It's My Party (Lesley Gore song)

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"It's My Party"
Original US single cover
Single by Lesley Gore
from the album I'll Cry If I Want to
B-side Danny
Released April 1963
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded March 30, 1963
Genre Pop, rock
Length 2:19
Label Mercury Records
Writer(s) Walter Gold, John Gluck Jr., Herb Weiner
Producer(s) Quincy Jones
Lesley Gore singles chronology
"It's My Party"
(1963)
"Judy's Turn to Cry"
(1963)
EP cover

"It's My Party" is a song recorded by multiple artists since the 1960s. In 1963, American singer Lesley Gore's version hit #1 on the pop and rhythm and blues charts in the United States.[1] It was the first hit single for producer Quincy Jones.

Theme[edit]

The song lyrically portrays the discomfiture of a teenage girl at her birthday party when her boyfriend Johnny disappears only to surface in the company of Judy, another girl, who is "wearing his ring" to indicate she's replaced the birthday girl as his love interest.[2]

The song's chorus, "It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to... You would cry too if it happened to you," became a part of American pop cultural language as a phrase used to describe being utterly humiliated and miserable during an event that is supposed to be a happy occasion.

"It's My Party" is in the key of A major.[3] The song's effectiveness is enhanced by several musical touches producer Quincy Jones incorporated, including Latin-sounding rhythms, double tracked vocals and effective horn parts.[2] Allmusic critic Jason Ankeny wrote of the song "'It's My Party' remains one of the most vivid evocations of adolescent heartbreak ever waxed -- Quincy Jones produced the record, although you'd swear it was Aaron Spelling instead."[2]

Background[edit]

"It's My Party" was written in 1962 by John Gluck, Wally Gold and Herb Weiner who were staff writers employed at the Aaron Schroeder Music firm. The demo for the song was cut by Barbara Jean English, a girl group veteran (the Clickettes, the Fashions) who was then working as both a receptionist at the firm and with Jimmy Radcliffe, serving as its in-house demo singer. Radcliffe produced the demo and according to English "tried to persuade Musicor [the label owned by Aaron Schroeder] to release it as a record, or to take me into a master studio and redo it, but they weren't interested."[4]

The first recording of the song was by Helen Shapiro for her Helen in Nashville album recorded in February 1963 with Shapiro's regular producer Norrie Paramor and also Al Kasha. Shapiro would recall: "Right from the first time we heard the song on the rough demo back in London, we thought we were going to sock them between the eyes with that one";[4] however Shapiro's version was not one of the cuts chosen as an advance single from the album and by the time of the album's release that October the "It's My Party" track was perceived as a cover of Lesley Gore's hit.

Lesley Gore recalls that "It's My Party" was among some two hundred demos producer Quincy Jones brought to review with her in the den of her family home in February 1963. On hearing "It's My Party" Gore told Jones: "That's not half bad. I like it. Good melody. Let's put it on the maybe pile." The song proved to be the only demo Gore and Jones found agreeable. With Jones producing and Claus Ogerman handling arranging and conducting duties, Gore recorded "It's My Party" at Bell Sound Studios in Manhattan on 30 March 1963.[4][5]

In March 1963 Phil Spector heard the demo of "It's My Party" while visiting Aaron Schroeder's office. Wally Gold would recall: "He [Spector] said, 'Great, I love it. I’m gonna do it with the Crystals.' We [the song's writers] were really excited, because that would ensure that the record was #1!"[6] Schroeder apparently only learned of the Lesley Gore recording of "It's My Party" when Quincy Jones invited him to hear the completed track, which Schroeder found formulaic; believing that Spector would be able to cut a much stronger version of the song with the Crystals and not wanting to lose Spector's goodwill, Schroeder attempted to convince Jones to suppress the track. Schroeder didn't mention Spector's version to Jones but Jones and Spector both happened to attend a concert with Charles Aznavour at Carnegie Hall on the evening of 30 March 1963 and when they met outside it came up in conversation that Spector had recorded a version of "It's My Party" with the Crystals.[7] Jones skipped the concert instead spending that night—a Saturday—at Bell Sound Studios making a test pressing of the track comprising one hundred copies. Over the next two days Jones mailed these out to radio programmers in key markets across the US. Gore heard her record played on the radio for the first time that Friday; the official release of "It's My Party" came later in the month with the disc ascending to #1 nationally in four weeks.[4][6] Jones was abroad at the time of "It's My Party"'s release; on his return he expressed dismay when Aaron Schroeder advised him that the rush release of "It's My Party" had precluded coining a more pleasant name for the singer than "Lesley Gore" to which Schroeder replied: "Didn't anybody tell you?...Quince, the record's number one. Do you really give a damn what her last name is?"[4]

In 1980, WCBN-FM, the University of Michigan freeform student radio station, played "It's My Party" for 18 hours straight the day after Ronald Reagan was elected.[8]

Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin version[edit]

"It's My Party"
Single by Dave Stewart with Barbara Gaskin
B-side "Waiting in the Wings"
Released 1981
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded 1981
Genre Synthpop, new wave
Label Stiff Records
Writer(s) Wally Gold, John Gluck Jr., Herb Weiner
Producer(s) Dave Stewart
Dave Stewart with Barbara Gaskin singles chronology
"It's My Party"
(1981)
"Johnny Rocco"
(1982)

In 1981, a remake by British artists Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin was a UK number one hit single for four weeks and was also a major hit in Austria (#3), Germany (#3), the Netherlands (#20), New Zealand (#1), South Africa (#3) and Switzerland (#6). The track reached #72 in the US. This was the first version of the song to reach #1 in the UK.[5]

Other cover versions[edit]

The sequel: "Judy's Turn to Cry"[edit]

Because of the pop cultural obsession with the song and its tragic nature, Gore recorded a sequel titled "Judy's Turn to Cry". In this song, the teenage girl narrator gets her revenge on Judy. In the lyrics the narrator explicitly finds "foolish" how much she cried when she saw Johnny and Judy together, and seems determined to start anew. But after she kisses another boy at another party, Johnny gets jealous, punches the other boy and returns to her.[2]

Though "Judy's Turn to Cry" was not quite as popular as "It's My Party", it did reach No. 5 on the Billboard charts in the summer of 1963.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 803. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ankeny, J. "It's My Party". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
  3. ^ McClary, S., Knapp, R., Baur, S. & Warwick, J.C. (2008). Musicological identities: essays in honor of Susan McClary. Ashgate. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-7546-6302-7. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "It's My Party". Cha Cha Charming Magazine. Archived from the original on June 12, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b Bronson, F. (2003). The Billboard book of number 1 hits (5 ed.). Random House. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-8230-7677-2. 
  6. ^ a b Shannon, Bob. "Behind The Hits: Stories: It's My Party". Retrieved September 17, 2011. 
  7. ^ As with "He's a Rebel", the Crystals' hit for which it was intended as the follow-up, "It's My Party" was actually recorded not by the Crystals but the Blossoms who cut the track at Gold Star Studios. Darlene Love says the Spector version was "kinda slow with me and my sister Edna [Wright] singing together on lead. Much more R&B than Lesley Gore's version."[4]
  8. ^ "CBN History". Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  9. ^ "RPM Country Tracks for April 2, 1977". RPM. Retrieved November 14, 2013. 
Preceded by
"If You Wanna Be Happy" by Jimmy Soul
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Lesley Gore version)
June 1, 1963 – June 8, 1963
Succeeded by
"Sukiyaki" by Kyu Sakamoto
Preceded by
"Another Saturday Night" by Sam Cooke
Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single
June 15, 1963 – June 29, 1963
Succeeded by
"Hello Stranger" by Barbara Lewis
Preceded by
"She's Just an Old Love Turned Memory" by Charley Pride
RPM Country Tracks number-one single (Carroll Baker version)
April 2, 1977
Succeeded by
"Heart Healer" by Mel Tillis
Preceded by
"Prince Charming" by Adam and the Ants
UK number-one single (Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin version)
October 17, 1981 - November 7, 1981
Succeeded by
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by The Police