Amazing Countdown of Top 10 Hit Songs of Motown Records
In honor of Black History Month we wanted to celebrate the most successful black owned business of all time, Motown Records! Motown Records is a legendary record label that was started and owned by a black entrepreneur named Berry Gordy. His vision came to life January 12th, 1959. He wanted to make a label that would celebrate black music yet the entire world would love. This is exactly what came to be. Motown grew into a worldwide phenomenon. It literally became an assembly line for great black acts to roll right off of. From Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, to Stevie Wonder, to Marvin Gaye and many more, Motown gave birth to countless legends. To celebrate this success during Black History Month we’re counting down Motown’s top 10 hit songs that had major influence.
10) Mr. Postman
One of the most influential hit songs of Motown is “Mr.Postman” by the Marvelettes. It’s the 1st Motown song that reached #1 on the charts. Mr. Postman became a huge hit throughout the country and topped the Pop and R&B billboard hot 100 charts. The song became a huge hit during the summer of 1961. Not only was Mr. Postman a hit song, it became very influential. For one, it helped make Motown a household name. Being the 1st #1 hit song of Motown Records and to top the R&B and Pop charts. Mr.Postman also gained international influence. It was covered by English group The Beatles in 1963. Mr. Postman is such a classic Motown hit it was even sampled in later years in hip hop track “Oh yes (wait a minute Mr.Postman)” by Juelz Santana.
9) I can’t help myself (sugar pie honey bunch)
Another one of Motown’s hit songs that became very influential was “I can’t help myself (sugar pie honey bunch)” by the Four Tops. It was written and produced in 1965 by Motown’s legendary songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland. It instantly became a #1 hot billboard hit song and a favorite among many. “I can’t help myself” was a popular choice for talent show contestants and also became a favorite for covering. There are several remakes of “I can’t help myself.” This classic Motown hit also made several other countdowns including 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It should be listed as one of the Top 100 Pop Songs of All Time. It truly is an upbeat, positive, soulful song with universal appeal.
Fingertips by Stevie Wonder is another classic that definitely makes our list of top hit songs of Motown. One of his earliest songs and his 1st song to hit #1 from Motown, Fingertips instantly became a mega-hit. It shot to the top of the charts and on and in early 1963 went to #1 on the Pop and R&B charts. One of the biggest factors that helped this become a classic was its authenticity. Fingertips was a live record and wasn’t studio record. It was the 1st live, non-studio song to actually reach #1 on the billboard charts. This was extremely groundbreaking. Another thing that made Stevie Wonder and his newly #1 hit song so amazing was the fact that he was Motown’s 1st child star. This timeless record is still one of Motown’s biggest hit songs and one of Stevie Wonder’s most beloved songs.
7) What’s going on?
When Motown was 1st born one of the main factors it was known for was not making any political related music. Berry Gordy wanted all of his songs to have mainstream, “cross over” appeal. However, all of that changed in 1971 when Marvin Gaye released the now classic single “What’s going on?” Marvin Gaye was depressed and upset about a lot of recent events that took place. He wanted to make an album and discuss police brutality, poverty, wars, etc. Berry Gordy opposed this. However, Marvin Gaye talked him into letting him do the album. Berry Gordy later on said he’s glad he made the decision to let Marvin Gaye create “What’s going on?“, the album. The album lead single, “What’s going on?” went on to become a mega-hit and helped bring light to many issues. The single topped both the R&B and Pop charts. The single even went on to sell over 2 million copies. It also inspired other artists to make socially-conscious songs. “What’s going on?” is credited as Motown’s 1st political/social song and also for opening the doors for other artists to make socially aware songs. There are countless reasons why “What’s going on?” deserves to make the top 10 greatest Motown hit songs of all time. One of them are due to its amazing legacy. It’s graced many countdowns of Top 100 Songs of All Time. It made the list of 100 Songs That Changed the World, 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and more. A re-make was even made on October 30th, 2001 featuring many artists such as Destiny’s Child, Christina Aguilera, Nelly, Mary J. Blige, Sean Combs (P.Diddy) and more.
6) Dancing in the street
Another one of Motown’s hit songs that is now a modern-day classic is “Dancing in the street” by Martha and The Vandellas. Written by label mate Marvin Gaye along with William Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter, it instantly became a huge hit in 1964. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and even topped international charts including the U.K. It became one of Motown’s biggest hits and signatures songs. “Dancing in the street” was so popular it generated several re-makes and covers. This hit song of Motown is such a classic that in 2006 it became one of the 50 sound recordings preserved by the Library of Congress to the National Recording Registry. It also made #29 on the list of Billboard’s 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.
5) Ooo Baby, Baby
Coming in at #5 on our list of top 10 hit songs of Motown is “Ooh Baby Baby” by The Miracles. This classic slow jam came out in 1965 and automatically became a smash hit. Written by group members Smokey Robinson and Pete Moore, “Ooo Baby Baby” peaked at #4 on the R&B charts and #16 on the Pop charts. It also became one of the Miracles signature songs. The song was such a hit that countless remakes were done by several artists including The Five Stairsteps, Ella Fitzgerald and Linda Ronstadt. “Ooh Baby Baby” is such a beloved hit it actually crossed over to many other age groups including younger audiences. It’s been performed in recent years by contestants on shows such as American Idol and X-Factor. It’s one of Motown’s greatest hits due to its raw lyrics, captivating melody and smooth lead vocals of Smokey Robinson.
4) My guy
One of Motown’s most beloved hits is “My guy” by legendary singer Mary Wells. Released in early 1964, “My guy” topped both the R&B and Pop charts. It was one of the country’s biggest hit and one of Motown’s biggest hit. It became singer Mary Wells biggest hit to date. Something else that makes this classic song so special is the fact that it was sung by Motown’s 1st female star. Mary Wells was the label’s 1st major female artist. She helped bring Motown to mainstream success. Therefore when her song “My guy” became such a huge hit it was a major milestone for the Motown. In this very day and time “My guy” still has a powerful legacy. The song has been covered by many and featured in a few movies. One very popular movie is “Sister Act” where actress Whoopi Goldberg sings her own rendition of “My guy” called “My God.”
The #3 top song of our list of Motown’s greatest hit songs is “ABC” by The Jackson Five. The upbeat, classic Motown hit shot straight to #1 on the R&B and Pop charts in 1970 soon as it debuted. Fans and the public instantly fell in love with it. “ABC” is actually considered to be The Jackson Five most signature song. This is due to its commercial success, mainstream appeal and chart topping longevity. “ABC” helped The Jackson Five gained international success and become a household name. The song is such a classic that its been sampled by several other artists and featured in many movies. Perhaps the most famous sample of this timeless hit is O.P.P by hip hop group Naughty by Nature. When thinking of the legacy of Motown Records you can’t help but to name the hit song “ABC.”
2) Stop in the name of love
#2 on the list of top Motown hit songs is “Stop in the name of love” by The Supremes. Released in February of 1965, this mid-tempo R&B single quickly reached #1 on Billboards Pop and R&B charts. It’s also noted as one of The Supremes signature songs. “Stop in the name of love” also helped Motown generated worldwide success and the “cross-over” success Berry Gordy always aimed for. The Supremes are considered Motown’s most successful act and the main group that helped Motown achieve mainstream success. The simple yet catchy choreography for the single also became just as popular as the song itself. When many think of Motown, the Supremes or the group’s lead singer Diana Ross, they think of this mega-hit. There have been numerous remakes and covers of the hit song. It even made several lists of Best Pop Songs of All Time including 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
1) My girl and Ain’t no mountain high enough
For the #1 most influential, top Motown hit song it’s actually a tie between 2 phenomenal hits. Both of these songs are so successful and universal they’ve become national treasures. These Motown classics are “My girl” by The Temptations and “Ain’t no mountain high enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Both of these songs are truly amazing. “My girl” written by Smokey Robinson became a #1 hit in 1964 and remained popular up into 1965. It became The Temptations 1st #1 hit and their signature song. It also became one of Motown’s signature songs. “My girl” took the country by storm and became a favorite among many fans from various audiences. It’s still a worldwide loved song this very day. It ranked #88 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Another Motown classic that certainly deserves to be #1 on our list of greatest Motown hit songs is “Ain’t no mountain high enough.” Written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson in 1966, this timeless Motown hit debuted in 1967 and quickly reached the top of the R&B and Pop charts. It was a huge commercial success and became Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s signature duet song. It’s one of Motown’s most biggest hits even in this day and age. Many youth may not know much about the rich history of Motown Records but I guaranteed they know the song “Ain’t no mountain high enough.” Both of these remarkable Motown hits are synonymous with Motown Records, Black American Music and American culture. Both of these songs are the epitome of Motown and what it represents.