“Got to Give It Up” by Marvin Gaye
The late Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” was somewhat of an influential piece as far as the genre of dance music is concerned. And one can see how this classic is sorta prototypical in that regard in a number of ways. For instance, the first verse revolves around the vocalist trying to muster up enough courage to actually hit the dance floor, i.e. freely boogie.
And a song serving such a purpose, i.e. admonishing listeners to dance, has definitely become a staple in the pop music industry. So has the notion of the addressee being someone, a romantic interest, who the vocalist enjoys watching dance.
And even though this song doesn’t really harp on that angle per se, the second verse does witness Marvin expressing a desire to get into said lady’s “erotic zone”, as well as the piece ultimately concluding with him, most simply put, seemingly proceeding to attempt to score a bonking.
Indeed the third verse insinuates that what we may well be dealing with here is an early case of a dirty-dancing song. Indeed whereas the 1970s may have been an era of relative puritanism compared to the lyrics that make their way onto the airwaves these days, Marvin was a singer who had already sorta established himself as someone who is willing to push the boundaries of sexual innuendos.
So it isn’t that this song is NSFW or anything. But by the looks of things, our forefathers also still appreciated watching hotties shake it. And as such, it can be deemed that who Gaye is encouraging to “keep on dancing” most specifically would be the ladies on the dance floor, with the vocalist being particularly enraptured by the primary addressee.
And by the time all is said and done, it does appear that Marvin proceeds from dancing with this lady to inviting her home. Verily, at the end of the day one must beg the question as to exactly what it is he is telling her she ‘got to give up’.
If we were writing this post 40 years ago when this piece first came out, perhaps back then we would go as far as to classify it as a dance-based sex song. But ultimately the dancing aspect, as designed, does take precedence over the sexual aspect. Therefore, as it currently stands we’re more compelled to categorize “Got to Give It Up” as a dance song more so than anything else.
When was “Got to Give It Up” released?
This classic was officially introduced to the world (commercial wise) on 15 March 1977. It is from an album Marvin Gaye came out with that very year entitled “Live at the London Palladium”. In fact “Got to Give It Up” ended up being the only single issued from that project, with said album going on to peak at number 3 on the Billboard 200.
This track was written exclusively by the late Marvin Gaye (1939-1984), with its producer being Art Stewart.
“Got to Give It Up” came out during the disco era. Tamla (aka Motown Records), the label behind the track, conscientiously decided that Marvin needed to drop a song in said genre. But Gaye, who wasn’t fond of disco music, basically refused.
In fact he originally conceived “Got to Give It Up” (under the working title “Dancing Lady”) as a piece intended to parody disco. However, he went to take the undertaking more seriously, and as fate would have it this particular tune ultimately proved to be his biggest hit.
Aaliyah covers this Classic
Interesting to note is that the late Aaliyah (1979-2001) actually covered this tune, buttressed by Slick Rick, in 1996. And whereas that version wasn’t a mega hit it did make a bit of noise, most notably breaking the top five of the UK R&B Chart.
“Got to Give It Up” and “Blurred Lines”
Marvin Gaye sadly did not live to see this song really and truly become the multi-million dollar commercial success it would be, even though his children were beneficiaries of such.
Well actually, “Got to Give It Up” did not prove to be a posthumous hit for the singer. Rather what happened is that, as deemed by a court of law, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams utilized this tune, without first acquiring proper permission, on their 2013 track “Blurred Lines“.
And as for that particular song, it proved to be a smash hit, i.e. one of the top-selling singles in the history of the music industry. So by the time the dust had settled, Thicke and Williams ended up paying $7+ million to Marvin Gaye’s family. And considering that Gaye’s discography proper only consists of a handful of certified singles, then in a roundabout way “Got to Give It Up” wound up being his most-successful song to date.
More Interesting Facts
It has also been noted that “Got to Give It Up” had a strong creative influence on Michael Jackson, just prior to the King of Pop’s ascending into superstardom. And outside of costing Robin Thicke and co. a pretty penny, the song also proved to possess a lasting commercial viability due to being featured on a number of movies such as 1993’s Menace II Society, 2000’s Charlie’s Angles and 2002’s Barbershop, as well as a handful of television shows.
As featured on “Live at the London Palladium”, this song is just a few seconds shy of running for a solid 12 minutes. But the single version of the tune is barely over four minutes.
Marvin Gaye met his demise in 1984, at the premature age of 44. He got into “a physical altercation” with his dad, a person who, amongst other things, was a child-abusing cross-dresser during Gaye’s youth. And needless to say, some parents take great offense at the prospect of being stricken by one of their own children. Or however things went down between the Prince of Motown and Marvin Gay Sr., at the end of the day the latter mortally wounded the former and in a court of law more or less received a slap on the wrist for the incident.
But as his nickname, the Prince of Motown, implies, throughout the years, especially during the 1970s leading into the 1980s, Marvin Gaye had gone about establishing himself as an A list musician and one of Motown’s top artists during its golden years. For instance, his 1972 classic “Trouble Man” is an album that was given a major shoutout on the 2014 MCU masterpiece Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
And as for “Got to Give It Up”, it proved its worth by topping the Billboard Hot 100. It also did well in Britain. Here, it managed to reach number 7 on the UK Singles Chart. Furthermore, it achieved silver certification across the pond.