Table of Contents
- 1. I Got You (I Feel Good)
- 2. Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine-Pt.1&2
- 3. I Got The Feelin’
- 4. Mother Popcorn – Single Version
- 5. Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose
- 6. Make It Funky
- 7. Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag
- 8. Think
- 9. It’s A Man’s, Mans, Man’s World
- 10. Try Me
- 11. Night Train – Single Version
- 12. Cold Sweat
- 13. Papa Don’t Take No Mess
- 14. The Payback
- 15. Get on The Good Foot
- 16. Say It Loud – I’m Black And I’m Proud
- 17. Super Bad
- 18. Hot Pants (She Got To Use What She Got to Get What She Wants)
- 19. Get Up Offa That Thing
- 20. Please, Please, Please
James Brown, also known as the “Godfather of Soul,” was one of the most important and influential figures in the history of American music. Over the course of his career, Brown released a staggering number of hits that continue to be celebrated and played today. His music was not only groundbreaking, but also socially and politically significant, addressing issues of race, poverty, and inequality.
In this article, we have compiled a list of the 20 best James Brown songs of all time, showcasing his unique blend of soul, funk, and rhythm and blues. From his early recordings with the Famous Flames to his later solo work, this list includes some of the most iconic and memorable tracks from his extensive discography. We have included tracks from some of his most well-known albums, such as “Live at the Apollo” and “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” as well as lesser-known gems that showcase his range and creativity.
Whether you are a lifelong fan of soul music or just discovering James Brown for the first time, this list is sure to offer something new and exciting. From his electrifying stage presence to his distinctive vocal style, James Brown’s music continues to inspire and influence musicians around the world. So put on your dancing shoes, get ready to groove, and enjoy our list of the 20 best James Brown songs of all time.
1. I Got You (I Feel Good)
“I Got You” is a heartwarming song that conveys an unwavering promise of support, love, and companionship. This uplifting track features a catchy melody, vibrant instrumentation, and heartfelt lyrics that are sure to resonate with listeners of all ages.
The song starts with a mellow acoustic guitar riff, gradually building up with the addition of drums, bass, and a lively piano melody. The singer’s smooth vocals deliver the lyrics with passion and sincerity, as he pledges to stand by his loved one through thick and thin.
The chorus of “I Got You” is infectiously catchy and optimistic, with the lyrics emphasizing the singer’s steadfast commitment to his partner. He assures them that they can count on him, no matter what obstacles they may face, and that together, they can conquer anything.
Throughout the song, the instrumentation is skillfully arranged to match the mood of the lyrics, with upbeat, energetic sections giving way to more introspective, emotional moments. The bridge section features a stirring guitar solo, adding an extra layer of depth and emotion to the track.
Overall, “I Got You” is a beautiful and uplifting song that celebrates the power of love, loyalty, and support in any relationship. Its infectious melody and heartfelt lyrics are sure to leave a lasting impression on listeners, reminding them of the importance of having someone by their side through life’s ups and downs.
2. Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine-Pt.1&2
“Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine” is a classic funk song by James Brown, released in 1970. The track is known for its infectious rhythm and catchy lyrics, and it is widely regarded as one of Brown’s most iconic hits. The song features Brown’s signature soulful vocals, accompanied by a powerful horn section and a driving bassline. The lyrics of the song are unapologetically sexual, with Brown declaring his desire to be a “sex machine” and urging his audience to get up and dance. The song has been sampled and covered by numerous artists over the years, and it continues to be a staple of funk and soul playlists. Whether you’re a longtime fan of James Brown or a newcomer to his music, “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine” is sure to get you moving and grooving to the beat.
3. I Got The Feelin’
“I Got The Feelin'” is an upbeat and funky song that was originally recorded by James Brown in 1968. The song is characterized by its infectious groove, catchy lyrics, and energetic vocals. The track features a driving rhythm section, punctuated by horns and a funky guitar riff, creating a sound that is both soulful and danceable.
The lyrics of the song tell a story of a man who has found love and is overwhelmed by the feelings it brings. He proclaims that he “got the feelin'” and can’t help but express his joy through dance and song. The song’s uplifting message and infectious melody make it a classic that has stood the test of time.
The song has been covered by several artists over the years, including Aretha Franklin, The Jackson 5, and even actor Kevin Bacon in the film “Footloose.” Its popularity has also led to it being sampled in numerous hip-hop songs, showcasing its lasting influence on popular music.
“I Got The Feelin'” is a timeless classic that continues to inspire generations of musicians and listeners alike with its message of love and joy.
4. Mother Popcorn – Single Version
“Mother Popcorn – Single Version” is a funk and soul-infused song that was originally released by James Brown in 1969. The song begins with an upbeat and groovy bass line that immediately sets the tone for a lively and danceable track. As the song progresses, Brown’s energetic vocals take center stage, with his trademark grunts and shouts punctuating the infectious rhythm.
Lyrically, “Mother Popcorn” is all about getting down and partying. Brown encourages listeners to “pop your popcorn” and “shake your hips” as he sings about the joys of letting loose on the dance floor. The song’s catchy chorus, which features Brown repeatedly chanting “popcorn,” is sure to get stuck in your head long after the track has ended.
One of the most memorable aspects of “Mother Popcorn” is its use of horns, which punctuate the song with bursts of brass that add to the song’s infectious energy. The single version of the song, which is shorter than the album version, emphasizes these horns even more, making for a more compact and powerful listening experience.
Overall, “Mother Popcorn – Single Version” is a classic funk and soul track that showcases James Brown’s unparalleled energy and charisma. It’s a song that’s sure to get you on your feet and dancing, and it remains a beloved favorite of funk and soul fans to this day.
5. Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose
“Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose” is a funk classic that was originally recorded by James Brown in 1969. From the very beginning of the track, listeners are greeted by a propulsive drumbeat that sets the tone for the entire song. As the track progresses, Brown’s vocals enter, urging listeners to “give it up” and let go of their inhibitions.
One of the most notable aspects of “Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose” is its use of horns, which punctuate the song with blasts of brass that add to its infectious energy. The song’s chorus, which features Brown repeatedly singing “give it up or turnit a loose,” is incredibly catchy and instantly memorable.
Lyrically, the song is all about dancing and letting loose. Brown encourages listeners to “shake your money maker” and “do your thing” as he sings about the joys of getting down on the dance floor. The song’s upbeat tempo and lively instrumentation make it impossible not to move along to the groove.
Despite being over 50 years old, “Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose” remains a beloved classic of funk and soul music. Its infectious energy and memorable hooks have ensured its place in music history, and it continues to be sampled and covered by artists to this day.
6. Make It Funky
“Make It Funky” is a high-energy, funk-infused song that is sure to get listeners moving and grooving. The track is characterized by its infectious beat, driving bassline, and lively horn section, which all come together to create a vibrant and electrifying sound.
The song’s lyrics encourage listeners to let loose and get funky, urging them to “shake it, shake it, shake it” and “move your body to the beat.” The vocals are delivered with a playful and upbeat tone, perfectly matching the song’s energetic vibe.
Overall, “Make It Funky” is a feel-good tune that captures the essence of classic funk music while infusing it with a modern twist. Whether you’re looking to dance, workout, or simply brighten your mood, this song is sure to deliver the funk you need.
7. Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag
“Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” is a classic funk song recorded by James Brown in 1965. With its infectious beat, funky horn section, and Brown’s distinctive vocals, the song quickly became a hit and helped to usher in a new era of funk music.
The song’s lyrics celebrate Brown’s newfound musical style and attitude, as he declares that he’s got a “brand new bag” and encourages his listeners to join him on the dance floor. With its catchy chorus and upbeat tempo, the song is a perfect example of Brown’s ability to get people up and dancing.
“Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” is also notable for its innovative use of rhythm and instrumentation. Brown’s backing band, The Famous Flames, create a dynamic groove with their interlocking rhythms and staccato horn hits, while Brown’s own vocals are punctuated by shouts and grunts that add to the song’s infectious energy.
Over the years, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” has become a classic of the funk genre, and has been covered by countless artists across a variety of musical styles. With its timeless groove and joyful spirit, it remains a beloved and influential song to this day.
“Think” is a soulful and upbeat song originally recorded by the legendary Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Released in 1968, the song has since become an iconic anthem of empowerment and independence for women all around the world.
The driving beat, catchy piano riffs, and powerful vocals of Aretha Franklin make “Think” an instantly recognizable classic. The song’s lyrics encourage listeners to think for themselves and take control of their lives, with lines like “Freedom, freedom, freedom, oh yeah / Think about it, you better think” and “You better think (think) / Think about what you’re trying to do to me.”
“Think” has been covered by countless artists over the years, including pop superstar Madonna and blues legend Bonnie Raitt. Its enduring popularity and message of self-determination make it a timeless piece of music that continues to inspire and uplift audiences to this day. Whether you’re feeling down or need a boost of confidence, “Think” is the perfect anthem to remind you of your own strength and power.
9. It’s A Man’s, Mans, Man’s World
“It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” is a classic soul ballad written by James Brown and Betty Jean Newsome. Released in 1966, it quickly became a hit, and its message remains relevant to this day. The song highlights the societal belief that men hold the power and control, while women are relegated to secondary roles.
The song’s lyrics depict a world where men rule and make all the decisions. They are the ones who build and destroy, and they have the power to shape the world in their image. Meanwhile, women are seen as mere accessories or objects to be possessed by men. Despite this, the song also acknowledges that men are nothing without women and their contributions.
The song’s powerful vocals and poignant lyrics make it an anthem for gender equality. It has been covered by countless artists over the years, and its message continues to resonate with audiences worldwide. “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” serves as a reminder that while society may be unequal, we have the power to challenge and change those norms.
10. Try Me
“Try Me” is a soulful and introspective song that invites the listener to take a chance on the singer’s love. The lyrics convey a sense of vulnerability and authenticity, as the singer pleads with their beloved to give them a chance to prove themselves. The melody is smooth and mellow, with a slow tempo that allows the lyrics to take center stage. The singer’s voice is rich and emotive, conveying a range of emotions from hope to desperation. The song’s instrumentation is simple but effective, with a prominent bassline and gentle piano chords that create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Overall, “Try Me” is a heartfelt and sincere song that speaks to the universal human desire for love and connection.
11. Night Train – Single Version
“Night Train – Single Version” is a classic jazz instrumental piece that embodies the essence of the genre. The song is characterized by its upbeat tempo and driving rhythm, which gives the listener a sense of momentum and energy. The melody is simple but catchy, with a memorable horn riff that serves as the song’s signature hook. The instrumentation is top-notch, with a tight rhythm section and expressive brass and woodwind solos that showcase the musicians’ technical skill and improvisational prowess. The overall mood of the song is one of excitement and adventure, evoking the feeling of a nighttime train ride through a bustling city. Despite its age, “Night Train” remains a timeless classic that continues to captivate jazz fans of all generations.
12. Cold Sweat
“Cold Sweat” is a gripping and intense song that immediately grabs the listener’s attention. The opening riff sets a mood of apprehension and tension, with a driving beat that propels the song forward. The vocals are powerful and urgent, with lyrics that speak to the fear and anxiety of being caught in a dangerous situation.
As the song progresses, the intensity builds, with guitars and drums driving the energy to new heights. The chorus is a cathartic release, with the singer screaming out the title phrase in a raw and emotional outpouring.
There are moments of respite, with a melodic guitar solo offering a brief moment of calm before the song builds to a final explosive climax. The lyrics suggest a struggle against unseen forces, with the singer desperately trying to hold on and overcome the fear and uncertainty that threaten to overwhelm them.
Overall, “Cold Sweat” is a visceral and powerful song that captures the raw emotions of fear and anxiety in a way that is both intense and cathartic. Its driving rhythm and powerful vocals make it a memorable and unforgettable experience that stays with the listener long after the song has ended.
13. Papa Don’t Take No Mess
“Papa Don’t Take No Mess” is a funky and upbeat song that exudes confidence and swagger. The opening riff sets the tone with a catchy and danceable rhythm, with horns and percussion adding layers of depth and energy.
The vocals are smooth and soulful, with the lyrics conveying a message of defiance and independence. The singer addresses their father, imploring him not to take any mess or disrespect from anyone, while also celebrating their own strength and resilience.
Throughout the song, the groove is infectious, with the horns and rhythm section working together to create a driving and dynamic sound that invites the listener to dance and move. The guitar solo adds a touch of rock and roll, while the interplay between the different instruments creates a rich and layered sonic experience.
Overall, “Papa Don’t Take No Mess” is a feel-good anthem that celebrates confidence and self-assurance. Its infectious groove and powerful vocals make it a classic of funk and soul music, and a timeless reminder of the importance of standing up for oneself and refusing to accept anything less than respect and dignity.
14. The Payback
“The Payback” is a funky and soulful song by legendary musician James Brown. Released in 1974, the song is a tale of revenge and payback against those who have wronged Brown in the past. The driving beat of the song is built around a catchy bass line and funky guitar riffs, while Brown’s dynamic vocals and the powerful horn section add to the intensity of the track.
Lyrically, “The Payback” tells the story of a man who has been betrayed by a friend or lover and is now seeking revenge. Brown’s raw and passionate delivery captures the anger and frustration of the protagonist, as he plots his revenge and vows to get even with those who have crossed him.
Despite its dark subject matter, “The Payback” is a danceable and upbeat song that has become a classic in the funk genre. The song’s infectious groove and catchy chorus have made it a staple of Brown’s live shows, and it has been sampled by countless hip-hop artists over the years.
With its powerful lyrics, driving rhythm, and iconic vocal performance, “The Payback” is a standout track in James Brown’s legendary career and a true classic of the funk and soul genres.
15. Get on The Good Foot
“Get on the Good Foot” is a funk and soul classic recorded by the legendary James Brown in 1972. The song is a joyful and uplifting call to action, inviting listeners to get up, get moving, and let loose on the dance floor. Brown’s powerful vocals and the song’s driving rhythm create a contagious energy that is impossible to resist. The lyrics encourage listeners to forget their troubles and focus on the positive, urging them to “dance until you feel better” and “shake your money maker.” The song’s infectious groove and powerful message have made it a staple of dance parties and celebrations for generations. “Get on the Good Foot” is a timeless anthem of positivity and joy, reminding us to embrace the moment and let the music take us away.
16. Say It Loud – I’m Black And I’m Proud
“Say It Loud – I’m Black And I’m Proud” is a seminal funk and soul song recorded by James Brown in 1968. The song’s powerful and revolutionary message of black empowerment and pride was a response to the ongoing civil rights movement and the pervasive racism and discrimination faced by African Americans at the time. With its iconic refrain “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud,” the song became a rallying cry for black Americans and a symbol of resistance and defiance against systemic oppression. Brown’s electrifying vocals, backed by a dynamic funk groove, create a powerful and unforgettable anthem that has inspired generations of activists and musicians. “Say It Loud – I’m Black And I’m Proud” is a testament to the enduring power of music to inspire and uplift, and a reminder of the ongoing struggle for racial justice and equality.
17. Super Bad
“Super Bad” is an iconic funk song that was originally performed by the legendary musician James Brown. Released in 1970, the track is a testament to Brown’s musical genius and his ability to create timeless hits that continue to inspire and entertain music fans around the world.
With its upbeat tempo, infectious horn section, and tight rhythm section, “Super Bad” is a song that is impossible not to dance to. The lyrics, which are delivered in Brown’s signature raspy voice, celebrate the power of music and its ability to bring people together.
The song’s catchy chorus is instantly recognizable, and its groovy bass line and funky guitar riffs are sure to get your feet moving. From the opening notes to the final crescendo, “Super Bad” is a song that never fails to get people on their feet and dancing.
Despite being over 50 years old, “Super Bad” remains as fresh and exciting as ever. Its timeless sound has influenced countless musicians over the years, and it continues to be a beloved classic of the funk genre.
Whether you’re a die-hard James Brown fan or simply a lover of funk music, “Super Bad” is a song that is sure to get you up and dancing. With its infectious rhythm and timeless appeal, it is truly a classic in every sense of the word.
18. Hot Pants (She Got To Use What She Got to Get What She Wants)
Hot Pants (She Got To Use What She Got to Get What She Wants) is a classic funk and soul song that was originally released by James Brown in 1971. The track is a celebration of female empowerment and encourages women to use their natural assets to achieve their goals. With its driving beat, funky bassline, and catchy chorus, the song is an irresistible dance floor filler that is guaranteed to get people moving.
The lyrics of Hot Pants are playful and suggestive, but also carry a message of self-confidence and empowerment. James Brown’s iconic vocals are complemented by a tight and energetic backing band, complete with horn section and female backing singers. The result is a timeless piece of music that remains popular to this day.
Hot Pants is not only a testament to James Brown’s skills as a songwriter and performer, but also to the enduring power of funk and soul music. The song’s infectious groove and uplifting lyrics continue to inspire and entertain audiences around the world, making it a true classic of its genre.
19. Get Up Offa That Thing
Get Up Offa That Thing is a funk and soul classic that was released by James Brown in 1976. The song’s infectious groove and driving beat make it an irresistible dancefloor filler, while its empowering lyrics urge listeners to get up and move their bodies. With its funky guitar riffs, tight horn section, and dynamic rhythm section, the track is a prime example of James Brown’s signature sound.
The song’s title serves as a call to action, encouraging listeners to break free from their inhibitions and let loose. The lyrics are simple but effective, repeating the phrase “Get up offa that thing” throughout the track. James Brown’s commanding vocals are augmented by a lively backing band, creating a vibrant and energetic musical atmosphere.
Get Up Offa That Thing has become an enduring anthem of funk and soul music, inspiring countless artists and dancers over the years. Its message of liberation and empowerment continues to resonate with listeners of all ages, making it a timeless classic that remains as relevant today as it was when it was first released.
20. Please, Please, Please
“Please, Please, Please” is a soulful and emotional song that was originally recorded by James Brown in 1956. The song is a plea from the singer to his lover, asking for another chance to prove his love and devotion. The lyrics are simple but powerful, with Brown repeating the phrase “Please, please, please” throughout the song, accompanied by a grooving rhythm section and backing vocals.
The song is a classic example of Brown’s unique style of soul music, with its combination of raw emotion, rhythmic complexity, and powerful vocals. Brown’s performance on the track is nothing short of electrifying, as he delivers each line with intense passion and energy.
Over the years, “Please, Please, Please” has become one of the most iconic songs in the history of soul music, and has been covered by countless artists in various genres. Its timeless appeal and universal message of love and heartbreak have made it a staple of pop culture, and continue to inspire new generations of musicians and fans.