Uninhibited but innocent sexuality from the first of the girl groups to cross over to a white audience. Just stunning.
The Playlist Special: Top Artists Pick Their Personal Top 10
"It was the first time I heard young girls singing about emotion and sexuality," recalls Scialfa of her earliest experience listening to girl groups from the Fifties and Sixties. "They expressed the things you were supposed to hide."
Listen: Patti Scialfa's Top Girl Group Songs
1."Baby It's You" | The Shirelles, 1961
2."Maybe" | The Chantels, 1958
The first million-seller by a girl group. Arlene Smith's singing is insane – authentic soul phrasing. A song of hope, a romantic, spiritual prayer.
3."Sally Go 'Round The Roses" | The Jaynetts, 1963
When I was in high school, if you got pregnant, you disappeared overnight. It was very frightening to me. This song evokes that feeling. It has a kind of sexual shame in it, and it's dark and obsessive.
4."I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)" | The Ikettes, 1963
Just wicked. These are women who aren't afraid to be unfeminine and powerful.
5."Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Me Home)" | The Crystals, 1963
Celebratory music with that big Phil Spector Wall of Sound.
6."Come See About Me" | The Supremes, 1964
Diana Ross' voice is so tiny, but she has real self-knowledge and self-esteem. It's a whisper, like saying it over the telephone and you're a little embarrassed but you say it anyway.
7."Please Mr. Postman" | The Marvelettes, 1961
I just loved the way this song sounded – the harmonies, the claps, everything.
8."Walking In The Rain" | The Ronettes, 1964
Ronnie Spector, what can you say? Her voice always sounded like it was broken. One of Phil Spector's iconic arrangements.
9."Tell Him" | The Exciters, 1962
A great little seductive tune.
10."He's So Fine" | The Chiffons, 1963
This was the first song I ever heard on my transistor radio. It was a real awakening to hear somebody singing about a complete other world with mystery, desire and love, and they weren't afraid to express it. It was like someone had tossed a road map at my feet: "These things are out there."