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Top 10 James Brown Pop Hits

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Although James Brown fully earned the nickname "Godfather of Soul," he is also tremendously important to the history of pop music. He placed 99 songs on the chart in a 30 year time span. This amazing achievement puts James Brown within the top 10 of the list of all-time most successful pop artists. He holds the unfortunate record of the most charted pop hits ever without reaching #1. Each song is listed with the year of charting and the peak position on Billboard's Hot 100.

1. I Got You (I Feel Good) - 1965 - #3

James Brown At Newport
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This is probably James Brown's most widely known hit. The song was the biggest hit of his first major pop breakthrough period. The movie Good Morning, Vietnam sparked a resurgence in interest in the song, and "I Got You (I Feel Good)" is now frequently heard at sports events.

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2. Living In America - 1985 - #4

"Living In America" is the centerpiece of James Brown's return to pop music prominence in the mid-1980's. The song was featured in the soundtrack to the movie Rocky IV and became James Brown's only top 10 pop single in the UK. James Brown received a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for the song, and it was parodied by Weird Al Yankovic in a tune titled "Living With a Hernia."

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3. I Got the Feelin' - 1968 - #6

In the late 1960's James Brown explored his funk and soul groove more deeply than ever before. Song structure broke down into little more than a continual groove with words chanted, screamed, and sung over the top. "I Got the Feelin'" is one of the best examples of Brown's work in this period.

4. Cold Sweat, Part 1 - 1967 - #7

Many pop music historians refer to "Cold Sweat" as the first true funk song. The record mostly abandoned melody in favor of a heavy beat "on the one" and lyrics that functioned primarily as another part of the instrumental mix. "Cold Sweat" also includes a highly influential drum break.

5. Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, Part 1 - 1965 - #8

This was James Brown's first pop top 10 single, and it is recognized as a departure from his early music toward the definition of his signature sound. Horns are used for percussive effect, and Brown's vocals are tightly attached to the overall instrumental mix.

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6. It's a Man's Man's Man's World - 1966 - #8

"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" shows off James Brown's talents as a romantic ballad singer. This is a side unfamiliar to many pop fans. The song almost was not released as a single due to legal wrangling between King Records (James Brown's primary label) and Mercury Records (which owned the rights to some of James Brown's early records).

7. Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud - 1968 - #10

"Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud" is one of the best examples of James Brown's role in the Black Power movement of the late 1960's. The song features a children's chorus that helps Brown perform the chorus in call-and-response style.

8. Mother Popcorn, Part 1 - 1969 - #11

In 1968 James Brown named one of his onstage dances the "Popcorn," and it proceeded to be a self-created minor empire of songs for the next 2 years. "Mother Popcorn" is the biggest hit single from the popcorn craze, but it was far from the last of the popcorn songs. "The Popcorn," "Low Down Popcorn," and "Let a Man Come in and Do the Popcorn" all reached the pop singles chart. Other artists released variants such as "Honky Tonk Popcorn" and "Butter Your Popcorn" with James Brown blending dance crazes on his album track "Mashed Potato Popcorn."

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9. Super Bad, Part 1 & Part 2 - 1970 - #13

"Super Bad" is the centerpiece of the Super Bad album which featured longer, extended cuts of jamming and stream-of-consciousness performance.

10. Licking Stick, Licking Stick, Part 1 - 1968 - #14

This song is another of James Brown's powerful funk workouts.

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