Did girl groups ever not sing about love?
February 13, 2015 11:52 AM   Subscribe

What girl groups in the oldies era had popular songs that weren't about romantic love/lust/attraction/dating?

Songs by girl groups, like The Chantels, The Crystals, and The Ronettes, focused on love, boyfriends, finding love, etc. in the mid-50s through the late 60s. I was going through my mp3s and realized I couldn't think of any songs by girl groups that were oldies that didn't cover those topics. Some searching reminded me of Martha and The Vandellas's "Dancing In The Street" but that's it.

Guy groups also covered those topics but I can think of some that didn't: The Coasters's "Charlie Brown", The Silhouettes's "Get A Job", and Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs's "Wooly Bully", and The Tokens's "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". "California Dreaming" by The Mamas and The Papas came to mind as a mixed group song.

So what girl group song(s) am I forgetting or were popular back then but aren't regularly played on oldies stations now?
posted by bluesapphires to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Iko Iko by the Dixie Cups
posted by mefireader at 12:08 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Possibly older than you're looking for, but how about the Andrews Sisters? Most known for "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" but were pretty wide-ranging.
posted by dorque at 12:19 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Supremes did a version of When You Wish Upon a Star.
posted by mhum at 12:21 PM on February 13, 2015

Locomotion, by Little Eva. It's about a dance.

Lots of songs about dances.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:22 PM on February 13, 2015

(California Dreaming is definitely about love - lost love to be specific)

I don't know if the Raelettes count - their primarily known as a backing group although they did have their own singles. Their song Bad Water was on the pop and R&B charts (and is a great little protest tune).
posted by muddgirl at 12:24 PM on February 13, 2015

Also, the Supremes' Buttered Popcorn might actually be about popcorn. But maybe not...
posted by mhum at 12:25 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Five Stairsteps Ooh Child isn't necessarily about love, more like resilience.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:31 PM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

The Ronettes did a Christmas album. A bit of trivia from Wikipedia: All of the artists sang on the album's finale, "Silent Night," which opened with a spoken message from Phil Spector, thanking everyone for buying the record.
(There's all sorts of wrong to that.)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:33 PM on February 13, 2015

This is really fun.

The Orlons, "South Street," definitely (I mean, you could read it to be about a girl meeting a boy on South Street, but it could just as well be a girl meeting a friend.) "Not Me" is about a guy who's a lover, not a fighter, but only the very first verse is about sex.
posted by muddgirl at 12:42 PM on February 13, 2015

Nobody Knows What's Going On (In My Mind But Me) by the Chiffons, and The Happening by the Supremes.
posted by Rash at 12:43 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Never mind love, The Bobbettes went straight to murder with I Shot Mr. Lee, a bouncy little number about their favorite high school teacher.
posted by multics at 1:02 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's worth remembering that they didn't write the songs. The songs were selected for them by producers, mostly, who were choosing songs based on what they thought would sell and what fit the groups' image.
posted by Miko at 2:05 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

The Shirelles' Bright Shiny Colors isn't exactly about love.

Waterfalls by TLC, much later.

South Street by The Orlons
posted by Ideefixe at 2:19 PM on February 13, 2015

The Pointer Sisters, Happiness - an ode to someone close, but not infatuated; coulda been a friend, mentor or relative (right?)
posted by mmiddle at 2:31 PM on February 13, 2015

The Shaggs wrote about Philosophy

I'm sorry that wasn't actually helpful, but I couldn't resist.
posted by ohisee at 2:44 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

"I Can Never Go Home Anymore" by The Shangri-Las
posted by modesty.blaise at 4:35 PM on February 13, 2015

More good stuff from The Supremes. I'm Living In Shame and Love Child.

I'm Living in Shame is a daughter's song to her dead mother. The mother was very poor and hard working and the daughter abandoned her to fit into "the elite." It's gut wrenching.

The plot of Love Child technically does not meet your criteria - it's a song to a would-be lover about holding off on sex until marriage. But with lyrics like this I can't justify calling a love song

Love child, never meant to be
Love child, scorned by society
Love child, always second best
Love child, different from the rest

I started school, in a worn, torn
Dress that somebody threw out
I knew the way it felt to always live in doubt
To be without the simple things
So afraid my friends would see the guilt in me

Don't think that I don't need you
Don't think I don't wanna please you
No child of mine'll be bearing
The name of shame I've been wearing

posted by space_cookie at 5:13 PM on February 13, 2015

I can't believe I'd forgotten about Iko Iko! And The Shaggs get an honorable mention just for existing :)
posted by bluesapphires at 5:24 PM on February 13, 2015

Egyptian Shumba by The Tammys is about, well, the Egyptian Shumba.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:47 PM on February 13, 2015

The Kane Triplets - Theme from Mission Impossible
posted by hydrophonic at 7:38 AM on February 14, 2015

Little Eva's Loco-motion? Not technically a girl group, but she does have female back up singers.
posted by to recite so charmingly at 5:17 PM on February 14, 2015

The Sherrys' "Pop, Pop Pop-Pie"
posted by jabah at 8:50 PM on February 14, 2015

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