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Quiz about Song by Song Whats Going On
Quiz about Song by Song Whats Going On

Song by Song: "What's Going On" Quiz


Test your knowledge of the fourth greatest song of all time, according to Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

A multiple-choice quiz by skylarb. Estimated time: 4 mins.
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Author
skylarb
Time
4 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
403,478
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
352
Awards
Top 35% Quiz
Last 3 plays: GBfan (10/10), Guest 86 (8/10), Guest 98 (10/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. Which of the following men did NOT have a part in composing "What's Going On"? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. When Berry Gordy, the boss of Marvin Gaye's Motown label, first heard "What's Going On," how did he describe the song? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Players from what football team were invited to the studio to add vocal chatter to the song? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. Which of the following did NOT supply any instrumentation for this song? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. What girl had fun covering "What's Going On" on her 1986 album "True Colors"? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. "Mother, mother / There's too many of you crying. / Brother, brother, brother / There's far too many of you" what? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. "Father, father / We don't need to _____ / You see, war is not the answer / for only love can conquer hate." We don't need to what? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. "_____ lines and _____ signs / Don't punish me with brutality." What kind of signs and lines? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. "Mother, mother, everybody thinks we're wrong / Oh, but who are they to judge us / Simply 'cause _____." Why does the singer suggest they are being judged? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. In 2001, a variety of artists released an album containing multiple versions of "What's Going On." What disease were these artists raising money to fight? Hint



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Most Recent Scores
Jul 18 2024 : GBfan: 10/10
Jun 29 2024 : Guest 86: 8/10
Jun 12 2024 : Guest 98: 10/10
May 29 2024 : Guest 136: 5/10
May 26 2024 : Guest 67: 9/10

Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Which of the following men did NOT have a part in composing "What's Going On"?

Answer: Sam Cooke

Renaldo "Obie" Benson was inspired to write the song when he witnessed an incident of police brutality in San Francisco during his 1969 tour with the Four Tops. Benson saw police officers attacking a group of hippies who were protesting the war in People's Park. Benson wrote the song with in-house Motown composer Al Cleveland. Uninterested in protest music, the Four Tops never recorded the song. Marvin Gaye picked it up, however, and "made the song his own," Rolling Stone magazine reports, "overseeing the arrangement and investing the topical references to war and racial strife with private anguish." All three musicians share writing credit, and the song was produced by Marvin Gaye.
2. When Berry Gordy, the boss of Marvin Gaye's Motown label, first heard "What's Going On," how did he describe the song?

Answer: "The worst thing I've ever heard in my life."

According to an article in The Conversation tilted "Marvin Gaye's 1971 'What's Going On?' remains unanswered today," Gordy called the song "the worst thing I've ever heard in my life," but desperate for new material from Gaye, the label released it anyway.

The song went onto both commercial success and criminal acclaim, peaking at number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the U.S. R&B/Soul Singles Chart.
3. Players from what football team were invited to the studio to add vocal chatter to the song?

Answer: Detroit Lions

Vocal chatter (or mock conversation) was added to the song to give it a laid back sound. Motown musician Elgie Stover opened the song by saying, "Hey, man, what's happening?" Football players Mel Farr and Lem Barney of the Detroit Lions were also invited to the studio to join in the verbal chatter.

In 1972, the song was nominated for a Grammy Award in the categories of Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance but did not win in either category.
4. Which of the following did NOT supply any instrumentation for this song?

Answer: The Neville Brothers

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, along with Detroit-based sessions musicians the Funk Brothers, supplied instrumentation for the song. Various members of the Funk Brothers played on over a hundred of Mowtown's hit U.S. R&B singles. Marvin Gaye also played piano and box drum on the song, and it was arranged by David Van De Pitte. Lead vocals for "What's Going On" were sung by Marvin Gaye and background vocals by The Originals.
5. What girl had fun covering "What's Going On" on her 1986 album "True Colors"?

Answer: Cyndi Lauper

Known for the hit song "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," Cyndi Lauper covered "What's Going On" on her second studio album. Her version of the song was released as a single from "True Colors" in 1987 with "One Track Mind" on the B-Side. Lauper's version peaked at number 12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
6. "Mother, mother / There's too many of you crying. / Brother, brother, brother / There's far too many of you" what?

Answer: dying

The song continues:

"You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today, eh eh."

Q magazine included "What's Going On" in its list of "100 Songs That Changed the World." The Recording Industry Association of America ranked it as number 65 on its list of "365 Songs of the Century."
7. "Father, father / We don't need to _____ / You see, war is not the answer / for only love can conquer hate." We don't need to what?

Answer: escalate

"Escalate" is a term often used in reference to the Vietnam War, especially after the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that followed.

In 1995, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame named "What's Going On" one of its "500 Songs That Shaped Rock."
8. "_____ lines and _____ signs / Don't punish me with brutality." What kind of signs and lines?

Answer: picket

"Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what's going on
What's going on
Yeah, what's going on
Ah, what's going on."

A remake of "What's Going On" was released by Live Aid Armenia to raise money to assist those suffering from the 1988 Armenian earthquake. Another cover was released in 1994 by Music Relief '94 in memory of the Rwandan genocide.
9. "Mother, mother, everybody thinks we're wrong / Oh, but who are they to judge us / Simply 'cause _____." Why does the singer suggest they are being judged?

Answer: Because their hair is long

"Mother, mother, everybody thinks we're wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply 'cause our hair is long
Oh, you..."

The opening line of this song was improvised on soprano saxophone by Eli Fontaine.

Chaka Khan's performance of "What's Going On" with The Funk Brothers for the 2002 documentary "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" won a Grammy award for the Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance.
10. In 2001, a variety of artists released an album containing multiple versions of "What's Going On." What disease were these artists raising money to fight?

Answer: AIDS

The album was released under the name of Artists Against AIDS Worldwide. Though initially intended only to support AIDS programs (primarily in Africa), because the September 11th attacks occurred shortly before the album was released, it was determined that some of the benefits should also go to support the September 11 fund of the American Red Cross. Musicians contributing to the album included Destiny's Child, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, NSYNC, and the Backstreet Boys, to name but a few.
Source: Author skylarb

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor 1nn1 before going online.
Any errors found in FunTrivia content are routinely corrected through our feedback system.
Related Quizzes
This quiz is part of series Rolling Stone's 2004 List of the Greatest Songs of All Time:

This quiz list contains in-depth quizzes on the first 57 songs in Rolling Stone magazine's "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004)," originally published in December of 2003. The magazine updated its list in 2021 with many new songs, but this list follows the original rankings. Most of the quizzes are written by me, but I've added a few from other authors.

  1. Dylan Song by Song: "Like a Rolling Stone" Average
  2. Song by Song: "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" Average
  3. Song by Song: "Imagine" Easier
  4. Song by Song: "What's Going On" Average
  5. Song by Song: "Respect" Average
  6. Song by Song: "Good Vibrations" Easier
  7. Song by Song: "Johnny B. Goode" Easier
  8. Hey Jude! Tough
  9. Song by Song: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Average
  10. Song by Song: "What'd I Say" Easier
  11. Song by Song: "My Generation" Easier
  12. Song by Song: "A Change Is Gonna Come" Average

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