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New Around the World: Justin Wellington & Small Jam Bring New Orleans Classic ‘Iko Iko’ to Global Charts

New around the world doesn’t quite describe it. Since the Billboard Global 200 and Billboard Global Excl. U.S. lists launched last September, contemporary songs have ranked among hits from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s (“Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Take on Me, “Gangsta’s Paradise”), updates of even older classics (Surf Mesa’s “ily,” featuring Emilee) and a mix of the two, like when Boney M. hit the Global Excl. U.S. chart in February with 1978’s “Rasputin” and again in May with Majestic’s remix.

On the June 19-dated Global 200, another reinvention debuts, as Papua New Guinea’s Justin Wellington and Small Jam, from the Solomon Islands, arrive at No. 157 with “Iko Iko,” their take on a standard whose origins date to 1953 in New Orleans. While Wellington updates the song’s lyrics (“bestie” joins the mix), the title and melody endure.

The Dixie Cups first made the song popular to mainstream audiences in 1965, hitting No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, following their three-week chart-topper “Chapel of Love” the year before.

In 1972, Dr. John scored his first Hot 100 hit with his version of “Iko Iko” (No. 71 peak), before he broke through to the top 10 with “Right Place Wrong Time” the following year.


The ’80s got its own “Iko Iko” success story, when British girl group The Belle Stars took a swing. They released their cover in 1982 to success on the U.K. charts but it took until the end of the decade for the song to cross over Stateside. After being featured in the opening scenes of the Academy Award-winning film Rain Man, The Belle Stars’ “Iko Iko” climbed to No. 14 on the Hot 100 in 1989, the highest of any of the song’s iterations thus far.

Fast forward 32 years and Wellington and Small Jam are popularizing the tune once again, netting its first week on the Global 200 as it climbs 106-75 on the Global Excl. U.S. chart. Helped by inclusion in numerous TikTok clips, it drew 9.8 million streams (up 40%) and sold 6,000 downloads (up 20%) in the June 4-10 tracking week, according to MRC Data.

The song is the first entry on both global rankings for any artists from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, both a part of the Oceania region in the Pacific Ocean.