This one sneaks up on you. Stevie keeps raising the key toward the end, and you're like, "How much higher can you go, man?" It's one of the most cathartic, exciting songs I've ever heard.
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"I didn't really know Stevie's music until I was about 18, when my drummer played me Pastime Paradise," recalls the Maroon 5 frontman and Voice judge. "It started me on a whole new path musically. He defined a vocal style that still gets emulated, and everything he does seems so effortless. It kind of pisses me off."
Listen: Adam Levine's Top Stevie Wonder Songs
1."Summer Soft" | Stevie Wonder, 1976
2."Sir Duke" | Stevie Wonder, 1976
It's impossible to not be in a good mood when this comes on. The horns are crazy, and it's a cool thing that he's paying homage to his heroes.
3."I Wish" | Stevie Wonder, 1976
When this starts, you think, "The groove is so incredible, I'm already happy." Then he starts singing, and it's Stevie being nasty. Perfect.
4."My Cherie Amour" | Stevie Wonder, 1969
There's so much innocence and purity in this tune. Stevie wasn't afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. As straight-ahead as his early Motown stuff is, you can tell how special he is.
5."For Once In My Life" | Stevie Wonder, 1968
Nobody was doing these kinds of vocal runs. And then he picks up the harmonica, and you're like, "What?" He plays it like no one's ever heard before.
6."Living For The City" | Stevie Wonder, 1973
This is a really honest look at black America. He's saying, "This is the deal. There's no bullshit here." And the synth sounds are fantastic. Using a synthesizer in the early 1970s was like operating a spaceship.
7."As" | Stevie Wonder, 1976
Stevie never lost that liveliness or looseness he had with Motown, even as he got heavier and more technical in the studio.
8."Boogie On Reggae Woman" | Stevie Wonder, 1974
Stevie can get deep on you, but he can also have fun. This is him letting loose. It's sort of like "Sir Duke," but not as heavy and a little more sexual. And that groove! The synths are stupid crazy.
9."Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" | Stevie Wonder, 1973
This is his foray into fake Spanish. What's so rad, though, is he's just talking shit and screwing around, yet it's so sophisticated melodically.
10."I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)" | Stevie Wonder, 1972
If Stevie's music taught me one thing, it's how bittersweet love is. "Shattered dreams, worthless years." There's a lot of sadness in his lyrics. I think his intention was to inspire people with his honesty.