Narrowing down the ten best Motown songs is insanely difficult, let alone trying to figure out the ten best R&B songs of all time. It was hard leaving Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" out, but not hard to understand when you've got legends like Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye takng up spots on this list.
- "Billie Jean." When the paparazzi wasn't harassing him, the mothers of bastard children were, as Jackson based this song on an incident in which a fan claimed Michael was the father of her child. What Jackson was the father of was a stark and groundbreaking single that became one of the top ten R&B songs of all time.
- "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell trade off vocals in the verse and come together in the chorus to declare just how infinite love is. This song provided the inspiration and sample for Amy Winehouse's "Tears Dry On Their Own," and I'm sure she'd agree this is one of the best R&B songs of all time.
- "My Girl." An unforgettable guitar riff and smooth vocals by The Temptations make this one of the top ten best R&B songs of all time. Try and think of a more beautiful pop music moment than when the strings kick in after the second chorus.
- "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Smoky Robinson & The Miracles recorded the first version of this song, but Marvin Gaye's version is the signature. His tremendous vocal talent turns the biting/sobbing lyric into something beyond this world. CCR did it proud with their extended cut in 1970.
- "I Believe I Can Fly." An instant classic for R. Kelly and quite an epic melody for a '90s pop single, it's got to be one of the top ten best R&B songs of all time, featured on the "Space Jam" soundtrack.
- "When Doves Cry." Can a song be R&B without bass? Prince answered this question in this single off his masterpiece "Purple Rain." He also solved the age old mystery of what it sounds like when doves cry-apparently it's a playful little synthesizer line.
- "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." This song is the epitome of soul. It's so laid back, you can really picture yourself sitting there, on the dock of the bay, next to Otis Redding. Though Redding died before this single was released, the song lives on as one of the ten best R&B songs of all time.
- "Superstition." Who knew "Little" Stevie Wonder had it in him? After gaining complete artistic freedom from Motown, Stevie Wonder (the "little" long gone) went on an insane creative spree, releasing five classic albums and spectacular singles like "Superstition," a grooved-out funk song with squealing horns and lines like “Thirteen-month-old baby, broke the lookin' glass” that sound cool no matter how little they make sense.
- "Respect." Aretha Franklin recorded this cover of an Otis Redding tune and made it her own, demanding R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and she sure got it. the song helped her earn the nickname “The Queen of Soul” for crying out loud. She was 25 at the time she recorded this song, but she sounds wise beyond her years.
- "ABC." Motown made hit-singles as “easy as 1-2-3” during the '60s and '70s, and “ABC” was one of its best. The Jackson brothers fuzzed-out vocal trade-offs and simple, but irresistible lyrics and melodies, makes this one of the best R&B songs of all time.
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