Hey-La, Hey-La, The Girls are Back

Put another notch in my book belt, because Girl Groups: The Story of a Sound by Alan Betrock is officially in the books, as of today.

I don’t know if it really counts as having read a real books, since it’s less than 200 pages and includes pictures on almost every page, but it’s a great journey through the nostalgia of the girl group sound. The book goes through the major groups, like the Ronettes, the Shirelles, and the Supremes, but also some lesser known ones like the Exciters, the Shangri-Las, the Dixie Cups, and the Angels. There’s also a corresponding documentary you can watch on YouTube that gives you the full story (well, most of it), including interviews with some of the people of the era, including the late great Ellie Greenwich, the supremest of the Supremes Mary Wilson, the lovely Darlene Love, and the rebel queen of rock-and-roll, Ronnie Spector herself. Nostalgia everywhere you turn.

“But Jacob,” you might say, “you weren’t alive in the 60s and 70s, when Ronnie Spector was teasing her hair and Murray the K was on the air.”

I beg to differ.

Even though I was born in the 1980s and grew up in the 90s and 00s, I didn’t embrace the music of the times until high school. Some of my most cherished memories are from car rides to school, to the mall, or to the doctor, singing along with Aretha or Diana on the radio. I grew up listening to the Supremes, the Shirelles, and Martha and the Vandellas. Most kids like to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” or at least a catchy, pervasive pop earworm – from my generation, it was songs like “One of Us,” “Doo Wop (That Thing),” and “Ironic.” The first song I knew all the words to, however, was “You Can’t Hurry Love,” and I would sing it at every opportunity. In the Napster era (RIP), the first song I ever downloaded was “Respect,” by Aretha Franklin, which is kind of ironic.

Even if you didn’t grow up in the 1960s, there’s no denying that these songs are arguably the best music America has ever offered the world. The lyrics are fun, if a little dark at times, but always break the ice. Plus, their wide vocal range makes them great karaoke choices, or for a cappella groups. Everything about them is timeless, and if you were to repackage them by a popular artist of today, they’d be just as popular.

With that said, here are my top five favorite girl group songs, some of which might have future entries decided to them:

5. The Dixie Cups, “Iko Iko”

4. The Chantels, “Maybe”

3. The Angels, “My Boyfriend’s Back”

2. The Ronettes, “Be My Baby”

1. The Shirelles, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”

And if you don’t want to watch the documentary I linked above, here are the two most important moments.

This entry is dedicated to one of the all-time greatest teen queens, who unfortunately passed away earlier today at the age of 68. She brought us “It’s My Party,” “You Don’t Own Me,” and her own version of “My Boyfriend’s Back.”

Ladies and gentlemen, a moment of silence…

LESLEY GORE (1946-2015)


Life’s Little Moments

Everyone likes a bit of silliness. Today I’m feeling silly, so here’s a list of some little things that I go out of my way to do that just make my day a little bit more fun. Most of these I did today, but a few are more reserved for special occasions. And remember, the 100% rule is definitely in play here.

At The Store

  • Yell “STOP!” Then pause. Then, in your best Diana Ross, continue “…in the name of love…”

  • Announce a random dance, and see if anyone impulsively reacts.
    • Good choices: Disco! Gangnam Style! Macarena! Hula!
    • Bad choices: Tango! Twerk! Stripper Pole!

Extra life points if you can whip your hair like this fierce bitch.


  • If there are more than two aisles open next to one another, stand with one foot in both. If someone asks you which line you’re in, just say “I’m playing the odds.”
    • I have actually gotten some people to say, “That’s smart. I never thought of that.”
  • Pretend to struggle to say someone’s name at the checkout counter. For example, today at the Middleton Walgreens,
    • “Hello, nice to meet you…Mawr–yee?” “It’s pronounced Mary.” “Aww, so close. I bet you get that a lot.” (Her response? “All the time,” with a smile. Thanks for being a good sport Mary!)

Good demo, Travolta.


  • When they scan your Walgreens card, clutch your stomach and moan, pretending you’ve been shot. That normally gets a laugh or two.

  • When you sign your signature on one of those pads, go “yeah, this is why they didn’t trust me with the declaration of independence.”
  • Give them a heartfelt-but-harmless misplaced greeting upon leaving.
    • “Happy Hanukkah!”
    • “Say hi to your mom for me!”
    • “Hope your court date goes well!”
    • “See ya in Vegas!”

In an Elevator

  • When you’re pressing the button for someone, sing “Smooth Operator.”
  • The second the doors close, then declare an Elevator Dance Party! Goal of the game: dance until the doors open, then act natural, last person to stop dancing loses.
    • Make sure your phone is cued up to play music. Good choices for this game are “TiK ToK” and “Shake it Off.”

Elevators gonna ‘vate, ‘vate, ‘vate, ‘vate, ‘vate


  • This next one actually works anywhere, and the first time I did it, it was in a parking lot in Amherst. Pick up your phone and brusquely ask to speak to someone, “Hello, may I please speak with Hilda?” After a few moments, sweetly sing “Happy Birthday.” I actually discovered this in Amherst; I was leaving a friend a singing voicemail at her office phone, and a girl who was walking past me at the exact moment I started the birthday song broke out laughing as she passed me. Either she was amused at my immediate change in demeanor, or she just loves overhearing people singing it.

At the Gym

  • Locker room showers = perfect acoustics for that Adele impression. In case you’re wondering who’s doing that in the SERF, it’s me, and it’s because my ears are so soapy that I can’t hear how loud I am.

I can’t decide if Emma Stone is a super fun person or a showoff.

  • Sing while under the hair dryer, and try to time it so that you stop when the dryer stops.

If All Else Fails…

  • “Yes, sir, is there anything else I can do for you?” “Scotch on the rocks?”
  • “Let’s fold scarves!”

That’s the spirit, Lisa Kudrow.