While I may have a near-blind love of the girl group genre, I can understand why people may not go for Lesley Gore. Her voice is much weaker and limper than that of her contemporaries, with a peevish quality that suggests a child on the brink of a temper tantrum. Her choice of material often plays into this image. Rarely do you find Gore singing a love song in the vein of “Be My Baby” or “I Will Follow Him.” Instead, her best-known songs (“It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” “You Don’t Own Me”) all star her in reactionary poses, railing against cheating boyfriends and frenemies and controlling people who’ve stirred her ire. Put together, it can come across as all too self-pitying: the privileged teenager sniveling over some slight.
Yet this same quality of teenage petulance works in spades when deployed in the right manner. Not many other singers could so convincingly portray the victim of an entire Seventeen advice column’s worth of angst. “It’s My Party” also works because it’s essentially the flip side of “I Will Follow Him.” Just as the adolescent love in Peggy March’s song is cosmically intense – the greatest thing that happened to anyone, ever – the adolescent lost love of “It’s My Party” is a tragedy of Sophoclean proportions. That Gore’s character is rejected at her own birthday party is just the crap icing on her cake of humiliation. The irony in calling Gore’s catalog self-pitying is that “It’s My Party” depicts some seriously harsh treatment. You probably would cry too if it happened to you. 7
Hit #1 on June 1, 1963; total of 2 weeks at #1
91 of 976 #1’s reviewed; 9.32% through the Hot 100