Recently, I realized that Motown hits, like modern pop songs, are extremely formulaic. However, since there were so many fewer synthesizers, effects, and recording tricks available in the Motown era it’s way easier to follow the formula and churn out a Motown instrumental.
I exhausted my library of Motown songs and wrote down the commonalities between my favorite hits. Then, I wrote down the formula, instrument by instrument. Here are a few of the components:
“Basic pop chord progression”
“Twinkly four-bar piano riff with rolling transition”
“Claps on the 1,2,3,4”
“Horn blasts on the ‘one-and’ with syncopated decoration”
“Strings on the chorus”
“Syncopated upright bass riff”
Finally, I added the instruments, made up a lighthearted melody, and, lacking vocals, added a few snippets from a ominous 1963 conversation about Vietnam between LBJ and Senator Russell. Voila!
Now I just need a vocalist to sing a set of equally-formulaic Motown lyrics. Any takers?