For all the grumbling I’ve done about the pop music in the years between the first wave of rock and roll and the advent of The Beatles, we’ve actually hit a pretty nice stretch of chart here. I’m almost feeling guilty about the number of 7s and 8s (and even a 9) that I’ve either handed out lately or will be handing out soon. Not that I think my overall grades should chart as a perfect bell curve. While you don’t need to go further than this very blog to recognize that popularity doesn’t always equal quality, the sheer number of roadblocks and gatekeepers on the path to #1 ensures that few records reach the top without at least a modicum of merit. (Note: I may recant this position when we reach the ’70s.) That the grades skew high is not just something I expect to happen, it’s something I want to happen – partly to restore my faith in the record-buying public, partly so I don’t have to spend a good chunk of my free time listening to terrible music and partly so I don’t get burned out writing one negative review after another.
Of course, it’s also possible to get a little burned out writing nothing but positive reviews. It’s not as if I can express relief that, finally, here’s some good music – “He’s So Fine” is like an oasis in a tropical rainforest. I’ve already expressed my love for girl groups, so it’s no surprise that the song’s a big hit with me (unless you were expecting a “Soldier Boy“-like upset, which would be foolishness). And, frankly, how can anyone listen to “He’s So Fine” and not love it? It’s got endearing girlish harmonies (oh yeah)! Romantic yet non-flowery lyrics (“sooner or later – I hope it’s not later”)! The most memorable backing vocals in the whole genre (doo lang doo lang doo lang)! I dare you not to be hypnotized by the continuously ascending melody, suggesting that our heroine’s love for her wavy-haired boy has brought her closer to her sweet Lord. Plus, it breezes past with the economy and commitment to purpose of a Ramones song. Forget tedious deliberation on technical details and waffling about pros and cons and the blah blah blah. I can’t deny that “He’s So Fine” is a great song – even if it does skew my averages. 8
Hit #1 on March 30, 1963; total of 3 weeks at #1
88 of 976 #1’s reviewed; 9.02% through the Hot 100