"You Keep Me Hangin' On" is a 1966 hit song originally recorded by The Supremes for the Motown label. Written and produced by Motown's main production team Holland-Dozier-Holland, and was the number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for two weeks in November 1966, and the number one the soul chart for four weeks.
The track is one of the more oft-covered songs in the Supremes canon. Musicians such as Wilson Pickett, Rod Stewart, Melanie Safka, and Reba McEntire have all recorded versions of the song, but the three most successful remakes were recorded by the late-1960s rock band Vanilla Fudge, 1980s pop singer Kim Wilde, and by Madness on their 2005 album The Dangermen Sessions.
While both are very much rooted in rhythm & blues
, the Supremes' previous single, "You Can't Hurry Love
," showcased a gospel music
feel, while "You Keep Me Hangin' On" leans more towards proto-funk
. Songwriter Lamont Dozier
got most of his inspiration for the song's Morse code
-like guitar line from listening to the "news flash" signal over the radio, and he and brothers Brian
and Eddie Holland
integrated the idea into a song.
Many elements of the recording, including the guitars, the drums, and Ross's lead vocal, were multitracked (the parts were recorded multiple times and the takes layered over one another). Florence Ballard also contributed to the lead vocal. This was all done to create a fuller sound than the previous Supremes records. H-D-H recorded the song nine different times with the Supremes and session band The Funk Brothers before they got the version they were finally satisfied with.
"You Keep Me Hangin' On" was the first single from the Supremes' 1967 album The Supremes Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland. The original version was #339 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Vanilla Fudge version
's 1967 psychedelic
/hard rock remake of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" reached #6 on the Hot 100 chart two years after the release of the Supremes' recording. While the version released on 45 RPM single
was under three minutes long, the album version was extended to six minutes and forty-five seconds. The recording, done in one take, was Vanilla Fudge's first single.
Kim Wilde version
"You Keep Me Hangin' On" was covered in an updated version by British singer Kim Wilde
in 1986. It was released as the second single from Wilde's Another Step
album (although "You Keep Me Hangin' On" was the LP's first worldwide single, as the first single had only been released in selected countries).
Wilde's version was a total re-working of the original, completely transforming the Supremes' Motown Sound into a 1980s power pop song. She and her brother, producer Ricki Wilde, had not heard "You Keep Me Hangin' On" for several years when they decided to record it. The song was not a track they knew well, so they treated it as a new song, even slightly changing the original lyrics. It became the biggest hit of Wilde's career, reaching #2 in her home country as well as hitting the top spot in Europe and Australia. It also became Wilde's only major hit in the US, spending a week at number one in 1987.
Incidentally, since Wilde's recording was popular during the evolution of sample-based hip hop, a short drum break in her version has become one of the most sampled pieces of audio ever. In 2006, she performed a new version of the song with the German singer Nena for her Never Say Never album.
Rod Stewart version
Rod Stewart's 1977 blues/rock remake of "You Keep Me Hangin' On", (included in the album "Foot Loose & Fancy Free") is one the most powerfull versions of the original song.
American Idol covers
On the popular FOX
reality TV show American Idol
, whenever "You Keep Me Hangin' On" was performed by a finalist, including Vanessa Olivarez
on the second season
and Leah LaBelle
on the third season
, it was considered a "curse" for them to be sent home the night after their performances. However, Blake Lewis
, the runner-up on the sixth season
, delivered it on March 13
and "broke the curse" with his techno
arrangement. Its studio version was released on the American Idol official website
and later in the American Idol Season 6: The Collector's Edition
, the compilation
of the studio versions of song performed by the finalists of Idol
American Idol Season 3 contestant Camile Velasco recorded a cover of "You Keep Me Hangin' on" for Motown Records, but was dropped after the single was released.
- Overwhelming Colorfast recorded a cover version for the 5-track Bender in 1992.
- Tim Buckley recorded a live version of the song on the album Dream Letter Live in London (1968).
- The British psychedelic group The Tea Company recorded a cover version in 1968.
- In 1969, the English progressive rock group The Nice recorded a version live on a Swedish radio program. This version is very similar to Vanilla Fudge's in its slower tempo and heavier feel.
- Aretha Franklin released a soulful recorded version from an outtake from her albums This Girl's in Love With You and Spirit in the Dark from c. 1969. It was released on Rhino compact disc titled Aretha Franklin: Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of Aretha Franklin.
- Studio One reggae recording artist Ken Boothe released a cover of the song in 1974, which was recently re-released on the Studio One Soul compilation.
- In 1977, Rod Stewart covered the song on his album Foot Loose & Fancy Free.
- Mina recorded a hard-rock version of the song for her album Kyrie in 1980.
- The British band Colourbox released a version as a b-side to their 'The Moon Is Blue' single in 1985. The song is also featured on their 1985 debut eponymous album. This version is sung by Lorita Grahame.
- Madness recorded a cover, similar in style to Kim Wilde's version, in 2005 for their cover album The Dangermen Sessions Vol. 1.
- In 2007 British producer Mark Ronson incorporated a portion of the lyrics of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" into his single "Stop Me". "Stop Me", with a lead vocal by Daniel Merriweather, was primarily a cover of The Smiths "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before", adding the chorus of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" toward the end of the recording.
- New York based heavy metal trio The Rods covered the song for their 1982 album "Wild Dogs."
- The cover band Spin 1ne 2wo recorded the song with a progressive rock styled arrangement in their album in 1993
- In November 2007, Rockell released a new dance single with Canada's Odeon Records, "You Keep Me Hanging On."
- A house cover was done by Anca in 2007 featuring mostly the hook from the chorus.
- Norwegian band Theatre of Tragedy covered the song for the B-side of their 2002 single Envision.