Our Top 10 Shirelles Songs article looks at a famous girl group who stand as the first African American girl group to top the charts. They are known for singing doo wop, r&b and soul music. The group consisted of members Shirley Owens, Beverly Lee, Doris Coley and Addi “Mickey” Harris. They went to school together. They performed in high school talent shows. One of their classmates wanted her mother to have an audition with the group. Florence Greenberg owned Tiara Records. They recorded their first single “I Met Him On Sunday” in 1958. The song received a lot of airplay. Greenberg was impressed with the success of the song so she sold the rights to the song to Decca Records. Unfortunately, the label dropped them when they couldn’t produce any singles that matched the success of their first single. Greenberg didn’t give up on the group. She used the money she made from selling the song to start a new label. The label was called Scepter Records. She signed the group to the label.
The Shirelles recorded the single “Dedicated to the One I Love” in 1959. It didn’t do well at first. Once it was re-released, it did much better on the charts. Greenberg wanted the group to be successful so she enlisted Luther Dixon’s help writing and producing songs for the group. He wrote hit songs for them. The Shirelles released their debut album Tonight’s The Night in 1961. The album features the singles “Dedicated To the One I Love,” “Tonight’s The Night,” Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and “Boys.” They released their second album The Shirelles Sing To Trumpets And Strings in 1961. The album features the singles “Mama Said,” “What A Sweet Thing That Was,” “It’s Mine,” “I Saw A Tear,” “The Willow Tree” and “What’s Mine Is Yours.”
The Shirelles recorded their third album The Shirelles And King Curtis Give A Twist Party in 1962. The album features the singles “Mama Here Comes The Bride,” “Take The Last Train Home” and “Welcome Home Baby.” They released their fourth album Baby It’s You in 1962. The album features the singles “Big John (Ain’t You Gonna Marry Me),” “Baby It’s You” and “Soldier Boy.” They released their fifth album Foolish Little Girl in 1963. The album features the singles “Foolish Little Girl” and “Don’t Say Good Night and Mean Goodbye.”
The group released their sixth album Hear And Now in 1964. This album features songs from other albums. The album features the singles “Sha-La-La,” “Tonight You’re Gonna Fall In Love With Me,” “Maybe Tonight” and “Make The Night a Little Longer.” They released their next album Swing The Most in 1965. It’s a compilation album of their songs. They released their next album Happy and In Love in 1971. It features the singles “No Sugar Tonight,” “Boy You’re Too Young” and “Go Away and Find Yourself.” The group released the album The Shirelles in 1972. It features the single “Single Dreaming.” In addition to their studio albums, they recorded a lot of singles and compilation albums.
The Shirelles had quite a few hit singles during their time in the spotlight. They faced obstacles because they dealt with issues from their labels, but they kept going. They were friends in school, but the pressure of fame caused them to go their separate ways. Their popularity declined because of other groups emerging. With that said, The Shirelles managed to have a lot of successful singles. This Top 10 Shirelles Songs list will feature just some of their hit singles.
# 10 – It’s Love That Really Counts (In the Long Run)
The first song on our Top 10 Shirelles Songs list is the emotional “It’s Love That Really Counts (In the Long Run)” from their Greatest Hits album. The ballad has an r&b sound. This heartfelt song is about love being the only thing that matters in the world. The music is soft and soothing to match the soulful singers voices. The music has an old school sound. It sounds like something singer Dionne Warwick would sing. Coincidentally, Warwick covered the song. Songwriter Burt Bacharach wrote an incredible song for The Shirelles. The quality of their harmonies is phenomenal. Their voices blend so well together. It’s easy to see that they have been singing together for years. They have amazing timing with the music. They never miss a beat.
# 9 – Everybody Loves A Lover
The next song on our Top 10 Shirelles Songs list is the popular remake “Everybody Loves A Lover” from their Greatest Hits album. The upbeat song has a doo wop, r&b and soul sound. This love song is about how they feel about their lover. This is a cover of Doris Day’s song of the same name. The music is rhythmic and will have you moving around. It has a classic doo wop sound that was perfect for its time. It has a stellar saxophone solo that makes the song stand out. Doris Coley takes the lead on the vocals. She takes the listeners to church with her soulful singing. Her alto tone is rich and smoky. She sounds similar to Gladys Knight. The other members of the group have top-notch harmonies throughout the song.
# 8 – Welcome Home Baby
This touching song is from the The Shirelles And King Curtis Give A Twist Party album. This ballad has an r&b sound. This pleading song is about them waiting for their man to come back after being gone for so long. The theme of the song can work today because there are women who turn a blind eye to men cheating. It’s weird that a man wrote a song like this. It might be wishful thinking on his part that women would welcome a cheating man back home. The Shirelles manage to make the subject work. They should be commended for being able to stay in character for a song like this. The music has a classic old school sound. The Shirelles sound harmonious throughout the song. The lead’s soulful voice makes it easy to believe she misses her man. She sounds like she loves him and not like she’s begging him to come home.
# 7 – Foolish Little Girl
This morality song is from the album of the same name. This ballad with tempo has an r&b and soul sound. This unique song plays out like a play in parts. It’s told in three parts. One of the parts is a voice of reason. Shirley Owens is the voice of reason. The second part is the foolish girl. Barbara Lee sings the part of the foolish girl. The chorus is everyone, but Barbara. This song is the original “Girl” by Destiny’s Child because they have similar themes. Both songs are about women warning their friend about someone they shouldn’t have in their lives. Owens does a superb job singing the role of the voice of reason. It was the perfect contrast to Lee’s naïve role of the foolish girlfriend. As usual, the harmonies are magnificent. This song takes you to places few songs took you to at that point in the time. The song is ahead of its time.
# 6 – Soldier Boy
This sentimental song is from the Baby It’s You album. This ballad has an r&b sound. This devoted song is about remaining true to your man while he’s gone. In case you didn’t think there was going to be trivia, here’s some trivia for you. This song didn’t have anything to do with soldiers. The Shirelles chose to use the narrative of singing to their soldier boy. The music was a different touch for the group because it has a country sound to it. The guitar riffs fit more with a country song. They are out of their comfort zone musically, but they never miss a beat. They nail the track with their sweet harmonies. No one stands out in the song because everyone sings together. It’s as if it’s a choir throughout the song. It was nice to hear them sing the song in unison.
# 5 – Baby It’s You
The next song on our Top 10 Shirelles Songs list is romantic song “Baby It’s You” from the album of the same name. This ballad has an r&b and pop sound. It is perfect for slow dancing. This is a love song about why they love their man. The music has a bluesy feel to it. There is an organ solo that may be a little loud to some people. The percussion is a welcome addition in the music. Their harmonies make it sound like a doo wop song. Owens’ vocals are tremendous. She shows vocal versatility because she belts in the pre-chorus. She doesn’t do that in many of their hit songs so it was a nice change to hear her take risks like that. Her vocals will send shivers down your spine.
# 4 – Mama Said
This anthemic song is from The Shirelles Sing To Trumpets And Strings. This up-tempo song has an r&b sound. This cautionary tale is about women who will end up alone if they don’t pick the right guy. This theme is a little dated because people aren’t as worried about becoming old maids as they were during the time this song was released. It’s strange that men wrote a song about women becoming old maids if they didn’t find the right man. The horn and piano arrangements are on point. The Shirelles have impeccable harmonies with the musical arrangements. This song proved that they can sing the alphabet and it would sound amazing and superb. Owens took the lead vocals on this song and it was a wise choice. Her smoky voice was perfect for the music. She blended in well with the instrumentation.
# 3 – Dedicated To The One I Love
This enchanting song is from the Tonight’s The Night album. This ballad has an r&b sound. This little-engine-that-could remake is a dedication to their man. The song wasn’t originally a hit when it was first released. It had to be re-issued in order to be a hit. There’s no reason why this song shouldn’t have been a hit right away. It is fantastic. The music is soft and melodic. Coley sings lead on this song instead of Owens. It was the best choice to pick Coley because she has a big brassy voice unlike the original singer of the song. She also has excellent command of her vibrato in the song. She was able to shift from speaking to singing with little to no effort. The other members of the group do an excellent job supporting her.
# 2 – Tonight’s The Night
This controversial song is from the album of the same name. This ballad has a pop and r&b sound. This promiscuous song is about having sex for the first time. This song was taboo at the time of its release. People thought it was promoting teenage promiscuity. The music is pop and r&b meets dance. Owens is excellent in the role. She sings this song in an upper register, which is a refreshing change. It blends well with the beat of the music. She sings with a vulnerability to keep it from sounding too risqué. She showcases a sense of innocence that’s needed to keep the song from sounding too controversial. You can hear the emotion in her voice as she’s singing the touchy subject. The rest of the group is incredible in the background. This is a pretty good song. Unfortunately, it’s not long enough. The song is barely two minutes long.
# 1 – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
Coming in at number one is the huge hit “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” from Tonight’s The Night. This Carole King ballad is fueled with an r&b sound. This is another promiscuous song by the group. This song is about what would happen after she makes love to her man. Here is some trivia about the song. Owens didn’t want to record the song at first because she thought it sounded too country and the song was out of their element as far as she was concerned. There was a string arrangement added to the song to please her. It’s hard to believe that she didn’t want to sing this incredible song because she sings it as if she did want to sing it. She sings the song in character as if she’s keeping him at a distance. She showcases her emotional side allowing the listener to feel the impact of her emotions. Her vocals were as close to perfection as you can get. Her phrasing is exquisite on this track. The other members of the group do an excellent job singing the harmonies and the chorus. It’s easy to see why this song is one of their biggest hits.
Photo Credit at top of page – Scepter Records-from Scepter Records’ Billboard ad which has no copyright marks., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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