Nice Hits! is a Reverb column that unironically dissects, reviews, and appreciates the best songs of the current Top 40. It is unsnobbishly premised on>"/>
Nice Hits! is a Reverb column that unironically dissects, reviews, and appreciates the best songs of the current Top 40. It is unsnobbishly premised on the logic that just because a lot of the music on the radio is crap doesn't mean all the music on the radio is crap.
Current chart position: #59 on iTunes; uncharted on Billboard.
The team: "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" was written in 1960 by Carole King and then-husband Gerry Goffin; the song was recorded by New Jersey girl-group The Shirelles and in 1961 became the first song by an all-female group to hit number one on the U.S. Billboard chart. (Together, Goffin and King went on to write such hits as "The Loco-Motion," "One Fine Day," "I'm Into Something Good," and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"). In the past fifty years, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" has been covered by a range of artists from King herself to Cher, Elton John, Françoise Hardy, the Bee Gees, Lauryn Hill, and Lykke Li. Winehouse recorded her version in 2004, when it was featured in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. This month, a refreshed version produced by Winehouse's close friend Mark Ronson was included on her posthumous compilation record, Lioness, and is subsequently surfacing on the pop charts again.
Breakdown: "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" has all the proper hallmarks of a classic pop song--romantic lyrics, a plaintive, memorable chorus, a fluent vocal melody. It's easy to see why the song has been recycled and covered by so many artists over the decades. But in the wake of Amy Winehouse's sudden death this past July, the words to this song, speaking of life's fleeting moments--"Is this a lasting treasure/Or just a moment's pleasure?/Can I believe the magic of your sighs?/Will you still love me tomorrow?"--take on a particularly strong resonance. Winehouse did the song's beautiful melody justice by creating this stripped-down version. It begins with a simply strummed guitar and Winehouse's big, echoing voice, sounding sweeter than usual. Eventually a bass, handclaps, and some horns are added to the mix, but they're relegated to the background, allowing the focus to remain on Winehouse's powerhouse vocals. On Ronson's updated version, added flourishes of brass and quickening snare drum beats that sounds like a pounding heart give the song a new stateliness without diminishing Winehouse's standout vocals. Check out a brief snippet here (or even better, buy the track on iTunes):
Winehouse got famous with her bitingly snarky "Rehab," but her fans got to know the heart of her through subsequent soul-baring singles like "Tears Dry on Their Own" and "Love Is a Losing Game." "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" belongs in the latter category; Winehouse's formidable vocals announce her as a strong woman, but one who's unafraid to make herself vulnerable, because that's what the most endearing artists do. The moment when her voice breaks into falsetto singing "But will my heart be broken?" is breathtaking in its disarmament.
It's apt that "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" is charting on iTunes. It's a testament to how a great pop song can endure throughout decades. And this version of the song represents how Winehouse's fans would like to remember her--without the frills and tragedy and drama, just one unforgettable voice.