Song Review 118 – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

SONG: Will You Love Me Tomorrow

ARTIST: The Shirelles

YEAR: 1960

Listen to it here: 


Will You Love Me Tomorrow was written by powerhouse songwriting duo Carole King and Gerry Goffin and recorded by the Shirelles in 1960.  The lead singer of the Shirelles Shirley Owens originally balked at the song, saying it was ‘too country’, but eventually relented.  Many radio stations refused to play the song as they believed it was too sexual (I mean, it was 1960).  Carole King recorded her own version of the song on her masterpiece album Tapestry, with the help of fellow Laurel Canyon residents Joni Mitchell and James Taylor.  


The Shirelles originally formed in their New Jersey high school under the name the Poquellos.  Shirley Owens, Doris Coley, Addie “Micki” Harris and Beverly Lee sang for the first time for a school talent show, when their classmate introduced the quartet to her mother Florence, the owner of Tiara Records.  After several months of avoiding Florence, the group relented and signed with Tiara Records under the name The Shirelles.  That same year they released their first song “I Met Him on a Sunday”, which was picked up by Decca Records and put the Shirelles on the national stage.  Their contract was later sold to Decca but their follow up songs did poorly, so their contract was sold back to their original manager, who created the new label Scepter Records.  After increasing success with Scepter, they recorded “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, their biggest hit.  They continued to have hits through the early 1960s, and in 1963 2 of the original members left to get married and were replaced by Dionne Warwick.  Unfortunately, that same year they learned that the trust that had been allegedly holding their royalties that they were supposed to receive from the label on their 21st birthdays did not exist.  They left the label and sued, Scepter counter sued and they all reached a settlement in 1965.  By that time, the trends had changed with British Invasion, as well as competition from other girl groups.  The Shirelles bounced around to a few different labels throughout the 70s until the deaths of 2 of the members in the 1980s.


“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” was the first song by an all Black girl group to reach number 1 in the US.


Another song I’ve heard about a billion times but never really sat down and analyzed.  I remember when I actually listened to the words and realized what it was really about and thought it was QUITE the risqué subject matter for the time.  Premarital sex?  GASP (clutches pearls).  Listening to this song the instrumental arrangement is super weird.  You’ve got a typical doo wop-esque band, solid ‘chacha cha cha’ on drums, and bright tremolo guitar, but they’ve paired it with the sugariest, most Rodgers and Hammerstein-esque string section and arrangement.  It’s SO weird.  The lead singer Shirley sounds…fine?  I think her voice quality is very indicative of girl groups of the time, but it’s nothing special in my eyes.  And the other girls do a fine job of their oohs, ahhs, sha la la las, and various other background parts.  But I think the real winner here is the song itself.  Goffin and King were absolute craftspeople when it came to making perfect little pop songs.  What a brilliant way of saying ‘will you call me?  Is this more serious?  Are you just a fuckboy?’  And of course the melody and harmonic structure is interesting, a lot more complex than your regular I-IV-V chord progression of the time.  It’s a great pop song, and shout out to the Shirelles for being the first Black girl group to get a hit record in the US.


Wow, my sister and I both went through a phase of listening to the oldies station in Vancouver for a while and I feel like there was a playlist where songs were rotated through every 2 hours, and this was one of those songs you could likely hear 6-12 times a day. It’s one of those weird songs that I feel is trying to please too many people at once by having prominent drums, and an entire orchestral string section. This song feels really groundbreaking. As we’ve progressed through the list this is hands down the MOST female voices we’ve heard on one track at once. And for that, I totally have to give it props. However, the strings. I can’t get over them. Why are they there? The main singer has a nice enough voice. It’s not overly special, and this song doesn’t really show if she has much of a range or anything else, but there is some power behind it. I like when the background singers sound as full as they do here, but again, they’re just fine. So far in the 1960s, the songs we’ve heard are fairly bland, structurally, and this is where this song really breaks out for me – it has an interesting melody, an engaging chord progression, and the overall structure totally tells a story. For me, I don’t really focus on lyrics as much, so when a song is able to tell a story through progression and melody, that’s what’s most enticing to me, and this song succeeds at that. Hooray for finally having a girl group!

Average mark out of 10:

Holly: 8/10

Kelly: 8/10

Other notable versions of this song:

Miss Carole:

English chanteuse tragique Amy Winehouse:

Listen with us!

Link to 1,001 Songs to Hear Before You Die spotify playlist:

Link to the Best of the Best 1,001 Songs to Hear Before You Die spotify playlist:

Published by Kelly

What I like: Music, travel, coffee, beer, makeup and photography! My gear: Canon EOS 60D and 18-200mm lens. Where call home: Vancouver, BC, Canada Photography Experience: Very amateurish.

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