Where Did Our Love Go
|"Where Did Our Love Go"|
|Single by The Supremes|
|from the album Where Did Our Love Go|
|B-side||"He Means the World to Me"|
|Released||June 17, 1964|
|Format||Vinyl record (7" 45 RPM)|
|Recorded||Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A); April 8, 1964|
|Genre||R&B, pop, doo-wop|
|The Supremes singles chronology|
Written and produced by Motown's main production team Holland–Dozier–Holland, "Where Did Our Love Go" was the first single by the Supremes to go to the number-one position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart in the United States, a position it held for two weeks, from August 16 to August 29, 1964. It was also the first of five Supremes songs in a row to reach number one (the others being "Baby Love", "Come See About Me", "Stop! In the Name of Love", and "Back in My Arms Again"). The song also reached number one on the Cash Box R&B singles chart.
The Supremes' version is ranked #475 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry in 2016 due to its "cultural, historic, or artistic significance."
According to Brian Holland, "Where Did Our Love Go" was written with The Supremes in mind. Though Supremes member Mary Wilson would later write that the song had been originally given to The Marvelettes, Holland would deny this claim, as would the Marvelettes themselves. Marvelettes member Katherine Anderson-Schnaffer later said that the song didn't quite fit her group's repertoire, as the song was produced under a slower beat and their music was more uptempo. When the Supremes were eventually given the song, the group members weren't pleased with the record, with member Florence Ballard later stating that they had wanted a stronger single similar to the Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman". Although the group felt the song didn't have the hook to make it successful, they decided that they really didn't have a choice and prepared to record the song.
Initially, the producers argued over who should sing the song, as the song had been cut in the same key as Mary Wilson's voice but since Berry Gordy had assigned the lead singer role to Diana Ross, the producers eventually gave the song to Ross, who sang it in her usual high register in the recording studio on April 8. As a result, Ross was told to sing the song in a lower register and begrudgingly complied with Holland/Dozier/Holland's "to the letter" formula. Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard's vocal contribution was significant in bringing a fresh yet hypnotic sexiness to the overall sound of the song while remaining true to the backup arrangements that Lamont Dozier had set down.
Upon hearing the song's playback, an excited Ross rushed to Gordy's office and told him to come to the studio to listen to the song. Upon hearing playback, a satisfied Gordy nodded saying to the producers and the group that the song had potential to be a top ten hit.
Release and reaction
"Where Did Our Love Go" was released as a single on June 17, 1964, and entered the Hot 100 at number seventy-seven. Six weeks later, while the Supremes were on tour as part of Dick Clark's "American Bandstand Caravan of Stars", the song made it to number one for two weeks, spending a total of 9 weeks in the Billboard Top Ten. The girls began the tour at the bottom of the bill; by the conclusion of the tour, they were at the top. They performed the song on the NBC variety program, Hullabaloo! on Tuesday, January 26, 1965.
The song became the focal point and title track of the group's second album, Where Did Our Love Go, released later that year. A German language version of the song was recorded by the Supremes for German-speaking markets overseas.
The song seemed to strike a chord in the United States, with a group which would become the most successful chart-topping American popular music group of the 1960s. The first of their American chart toppers, the song peaked just weeks after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, critically remarked as capturing the spirit of an America reeling from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, racial tension, increased United States involvement in Vietnam, and foreseeing the end of the early optimism of the 1960s.
- In 1965, labelmates the Four Tops' released "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)", which reached number one. While not exactly a true cover, the melodic and chordal progressions of "I Can't Help Myself" are almost identical to those of "Where Did Our Love Go".
- In 1968, this song was covered by The Clarendonians, titled "Baby Baby". The Clarendonians were a ska and rocksteady vocal group from Jamaica, active from the mid to late 1960s.
- In 1971, this song was covered by Donnie Elbert.
- In 1976, The J. Geils Band covered the song on their live 1976 album Blow Your Face Out, and also charted at #68 with it.
- In 1978, this song was covered by Ringo Starr
- In 1981, Soft Cell combined their cover of "Where Did Our Love Go" with a cover of Gloria Jones' "Tainted Love"; the cover begins after "Tainted Love" ends on the same song.
- In 1984, a cover was made for the cartoon Kidd Video by the eponymous band.
- In 1986, the Norwegian swing/pop duo Bobbysocks! covered it on their LP Waiting for the Morning.
- In 1993 Sinitta released "The Supreme EP" which featured the song along with two other Supremes hits and the 1970 Diana Ross single "Remember Me". It charted at #49 in the UK.
- In 1998, a live version was performed in the Spice Girls, Spiceworld Tour by Baby Spice aka Emma Bunton.
- The intro of this song was sampled in the 1998 Ace of Base song, "Always Have Always Will."
- Electropop artists Gluebound covered the song for their 1998 album Essential Interpretations: Today's Great Artists Perform Yesterday's Classics.
- In 2003, Jenni Rivera recorded the song for her covers album Homenaje a Las Grandes
- In 2005, the Pussycat Dolls, like Soft Cell, recorded a combined cover song of "Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go" for their debut album, PCD.
- In 2006, U.K. singer Declan Galbraith recorded the song for his second album Thank You.
- In 2006, it was heavily sampled in the song "Here We Go" by grime collective Mademan presenting Vigar, Diddy, JR & L.Man.
- In 2009, this song was covered by Lynda Carter in her album At Last.
- In 2011, YouTube singer Julia Nunes did a remix of the song with Justin Bieber's song "Baby". This same arrangement was used by Little Mix in series 8, week 8 of the UK Factor and also Rachel Crow in Week 1 of The X Factor (U.S. season 1)
- Lead vocals by Diana Ross
- Background vocals by Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson
- All instruments by The Funk Brothers
- Footstomps by Mike Valvano
Weekly singles charts