A prominent figure in popular music during the second-half of the 20th century, Wonder is one of the most successful songwriters and musicians. He also helped drive the genre into the album era , crafting his LPs as cohesive, consistent socially conscious statements with complex compositions. Wonder is often hailed as a " genius ", and has been credited as a pioneer and influence to musicians of various genres including rhythm and blues , pop , soul , gospel , funk and jazz. Blind since shortly after his birth, Wonder was a child prodigy known as Little Stevie Wonder , leading him to sign with Motown 's Tamla label at the age of
13. ‘I Just called To Say I Love You’
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Few artists have a catalogue as startling as Wonder. This was tough. Maybe we should have done 70 songs for his 70 years. Cheesier than a quattro formaggio and equally irresistible, this is as sweet as a love song gets, effortlessly capturing the rush and need to make somebody else happy, before building up and up via more key changes than a refurbishing prison. A huge reggae hit, made in homage to Bob Marley , that showcases how many different styles Wonder was able to slip into. That side can often be forgotten amid the radio hit love songs, but it was always there during this peak. His magic here lies in taking soppy lyrics and making them sound anything but. The music was adventurous and the lyrics refined. Here, he looks back on his youth and wonders what he could have done better.
His precocious talent was clear for all to see when he rose to fame aged 11, as the child prodigy Little Stevie Wonder. As he gained greater autonomy in the Seventies, his pioneering fusion of rock and soul, using synthesisers, clavinet, and jazz and blues-influenced rhythms within a pop framework, led to some of the finest music of the rock era. Its sheer danceability and all-purpose birthday salutations ensured its popularity in the UK. Wonder transformed a much-covered song that had previously been given the cabaret treatment by Tony Bennett. This scathing indictment of President Richard Nixon landed just as the Watergate scandal hit, but its political message somehow resonates even more in these troubled times. Another thinly disguised pop at Nixon, this time couched in a beautiful melody and resigned vocal. Wonder reminisces about his childhood pre-fame on this fantastically funky horn-driven outing, the first from his favourite album, Songs in the Key of Life. This is a beautiful torch song, capable of melting the flintiest of hearts, written by Wonder with his wife, Syreeta. Wonder took on The Beatles on this neglected gem. By dint of his trademark harmonica, innovative clavinet fills and the hint of desperation in his vocals, he knocks the original for six.