Stripe’s Song of the Day: Marvin Gaye – Got to Give It Up

The disco jam about losing your inhibitions on the dance floor is a reminder to take a chance and put yourself out there

Shoumik Hassin
Published : 17 Feb 2023, 10:30 AM
Updated : 17 Feb 2023, 10:30 AM

Stripe's Song of the Day is a regular feature showcasing the music currently stuck in our heads. Every week, contributors will string together their daily picks, and a playlist of the week's tracks will be available on Friday.

Sometimes we all need a little encouragement.

Now, Marvin Gaye, the Prince of Soul, might not feel like the most relatable source for that encouragement. After all, the Motown icon was legendary for the power and beauty of his voice. And he wasn’t a slouch in the looks department either.

But, in ‘Got to Give It Up’, Gaye takes on a different persona. Instead of the charismatic crooner of ‘Let’s Get It On’ or the smooth serenader of ‘Sexual Healing’, he’s someone who’s never had the confidence to step out on the dancefloor.

In a high falsetto, he sings: “I used to go out to parties and stand around, ‘cause I was too nervous to really get down.”

I’ve been there. As a fat guy with a distinct rhythm problem, I’ve always been shy about busting out the moves. But here’s the thing – dancing feels fantastic.

Having been heavy, weak, and uncoordinated for as long as I can remember, I never thought dancing was for me. Performing a physical activity that makes me sweat in a place where other people could see me? Straight nightmare fuel. I even turned down invitations to Gaye Holud ceremonies because I was terrified I’d be forced into the traditional cousins’ Bollywood dance performances.

I don’t remember where or when I danced in public for the first time. Maybe it was hanging out with my first college roommate, known for his fiendish footwork. Maybe it was a sleepover with friends where it got so late I was sure no one was watching. Maybe it was that rave I showed up at because I had a crush on the organiser.

But I remember the feeling – completely electric.

We often talk about music with a focus on the abstract and the emotional. But music is also physical. It’s a series of vibrations travelling through the air and hitting the audio receptors of our bodies. And, for some reason, whether it’s biology or culture, it makes you want to groove.

‘Got to Give It Up’ is a great dance song for beginners. The disco groove is simple and steady. It lingers so you can find your feet. The bass thrums around the beat, adding momentum. And the background noise of a party fills the room with an anonymous crowd having fun. It’s all there. You just have to work up the courage to take that first step.

I won’t promise it’ll look great. I still think my dancing has the grace of a bloated giraffe. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about having fun. As Marvin says:

“No more standing beside the wall. Well, I’ve got myself together, baby, and I’m having a ball.”

And here's this week's playlist for Song of the Day. Thanks for sticking with this old, out-of-touch hipster through it all:

This article is part of Stripe,'s special publication focusing on culture and society from a youth perspective.