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In honor of yesterday’s passing of one of the giants in American pop songwriting. Rest in peace, Ellie Greenwich.

10. “Doo Wah Diddy,” Manfred Mann
The penultimate “I’m hers!/She’s mine!” A thrillingly emphatic declaration of love and fidelity, especially when followed up with “wedding bells are gonna shine.”

9. “You Don’t Know,” Ellie Greenwich
The quiet, minimalist tension of the verses which then meet the oomph key change in the constantly spiraling bridge before culminating with a helpless “Help me” chorus.

8. “Wait Til My Bobby Gets Home,” Darlene Love
The breathless tumble of “Sure do need some lovin and a-kissin and a-huggin/But I’ll wait until my Bobby gets home,” which would trip up any singer that isn’t Darlene Love.

7. “Out in the Streets,” the Shangri-Las
“He used to act bad/Used to, but he quit it.” That quick “it” proves that Mary Weiss, adenoidal Queens brogue and all, was a fantastic singer.

6. “Then He Kissed Me,” the Crystals
Opening guitar line + interplay of castanets = the sound of lust rushing over you. (note: When I found out Ms. Greenwich died, this was the first song I played, and instead of feeling sad, this sound caused a wide grin to form)

5. “Goodnight Baby,” the Butterflys
“One kiss can lead to another/and baby, you know they always do.” Who says pop music can’t be poetic?

4. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” Darlene Love
This thing is like a stocking packed with hooks, too many of them to choose just one, but the impassioned call-and-response of “please! (please!) please! (please!)” towards the end is like the dam finally breaking.

3. “He’s Got The Power,” the Exciters
Not many songs are absolute undeniable monsters. This one is, straight out of the gate. And then it tops itself with the chugging “Can’t stop saying I adore him/Can’t stop doing things for him.”

2. “The Train From Kansas City,” the Shangri-Las
The whole narrative of the song is devastating, but “I’ll be back in the time it takes to break a heart” kills it. (No Youtube of the original, so here’s Mary Weiss doing it during her comeback tour, which is still totally swoon-worthy).

1. “Be My Baby,” the Ronettes
My favorite song forever and ever. Hal Blaine’s iconic, oft-copied drum beat to begin the song is fantastic, but it’s its reappearance in the middle that makes the song transcendent. Eh who am I kidding, it’s Ronnie Spector’s “whoa oh oh oh oh.”


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