The song was written by Smokey Robinson for his group The Miracles, who recorded the song in 1960 for their first Motown album, Hi... We're the Miracles. The song is a lamentation about an ex-lover, reminiscing on how their relationship went sour and wondering who's loving them now. A showcase for vocal runs, "Who's Lovin' You" was issued as a b-side to their first Motown hit, "Shop Around" (the label's first million-selling hit single), and remained one of their most popular songs (becoming a strong regional hit in many areas of the country). During the 1960s, virtually every major Motown act, from The Supremes to the Temptations to Brenda Holloway, recorded a remake of the song.
Though today this version is relatively obscure compared to others like those of The Miracles and The Jackson 5, it is to date the only one to place on the Billboard Hot 100. Released in 1967 on Dionn 501, Brenda & the Tabulations took this song to position #66. It was also a #19 hit on Billboard's R&B chart. The gender of the lyrics was amended to fit the female vocalist.
The song was issued as the b-side to The Jackson 5's first single, "I Want You Back", with a full version included on the first Jackson 5 LP, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5. The single went to #1 on both the pop and R&B charts. An alternate take featuring fewer backing vocals was released on Michael's Love Songs compilation release in 2002.
When the group performed the song during their concerts and live performances, Michael usually gave an intro about being really young but knowing about the blues, usually stating how he met the girl during sandbox and sharing cookies, and ended in "I stepped up to her and i said..." the song started from there. In their first concert in Philadelphia, it (along with "I Want You Back") caused the show to be stopped for several minutes because of such a huge response from the audience. It was a regularly performed/popular song in their set-list from 1970 to early 1972, presumably dropped from the set because of more hits being released and Michael's voice beginning to change in 1972.
In 1988, 13-year-old Lauryn Hill appeared as an Amateur Night contestant on It's Showtime at the Apollo. Hill sang her own version of William "Smokey" Robinson's song "Who's Lovin' You?". As she began the song, the crowd began to 'boo' at Hill. A nervous Hill sang with the microphone far away from her mouth and was heckled at first; but she persisted and finished her song to standing applause, though she did not win.
En Vogue's cover of "Who's Lovin' You" was attached to the beginning of their first single, "Hold On" (1990), which was written as an answer song to Robinson's composition. The idea was born when, while the ladies were practicing the song in producer Denzil Foster's car, when he accidentally turned on a drum machine, creating an interesting juxtaposition of old school hip hop and new jack swing.
The opening section of "Hold On", released as the group's first single, was an a cappella version of the song's first verse. Once the ladies reach the line "and I wonder/who's lovin' you", a drum machine kicks in and starts a new jack swing beat, over which "Hold On" is delivered. "Hold On" was the anchor of En Vogue's first album, Born to Sing, which eventually went platinum.