I like to change up my workout playlist often, so I don’t get bored with one set of songs. Sometimes, I’m up for a few pop favorites, and other times I favor the groovy sounds of disco, but today, I was in the mood for Motown.
Berry Gordy Jr. founded Motown Records in Detroit with an $800 loan and a dream, and was soon producing some of the most phenomenal and influential music of the 20th century. The steady beat and harmonic tones are key features of many hits from the classic Motown label.
That rhythmic beat is perfect to keep you on pace, and the relatively short songs of the 1960s Motown era lend themselves well to interval training, or increasing your intensity for a short burst, then slowing back down, and repeating through the workout.
Here are just a few Motown favorites you’ll be sure to want on your playlist.
I Heard It through the Grapevine
Marvin Gaye’s 1968 chart topper, “I Heard It through the Grapevine” has an easy pace and addictive sound that’s perfect for a warm up. By the end of the song, you’ll be ready to rev things up a notch and get your workout going.
You Can’t Hurry Love
My goodness, how can you choose just one hit from the Supremes, the chart topping queens of Motown? I chose the 1966 number one hit, “You Can’t Hurry Love” because it sounds like a soft, sweet song, but listen to the percussion and you’ll hear a high impact groove that will seriously get your heart rate going.
I Want You Back
The very first number one hit for The Jackson 5 after they signed with Motown Records was “I Want You Back,” which reached the top of the charts in 1970 and helped propel Michael Jackson and company to fame. Oh, baby, give this track a chance.
For Once in My Life
Stevie Wonder took a slow song, gave it a bouncy new beat and made it happy, happy, happy! And that’s why, although many other artists recorded the song, “For Once in My Life” became one of Stevie Wonder’s greatest hits in 1968. It’ll keep you moving.
Reach Out (I’ll Be There)
I like to include an obvious rescue song in the second half of my workout playlist, one that inspires me to go on, just a little bit longer. “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” recorded by the Four Tops in 1966 is just right for this purpose. With a bit more relaxed beat, and the clear message that, when you think you can’t go on, you can reach out and make it just a little further. Don’t worry, reach out, your Motown playlist is there for you.
Dancing in the Street
Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were one of Motown Records’ earliest smashes. Their 1964 hit, “Dancing in the Street” is a great moderately paced tune that’s still so full of energy, you’ll catch your breath, but you won’t lose your groove.
Ain’t Too Proud to Beg
Oh, yeah! The pulsating beat of this 1966 hit from the Temptations makes it one of my favorites. The rhythm is irresistible, and for reasons I can’t fully explain makes me want to get out my cowbell and jam. But you don’t have to bang your bell, just add “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” to your playlist and jog on.
More by Tavia:
Disco Favorites for Your Cardio Workout
Utilize Your Workout Playlist for Interval Training
Using Classical Music to Help Memorize Math Facts