Published on July 9th 2013 by Leon Shepherd

James Joseph Brown, Jr. (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006) was a singer and entertainer. Often referred to as “The Godfather of Soul“, Brown started singing in church groups and worked his way up. He has been recognized as one of the most influential figures in the 20th century popular music and was renowned for his vocals and incredible dancing. He was also called “the hardest working man in show business”. As a prolific singer, songwriter, dancer and bandleader, Brown was a pivotal force in the music industry, and left his mark on numerous artists. Brown began his professional music career in 1956 and rose to fame during the late 1950s and early 1960s on the strength of his thrilling live performances and string of smash hits. In spite of various personal problems and setbacks he continued to score hits in every decade through the 1980s. In addition to his acclaim in music, Brown was also a presence in American political affairs during the 1960s and 1970s. Brown was recognized by numerous titles, including Soul Brother Number One, Mr. Dynamite, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business, The King of Funk, The King of Soul, and foremost The Godfather of Soul. Although 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. With Browns numerous pop & r&b hits, it was extremely difficult to name his top ten greatest. Nevertheless, here’s my list of the Top 10 Greatest Songs by “The Godfather of Soul”, James Brown.


10. “ Living In America”


9. “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”


8. “Get On The Good Foot”


7. “It’s a Mans World”


6. “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud”


5. “Sex Machine, Part 1”


4. “The Payback”


3. “Please, Please, Please”


2. “I Got the Feelin’ “


1.“I Got You (I Feel Good)”

Entertainment, Music | Comments (20)

20 Responses to “Top 10 Greatest Songs by James Brown”

  1. Terrance Says:

    I had fun flashing back. My Dad loves James Brown

  2. Leon Says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, Terrance.
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. rod moore Says:

    You know I love The Godfather! People may only know of James wheels off later years without knowing the full impact of his career. From Micheal Jackson to Prince to Hip Hop & Rap James impact was far $ wide. He practically invented Funk. When we talk about leaving a mark on the music world very few Black or White was as big as The Godfather. Just a note after Say it Loud Im Black & Im Proud came out white stations banned him & stopped playing his records.

  4. Shack Says:

    Oh my you must have done this on purpose – No “Super Bad” anywhere in this TT. Tell me its not so!

    Have to go to a meeting but WILL DEFINITELY BE BACK WITH MORE!!!

  5. Lenora Dorsey Says:

    I loved being able to listen to the songs. They all sparked childhood memories. I even loved the Cosby’s rendition.:-). Superb job Leon.

  6. Leon Says:

    Shack, there are several great J.B. songs/hits that are not on the list. Including, “Super Bad”, “Mother Popcorn”, “Papa Don’t Take No Mess”, etc. It’s not because they don’t deserve to be on the list, it’s because I could only include ten of his great songs/hits on the list.

  7. Leon Shepherd Says:

    Thanks Lenora!

  8. Shack Says:

    My opinion is Say It Loud…has to be No. 1 for the shear message it sent to us in the mid-to-late 60s. Then I’d have the following hits ranked as follows:
    -Sex Machine
    -Super Bad
    -I Got You
    -Doing It To Death (Technically Fred.W & the JBs) but everyone accepts that its a J. Brown hit!
    -Papa’s Got Brand New Bag
    -Good Foot
    &Papa Don’t Take No Mess would comprise my Top 8! Living In America and The Payback would not make my TT but there other hits you list would. Get Involved, There Was A Time and Soul Power (with the Great Bobby Byrd) also warrant consideraton.

  9. Leon Says:

    Shack, seven of your top eight would qualify to make the list.
    “Doing It To Death” (a personal favorite of mine) as you mentioned, is credited to Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s, so it would not qualify.
    The other songs, “Soul Power, etc…are possibly top 20′s.

  10. Shack Says:

    OMG – I Must be getting old. How could I forget “Cold Sweat” a definite top tenner. Don’t tell me it aint!

  11. Leon Says:

    Without question…
    “Cold Sweat” is definitely a top tenner!

  12. Trisha Says:

    Loved listening to songs I didn’t know but liked. Great job Leon.

  13. Leon Says:

    Thanks Trisha!

  14. rod moore Says:

    I wanted to saved my opinion of this list until I saw other responses so here I go. Leon I know this was a huge task to put this together. If you took the hits of Al Green Teddy P Barry White & Luther all together they wouldnt come within a mile of James & these are successful artists. To me it doesnt matter which song made it & which didnt or which is # 3 or #9 the fact that You picked 10 out of his huge amount of work is amazing in & of its self. Nice work My Brother. Peace.

  15. Leon Says:

    Rod, I couldn’t agree with you more.
    Your statement, “You picked 10 out of his huge amount of work is amazing”, was right on point, because that was my goal.
    Thanks for the positive feedback.

  16. Shack Says:

    Rod/Leon – Luther and Teddy have already been done so that means A.G. will be next right?

    In terms of priority, the TT should follow the one for a famous family group that recently experienced a loss!

  17. rod moore Says:

    No Shack, not yet for A.G., I think the man that should be next or should’ve been done already is Marvin Gaye. Check out Rolling Stones top 500 songs of all time Whats goin on # 4 everytime theres a greatest list of albums/songs of all time Whats goin on is always top 5 in both catagories. Just a thought. Anybody with me?

  18. Shack Says:

    I’m right there with you my brother. Do you remember me telling the others in our group that there would be no “Let’s Get It On” (their consensus top MG Hit) were it not for “What’s Goin On (my consensus #1 MG hit)?

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  20. eburt54 Says:

    All good stuff, my favorite album, Revolution of the Mind….