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    Released On This day: July 21, 1961 - Buttered Popcorn - The Supremes

    60 years ago today the Supremes released their second single on Tamala records, Buttered Popcorn. Florence Ballard sings lead on the tune which was written by Berry Gordy and Barney Ales and produced by Mr. Gordy. It's a fun, novelty type record that you can't help but sing a long to.

    #SupremesForever

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    here's a discussion point - was Popcorn the best option for a single?

    IWAG and Never Again were already released. so the other options could have been:

    Because I love him
    Too hot
    the boy that got away
    Hey baby
    Baby don't go
    You gonna come to me
    After all
    You can depend on me
    who's loving you

    If the idea is to go with a Flo lead, i think Hey Baby is stronger.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    60 years ago today the Supremes released their second single on Tamala records, Buttered Popcorn. Florence Ballard sings lead on the tune which was written by Berry Gordy and Barney Ales and produced by Mr. Gordy. It's a fun, novelty type record that you can't help but sing a long to.

    #SupremesForever
    The song that led to my Supremes superfandom. Will always hold a special place in my heart. I play it often.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    here's a discussion point - was Popcorn the best option for a single?

    IWAG and Never Again were already released. so the other options could have been:

    Because I love him
    Too hot
    the boy that got away
    Hey baby
    Baby don't go
    You gonna come to me
    After all
    You can depend on me
    who's loving you

    If the idea is to go with a Flo lead, i think Hey Baby is stronger.
    I think "Popcorn" was their best bet. While Diana was a good singer from the jump, I don't think these early sessions produced a perfect fit between her skills and the songs themselves. Not until "Those DJ Shows" do I feel like Diana's vocal skills were as radio friendly as the songs. Those early songs were great girl group era type cuts, although most were on the raw side. I believe Mary was a perfect fit for most of them, and probably would've given them some higher national chart action much sooner had she been chosen to lead them. She sounds great on "Baby Don't Go", but I think the song could've used a bit more work, and particularly feel like the backing vocals needed to be more prominent. "Baby Don't Go" may have made some noise.

    "Because I Love Him" and one of the versions of "Too Hot" [[not sure if it's the first version or second, but it's the one on the Meet EE) are really good IMO, but I believe they would suffer from airplay on account of moments in the song when Diana's voice might grate on the nerves. "Because I Love Him" in particular may have made a good choice for single if Mary was singing it instead of Diana. "Too Hot" may have ended up an even better choice than "Popcorn" if Florence sang that instead also.

    That nasal thing Diana had going on at the time just wasn't radio friendly and she hadn't quite gotten a hold of how to reign it in. She does a great job with "Those DJ Shows", and sounds much better on the 2nd version of "You're Gonna Come To Me" than she did on the first. And of course she sounds absolutely beautiful on "Your Heart Belongs to Me", so the girl was definitely honing her skills and it would eventually pay off.

    But "Popcorn", being such a silly, novelty type song, seems to be the easiest choice. I've always felt "Hey Baby" was a masculine song. Even Flo's vocal approach was on the rough and raw side. Perhaps if Diana or Mary had sung it, it would've been softer, a bit more feminine, and could've worked that way. I just don't care for Flo's vocal on any of the versions, though I guess the one released on the Spectrum cd is the most listenable.

    "Buttered Popcorn" is a strong song. The beat is danceable, the lyrics are silly and indicative of the times, Flo sounds great, and the backing vocals, while nothing harmonically complicated, add a certain something to the vibe. My one critique is that there's something missing in the music. Perhaps some horns? Or maybe some strings? The sound isn't as full as it could've been. As is, the song did become a regional hit in various places around the midwest and northeast. One has to wonder what would have happened if the re-recorded version had been released in July, Gordy hadn't decided to promote the record as a double A side, and if the girls hadn't had to go back to school so soon after the release, how well might it have done.

    Definitely a fan favorite though.

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    Did the Supremes ever perform BUTTERED POPCORN live, or in lip synch? Thinking the early years, when they might have still been doing sock hops or small, local gigs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marybrewster View Post
    Did the Supremes ever perform BUTTERED POPCORN live, or in lip synch? Thinking the early years, when they might have still been doing sock hops or small, local gigs.
    I'm sure they must have. It has been written that they did HE'S SEVENTEEN live and that was only a b-side. So I'd bet that BP was in the set list as well.

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    Interestingly, the first time [[I assume it was the first) that the Supremes were mentioned in Jet Magazine, in the Nov 1, 1962 issue, "Buttered Popcorn" was the song used to associate with them. "...and the Supremes, famous for Buttered Popcorn..." I always get a kick out of that. Famous? If only the writer knew what Supreme fame would eventually look like. Anyway, I find it interesting because by the time of the issue "Your Heart Belongs To Me" had to have been considered the group's biggest song since it made a brief chart showing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    here's a discussion point - was Popcorn the best option for a single?

    IWAG and Never Again were already released. so the other options could have been:

    Because I love him
    Too hot
    the boy that got away
    Hey baby
    Baby don't go
    You gonna come to me
    After all
    You can depend on me
    who's loving you

    If the idea is to go with a Flo lead, i think Hey Baby is stronger.
    I would have either gone with The Boy That Got Away or Those DJ Shows [[9/61).

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    "The Boy That Got Away" could've done something, but I think it needed more work, more instrumentation. I believe had "Those DJ Shows" been released as a single that it could've been the group's first hit.

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    i never liked DJ. just sort of idiotic lyric. Not that the other tunes were genius. DJ just seemed dumb.

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    I think that Berry Gordy knew from the get-go that He's Seventeen and Those DJ Shows would not do well over the long term. They may have been fine for girls of 16 or 17, but if the group went on for a few years, as he thought they could, the group would have seemed silly singing about being in school or liking a boy a little bit older.

    Buttered Popcorn also seemed okay, sort of, for a young girl, but it would have not been all that appreciated, probably, by the Copa crowd. Still, Berry wrote this one, so maybe he let it go, realizing it would not go very far and the girls would not have to sing it for the next decade, by which point they would be in their mid- to late-20s.

    Your Heart Belongs To Me was age appropriate but also could be applicable to an older girl -- that is, a young woman -- and I think Berry wanted songs with durability for this group and for Mary Wells, as evidenced in part by some of her Vintage Stock material.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    i never liked DJ. just sort of idiotic lyric. Not that the other tunes were genius. DJ just seemed dumb.
    Really? It sounds to me very typical of the teenage experience of the time when certain DJs were nearly as popular as the artists themselves and their radio programs weren't to be missed. I think lyrically it's one of their better songs from this period of time. Dumb lyrics or not, Diana sounds great, Flo and Mary show why they really didn't need Barbara, and the band is on fire. This was the same year that "The Pony" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" hit #1. "Those DJ Shows" lyrics wouldn't have kept it from being a hit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Really? It sounds to me very typical of the teenage experience of the time when certain DJs were nearly as popular as the artists themselves and their radio programs weren't to be missed. I think lyrically it's one of their better songs from this period of time. Dumb lyrics or not, Diana sounds great, Flo and Mary show why they really didn't need Barbara, and the band is on fire. This was the same year that "The Pony" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" hit #1. "Those DJ Shows" lyrics wouldn't have kept it from being a hit.
    i think the sound of the record and their voices is great but the lyrics are just too inane for me. and isn't this a Smokey song? lololol you know my annoyance with some of his lyrics lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by benross View Post
    I think that Berry Gordy knew from the get-go that He's Seventeen and Those DJ Shows would not do well over the long term. They may have been fine for girls of 16 or 17, but if the group went on for a few years, as he thought they could, the group would have seemed silly singing about being in school or liking a boy a little bit older.

    Buttered Popcorn also seemed okay, sort of, for a young girl, but it would have not been all that appreciated, probably, by the Copa crowd. Still, Berry wrote this one, so maybe he let it go, realizing it would not go very far and the girls would not have to sing it for the next decade, by which point they would be in their mid- to late-20s.

    Your Heart Belongs To Me was age appropriate but also could be applicable to an older girl -- that is, a young woman -- and I think Berry wanted songs with durability for this group and for Mary Wells, as evidenced in part by some of her Vintage Stock material.
    that's a good way of describing it Ben. while i wouldn't put 17 or DJ as a "novelty" record like Disco Duck or Monster Mash, they do have too much of a novelty aspect to maintain. And novelty isn't bad - The Twist is a novelty song that's sensational. but i think you're right. they were looking for something at least a little more substantial

    although i do not have any idea how I Want A Guy was ever considered acceptable enough to release

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    If The Supremes had hit with one of those early songs like The Marvelletes did with Please Mr. Postman, would they have had to do a twist follow up? Twistin' Popcorn? Twistin' DJ? I Want a Twist?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sup_fan View Post
    that's a good way of describing it Ben. while i wouldn't put 17 or DJ as a "novelty" record like Disco Duck or Monster Mash, they do have too much of a novelty aspect to maintain. And novelty isn't bad - The Twist is a novelty song that's sensational. but i think you're right. they were looking for something at least a little more substantial

    although i do not have any idea how I Want A Guy was ever considered acceptable enough to release
    You and Ben have more faith in the forward thinking of Gordy and Co than I do. I don't believe they ever thought about these things. Recording, pressing records and promoting them cost money. You don't do that for funsies if you're Motown. You do that because you're hoping they catch on and sale like hotcakes. Getting a hit on the Supremes was the goal, whether it be a song they could only sing for a short time without looking like idiots, or it be a song they could build a career on. A number one hit is a number one hit. A money maker, a money maker. Gordy wanted those and sometimes it seems he was willing to throw songs in the air and see what sticks. But I doubt he ever had anything released for the hell of it and no intention of it being a hit.

    But I agree about "I Want A Guy". I don't know what anyone heard in that song that said it was the cut. I find both "After All" and "Never Again" to be superior to "Guy", though I have no faith that any of them had hit potential. I know the story is that the Supremes basically lived at Hitsville from the beginning, but the truth is that they were in school, had part time jobs, and had household responsibilities. I suspect that Hitsville had their work cut out for them finding time to record the group, which is why those earliest songs lack the quality of some of the stuff that would emerge later on in 1961. 'Cuz I'm scratching my head thinking "Is this all really the best that anybody at the label had to offer the Supremes?" There probably just wasn't a lot of time to give them top notch quality, which went to other acts who were available more. The Supremes probably got the leftover songs whenever they arrived at Hitsville after their other obligations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreadinglove21 View Post
    If The Supremes had hit with one of those early songs like The Marvelletes did with Please Mr. Postman, would they have had to do a twist follow up? Twistin' Popcorn? Twistin' DJ? I Want a Twist?
    Yup. "I Want A Twistin Guy", "Popcorn Twist" or "Buttered Twist", "Who's Twistin You", "Baby Don't Twist", "Because I Love To Twist".

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    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    You and Ben have more faith in the forward thinking of Gordy and Co than I do. I don't believe they ever thought about these things. Recording, pressing records and promoting them cost money. You don't do that for funsies if you're Motown. You do that because you're hoping they catch on and sale like hotcakes. Getting a hit on the Supremes was the goal, whether it be a song they could only sing for a short time without looking like idiots, or it be a song they could build a career on. A number one hit is a number one hit. A money maker, a money maker. Gordy wanted those and sometimes it seems he was willing to throw songs in the air and see what sticks. But I doubt he ever had anything released for the hell of it and no intention of it being a hit.

    But I agree about "I Want A Guy". I don't know what anyone heard in that song that said it was the cut. I find both "After All" and "Never Again" to be superior to "Guy", though I have no faith that any of them had hit potential. I know the story is that the Supremes basically lived at Hitsville from the beginning, but the truth is that they were in school, had part time jobs, and had household responsibilities. I suspect that Hitsville had their work cut out for them finding time to record the group, which is why those earliest songs lack the quality of some of the stuff that would emerge later on in 1961. 'Cuz I'm scratching my head thinking "Is this all really the best that anybody at the label had to offer the Supremes?" There probably just wasn't a lot of time to give them top notch quality, which went to other acts who were available more. The Supremes probably got the leftover songs whenever they arrived at Hitsville after their other obligations.
    i'm not surprised that the Supremes recorded it or why it sounds whacked out. Have you ever listened to the Marvelettes "Please Mr Postman" lp? it's dreadful! the sound quality, the productions, all of it. it's fun to listen to and i get what they were doing.

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