Mo' Motown makes for merriment

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Diana Ross

Motown artists had over 110 Top-10 hits during the 1960s. However, most students probably can’t remember more than 10 off the top of their head. But where would we be without Motown? Would we still have corny romantic-comedy soundtracks and horribly sappy mix CDs?

Everybody needs a little Motown, so here are a few quality tunes to add to your iPod. Just avoid singing along while you’re on the bus. Not everyone can be Marvin Gaye.

“The Same Old Song” " The Four Tops
This song’s downtrodden lyrics and upbeat tempo are extremely catchy. The Four Tops, best known for their no.1 hit “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” produced this track in 1965. The song was apparently written, recorded, mixed, produced and released in under 24 hours by Motown’s workhorses and it still reached no. 5 on the Billboard charts.

“I Wish It Would Rain” " The Temptations
You probably know The Temptations’ hits “My Girl” or “Just My Imagination,” since numerous movies have featured them and your mom probably sings along with them constantly.

“I Wish It Would Rain” is one of The Temptations’ most melancholy tracks. Motown staff writer Roger Penzabene wrote the lyrics after discovering his wife was cheating on him. Unable to stop loving her, he committed suicide a week after the single was released. How cheerful!

“Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” " Marvin Gaye
If you’re looking for soul, look no further. The second single off Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, this track is an anthem for environmentalism. Gaye sings “things just ain’t what they used to be” and describes a world of polluted skies and toxic oceans.

With multi-layered vocals and thick instrumentation, Gaye creates a sonic landscape laced with his mournful voice. As the song descends into a low wail, you can’t help but think there really is something wrong with the world.

“I Hear A Symphony” " Diana Ross & The Supremes
More complex than previous Supremes singles, “I Hear A Symphony” was released shortly after Motown boss Berry Gordy released a memo stating “We will release nothing less than Top-10 product on any artist.” “I Hear a Symphony” proved him right.

With a rising tempo, Ross’ powerful voice and a catchy chorus, this track is perfect for some really sappy downtime with a lover. Or a self-conscious ironic soundtrack to your next breakup. It’s your call.

“Nowhere to Run” " Martha & The Vandellas
You might only know “Nowhere to Run” as the closing bit to Robin Williams’ epic rant in Good Morning Vietnam. Although you’re not in a sweltering jungle, you can be damn sure this song can still wake you up bright and early.

Blasted by G.I.s and marching bands alike, this song’s loud, brassy sound makes it perfect for any massive get-together. Its chorus, “Nowhere to run to/ nowhere to hide,” also makes it a good choice for your next game of manhunt. People still play manhunt, right?

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette