Smokey Robinson & CeeLo Green Reinvent 'The Way You Do (The Things You Do)': Song Premiere

Smokey Robinson for "Smokey & Friends"
Autumn de Wilde

Hear the new duet from Robinson's upcoming album, launching exclusively on

"Let me tell you something," Smokey Robinson explains. "As a songwriter, my fondest dream is that someone records my songs … And most of the people who have recorded my songs have been songwriters themselves, so for them to pick one of my songs and do it is a real joy. So I love any version, any way they do 'em."

The roster of artists singing the Motown legend's songs increases exponentially on Aug. 19 with the release of Smokey & Friends, a duets project that finds the likes of Elton John, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, James Taylor, John Legend, Mary J. Blige and more singing some of Robinson's best-known songs with him. CeeLo Green also stops by for a duet with Robinson on "The Way You Do (The Things You Do)," which is premiering exclusively at below:

"Randy Jackson [the set's producer] contacted a bunch of different artists and asked them what was their favorite Smokey Robinson song, and that was the song that we did with that artist," Robinson tells Billboard. "And it didn't necessarily have to be a song that I recorded -- it could just be a song that I wrote. So that was the concept."

The project teamed Robinson with old pals such as John, Tyler and Taylor, but he was particularly gratified by the interest from younger artists such as Jessie J ("Cruisin' "), Ledisi ("Ooh Baby Baby") and Aloe Blacc and JC Chasez ("My Girl"). For the Temptations' "The Way You Do (The Things You Do)," Robinson says, "I've only known CeeLo for probably five, six years. I met CeeLo when [Gnarls Barkley's] 'Crazy' first hit, but the moments that we share together are like we've known each other forever."


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Most of the duets were recorded separately, but Robinson says that he and the other performers still adhered to the standards of a successful collaboration. "All these people are professionals," he explains. "They know how to create that communication you have to have, whether you're there or not. If I didn't tell you that we weren't in the studio together, you'd never know from listening to [the album]."

Smokey & Friends is Robinson's first release of new recordings since 2010's "Now and Then." He's also been working on a Christmas album and a set of Spanish recordings, and he has a set of shows booked for August including an appearance at the Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival in the Caribbean.


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