Motown Christmas Classics by The Supremes and The Temptations Get New Life with Animated Music Videos

The Supremes, circa mid 1960s: Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson and Diana Ross.
Photo: AP

Tis the season indeed.

As the holiday season kicks off into high gear this week (with Black Friday and all), music lovers will get a chance to finally enjoy music videos of some of their favorite Christmas classics — albeit ad nauseam.

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UME — Universal Music Group’s global catalog company — has joined forces with legendary artists and estates to create vibrant new visuals for songs that have never before had a music video.

On Friday, two treasures from the storied Motown Records collection had their visuals released; The Supremes’ timeless cover of My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music, and The Temptations’ soulful rendition of Silent Night.

The Temptations, circa mid 1960s: Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, David Ruffin and Otis Williams
Photo: Hulton Archive (Getty Images)

The videos were created by LA-based creative agency Ride or Cry and directed by Morgan Freed — inspired by ‘60s and ‘70s animation including Fat Albert mixed with live-action.

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“We are especially excited for the holidays this year, with a series of newly-created animated videos for some of UMG’s most iconic Christmas songs,” UME chief Bruce Resnikoff said. “These songs were chosen for their enduring popularity year after year, and the new videos will allow us to deliver them to fans and new audiences alike across digital platforms. We are also planning to use the videos in marketing and advertising campaigns to achieve even greater engagement with fans.”

The series launched earlier this season with clips for Brenda Lee’s Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree and Frank Sinatra’s Jingle Bells.

My Favorite Things is a standout track from the 1965 opus Merry Christmas by the Motown Records supergroup. Produced by Harvey Fuqua , the 12-track collection was the seventh studio recording by Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson and featuring backing vocals by the label’s resident session singers The Andantes.

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Silent Night – at least this version used for the video – is culled from The Temptations 1970 album, titled The Temptations Christmas Card. Alongside yuletide classics such as White Christmas, Silver Bells and a rendition of Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer that only The Temps could do, the 10-track collection featured vocals from Dennis Edwards, Eddie Kendrick, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin and Otis Williams.

Kendricks sang lead on this mellow and smooth version of the holiday favorite.

However, on the more known version — the six-minute-plus soulful take from 1980’s Give Love at Christmas — Otis Williams, Richard Street, Melvin Franklin, Dennis Edwards and Glenn Leonard peed all over it.

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No slight to the former version but the gospelized Silent Night, produced by resident Motown composer Gil Askey, Harold Johnson and Teddy Randazzo, has become a black radio staple throughout the decades.

The Temptations, circa 1980, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Glenn Leonard Richard Street and Dennis Edwards.
Photo: Lennox McLendon (AP)
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“It was like magic,” Askey told The Washington Post in 2004. “If you’ve ever been in the Holiness Church, and seen those sisters scream when they’re filled with the Spirit, you will know how I felt, or shall I say how the Temptations felt. They didn’t want to stop, just grooved on out.”

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About the author

Karu F. Daniels

Hailing from "the thorough borough" of Brooklyn, Mr. Daniels has written for The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Essence, VIBE, NBC News, The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News and Word Up!