Song Of The Week: “At The Hop” by Danny & The Juniors

History time!  Put on your learnin’ face.

Back in the 1950s, your teenage ancestors used to attend dances known as “hops.” These events were usually mounted by local DJs who charged a small fee at the door and then played all the latest rock ‘n’ roll 45’s while the kids danced the afternoon, or evening, away. Since hops often took place in school gyms or cafeterias, shoes were left at the door so as not to scuff the floor, which led to the dances acquiring the name “sock hops.”

Now that you know what it’s all about, let’s bring in Danny & The Juniors.

The quartet first met in high school in Philadelphia and dubbed themselves The Juvenaires. Like other teen doo-wop groups of the time, they performed at school parties or any local event that would have them. This led to The Juvenaires getting signed by a tiny Philly record label, and in 1957, they recorded their first song, an uptempo rock & roll/doo-wop hybrid written by their 1st tenor, called “Do The Bop.”

Of course, dance crazes and hit songs go together like two things that go together, even now in the 21st century, but it’s not the easiest way to score a hit. It requires the popularity of multiple components — the song and the dance — when it’s difficult to accomplish just one. Luckily, “Do The Bop” was heard by a DJ in Philadelphia who knew a thing or two about teens and popular music.

Dick Clark had recently started hosting a locally broadcast TV show called Bandstand, which featured teens dancing the latest dances to the latest releases. When The Juvenaires’ manager played “Do The Bop” for Clark, wanting his opinion, Clark made two key suggestions. First of all, what kind of name is The Juvenaires? You want something personable, relatable, and direct with which the kids can identify. Same goes for the song title. Which led to the second change.

What, exactly, is “The Bop”? You want something universal. Something all the kids know already.

What if they changed the title to “At The Hop”?

The group took both suggestions, renaming themselves Danny & The Juniors and re-recording their debut single with new lyrics. The record became a local hit in the summer of 1957. In December, only a few months after Bandstand became a national show, Clark asked Danny & The Juniors to fill in at the last minute for another group. They played “At The Hop” in front of all of America, and the single climbed to #1 less than a month later, in January of 1958.

So you can rock it, you can roll it, do the Stomp and even Stroll it …

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