Yesterday, I saddled Whitney Houston with the Greatest Diva of the Rock Era title, even enough I never really said such a thing nor is she alive to really worry about such a title of hyperbole. Anyway, I would like to turn our attention to one of the first divas to emerge during the rock, Miss Diana Ross. The Supremes burst onto the rock scene as an all-girl singing trio from the Motown family. After a run of five straight number one hit singles, Berry Gordy took his infatuation with singer Diana Ross to new levels, where he first gave Miss Ross top billing in the group’s name, then had her break away from her two long-time friends to pursue a solo career. Along the way, Diana Ross developed into a true diva, by hitting number one on the Hot 100 Singles Chart a whopping 17 times (both with and without the Supremes) and earning an Oscar nomination for her lead performance in the 1973 movie Lady Sings the Blues.
Although, Gordy was highly motivated to make Ross into an across-the-board star, Diana was most successful as a singing diva. So, today, I present to you My Top 10 Diana Ross Solo and the Supremes Songs. Let’s get going.
10. “Love Hangover” (1976 – Diana Ross). What a great disco ballad! Did Ross knock this outta the park…or what? Rhetorical, just being rhetorical.
9. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (1970 – Ain’t Know Mountain High Enough). Personally, I love Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s version better, but Ross sang the crap out of this song in such a majestic manner that the song single-handedly anointed Ross a diva. This song is the blueprint for the careers of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Katy Perry and the rest of the divas who have followed.
8. “Stop! In the Name of Love” – Supremes (1965 – More Hits by the Supremes). This is simply an iconic song.
7. “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” (1975 – Diana Ross). This song was playing during one of my first slow dances ever at a school dance, so forgive me that memory. Oh, and the song is great too.
6. “Endless Love” – Duet with Lionel Richie (1981 – Endless Love OST). First, this song is easy to make fun of because it’s on the schmaltzy side. But, Richie wrote this one when he was just beginning to hit his stride as the writer of 80s ballads. Controversially, this song was used in the sexploitation film of a naked underage Brooke Shields. If you throw out the yucky pedophilia context of that stupid film the song was recorded for and focus on the great lyrics Lionel wrote, it is a great song. Thank goodness the movie association has been lost to history.
5. “You Keep Me Hanging On” – Supreme (1966 – The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland). According to my mom, the three-year-old version of myself used to dance through the house whenever the song came on the radio she was listening to.
4. “Upside Down” (1980 – Diana). From the album that was produced by the Chic Organization, this was the first single from that album and Diana Ross’ last solo number one hit.
3. “Where Did Our Love Go” – Supremes (1964 – Where Did Our Love Go). This one kicked off the Supremes’ domination of the charts, as well as Diana’s.
2. “Baby Love” – Supremes (1964 – Where Did Our Love Go). This song, like so many from the early Motown period, is timeless and holds up when other artists cover it.
1. “I’m Coming Out” (1980 – Diana). This great piece of Chic Organization production is Ross’ ode to her gay fans as well as a statement of independence from Motown, whom she was about to leave as an artist. Personally, I love the drum intro; and, I was hooked.
So much for my quick overview of Diana Ross. I hope it inspires you to check out deeper cuts in her magnificent catalog.