Back in Town: get moving with some motown


Broaden your horizons with a playlist featuring some classic hits from the hit record label Motown Records 

Motown Records, founded by the legendary Berry Gordan in 1959 in Detroit, Michigan, is a successful American record label made up of almost entirely African American artists. What started out as a small record label would end up being a major recording label and would eventually be considered its own genre. Motown was known for producing crossover acts, meaning the black artists were able to cross over onto the mainstream charts. Home to many famous songs and artists, young people may not even realize when they’re listening to a Motown record. 

“Love Child” – The Supremes

Synonymous with the stunning outfits and the beautiful hair, the Supremes take the spot of being the most successful Motown group. Headed by Diana Ross, the Supremes have made plenty of well known hits such as “Baby Love”, “You Can’t Hurry Love”, and “Come See About Me”. With an upbeat melody and lyrics that are meaningful, this 1968 hit never fails to be a bop. 

“Twenty Five Miles” – Edwin Starr

Most known for his 1970 hit song “War”, Edwin Starr takes the shine with his 1968 song, “Twenty Five Miles”. The song is about Starr taking the gruesome journey of 25 miles in order to see his “baby”, this song gets you singing and moving to its catchy hook, fun lyrics, and melody. While “War” might take the spot for his biggest song, this one still did amazing with peaking number six on the Billboard Top 100. 

“What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” – Jimmy Ruffin

The older brother of the great David Ruffin, Jimmy Ruffin sings about an unrequited love. Despite being unable to reach the same heights as his legendary brother, Jimmy Ruffin stills brings out amazing songs. The song peaked #7 on the Billboard Top 100. In this ballad about a broken heart, Ruffin gets you singing as if you’ve just confessed your love but unfortunately the feeling was not mutual, and now you feel helpless. 

“Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” – Marvin Gaye

Let’s get it on with Marvin Gaye. Known as the Prince of Motown and Soul, Gaye is known for that beautiful voice and swooning hearts. Being one of the early Motown Record artists, Gaye helped shape the sound of Motown. Some of his biggest hits include “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” featuring Tammi Terrell, “Sexual Healing”, and “Let’s Get It On”. With each song, Gaye gets you grooving with music. Gaye has a lasting impact on soul music and just music in general. 

“You’re All I Need To Get By” – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

This iconic duo never fails to make a killer song. From the second studio album made by the amazing duo of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, “You’re All I Need To Get By” did not have the classic Motown sound to it, but it still did very well and was enjoyed by many. Terrell, one half of the duo, was a 1960’s artist who had a magnificent voice, was a star for Motown. While on her rise to the top, Terrell unfortunately passed away at a young age due to a brain tumor. Despite both Gaye and Terrell’s tragic passing, their legacies live on and this song remains a hit. 

“(I Know) I’m Losing You” – The Temptations

The Temptations, one of the biggest and most successful Motown group and is still active to this day. The five classic Temptations were made up by David Ruffin, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin,  Paul Williams, and Eddie Kendricks. Not only did the Temps have amazing vocals, they had some sick dance moves. While the music group had plenty of amazing hits, the biggest being “My Girl”, “(I Know) I’m Losing You” blows listeners away with those rich vocals and melody. The group name is not a lie, this song gets you tempted to shake a shoulder, groove, and sing out. 

While these are just some songs, tuning into some Motown opens up a whole new world of music. Not only did the label perfect a formula of making absolute bangers, it also helped pave a way for black artists in the white dominated music industry. The man who started it all, founder Berry Gordan, said in a 2016 Telegraph interview, “I wanted songs for the whites, blacks, the Jews, Gentiles… I wanted everybody to enjoy my music.”