There’s something timeless about doo-wop. Maybe it’s the gentle sway of the melody, or it’s the simple stacks of harmonies, or it’s the succinct way it conveys emotion. In fact, it’s probably all of those things. Doo-wop music has influenced generations of singers in a multitude of genres ranging from R&B to rock, and even country.
“In the Still of the Nite,” first recorded by The Five Satins in 1956, is one of the greatest love songs of all time. Lyrically, the song is incredibly straightforward; instead of drowning the subject in sprawling metaphors, Fred Parris writes of starry May nights and precious love. Doo-wop songs are often plainly written because the focus of the music is the vocal performance. The backing vocalists should provide a muted intensity and act as the stars to the lead vocalist’s May night. The lead vocalist should be able to convey nostalgia, innocence, and the purest form of love in their performance. On their 1992 cover of the song, Boyz II Men does exactly that.
On their version, the legendary group lowers the song a half step (now in the key of E) and does it completely acapella. The human voice is the single greatest instrument, and Boyz II Men prove why as they create lush harmonies over nonsense syllables. “Shoo doop shooby doo” and “shoo doop shooby wah” anchor most of the background of the track, but the group sings them so earnestly and with such conviction, you can’t help but to believe in their story of love.
The group’s vocal performances are accented with runs and riffs that are steeped in gospel-influenced R&B. It’s hard to put into words simply house magical their voices are. “In the Still of the Nite” is a prime example of a song that has truly stood the test of time.
Listen to the Boyz II Men version here.