“What’s in a question, you ask? Everything” said American philosopher and educator John Dewey.
It turns out there are also some mighty fine songs that pose a question or two.
Enough with that quizzical look! Here’s some of the best songs with questions in the title that span every genre, from blues to soul to indie. You’re in for a treat :-).
- Who Do You Love? – Bo Diddley
- Should I Stay or Should I Go? – The Clash
- What Becomes of the Brokenhearted? – Jimmy Ruffin
- How Soon is Now? – The Smiths
- Where Did Our Love Go? – The Supremes
- Where is My Mind? – Pixies
- What’s Going On? – Marvin Gaye
- How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away? – Dan Hicks & his Hot Licks
- What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? – R.E.M.
- Can’t You Hear Me Knocking? – The Rolling Stones
- Life on Mars? – David Bowie
- Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? – The Beatles
- Isn’t She Lovely? – Stevie Wonder
- Could You Be Loved? – Bob Marley and the Wailers
- What Is This Thing Called Love? – Billie Holiday
- Can You Feel the Love Tonight? – Elton John
- Will You Love Me Tomorrow? – The Shirelles
- What’s Love Got to Do With It? – Tina Turner
- Who Do You Love? – The Chainsmokers (featuring 5 Seconds of Summer)
- Have I Told You Lately (That I Love You)? – Van Morrison
- Have You Ever Seen the Rain? – Creedence Clearwater Revival
- Baby Can I Hold You? – Tracy Chapman
- What About Us? – Pink
- Where Did You Sleep Last Night? – Nirvana
Who Do You Love? – Bo Diddley
The way that Bo Diddley sings “who do” in ‘Who Do You Love?’ sounds like “hoodoo,” a spiritual religion that uses magic. Stereotypically, hoodoo magic is “dark” magic, hence the references in the song to skulls and graveyards. The song has a blues progression that is more upbeat than some of the ominous lyrics suggest.
Related: Get enchanted by the best magical songs.
Should I Stay or Should I Go? – The Clash
This punk rock song has always been iconic due to its instantly recognizable guitar riff, but it rose in popularity after being used in the first season of the hit show Stranger Things. The song follows a relationship that is up in the air because of one-sided indecision. The narrator is frustrated by this person’s inability to commit, asking them to decide, “should I stay or should I go now?”
What Becomes of the Brokenhearted? – Jimmy Ruffin
Deep in the throes of heartbreak, Jimmy Ruffin wonders if the pain will ever end. He can’t picture relief from the ache of lost love, and the passionate sax helps create that feeling of mourning. Ruffin feels suspended in loneliness, saying he’ll “be searching everywhere just to find someone to care” about his broken heart.
Related: Listen to more smooth saxophone solo songs.
How Soon is Now? – The Smiths
This emotional song is about being shy to the point where it causes constant anxiety and social isolation. There’s nothing wrong with being reserved, but it can be hard when everyday interactions are a source of fear. It can also be frustrating, as seen in the line, “I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar.” You just want to be loved like anyone else, but being born with inhibitory shyness makes that difficult.
Where Did Our Love Go? – The Supremes
When a relationship ends, the hole the person leaves in your life can feel like a tangible thing. They took up so much space in your life, emotionally and physically, and now they are gone. This grooving song asks the question this kind of feeling leaves us with. “Baby, baby, where did our love go?”
Where is My Mind? – Pixies
The song’s electric guitar and haunting “oohs” give it an almost indescribable feeling. ‘Where is My Mind?’ was made to be disorienting, hoping to make you question your own sanity. The growling instrumentation and rasping vocals will have you feeling like you exist “with your feet on the air and your head on the ground” (in a good way!).
What’s Going On? – Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye’s sweet vocals make this call for peace an effective one. ‘What’s Going On?’ takes a look at the state of the world, asking why it’s normal to turn to violence to solve issues when we are all capable of language. Despite widespread oppression and obstinate oppressors, Gaye maintains that “only love can conquer hate.”
Related: Check out this song on our playlist of 70s hits.
How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away? – Dan Hicks & his Hot Licks
Dan Hicks is bothered by a lover much too enthusiastic in this folksy narrative. Despite Hicks expressing his disinterest in this person, they continue to pursue him: “you won’t listen. You always stay and stay.” His exasperation is humorous and, unfortunately, relatable to everyone who knows someone who just won’t take a hint!
What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? – R.E.M.
The title of this song references a man, likely with some mental health issues, who attacked a news anchor while yelling this question. Writer Michael Stipe was intrigued by the case and became inspired to write this song. It’s a perplexing tune, seeming to follow someone who feels lost in their mind and distrustful of the world. “I couldn’t understand. I never understood.”
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking? – The Rolling Stones
Some of Mick Jagger’s vocals on this song sound more like a noise than words, but either way, it’s a great listening experience. His voice always has that satisfying grit that is hard to find anywhere else. Most of ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?’ is instrumental, featuring riveting sax, drums, and organ.
Related: This song is on our playlist of Blow songs.
Life on Mars? – David Bowie
The lyrics of this piano-based rock song can be kind of confusing. On the surface level, we know this song is from the perspective of a young girl who is watching a film and feeling lonely. It seems like this girl is disappointed and bored with reality and wonders if a more fantastical life exists (perhaps on Mars).
Related: Head over to our playlist of life songs.
Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? – The Beatles
This bluesy song is a bit comical, featuring only two lines repeated throughout the song: “why don’t we do it in the road? No one will be watching us.” The vocals are raw and passionate, matching the animal-like desperation that the lyrics suggest. This narrator is down bad for someone, and is willing to risk public indecency to get close to them.
Related: Take a drive with the best highway songs.
Isn’t She Lovely? – Stevie Wonder
A parent’s love for their child is a special bond, and Stevie Wonder sings about it in this jazzy ballad. He is astounded by how much he loves his daughter in her first moments of life, marveling at how happy he is by saying, “isn’t she wonderful? Isn’t she precious?” It’s a sweet song that anyone with a child will be touched by.
Related: This song features on our list of songs about being a kid.
Could You Be Loved? – Bob Marley and the Wailers
There are only a few different lyrics in this song—the lines “could you be loved? Say something!” are repeated over a riffing guitar and reggae-style drums. There are many different theories as to what exactly Bob Marley is referring to here. It could be about faith, romance, self-esteem, or something else entirely. Marley’s ambiguity permits you to decide what the song means to you.
What Is This Thing Called Love? – Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday questions the power of love in this old-school jazz ballad. Many famous artists have recorded this song, but Holiday’s version has an untouchable, captivating quality. She asks, “what is this thing called love?” to show how life-changing love can be, even when it’s a universal feeling that she’s definitely already heard of.
Can You Feel the Love Tonight? – Elton John
Elton John’s ambient vocals make this swaying ballad incredibly romantic—it’s a beautiful song to dance to with someone you love. John describes calm nights and beautiful skies to display how transcendent love can be. He wants to be sure everyone else can feel it, too, asking, “can you feel the love tonight?”
Related: You probably know this song from The Lion King soundtrack.
Will You Love Me Tomorrow? – The Shirelles
Deciding to be intimate with someone can be a scary step, especially for women. There’s always that underlying fear that once you spend the night together, the other person won’t be interested in going further. The narrator voices her anxieties in this string-filled song, saying, “tonight the light of love is in your eyes, but will you love me tomorrow?”
Related: Hear this classic on our list of 60s songs.
What’s Love Got to Do With It? – Tina Turner
Love doesn’t have to be present in every romantic interaction.Sometimes, you can just have fun with another person without strings attached. Tina Turner is unapologetic about this perspective, and her strong vocals tell us she is always ready for a good time, even if there aren’t any deeper feelings present.
Related: Find more great girl karaoke songs.
Who Do You Love? – The Chainsmokers (featuring 5 Seconds of Summer)
This jam mixes 5 Seconds of Summer’s pop rock style with The Chainsmokers’ electronic production for a perfect dance song. Despite its catchiness, the song is about being cheated on. The narrator confronts his partner, saying, “you can’t even look me in the eye, well I can tell, I know you’re lying.” He just wants to know who he’s been replaced by and if the relationship is really over.
Have I Told You Lately (That I Love You)? – Van Morrison
This romantic ballad features lovely melodies and heartwarming strings. Van Morrison is singing about a love he’s been neglecting, and the language he uses could apply to a romantic or spiritual relationship. Whichever connection he is seeking, he promises he is committed. “Have I told you there’s no one else above you?”
Related: Here are the best love songs of the 90s.
Have You Ever Seen the Rain? – Creedence Clearwater Revival
This folk rock song talks about the dreadful anticipation of a storm you know is coming. Things may be calm now, but an unavoidable problem is coming. The problem may be solvable, but there will always be more in life. The cyclical nature of sadness and hardship is shown in the line “forever on it goes, through the circle, fast and slow.”
Related: Here is our rain songs playlist.
Baby Can I Hold You? – Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman calls out the shortcomings of her partner’s love in this moving track. She lists all the simple things she wants to hear, like “I’m sorry” and “I love you.” These are standard sayings in a romantic relationship, but all Chapman’s partner can say is, “baby, can I hold you tonight?” It tells us that this is a superficial kind of love where each side seems to want different things.
Related: Need to apologize? Here are the best songs about being sorry.
What About Us? – Pink
On the first listen, this song sounds like a plea to a partner when a relationship is on the rocks. “What about love? What about trust? What about us?” But Pink actually wrote this about politicians and their too-often empty promises. Leaders ask the public to trust them and vote for them in exchange for a better life but never deliver. Pink wonders why they feel comfortable abandoning the public, asking over and over, “what about us?”
Related: You can hear this song on our list of Pink’s songs.
Where Did You Sleep Last Night? – Nirvana
The slow crawl of this song and the resentful vocals add a menacing feel to this song. Originally a track from the 1800s, Nirvana modernizes this tale about infidelity. It’s told from the perspective of a man who knows his girl has cheated on him, and he angrily asks her, “where did you sleep last night?” as the song builds in intensity.
Related: Zzzz… Doze with the best songs about sleeping.
More songs with questions in the title:
- Are You Lonesome Tonight? – Elvis Presley
- Why Do Fools Fall in Love? – The Teenagers
- Do You Wanna Dance? – The Beach Boys
- Where Do the Children Play? – Cat Stevens
- How Deep is Your Love – Bee Gees
- Where Have All the Flowers Gone? – Pete Seeger