Oct 03


Popular12 comments • 2,504 views

#48, 20th July 1956

I like the vim and sharpness of this song. I like the vocal tricks the record uses – the “dum-ba-ba-dum” doo-wop intro is an instant hit; Lymon’s long high “why” is heart-melting. I love the way Lymon rushes the verses. But I just don’t like the song as much as it seems to like itself: it’s charming and precocious and a shot of energy after a couple of torpid chart-toppers, but when he isn’t doing tricks Lymon’s voice sounds harsh and unformed. That’s apt, of course, for a record about sticky teenage lust. If I’d been a teenager in ’56 maybe it would have blown my world apart (more likely I’d have been a bit nervous of Frankie’s rawness) – but there’s no point in my pretending to be something I’m not. “Why Do Fools?” is a record I can appreciate but I can’t adore.



  1. 1
    rosie on 26 May 2008 #

    I’m surprised nobody’s commented on this until now – well, not post Haloscan anyway.

    This is still before my time but it’s still one of the tracks that evokes that period before my pop awakening. It still has the power to wriggle around in the head, and it’s so full of energy that seems to be itching to break free of its shackles. Something in the way Frankie sings – not the high-pitched precocity, which I’ll admit is irritating, but the way he seems to take it way too fast as if he can’t wait to break out.

  2. 2
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 26 May 2008 #

    i doubt it’s possible but it would be nice to try and reconstruct pre-haloscan comments actually — or try and recall what we personally had to say

  3. 3
    wichita lineman on 19 Jul 2008 #

    I, for one, would really appreciate it if you did, p^nk. Feel like I’ve gone to college in 1971 and all the older students are telling me what I missed out on a couple of years before…

    Why Do Fools is incredibly FRESH. The appeal is all in the gymnastics and spontaneity, which is probably why covers of the song always sound so insubstantial.

    Hats off to the British on this one. It stuck at no.7 in the US, Gogi Grant’s Wayward Wind and Pat Boone’s I Almost Lost My Mind being the American number ones.

  4. 4
    Victoria on 7 Feb 2010 #

    Oooh the earliest no. 1 I have in my ipod! I’m a sucker for this because I love the doo wopping harmonising of the early 60s girl groups and this is very much the precursor to that thanks to Frankie’s girlish falsetto. I agree about it sounding fresh, it’s of its time but also somehow out of time.

  5. 5
    Eli on 29 Jan 2011 #

    I agree with the previous comments. It’s a great record, though like Tom I seem to have lost my enthusiasm for it somewhat (though him rating it lower than Doris is a revelation).

    Probably sounds so much better played on the dancefloor – imagine the kids jiving to that sax break…

  6. 6
    crag on 13 Apr 2011 #

    DESERT ISLAND DISC WATCH (Up to 11/04/11)

    Flora Robson, actor (1958)

    Cilla Black, singer (1988).

  7. 7
    Erithian on 6 Feb 2012 #

    Frankie Lymon meets Frankie Laine – the generation gap writ large, not to mention an undertone: as someone comments, a little black kid telling a white man to get lost – in 1956!

  8. 8
    hectorthebat on 1 Feb 2014 #

    Critic watch: This song appears on the following ‘best-of’ lists:

    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh & Kevin Stein (USA) – The 40 Best of the Top 40 Singles by Year (1981) 8
    Dave Marsh (USA) – The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (1989) 192
    Life (USA) – 40 Years of Rock & Roll, 5 Songs for Each Year 1952-91 (Updated 1995)
    Pause & Play (USA) – Songs Inducted into a Time Capsule, One Track at Each Week
    RIAA and NEA (USA) – 365 Songs of the Century (2001) 182
    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (USA) – 500 Songs That Shaped Rock (1994?)
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 307
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 314
    The Recording Academy Grammy Hall of Fame Albums and Songs (USA)
    BBC (UK) – Pop on Trial, Top 50 Songs from the 1950s (2008)
    Mojo (UK) – The 100 Greatest Singles of All Time (1997) 42
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 529
    The Guardian (UK) – 1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear (2009)
    Zig Zag (UK) – Gillett & Frith’s Hot 100 Singles (1975)
    Berlin Media (Germany) – The 100 Best Singles of All Time (1998) 96
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Hervé Bourhis (France) – Le Petit Livre Rock: The Juke Box Singles 1950-2009
    Toby Creswell (Australia) – 1001 Songs (2005)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  9. 9
    slideyfoot on 19 May 2020 #

    There we go, THIS is what I want from the 1950s! Gorgeous doo wop harmonies, excellent. Better than a 6, I’d rate this an 8.

    As to retrieving old comments, my go-to is the Wayback Machine. Although I’m guessing people have tried that already. Unfortunately, looks like their archives of this site only go back to 2008, so this: https://web.archive.org/web/20080522060544/http://freakytrigger.co.uk/popular/2003/10/frankie-lymon-and-the-teenagers-why-do-fools-fall-in-love/

  10. 10
    Chad Wedeven on 23 Nov 2020 #

    Isn’t this the first African American #1 in the UK? That would seem to bear mentioning.

  11. 11
    Mark M on 23 Nov 2020 #

    Re10: Very possibly, although not the first UK #1 by a black artist.

    (As you might have seen in the discussion above, the early comments on the early Popular entries were so lost many years ago, so somebody might have mentioned it once).

  12. 12
    Gareth Parker on 9 Jun 2021 #

    I feel Tom’s on the money with 6/10 here.

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)

If this was number 1 when you were born paste [stork-boy] or [stork-girl] into the start of your comment :)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page