|Single by The Supremes|
|from the album Meet The Supremes|
|B-side||"Who's Lovin' You"|
|Released||July 21, 1961 (1st Ver.)
August, 1961 (2nd Ver.)
|Recorded||Hitsville U.S.A.; April, 1961|
|Producer(s)||Berry Gordy, Jr.|
|The Supremes singles chronology|
"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, before moving to the Motown label.
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 anything else, as he eats it "For breakfast, lunch and a dinner too" as well his health "Well it worries me so I don't know what to do" . 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 on stage. However Berry Gordy felt that the vocals of Diane Ross had a better chance at the targeted cross-over audience, as Ross had the most pop-sounding voice of the group.
1 line for the verse "more butter" is for the all girls from the group:
Florence: When I asked him what was happenin' in the world today. He said...
Florence: A more butter;
Florence and Mary: More butter;
Florence, Mary and Barbara: More butter;
Florence, Mary, Barbara and Diane: More.
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 single's 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.
Both sides of the single received a lot of airplay on local Detroit stations, but problems very quickly arose. The first version of the song was withdrawn because it was considered "too raw", and a smoother take was released.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 switch to pushing the B-side alone before ceasing promotion of the single altogether. 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", was led by Ross (now billed as Diana), and was their first to chart nationally (peaking at #95 in Billboard magazine). Afterwards the label decided to make Ross the group's primary (and later lone) lead singer, with Ballard and Wilson relegated to backup singers; though they sang lead on album tracks and on stage until 1966 and were given lead lines on singles until 1963. Fourth member Barbara Martin, meanwhile, left the group just before the release of (and after recording) the group's next single, leaving it a trio.
- Lead vocals by Florence Ballard
- Background vocals by Diane Ross, Mary Wilson and Barbara Martin
- Instrumentation by The Funk Brothers
- The Complete Motown Singles Vol 1: 1959-1961 [CD liner notes]. New York: Hip-O Select/Motown/Universal Records.