Top 100 singles of all time: 83 – The Supremes – You Keep Me Hangin’ On

I suppose I could have picked almost anything by The Supremes – Baby Love or Stop! In the Name of Love – they were the supreme girl group, after all. They started out as The Primettes in 1959, and at their peak they rivalled The Beatles in popularity, achieving 12 number one singles along the way. Most of their hits were written by songwriting powerhouse Holland-Dozier-Holland, but following their departure from the Motown label in 1968, the quality of the band’s singles (along with many other Motown acts) deteriorated. Diana Ross began her solo career the following year. The 1976 film Sparkle is inspired by the Supremes story, as is the musical DreamGirls.

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The first time I heard You Keep Me Hangin’ On, it was the Kim Wilde cover

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which just goes to show that, back in the 80s, you didn’t have to be able to sing to be a singer. See, this is why I thought that I was going to be famous when I grew up – because I knew I could sing better than Kim Wilde or pretty much anyone in the charts. It just came as a bit of a shock when I grew up and found out that a lot of people could sing better than anyone in the charts. This is how they can fill up TV talent shows with an endless stream of prodigiously gifted vocalists, who can certainly sing better than I can.

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I digress.

I like You Keep Me Hangin’ On because of its weird progressions, its breezy brass, and that distinctive insistent ringing guitar line. The part originated as a Morse code-like radio signal that gave Lamont Dozier the idea of integrating it into a single. It was The Supremes’ eighth Billboard number one single in November 1966.

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