the shirelles broke new musical ground at the very beginning of the 1960s: “will you love me tomorrow,” released in late 1960, was the first number one hit for a girl group, as well as the first number one for songwriting partners carole king and gerry goffin. it’s probably the group’s most recognizble contribution to the early formations of the girl group sound, but the four ladies of the shirelles a had string of successful hits as the decade rolled on, including 1962’s “everybody loves a lover.”
originally a top-twenty hit for doris day in 1958, the robert allen and richard adler-penned tune was recorded by the shirelles five years later, eventually reaching #19 on the billboard pop charts.
the recorded version isn’t anything to flip off your fake bouffant over, but this particular performance of the song in 1964 in the united kingdom is special for a few reasons. first, while choreography would become a major characteristic of the girl group performance and charm, it was obviously much more spontaneous and lax at first. the supremes would perfect the hand-in-hand of the lyrics and choreography, but i love how the shirelles, though sticking to the rudimentary choreography, are relaxed, loose and loving it. it’s one of the more organic girl group performances i’ve seen. in fact, it almost seems like they hopped on stage—unrehearsed, right out the audience—to sing.
second, before image trumped talent and personality in the music industry, the way your body was shaped or how your nose was flat or pointy was less of an issue. (i mean, ringo? hello? i guess he was just the drummer though.) the girls looked different, and different didn’t matter—at least until the girl group genre became a big dollar sign.
in any case, the shirelles had the opportunity to revel in the early successes of the girl group explosion. this performance is a highlight of their time in the international spotlight.