Marvin Gaye's Isolated Vocals on 'I Heard it Through the Grapevine' Will Give You Goosebumps

The Motown singer's voice takes center stage in this stripped own version.

Marvin Gaye is an undisputed musical legend, but on occasion, even the greats are outdone by... themselves. A video of Gaye singing his mega hit “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” has been making its rounds on social media, but the difference in this version and the one most people are familiar with is that this rendition has been stripped of backing vocals or accompanying music. What’s left is the pure, unadulterated talent of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

Music from the Motown era was an event in a way—a perfect storm of backing vocals and big musicianship, choirs, and production. In particular, Gaye's version of "Grapevine" was especially extravagant, including the Funk Brothers and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The mixture of all those components makes it easy to overlook the incredible voices that ground iconic Gaye tracks. But in the clip, the isolated vocal puts Gaye’s husky runs and impressive falsetto front and center.

After Gaye was shot and killed by his father in 1984, the singer has been honored with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, and even received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Even still, it's nice to be reminded of his stunning vocal ability when clips like these resurface online.

The full performance on YouTube was uploaded over a decade ago and has over three million views. The most recent version on Twitter was uploaded two days ago and has already received nearly two million in that short time. That just goes to show that some voices may rise and fall with the trend du jour, but others stay relevant forever.


This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Justin Kirkland
Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment, television, and pop culture. Prior to Esquire, his work appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter, and USA Today. He is from East Tennessee and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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