Sometimes I hear a familiar old song being performed by a modern artist, and although I might enjoy listening, I also find myself thinking: something’s not right about that. I’m sure the experience isn’t unique to me. New versions of old songs are pretty common, and most listeners probably feel a twinge of nostalgia for the original. If so, their curiosity might be piqued enough to dig deeper, and that can be a rewarding process.
A good example from my own experience occurred around 1990, when a video (see below) of a song from Cher’s movie, Mermaids, appeared on MTV and helped create a hit for the singer. But her version of “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)” didn’t sound quite right to me.
Which brings us to a lady named Betty Everett. She came out of Mississippi in the late 1950’s with a strong background in gospel music, but she wanted to be a pop star. It didn’t take long for her talent and fiery style to land her a recording contract, but success didn’t follow until a few years later when she changed record companies.
Enjoying modest rewards with “You’re No Good,” (which was later a big hit for Linda Ronstadt) she kept performing and recording, and in 1964 released “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss).” It became her first hit, and ended up as the song she’s most remembered for — but she did have other hits, and some of them were outstanding.
A duet with Jerry Butler, “Let It Be Me,” was released the same year and actually charted a little higher than “Shoop.” It was a soul version of the Everly Brothers’ song, and it allowed Betty to show her versatility and talent.
Later in the decade she had a hit with a song that a lot of critics consider her best, “There’ll Come a Time,” but it was to be her last big seller. She continued to record into the 1970’s, but except for a brief comeback attempt many years later, her singing career was over. She died of natural causes in 2001.
Although she was a fine R&B solo singer, she’s remembered mostly for the “Shoop” song, which is at its heart a pure doo-wop classic, complete with back-up singers and precision harmonies. In fact, its very name is derived from what the chorus sings as part of their response to the lead singer, who never actually uses the “S” word herself.