|image from the magic of motown|
although many people regard 'motown' as a genre in itself, this playlist features motown music in the most purist sense - these artists were all signed by the motown record label and its subsidiaries. the label has a fascinating history, and was revolutionary in the music industry and culture - it was the first record label owned by an african-american, and only promoted black musicians for its first fifteen years. motown played an integral part in using music to unite people, regardless of an ever-present backdrop of racial tension. read more about the history of motown here, and about the impact on the culture of american music here.
on with the jam! here are my fave motown hits...
do you love me - the contours
this is one of my all-time favourite oldies songs - and the video? coordinated dance moves, matching outfits... all the things that make a motown video fabulous. and now i know what 'the mashed potato' looks like! bonus. when i worked at cheapskates, my default skate video to show on the shop tvs was mystery's black & white, mostly because it opened with this song.
i want you back - the jackson 5
this song is almost always a floor filler - it's not usually the first jackson 5 song that people think of (usually it's abc/123), but there's just something about it that gets people groovin, every time. in every video i've seen of this song, the jacksons have the exaaaact same dance moves to this song - even after 20 years. i loved watching janelle monae cover this song in new york, and the civil wars do a pretty rad cover, too.
shout - the isley brothers
i love watching older people and little kids dancing together to this song at weddings -everyone seems to know it, and everyone gets in on the dance moves, crouching down when it goes 'a little bit softer' and raising their hands at every 'shout!' i also kinda love how through most of this video, the lead singer has dropped to the floor, singing on his knees, and the camera doesn't follow him, so you'e just watching the top of his head bounce up and down...
baby love - the supremes
these sweethearts of motown were actually the labels most commercially successful group. the four original members grew up in the same housing project in detroit, and actually started as the primettes, a sister act (no pun intended!) to the primes, who later became the temptations.
ain't to proud to beg - the temptations
propelled to fame by their first number one hit, my girl, the temptations went on to become the first motown group to win a grammy. they were also a shining example of motown's standard choreographed dance moves and matching snazzy suits, as displayed in this video...
signed, sealed, delivered i'm yours - stevie wonder
stevie wonder. nuff said.
i can't help myself - the four tops
i had a hard time deciding between baby, i need your lovin' and the video below - but the one below had better coordinated dance moves, so i went with that.
i heard it through the grapevine - marvin gaye
i think we all know this song, through the many artists that covered it over the years (my personal favourite being CCR), but there is a KILLER phone dialogue at the beginning of this video... 'don't hang up, frankie! don't hang up!'
please mr. postman - the marvelettes
this song was the very first single produced by motown records that hit number 1 on the billboard top 100. i was reminded of this song a few years ago, when it was sampled in this dubstep song - in fact, that was the song that ceased my hating on dubstep... that just goes to show that if you mix anything with doo-wop, you'll steal my heart.
rockin robin - michael jackson
motown had the foresight to release mj as a solo artist, and they produced his first four solo albums before the jackson 5 changed labels. although he looks a little lonely without his bell-bottom-wearing brothers, rockin robin was a single from his first solo album, and a fun beginning to his world-shaking musical legacy.
now that's just my top ten fave motown songs - but there were so many more gems! what are your faves? dj z-trip put together a smashing motown mashup that i'll leave you with. enjoy!