Buttered Popcorn

Buttered Popcorn

Infobox Single
Name = Buttered Popcorn
Artist = The Supremes
from Album = Meet the Supremes
B-side ="Who's Lovin' You"
Released = July 21, 1961
Format = 7" single
Recorded = Hitsville USA; April, 1961
Genre = Soul
Length = 2:55
Label = Tamla
T 54045
Writer = Berry Gordy, Jr.
Barney Ales

Producer = Berry Gordy, Jr.
Last single = "I Want a Guy"
(1961)
This single = "Buttered Popcorn"
(1961)
Next single = "Your Heart Belongs to Me"
(1962)

"Buttered Popcorn" is a 1961 song written by Motown president Berry Gordy and songwriter Barney Ales, and produced by Gordy, and released as a Tamla label single by Motown singing group The Supremes. It was the group's second single since signing with Motown Records (and their third overall) as well as their second, and last, single for the Tamla label. Starting with the next single release the group’s future recordings would be issued under the Motown label.

Overview

Recording

This is not only one of the rare singles to feature Florence Ballard on lead, but the only one with her as the sole lead. The song talks of a woman who’s worried that her man is more concerned with eating “buttered popcorn” than her, as he eats it "For breakfast, lunch and a dinner too". In the group’s early days all of its members got a chance to sing lead on stage and in the recording studio, with Ballard having the role of main lead singer. However producers at both Lu Pine Records and Motown Records felt that the vocals of members Diane Ross and Mary Wilson had a better chance at the targeted cross-over audience, with Ross having the most pop-sounding voice of the group.

Despite the fact that Ballard’s leads were deemed "too soulful" Buttered Popcorn was considered by Motown's Quality Control department to be the best song to be issued as The Supremes second Motown single. However, Berry Gordy was determined that Ross should be the group’s main lead and wanted the group’s cover of The Miracles' "Who's Lovin' You" to be the singles A-side. In the end, Gordy and Quality Control compromised; the Ballard-led song would remain the single’s A-side, but the single would be promoted as if it was a "double A-side" one.

Reception

Both sides of the single received a lot of airplay on local Detroit stations, but problems very quickly aroused. Almost as soon as the single was released, the first version of the song was withdrawn because it was considered "too raw", and a smoother take was released. Gordy did little to promote the single’s A-side, and, some time later, the label discovered that the song could be conceived to have a scandalous "double meaning", and stopped "plugging" it. Neither sides of the single charted nationally, but were smash hits on several regional charts in parts of the country.

The Supremes next single, "Your Heart Belongs to Me", would be led by Ross (who would now be billed as Diana), and would be their first to chart nationally. When that happened the label would decide to make Ross the group's main (and later lone) lead singer. Ballard and Wilson would be regulated to backup singers, but would be allowed to sing lead on album tracks and on stage (until 1966) and given lead lines on singles (until 1963); fourth member Barbara Martin would leave the group just before the release of (and "after" recording) the next single, leaving them a trio from that point onward.

Credits

*Lead vocals by Florence Ballard
*Background vocals by Diane Ross, Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson and Barbara Martin
*Instrumentation by The Funk Brothers

Footnotes


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