One Hit Wonder: Pebbles - Girlfriend

Pebbles has had six real surnames in her eventful life, so probably one of the more astute things she ever did was giving herself an easily recognisable pseudonym when launching her pop career in the mid 80s.

Adopting the name of Fred and Wilma Flintstone’s daughter, she had already travelled the world as a backing singer and fell pregnant by the time she was 19, prior to signing her first deal. The new jack swing scene was growing, fusing hip-hop beats with contemporary soul sounds and Pebbles became part of it with Girlfriend, written by producer and future husband L.A. Reid.

Allocation of the song was controversial, as Vanessa Williams was initially offered it, but Pebbles handed Reid extra cash and new cars. It ended up as her signature hit, and the title of her debut album.

Lyrically, it’s a woman advising a friend quite savagely that she’s been duped by a player, and needs to get rid and move on. The feisty theme is backed by an appropriately booming, part-distorted rhythm section, and Pebbles is menacing and cynical in her delivery. It reached No.8 in the spring of 1988, but the follow-up, Mercedes Boy, just missed the Top 40. Pebbles later managed TLC, before becoming a preacher and gospel singer.

Written by Matthew Rudd, host of Forgotten 80s on Absolute 80s.

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