmistakable spirit and energy inherent within Iko Iko, irrespective of which version, that people have loved since the beginning. It's a timeless tune," he said.

Wellington continued, "I have always wanted to pursue music and achieve significant success. For the most part, my work has been inspired by other artistes and my life experiences," said Wellington, adding his long-term goal is to be able to share happiness through his music.

Kevin Jackson

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