Magazine July 27, 2020, Issue

On Motown

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles perform in Santa Monica, Calif., in 1964. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
America’s best export

America’s best defense is its best export, whether material or ideological, and even a pop-culture critic specializing in film might have to admit that the foremost representative of America’s exports is its popular music — particularly the variety that issued from Detroit, beginning in 1959 and into the 1980s, by way of the Motown Record Corporation. 

Beloved by and ingrained in listeners throughout the world, Motown music (the term derived from Detroit’s renown as the Motor City, the automobile-production capital of the world) still transmits American thought, language, and identity. Motown, with its distinctive rhythms and variety of local voices, uniquely

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This article appears as “Motown” in the July 27, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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Armond White, a culture critic, writes about movies for National Review and is the author of New Position: The Prince Chronicles. His new book, Make Spielberg Great Again: The Steven Spielberg Chronicles, is available at Amazon.

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