About The Song

“Standing on the Top” isn’t quite a Rick James and the Temptations song, but rather a collaboration between the legendary Motown group The Temptations and the funk icon Rick James. Released in 1982, the song marked a significant moment for both artists and became a testament to the power of collaboration.


Temptations at a Crossroads: By the early 1980s, The Temptations had experienced a tumultuous decade. They faced internal conflicts, member departures, and a decline in commercial success. Their classic Motown sound felt outdated in the face of the burgeoning disco and funk movements.

Enter Rick James: Fresh off a string of hits like “Super Freak” and “Give It to Me Baby,” Rick James was a rising star known for his flamboyant persona and infectious brand of funk. Motown saw him as the perfect collaborator to revitalize The Temptations’ sound.

Reunion and Rebirth: “Standing on the Top” became the lead single for The Temptations’ aptly titled album “Reunion.” James wrote, produced, and even performed a rap section on the track, marking a first for the group.

Musical Style

The song is a captivating blend of The Temptations’ signature smooth soul sound and Rick James’ driving funk grooves. Here’s a breakdown of the key elements:

  • Funky Bassline: A prominent, syncopated bassline lays the foundation for the song, characteristic of James’ funk style.
  • Driving Drums: Tight, crisp drums propel the song forward, creating a danceable energy.
  • Temptations’ Vocals: The unmistakable harmonies of The Temptations soar above the funky backdrop, delivering a message of perseverance and triumph.
  • Instrumentation: Classic soul instruments like horns and keyboards are present, but with a funkier edge, thanks to synthesizers and James’ production.
  • Rap Interlude: James’ signature rap section adds a contemporary flavor, showcasing the evolving musical landscape of the 1980s.
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“Standing on the Top” is a testament to successful musical fusion. It respects the legacy of The Temptations while incorporating contemporary elements that resonated with new audiences.


The lyrics of “Standing on the Top” are an uplifting anthem about overcoming adversity and achieving success. They can be divided into three main themes:

  • Struggle and Perseverance: The opening lines, “We’ve been climbing mountains, we’ve been crossing oceans,” paint a picture of the challenges faced by The Temptations throughout their careers.
  • Unity and Brotherhood: Lines like “We’ve been standing shoulder to shoulder, through thick and thin” highlight the enduring bond between the Temptations members.
  • Reaching the Peak: The triumphant chorus, “Standing on the top, looking down at the world,” signifies the group’s resilience and their return to prominence.

James’ rap verse injects a touch of braggadocio, boasting about his own success and adding a dose of streetwise swagger to the song.

Cultural Impact

“Standing on the Top” was a commercial success, reaching No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and reigniting interest in The Temptations. It garnered critical acclaim for its innovative blend of soul and funk.

Musical Legacy: The song’s influence can be heard in later R&B and hip-hop music that blends elements of soul and funk. It also stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, showcasing how established artists can revitalize each other’s careers.

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Fashion: The music video for “Standing on the Top” featured the flamboyant and colorful fashion styles associated with Rick James, influencing 1980s fashion trends.

The Temptations’ Revival: The success of “Standing on the Top” and the “Reunion” album helped The Temptations regain their footing in the music industry.


“Standing on the Top” is more than just a song; it’s a symbol of resilience, innovation, and the enduring power of music. It represents a successful collaboration that breathed new life into the careers of both Rick James and The Temptations. The song’s fusion of soul and funk continues to inspire musicians and serves as a reminder of the magic that can be created when legendary artists join forces.



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When you’re on the topThere’s no place you can really goBut down, down, downPeople on the street congratulateThey say, they love the way you soundWell, when you’re on the lowNo-one wants to chit or chatOr even know your nameYour agent’s never thereYour manager has ripped you offAnd gone somewhereStanding on the top
Standing on the top, topOn the top getting down, yeahStanding on the top, topOn the top getting down
Temptations singStanding on the topStanding on the top
When you’re on the topEveryone you meetThey gonna be your long lost friendThey say you great you are, a superstarBut do you have any money to lendHey, man, can you loan me two bucksWhen you’re on the lowWhere do all the freaks and fansAnd people go I don’t knowPeople say and stareAs they crazy questionsAnd what’s so seldom square
Standing on the top, topOn the top getting down, yeahStanding on the top, topOn the top getting downStanding on the top, topOn the top getting down, yeahStanding on the top, topOn the top getting downDown, down, down
We understand itDo you understand it what I’m talkin’ about?When I say that funk is here to stayWe understand itIf you understand it say yeahWe understand itWhen I say that funk is here to stayFunk is here to stayWe want the funkWe want the funk and nothing else will doNothing else will do, noWe want the funkOoh, we want the funk nothing but the punk funkWe want the funkWe want the funk and nothing but the funkWe want the funkWe want the funk understand that we want the funk
We want the funkWe want the funk and nothing else will doWe want the funk and nothing else will do

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