The Four Tops' 10 greatest songs, ranked

13 February 2024, 11:44

Four Tops in 1975 (Clockwise from left: Lawrence Payton, Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Ronaldo "Obie" Benson, Levi Stubbs)
Four Tops in 1975 (Clockwise from left: Lawrence Payton, Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Ronaldo "Obie" Benson, Levi Stubbs). Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

The Four Tops are one of the most iconic and influential vocal groups in the history of soul music.

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With their distinctive blend of powerful lead vocals, smooth harmonies, and catchy hooks, they created a string of timeless classics that still resonate today.

They spanned three decades of musical excellence and innovation. Whether you are a fan of Motown, pop, or R&B, you will find something to love in this legendary catalogue.

  1. When She Was My Girl

    The Four Tops - "When She Was My Girl" Live - 'Fridays' (1981)

    This track from 1981 was a comeback hit for the group, as it reached No. 1 on the R&B charts, No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 3 on the UK singles chart. It also earned them a Grammy nomination for best R&B song.

    The song is a nostalgic ballad about a man who reminisces about his former lover, who used to be everything to him. It features a catchy chorus and a distinctive solo break by a melodica, a keyboard instrument that produces sound by blowing air through a mouthpiece. It was played by Ralph Schuckett, not by Stevie Wonder as some people mistakenly believe.

  2. It's All in the Game

    Four Tops "It's All In The Game" on The Ed Sullivan Show

    'It’s All in the Game''s lyrics were written by Carl Sigman in 1951, but the melody dates back to 1911, when it was composed by Charles G Dawes, who later became the Vice President of the United States under Calvin Coolidge.

    The first singer to record it was Tommy Edwards, who had a number one hit with it in 1958. Since then, many other artists have covered the song, including Cliff Richard, Van Morrison, and Barry Manilow.

    The Four Tops' version reached number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100.

  3. Loco in Acapulco

    The Four Tops — Loco In Acapulco (Top of the Pops, 22nd December 1988)

    'Loco in Acapulco' was released in 1988 as part of the soundtrack for the film Buster starring Phil Collins. The song was written and produced by Phil and Motown legend Lamont Dozier.

    The song tells a story about a guy who goes to Acapulco, a resort city in Mexico, to have a good time, but ends up losing his mind and his love. The lyrics paint a picture of a place filled with enchantment and allure, where the magic is so strong that it can drive anyone “loco” or crazy.

    The song was a big hit in the UK, reaching #7 on the singles chart, but it was not released as a single in the US. It marked the last time The Four Tops reached the upper reaches of any chart, as their popularity declined in the following years.

  4. It's the Same Old Song

    The Four Tops - It's The Same Old Song (1966) 4K

    This Holland-Dozier-Holland-penned song is a catchy and upbeat tune that expresses the feelings of nostalgia and sadness after a breakup. He hears a song on the radio that reminds him of his former lover, and he realizes that nothing has changed in his heart.

    It was reportedly created in 24 hours, as a response to a threat from Columbia Records, the former label of The Four Tops, to re-release their old single 'Ain’t That Love' and compete with their current success.

  5. If I Were a Carpenter

    Four Tops - If I Were A Carpenter (1967) HQ 0815007

    'If I Were a Carpenter' was written by American folk singer Tim Hardin in 1966. It is a love song that expresses his devotion to his partner, even if he were a poor carpenter or a miller. The song has been covered by many artists, including Bobby Darin, Johnny Cash and June Carter, and The Carpenters.

    One of the most popular versions of the song was recorded by The Four Tops, released in 1968 as part of their album Reach Out. They gave the song a soulful and upbeat twist, with their signature harmonies and lead vocals by Levi Stubbs.

  6. Walk Away Renee

    The Four Tops - Walk Away Renee (Live)

    The song was originally written and recorded by the pop-rock band The Left Banke in 1966, inspired by the teenage crush of their keyboardist Michael Brown on a girl named Renee Fladen-Kamm.

    The Four Tops version, produced by Motown's legendary team Holland-Dozier-Holland, added a more upbeat tempo, a prominent bass line, and a dramatic orchestral arrangement.

  7. Bernadette

    Four Tops - Bernadette (1967)

    One of their biggest hits was 'Bernadette', a song that showcases their powerful lead singer Levi Stubbs and their trademark harmonies.

    It was released in 1967, reaching number four on the Billboard Hot 100, and it also became a hit in the UK, where it peaked at number eight in 1967 and number 23 in 1972.

    The song is about a man who is passionately in love with a woman named Bernadette, and who declares his loyalty and devotion to her despite the competition from other men. It is notable for its false ending, where the instruments drop out and the background singers hold a chord. Stubbs then shouts “Bernadette!” and the song resumes, ending in a fade-out.

  8. Baby I Need Your Loving

    The Four Tops - Baby I Need Your Loving (1966) 4K

    'Baby I Need Your Loving' was released in 1964 as the Four Tops' first single.

    The song expresses the longing and desperation of a man who needs the love of his woman, even though she is far away from him. The song features the powerful lead vocals of Levi Stubbs, who sings with a raw emotion that contrasts with the smooth harmonies of the other three members: Abdul Fakir, Renaldo Benson, and Lawrence Payton.

  9. I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)

    The four tops - I can't help myself . HD

    This enudring love song was released in 1965 and became the Four Tops' first number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. The song was written and produced by the famous trio of Holland-Dozier-Holland.

    The title 'I Can't Help Myself' was an admission by Lamont Dozier that he reused the same melody and chord progression as the Supremes' 'Where Did Our Love Go', which he also co-wrote. He said he got the inspiration from his grandfather, who used to call his grandmother 'sugar pie' and 'honey bunch' as a way of flirting with her.

    Levi Stubbs apparently hated the song and thought it was too sweet and corny. He recorded it reluctantly and hoped to do another take, but the producers were satisfied with the first one and released it as the single.

  10. Reach Out (I'll Be There)

    Four Tops "Reach Out I'll Be There" on The Ed Sullivan Show

    This iconic soul track was released in 1966 as the lead single from their fourth album, also titled Reach Out. The song was written and produced by the famous team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.

    The song features a powerful vocal performance by Levi Stubbs, who sings in a high-pitched, almost shouting tone, conveying a sense of urgency and emotion.

    The song was a huge success, reaching number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B charts in the US, as well as the UK Singles Chart. It was the second UK number one for Motown, after The Supremes' 'Baby Love'.