Sunday, August 22, 2004

40 years ago: The Supremes “Where Did Our Love Go” hit #1

Where Did Our Love Go

The Supremes

Writer(s): Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland (see lyrics here)

Released: June 17, 1964

First Charted: July 3, 1964

Peak: 12 US, 12 CB, 12 GR, 12 HR, 12 RB, 3 UK, 11 CN, 14 AU, 4 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 18.4 video, 95.47 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Motown “built both and empire and an era-defining sound” TB and “The Supremes were the towering stars who made Motown what it was.” TB The four girls from the Detroit housing projects were originally known as the Primettes. They started out at Motown as “high school kids hanging around the studio, adding backing vocals or hand claps whenever anybody needed them.” TB

By 1962, they were down to a trio of Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson and had started recording singles. From 1961 to 1964 they released eight singles, most of which barely scraped the charts or failed to chart. Other artists at Motown even called them “the No-Hit Supremes.” FB They didn’t find their sound until Motown founder Berry Gordy paired them with the songwriting and production team of Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Brian Holland.

They struck gold in 1964 with “Where Did Our Love Go,” “a simple lilt of a song about the unraveling of an unstable love affair.” TB It was, however, “ a brilliant piece of songcraft and personal building that…announced the Supremes as a cultural force.” TB Interestingly, it was first presented to the Marvelettes, who turned it down. FB

It established a template for songs written by H-D-H for the Supremes. It was the first of five consecutive chart-toppers for the group and eleven #1’s overall – second only to the Beatles at the time. The song also represented what to expect from a Motown song in general – “big beats, propulsive bass, sweetly sung lyrics about romantic dilemmas, choruses that would get stuck in your head all day.” TB

Yes, it’s a song “about a desperate romantic situation, but it’s light and fun, built for dancing.” TB Vocally, Ross “sounds like she’s doing everything she can to maintain her compusre.” TB Wilson and Ballard “gently circle Diana Ross’ voice, murmuring ‘baby, baby’ languidly in the background.“ TB Musically, the song “is fast and simple, anchored to that foot-stomping beat.” TB


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First posted 2/4/2023.

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