In 1959, an aspiring songwriter and report producer named Berry Gordy Jr. borrowed $800 to start out his personal report label in Detroit. Good funding. Inside a yr, Motown had it first million-selling report, with the Miracles’ “Store Round.” By 1969, the label would place dozens of data within the Billboard Prime 10 because it reshaped the sound of pop music for a technology, due to its considerably contradictory mixture of assembly-line consistency and particular person inventive brilliance, integrationist upward mobility and black self-assertion, fierce competitors and familial camaraderie. “I used to be so joyful each time I obtained successful report on one of many artists,” mentioned Smokey Robinson, the label’s best songwriting genius. “As a result of they had been my brothers and sisters.”
After defining “the sound of younger America” with the mid-Sixties pop magnificence of Mary Wells, the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, and the Temptations, and the girl-group glory of the Supremes, the Marvelettes, and Martha and the Vandellas, the label’s two most visionary artists, Gaye and Stevie Wonder, pushed in opposition to Gordy’s dictatorial rule to create adventurous, socially aware landmark Seventies albums like What’s Going On and Innervisions, which expanded Motown’s scope whereas staying true to its core hitmaking values. Motown stars like Robinson, the Commodores, Diana Ross, and Michael Jackson saved churning out nice music by the funk, disco, and easy-listening eras, and hitmakers like Rick James, Lionel Richie, DeBarge, and Boyz II Me saved the label everywhere in the radio within the slick Eighties and into the Nineties.
Getting right down to an inventory of the 100 Best Motown Songs wasn’t straightforward. This yr is the sixtieth anniversary of Motown’s first Quantity One hit, “Please Mr. Postman,” by the Marvelettes, and but the enjoyment and energy of this music hasn’t diminished even a tiny bit. Even in the event you’ve heard them one million instances or come throughout them in a dozen film soundtracks, classics like “My Lady,” “Come See About Me,” or “The Tracks of My Tears” nonetheless sound virtually impossibly contemporary, simply as the unconventional spirit of “What’s Going On” or “Dwelling for the Metropolis” resonates completely in our current political second. And amid all of the hits, there are nonetheless lesser-known gems to be found.