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Top 10 Best Stevie Wonder Songs

VO: Matt Campbell

Script written by Philip Brubaker

Twenty-five Grammys, thirty top ten hits, an unmistakable voice and lots of classic melodies you can’t forget – that’s this singer  and musician in a nutshell.  Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten Stevie Wonder songs.

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Top 10 Stevie Wonder Songs


Twenty-five Grammys, thirty top ten hits, an unmistakable voice and lots of classic melodies you can’t forget – that’s this singer  and musician in a nutshell.  Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten Stevie Wonder songs.
 
For this list, we’ve chosen our entries based on a combination of the artist’s fan favorites and their most commercially successful songs. These include tunes that reflect the broad spectrum of Stevie’s music, from his many cheerful pop songs and touching love ballads to his scathing social and political critique.

 

 #10: “Boogie On Reggae Woman”
Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974)

He’s known for his versatility, and on this groovin’ track from the Grammy-winning 1974 album “Fulfillingness’ First Finale”, Stevie plays nearly all the instruments, from the funky synthesizer to his trademark harmonica.  The suggestive lyrics and bouncy rhythm make this a good song for gettin’ down, and won a Grammys for Best Male Rhythm and Blues vocal performance.  While the song is neither Boogie nor Reggae, it’s still a feel-good single and the first representation on this list from what music critics call Stevie’s classic ‘70s period.  Now that’s something that makes us holler for more.

#9: “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”

Up-Tight (1966)

While Stevie Wonder would eventually master the art of composing standalone albums, he started off as a great singles artist with Motown.  One of his early hits was this tune, backed with a full brass band behind fifteen-year old Stevie.   The song showcases his infectious ability to phrase a catchy vocal hook, and his youthful exuberance shines throughout the three-minute running time.  In those days, he was still known as Little Stevie Wonder, but starting to come into his own as a really talented performer.   His optimism as a pop star was at an all-time high, which would only change as began to explore his serious side later.

#8: “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”

Talking Book (1972)

One of the most dynamic vocal performances in Stevie’s catalog, this heartfelt single went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won him a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.  It’s the kind of tune you listen to and ponder who the sunshine in your life is.  But you can still just enjoy the song if you’re single, thanks to its soul and pop flavors.  The tune was Stevie Wonder’s hugely popular love ballad at the time and an anthem that continues to endure, decades after its 1972 release.  In the 21st century, he would go on to perform the song with artists like Lady Gaga and even at a White House TV special for President Obama. 
 

#7: “Isn’t She Lovely?”
Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

In 1976, Stevie Wonder released the record that is commonly acknowledged as his magnum opus: Songs In the Key of Life.  One of the standout tracks from that double-album was this song, a tribute to his baby daughter, Aisha.  When she became a full-grown woman years later, she would join her father to perform the song live.  While never released as a single in the U.S., “Isn’t She Lovely” became one of Stevie Wonder’s most popular songs, being played after Michelle Obama’s Democratic Convention Speech in 2007 and performed by Wonder himself for Queen Elizabeth II as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

#6: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”

Signed, Sealed & Delivered (1970)

This 1970 R&B chart-topper marked the first time Stevie produced a song on his own, and it features unique audio flourishes like the ‘60s-style sitar.  Stevie’s lyrics suggest a man crawling back to his woman on his hands and knees, and offering his unwavering devotion to her.  But the title of the song was actually a phrase contributed by Stevie’s mother who was delighted by hearing him rehearse the song’s melody.  He was only 20 years old when he recorded it and it’s remained popular for over 40 years.   

#5: “Living for the City”

Innervisions (1973)

Perhaps Stevie Wonder’s most impactful attack on racism and inequality, this song’s message is a far cry from the pop confections that first made him famous.  This angry lament was found on Innervisions, an album that reinforced Stevie as an artist interested in tackling social justice issues.  It was hard not to notice that one of the most poignant observations of institutionalized racism was coming from a man who was born without the power of sight.  Wonder’s lyrics are sharp and to the point, and yet he has the commercial sense to wrap it all up with music that lingers in the mind.    

#4: “Higher Ground”
Innervisions (1973)


A funky musical treatment of a serious subject, this Top 5 single deals with the topic of reincarnation, a concept close to Stevie’s heart.  He played every instrument on the track and it was conceived, written and recorded in an intense three-hour period.  The song became a kind of premonition of sorts after Stevie was involved in a near-fatal car accident that left him comatose following its release. However, Wonderwas still able to respond with his fingers when his road manager sang the song’s lyrics into the artist’s ear.  The tune would later find new life years later when it was covered by Red Hot Chili Peppers.

 #3: “Sir Duke”
Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

Leave it to Stevie to get a song about jazz master Duke Ellington at number one on the pop charts.  Composed as a tribute to the recently deceased musical giant, this gem of a song features one of Stevie’s catchiest choruses and still sounds fresh forty years and many musical movements later.  Ellington had an influence on Stevie Wonder’s music, clearly heard here by the horns that open the song with exuberance.  ‘Sir Duke’ showed the world that its composer was inspired and informed by a diverse array of musical genres and had a creative reach that knew no bounds. 

#2: “I Just Called to Say I Love You”
“The Woman in Red” soundtrack (1984)

By the 1980s, Stevie Wonder had achieved superstar status, due in no small part to this unforgettable chart-topper.  Written for a comedy starring Gene Wilder that is now largely forgotten, this hit also won Stevie his first and only Academy Award to date.  A quintessentially ‘80s tune, it’s the product of an era before text messaging became the de facto way to communicate.  Nowadays, if all one wanted to say was three words, they would log into their smartphones and let their thumbs do the talking.  But back in the day, phones were the way to go; and this was another #1 hit for Mr. Wonder.       
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
 
“I Wish”
Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
 
“My Cherie Amour”

My Cherie Amour (1969)
  
“Master Blaster (Jammin)”
Hotter Than July (1980)
 


#1: “Superstition”
Talking Book (1972)

Featuring arguably the baddest keyboard riff in all of Motown, this justly celebrated funk jam is what everyone wants playing when they’re walking down the street.  Legendary rock guitarist Jeff Beck gave Stevie the inspiration for the famous drum kick-off and once that funky clavinet was added, Wonder had a hit on his hands.  It was also his first #1 as an adult musician.  This lead single from the “Talking Book” album heralded a new era in Stevie’s discography, one where a mature, creative artist was at the peak of his powers and would only get into bigger and better things as his career moved forward.  

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