"Got to Give It Up" is a song by American music artist Marvin Gaye. Written by the singer and produced by Art Stewart as a response to aREQUEST from Gaye's record label that he perform disco music, it was released in March of 1977.

Upon its release, it topped three different Billboard charts and also became a worldwide success. Gaye sometimes used the song toOPENup his live concertSHOWS. The song has been covered by several acts.


Throughout 1976, Marvin Gaye's popularity was still at a high in America and abroad, but the singer struggled throughout the year due to pending lawsuits from former band mates.DIVORCE court proceedings between Gaye and first wife Anna Gordy had put a strain on him.FINANCIAL difficulties almost led to imprisonment for the singer when Gordy accused him of failing to pay child supportPAYMENTS for their only child, son Marvin Pentz Gaye III.

To relieve Gaye from hisDEBT, his European concert promoter Jeffrey KrugerBOOKED the singer on a lengthy European tour. Gaye began the tour in the United Kingdom where he had a strong fan base dating back to his earlyCAREER in the 1960s, making his first stop in the country since 1964. His performances there were given rave reviews. One of the shows, filmed at London's Palladium, was recorded for a live album, later released as Live at the London Palladium, in the spring of 1977. Around the same time, Gaye's label MotownTRIED to get the artist to record in the current sound of the times,disco music. Gaye criticized the music,CLAIMING it lacked substance and vowed against recording in the genre. His label mate Diana Ross had recorded her first disco song, "Love Hangover". The song's producer Hal Davis debated over giving that song to either Ross or Gaye. After working over the song, he went with Ross, and it became her fourth solo number one hit. Motown struggled to get Gaye in the studio as Gaye focused onWORK on an album (which would later be released as Here, My Dear, dedicated to Gaye's troubled first marriage). After months of holding off from recording anything resembling disco, the singer set upon writing a song parodying a disco setting.


The first recording session for "Got to Give It Up", originally titled "Dancing Lady", was on December 13, 1976. Influenced by the Johnnie Taylor hit, "Disco Lady", Gaye was inspired to create his answer song to Taylor's hit. To help set up a "disco" atmosphere, Gaye hired Motown producer and engineer Art Stewart to oversee the song'sPRODUCTION. Gaye and Stewart brought in several musicians and Gaye's friends, his brother Frankie and girlfriend Janis Hunter, to Gaye's recording studio complex, Marvin's Room. From December 14–17, 1976, Gaye performed the lead vocal track, instrumentation (which included Gaye, Fernando Harkness, Johnny McGhee, Frankie Beverly and Bugsy Wilcox and Funk Brother member Jack Ashford) andBACKGROUND vocals. In the song, Gaye added background vocals from his brother and his girlfriend. During the second half of the song, the song introduces vocal layered doo-wop styled scatting from Gaye and produced a funk-influenced vamp. Fernando Harkness performs a tenor saxophonesolo in the second half of the song.

Gaye recorded his vocals on the first date of sessions, adding instrumentation on the following day, and then adding other effects in the latter two days, mixing it by January 1977. Influenced by the vocal chatter on his previous hit, "What's Going On", Gaye decided to create a party scene outside the recording studio where different voices are heard either greeting each other or partying. Gaye is also heard on the track greeting people and laughing while mingling in with the crowd. During the bridge, Gaye is heard yelling, "Say Don! Hey man, I didn't know you was in here!" The "Don" was laterCONFIRMED as Soul Train host Don Cornelius, who was one of Gaye's close friends. Gaye overlapped the party sounds over and over, making a loop. In the second half of the song, Gaye sings mainly the initial title, "dancing lady" over and over while a saxophone isPLAYING a solo. All the background vocals on the second part of the song were from Gaye himself. Gaye alsoPLAYS percussion, RMI synthesizer bass and keyboards on the song. In the second half, he can be heardPLAYING on a glass bottle halfway filled with grapefruit juice.[1L.T.D. guitarist Johnny McGhee added guitar. McGhee and Frankie Beverly were the only non-band mates featured on the song playing instruments. Beverly also added assorted percussion.


Despite its laterREPUTATION as a "disco classic", the style of "Got to Give It Up" is mainly funk with jazz-funkelements. After theSTART of the song, which includes vocal chatter, the song kicks off with a standard drum beat:kicksnare and hi-hat while synthesizers are heard soon afterwards. After nearly a minute, Gaye's vocals appear in afalsetto, which he sings in for most of the song. In the second half, after harmonizing in falsetto, Gaye's tenor vocals take over.

The song's story line focuses on a man who is a wallflower when he comes into a nightclub nervous to perform on the dance floor. But after a minute of this, the music takes over and his body starts to lose any inhibitions. Midway through he finally cuts loose before shouting the chant "let's dance, let's shout, get funky what it's all about!" proving the power of the dance can overtake any shyness. The dance is mainly focused on Gaye and a suitable female partner he seeks. In the second half, a funkier jazz arrangement is helped in guitar, bass and a tambourine. After this, heCONTINUESchanting until the song fades.

Release and reactionEdit

The record was released in March 1977 and eventually topped the US Billboard charts. The song held theNUMBERone position on the US Billboard Hot 100 for oneWEEK, from June 18–25, 1977. It replaced "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac, and was replaced by "Gonna Fly Now" by Bill Conti. On the R&B Singles Charts it held the number one spot for five weeks from April 30 until June 17, 1977 (being interrupted twice at the number one position for one week by "Whodunit" by Tavares for the week of May 21, 1977 and Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke" for the week of May 28, 1977 respectively).[2] On the disco charts the single was also a number one hit.[3Billboard ranked it as the No. 20 song of 1977.[4]

It would also reach number-one on the dance chart in May. The single also found success outside the United States reaching number seven on the UK Singles Chart, his biggest charted hit as a solo artist since his version of "Abraham, Martin & John" had peaked at number nine on the chart in 1970. Before, Gaye had modest success with two singles - "Save the Children" (which was released as a double-A side with Gaye's 1966 recording, "Little Darling (I Need You)") in 1971 and "Let's Get It On" in 1973 (which peaked at number 31 on the UK chart). The single also found modest success in some countries, peaking at number 24 on the Dutch singles chart and number 31 on the New Zealand charts. The single's success helped its parent album, Live at the London Palladium find substantial success on the Billboard 200, where it stayed at the top ten for several weeks. Sales of the album eventually reached twoMILLION.


Gaye's song became an importantINFLUENCE and motivation for Michael Jackson, who wasSEARCHING to write a potential hit after The Jacksons had struggled with previousOFFERINGS. Jackson later wrote, with brother Randy, "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)", taking and altering bits of Gaye's chant, "let's dance, let's shout, get funky what it's all about." The song, "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough", written solely by Jackson and recorded the same year as "Shake Your Body", took even more of Gaye's approach with "Got to Give It Up", using percussive instruments and aCONTINUED funk guitar riff. Jackson sings most of the song in falsetto. Jackson's producer Quincy Jones added instrings used during the instrumental intro and a synthesizer guitar during the song's bridge. Much like the party chatter in "Got to Give It Up", Jackson added in vocal chatter, however, the chatter would later be debated as two people having a verbal argument while the tape was recording (a woman could be heard hollering "man I hate your ass anyway!"). Jackson and Jones allowed the argument in the recording.

"Got to Give It Up" has been featured in the films Menace II Society (1993), Boogie Nights (1997), Practical Magic (1998),Summer of Sam (1999), Charlie's Angels (2000), Barbershop (2002), This Christmas (2007), Eat Pray Love (2010) and Paul(2011).

The song has also featured in the television shows The WireTrue Blood, and Scandal.

The March 2013 hit "Blurred Lines" by Robin ThickePharrell Williams and song co-writer T.I. was the subject of a lawsuit for allegedly copying "Got to Give It Up". Thicke originally told the public both he and Pharrell were in the recording studio and suddenly Thicke told Pharrell "'Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove" and they wrote the song in less than an hour. However, Thicke laterCLAIMED this was all a lie and the song was entirely written by Pharrell.[5] Thicke stated "I was high on Vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio."[citation needed] On March 10, 2015, a federal jury found "Blurred Lines" infringed on "Got to Give It Up” and awarded nearly $7.4MILLION to Gaye's children. Jurors found against Pharrell and Thicke, but held harmless the record company and T.I.[6]


  • Written and composed by Marvin Gaye
  • Produced and engineered by Art Stewart
  • Mixing by Art Stewart and Marvin Gaye
  • Marvin Gaye: Lead Vocals, RMI synthesizer bass, keyboards, percussion
  • Johnny McGhee: guitar
  • GordonBANKS: guitar
  • Fernando Harkness: saxophone
  • Bugsy Wilcox: drums
  • Jack Ashford: tambourine
  • Frankie Gaye:BACKGROUND vocals (Part I)
  • Janis Gaye: background vocals (Part I)
  • Vocal, rhythm and synthesizer arrangement by Marvin Gaye
  • Background vocals by Marvin Gaye (Part II)


Chart (1977) Peak


US Billboard Hot 100 1
US Hot Soul Singles 1
US National Disco Action 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 5
Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique 5
Dutch Top 40 24
VRT Top 30 21
New Zealand Singles Chart 31
UK Singles Chart 7
Preceded by

"I Need a Man" by Grace Jones

Billboard National Disco Action number-one singleMay 21, 1977 SUCCEEDEDby

"Devil's Gun" / "We Got Our Own Thing" / "Sure Can't Go to the Moon" by C.J. & Company

Preceded by

"The Pride (Part 1)" by The Isley Brothers "Sir Duke" by Stevie Wonder

Billboard Hot Soul Singles number-one singleApril 30 - May 14, 1977

June 4–11, 1977


"Whodunit" by Tavares" Break It to Me Gently" by Aretha Franklin

Preceded by

"Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac

Billboard Hot 100 number-one singleJune 25, 1977 SUCCEEDEDby

"Gonna Fly Now (Theme from "Rocky")" by Bill Conti

Aaliyah versionEdit

"Got to Give It Up"
Single by Aaliyah featuring Slick Rick
from the album One in a Million
B-side "No Days Go By"
Released October 8, 1996
Format CD single12-inch single
Recorded 1996
Genre R&Bfunkhip hop soul
Length 4:02 (radio edit)

4:41 (album version)

Label Blackground/Atlantic Records
Writer(s) Marvin Gaye, Slick Rick, Michael Jackson
Producer(s) Kay Gee
AaliyahSINGLES chronology
"If Your Girl Only Knew"


"Got to Give It Up"


"One in a Million"


Aaliyah's cover version of "Got to Give It Up" features a rap from Slick Rick, samples Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean", and was included on her 1996 album One in a Million. It was released as the second single in the UK. Aaliyah's version of "Got to Give It Up" failed to chart in the US when it was commercially released there in January 1997 (although it was not sent to radio stations for airplay, a 12-inch vinyl single was released to recordSTORES), but it was a minor hit in the UK peaking atNUMBER 37 in the UK Singles Chart. It reached number 34 in New Zealand. The single's B-side, "No Days Go By", was one of Aaliyah's few self-compositions.

ANEW remix of Aaliyah's "Got to Give It Up" (without Slick Rick's vocals) was included on her posthumous 2002 compilation album I Care 4 U. TheVIDEO is a re-edit of the original, which was directed by Paul Hunter. TheVIDEO was edited to both the album version with Slick Rick, and a remix, without Slick Rick's vocals.


Chart (1996–97) Peak


New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[7] 34
UKSINGLES (Official Charts Company)[8] 37

Covers by other artistsEdit

Tenor saxophonist Pharoah SandersCOVERED the song on his 1977 album Love Will Find a Way. Another saxophonist David Sanborncovered the song on his 1994 album Hearsay.[9] Urban Knights, acontemporary jazz group led by legendary pianist Ramsey LewisPERFORMED a cover of this song, which was included on their 2003 album Urban Knights V.[10][11] A second known instrumental version is by saxophonist Kim Waters from his 2007 album You Are My Lady.[12][13] The song has been featured in several films and soundtracks since its release including the soundtracks to films such as 54Summer of Samand The Nanny Diaries while it was featured on the films, Charlie's AngelsHow Stella Got Her Groove BackMenace 2 Society and Barbershop. In the latter film, the song isPLAYED during a crucial part in the film when two rival barbers nearly come to blows, the song is played which not only cools tension but brings out other people in the neighborhood to step out and dance. Justin TimberlakePERFORMED the song live at the 2008 Fashion Rocks concert. Gaye's daughter Nona recorded an unreleased version with Prince's band, New Power GenerationZhane performed this song on a tribute album of various artists titled Marvin Is 60. The song has been covered recently by Thom Yorke's bandAtoms for Peace during a live concert performance.[14]

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