In The Number Ones, I’m reviewing every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present.
Philadelphia doo-wop group the Tymes had been performing on the local club circuit for years by the time they released “So Much In Love,” but it was the first song they ever recorded. It’s a sweetly inconsequential love song about walking along the beach and telling someone that you love them. There are waves-crashing and seagulls-cawing sound effects on the intro, just to set the place, but the whole point of the song is in the way the group’s deeply pleasant harmonies float in the air. It’s finished in just over two minutes, and it leaves no impression, but those are two nice minutes.
This is a happy little sigh of a song, and if the entire point of this column wasn’t to think hard about every single #1 single in history, I don’t think I would’ve ever given this one much thought. But on the third or fourth listen, those backing vocals really start to stand out. They all weave together in intuitive but fairly complicated ways. Those wordless falsetto wails, in particular, subtly make the song.
It’s weird to think that, less than two years later, the Temptations would record “My Girl.” In a lot of ways, they’re the same song — same style, same sentiment, same presentation. And yet they sound worlds apart, whether because of advances in recording technology, differences in budget, or just the general brilliance of everyone in the Motown system. And yet the truth remains: “My Girl” is an eternal unimpeachable classic, while “So Much In Love” is a nice and forgettable little song.
BONUS BEATS: Here’s a recording of the Talking Heads covering “So Much In Love” at CBGB in 1976: