The 2021 Emmys Opening Number: The Gang Sings 'Just A Friend'

The opening number for the 73rd Emmy Awards was a group sing-along led by Cedric the Entertainer and a man with a TV for a head. The song? "Just a Friend," by the late, great rapper Biz Markie. Cedric, Billy Porter, Daveed Diggs, LL Cool J and more all joined in to pay tribute to Markie while also celebrating how much fun it was to all be in the same room together again. 

A Hangout Classic About Heartbreak

"Just a Friend" was released in September 1989 as the lead single from Markie's sophomore album, "The Biz Never Sleeps". It was Markie's most successful single, reaching number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990. 

Cedric started the night by talking about how this year is about celebrating being together as much as it is about celebrating the television that helped keep us sane. He started singing "Just a Friend" and was soon joined by a man with a TV head, before going into the audience and having a handful of other performers join in. It was a fun moment that demonstrated just how great it is to see the stars hanging out together again.

"Just a Friend" is a great song choice, because it's a fun song for lounging around with your friends (although the lyrics and music video are about Markie discovering the girl he's crushing on making out with another guy). It's even been featured in a couple of TV shows, including "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." 

Markie died in July 2021 from complications from diabetes. His legacy is hard to overstate; he was lovingly known as "The Crown Prince of Hip Hop" and he turned that into a career entertaining on television as well. He starred in a variety of roles in film and TV, including "Men in Black II" and the Nick Jr. children's show "Yo Gabba Gabba," where he would perform "Biz's Beat of the Day."

It's definitely refreshing to see all of the stars sharing space, hugging, singing, and yakking it up together again. The night's emcee, comedian and musician, Reggie Watts, reassured both guests of the show and folks at home that everyone was vaccinated and following strict guidelines. (Seth Rogen joking briefly about making sure not to kill Eugene Levy might have inspired that announcement.)

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