Who Asked The Musical Question, &Quot;Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For?&Quot; In 1978?

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Pop and rock music are filled with songs that ask a question in the title. How many can you think of? How many of these popular songs do you recognize?

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Pop and Rock Songs That Pose Questions in Their Titles

What better way to convey the essence of a song than in an attention-grabbing question, especially if the ditty involves conflict, doubt, or deep emotion? A song title in question format cuts right to the point and allows the potential listener to peek at what the lyrics are about. It also usually mirrors the song's hook. Pop and rock music are filled with these types of songs.

I love a challenge, so for me, this list was a particularly fun one. Having recently generated a playlist of country songs that ask a question in the title, below is the long list of “question songs” I came up with for pop and rock music genres. How many of these did you think of? How many do you recognize? Can you think of more?

1. “How Do You Sleep?” by Sam Smith (2019)

If you suspect a lover of cheating, be careful of snooping for evidence. You may find what you're looking for. That's what happens in this 2019 pop song when a narrator searches his lover's phone, then calls unrecognized numbers. (How brazen!)

As much as he feels punched in the gut by his lover's deception, the narrator is distressed by his cheating lover's ability to betray him repeatedly while behaving as if nothing is wrong. Feeling victimized, he wonders how his lover can sleep soundly with that knowledge. The poor narrator realizes he loves someone with no sense of shame.

2. “What About Us?” by Pink (2017)

This very danceable worldwide hit addresses people in authority and asks, “What about us?” the electorate who put them there. Pink does not call out American President Donald Trump by name, however, she campaigned for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The rousing pop song expresses disappointment and being deceived by a leader who proclaimed that they had all the answers. It references “humanity being sold down the river” and expresses a desire for freedom, calling for people to strike out. Many refer to this as a protest song for the American resistance.

3. “Who Do You Love?” by The Chainsmokers (featuring 5 Seconds of Summer) (2019)

There's a cheater in this relationship. All of the signs are there. The narrator has found cigarettes in his partner's coat, but she doesn't smoke. Another clue: his partner is always changing her access codes to keep her selfies and texts private. And in bed, lately, she has different moves, like she's been with someone else.

Between her changing alibis and stuttering responses, the narrator is stressed out trying to figure out what's going on. He asks her straight up for the truth, “Who do you love?

4. “Have I Told You Lately (That I Love You)?” by Van Morrison (1989)

Although I prefer Rod Stewart's 1993 cover, Van Morrison wrote this heart melting love ballad and won a Grammy for it. The tune expresses sincere appreciation to a lover, expressing how they bring the narrator both joy and solace, filling his heart with love and laughter. His lover has graced his life by her presence and enhanced his world.

5. “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?” by Michael Bolton (1989)

The ultimate friendzone song, this mournful ballad is about a man who has been holding out hope that the woman he loves will one day share his feelings. Sadly, he won't be that lucky because now he hears through friends that she has been swept off her feet by someone new. Understandably, he is crestfallen.

In what must be an awkward moment, the repudiated lover demands some answers about how he is supposed to pick up and carry on from here:

Tell me how am I supposed to live without you?Now that I've been lovin' you so long?How am I supposed to live without you?And how am I supposed to carry on?When all that I've been livin' for is gone?

You can be very sure he won't be invited to their wedding.

6. “What's Love Got to Do With It?” by Tina Turner (1984)

Tina Turner made a comeback in a big way with this worldwide smash hit, ending a decade-long streak of failed albums and reviving a stalled career. The sassy ditty was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and was lauded by Rolling Stone magazine as one of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” In recognition of her stellar success, Turner won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.

The song features a woman in a loveless physical relationship. She tells her lover that their relationship is merely sexual and has nothing to do with love, “a sweet old-fashioned notion” and “a second-hand emotion.” Tina Turner was involved in a legendarily abusive marriage to fellow musician Ike Turner from 1962 to 1978.

7. “Would I Lie to You?” by Eurythmics (1985)

The angry girlfriend in this rock song has had enough of her lover's cheating ways. Having confronted him for his deception, she has packed her bags and is now walking out. As he tries to make her believe she's mistaken, the woman demands, “Would I like to you?” She knows the truth of his wicked deeds and won't be disuaded.

8. “How Deep Is Your Love?” by The Bee Gees (1977)

On his deathbed, Bee Gees member Robin Gibb requested that it be the first song played at his funeral. With poetic lyrics, the tune describes two committed partners who express their deep and authentic love for one another. The global soft rock ballad rose to prominence as a part of the 1977 Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. The Grammy Award-winning love song was later recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as one of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

9. “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” by Bryan Adams (1995)

The Latin undertones in this love ballad accentuate the sincerity of its emotional message. This is a guy who truly knows how to convey how much he values his sweetheart, so he's taking everyone else to school on it. His recommendations for how to love a woman include listening to her, treating her tenderly, and telling her that she's wanted. By promising her forever love, he has found that his own lover takes good care of him in return. Great instructions!

10. “Will You (Still) Love Me Tomorrow?” by The Shirelles (1960)

Trust is characteristically fragile in budding romantic relationships. In this classic R&B infused ditty, the narrator wonders what tomorrow will hold for the couple after they spend the night together for the first time. (Who says they didn't have sex before marriage in the early sixties?)

The narrator specifically asks whether she can she believe the magic in his sighs tonight and whether his unspoken promises will be betrayed or forgotten by morning's light. Rolling Stone magazine heralded the song as one of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” In addition, “Will You (Still) Love Me Tomorrow” is significant because it is the first number one song by a black all-female group.

11. “What Do You Mean?” by Justin Bieber (2015)

Call her inconsistent, indecisive, and self-contradictory. The girl at the center of this hit pop song is sending the Beebs mixed signals, and he laments being left confused about where their relationship stands:

What do you mean?When you nod your head yesBut you wanna say “no”What do you mean?When you don't want me to moveBut you tell me to goWhat do you mean?

Justin Bieber had a rocky on and off dating relationship with fellow pop star Selena Gomez for the better part of a decade, and many suspect this song alludes to her. After they broke up in 2018, Bieber got married on the rebound to model Hailey Baldwin just two months later.

12. “Is She Really Goin' Out with Him?” by Joe Jackson (1978)

We've all seen a gorgeous girl on the arm of a hideous looking man. Perhaps you've wondered what could she possibly see in him? The narrator in this new wave hit from 1978 is a decent looking single guy with no love prospects. He sees many ugly guys punching above their weight and is both bewildered and a little miffed. Perhaps those ugly dudes have admirable traits that aren't immediately recognized.

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13. “What Does the Fox Say?” by Ylvis (2013)

Cats, frogs, cows, and other animals make noises we know. But seriously, “What does the fox say?” The question is a good one, and the answer is as idiotic as it is catchy.

This electronic dance song became a surprise viral hit for the Norweigan comedy duo Ylvis. People across the world were amused by ridiculous animal noises as the narrator tries to guess what the fox says. The silly song breaks all the rules for a hit and might be considered an “anti-hit.” Ylvis also published a popular children's book on the same topic. Is it any surprise Ylvis was a one-hit wonder?

14. “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” by Culture Club (1982)

With his caked makeup and long braids, androgynous British singer Boy George and his band burst on the international music scene with this 1982 hit, their first in the US. It climbed to the top spot on the charts in more than a dozen countries. The song is based on Boy George's tumultuous romance with his drummer.

The record company urged them to keep their affair clandestine to protect Culture Club's career. Besides, George's lover didn't want to reveal his bisexuality. The song lyrics thus focus on the pain and feelings of rejection:

Do you really want to hurt me?Do you really want to make me cry?Precious kisses words that burn meLovers never ask you why.

Their relationship was a conflict-filled creative force behind the band, and when it ended, the band dissolved as well.

15. “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” by George Michael (1999)

This sad ballad features a soul-weary pauper forced to beg for a meager financial handout. It was originally popularized by Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallée during the era of the Great Depression. The down-on-his-luck narrator bemoans how he and fellow countrymen built the country's skyscrapers and railroads and saved America in the first World War. However, now they are out of jobs, no longer heroes, and relegated to standing in breadlines. The unemployment rate during the era was as high a 24.9%, an all-time high.

16. “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by The Clash (1982)

Have you ever been stuck in a personal relationship or job in which you feel miserable but leaving would be doubly penalizing? If so, you have something in common with the guy in this memorable rock classic.

He lives at the mercy of a lover who teases and taunts him. He thinks the woman seems to enjoy issuing contradictory signals as to whether he should see the relationship through or say adios. The poorly translated Spanish in the backing vocals adds an extra bizarre WTF quality.

17. “Johnny Are You Queer?” by Josie Cotton (1981)

Yep, this is one of those songs that wouldn't fly today. It features a guy who is dating the female narrator but isn't apparently all that romantically attracted to her. Although the frustrated gal is sexually willing, she complains that Johnny is more interested in being with his friends. Assuming there must be something “wrong” with him, the narrator concludes he doesn't like girls.

18. “Is This Love?” by Whitesnake (1987)

Having searched for love, the man in this soft rock song suspects he's finally found it. A powerful feeling has him in its grips, and he frequently finds himself looking forward to being with the lady in his life. As he waits on her phone call, he wonders whether this wonderful feeling is love or if he's dreaming instead.

At the time of the song's release, Whitesnake's lead singer David Coverdale had fired the rest of the band and had to hire a new lineup in order to promote the single and the rest of the album it was on. Coverdale was married briefly to Tawny Kitaen, the dancer in the song's video.

19. “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” by Pet Shop Boys (featuring Dusty Springfield) (1987)

When you're in a dysfunctional relationship, the only thing more miserable than being with your lover is being without them. The narrator and his girlfriend had different objectives when they originally fell in love. She was seeking an emotional connection while he was more transaction-minded.

After investing in the relationship, however, the guy's heart ran away from him. Unfortunately, they fought bitterly. Now that this lover has left, he is dejected. He knows they're a match made in hell and he should forget her, but his heart won't let him. He figures he must've had this coming.

20. “What Is Love?” by Haddaway (1993)

This catchy dance ditty has a contagious beat and became an international hit in 1993. The poor sorry sucker in the song implores the woman in his life to stop doing a number on his heart. Asking, “What is love?” he declares his eternal devotion and the pain he feels when she acts as though she doesn't care. It sounds like another lop-sided love affair.

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Even More Pop and Rock Songs with a Question in the Title

Do you know of a pop or rock song with a question in its title that should be on this playlist? Make a suggestion in the Comments Section below.


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