About The Song

Background

“Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)” is a song by The Temptations, released in 1970 as a single from their album “Greatest Hits II.” Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, the song reflects the social and political turbulence of the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States. It marked a departure from The Temptations’ earlier love ballads, instead addressing pressing social issues with a sense of urgency and introspection.

The song’s lyrics touch on a wide range of topics, including racial inequality, war, drug abuse, and political unrest. Its powerful message resonated with audiences during a period of profound societal change, making it one of The Temptations’ most impactful and enduring songs.

Musical Style

“Ball of Confusion” is characterized by its driving, upbeat tempo and gritty funk-rock sound. The song features a distinctive bass line, punchy horns, and a prominent use of percussion, creating a sense of urgency and intensity. The instrumental arrangement, crafted by Norman Whitfield, incorporates elements of psychedelic soul and rock, reflecting the musical trends of the era.

The vocals are delivered with passion and conviction, with each member of The Temptations—Dennis Edwards, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Otis Williams—contributing to the powerful vocal harmonies. The song’s dynamic structure includes shifts in tempo and mood, enhancing its dramatic impact and reinforcing its message of chaos and confusion in the world.

Lyrics

The lyrics of “Ball of Confusion” confront the complexities and challenges facing society during the late 1960s. The song opens with a stark portrayal of the state of the world:

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“People moving out, people moving in / Why, because of the color of their skin.”

These lines address racial discrimination and segregation, highlighting the persistent inequality and injustice prevalent at the time. The chorus captures the overarching theme of confusion and turmoil:

“Ball of confusion / That’s what the world is today.”

Throughout the song, the lyrics delve into various social issues, including political corruption (“Vote for me and I’ll set you free”), environmental degradation (“The air pollution is a-foggin’ up our eyes”), and the disillusionment of youth (“Evolution, revolution, gun control, the sound of soul”). The song’s rapid-fire delivery of these issues reflects the chaotic and tumultuous nature of the era.

Cultural Impact

“Ball of Confusion” had a profound cultural impact upon its release, resonating with audiences who were grappling with the challenges of a changing world. Its blunt and unflinching portrayal of social issues struck a chord with listeners, sparking conversations and inspiring activism. The song’s success on the charts—reaching number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 2 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart—underscored its popularity and relevance.

Beyond its commercial success, “Ball of Confusion” became an anthem for social change and protest. Its themes of inequality, injustice, and political unrest resonated with the Civil Rights Movement and other activist movements of the time. The song’s call for unity and awareness contributed to its enduring legacy, inspiring generations of musicians and listeners to engage critically with societal issues.

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Conclusion

“Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)” stands as a powerful testament to The Temptations’ ability to address pressing social issues through their music. Its blend of energetic musicality, poignant lyrics, and passionate vocal performances make it a timeless classic that continues to resonate with audiences today. The song’s impact on popular culture and its relevance to ongoing social struggles highlight The Temptations’ role as pioneers of soul and R&B music, using their platform to provoke thought and inspire change.

Through its exploration of themes such as racial inequality, political corruption, and environmental degradation, “Ball of Confusion” offers a poignant reflection on the complexities of the human experience. The Temptations’ fearless approach to tackling these issues through music ensures that “Ball of Confusion” remains a relevant and influential song, reminding us of the power of music to provoke, educate, and inspire action in the face of adversity.

Video

Lyrics

🎵 Let’s sing along with the lyrics! 🎤

One, two, one, two, three, four, ow
People moving out, people moving inWhy, because of the color of their skinRun, run, run but you sure can’t hide
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a toothVote for me and I’ll set you freeRap on, brother, rap on
Well, the only person talking about love thy brother is the preacherAnd it seems nobody’s interested in learning but the teacherSegregation, determination, demonstration, integrationAggravation, humiliation, obligation to our nation
Ball of confusionOh yeah, that’s what the world is todayWoo, hey, hey
The sale of pills are at an all time highYoung folks walking round with their heads in the skyThe cities ablaze in the summer time
And oh, the beat goes on
Evolution, revolution, gun control, sound of soulShooting rockets to the moon, kids growing up too soonPoliticians say more taxes will solve everything
And the band played on
So, round and around and around we goWhere the world’s headed, nobody knows
Oh, great googa-looga, can’t you hear me talking to youJust a ball of confusionOh yeah, that’s what the world is todayWoo, hey
Fear in the air, tension everywhereUnemployment rising fast, the Beatles new record’s a gas
And the only safe place to live is on an Indian reservation
And the band played on
Eve of destruction, tax deduction, city inspectors, bill collectorsMod clothes in demand, population out of hand, suicide, too many billsHippies moving to the hills, people all over the world are shouting, end the war
And the band played on
Great googa-looga, can’t you hear me talking to youSayin’ ball of confusionThat’s what the world is today, hey, hey
Let me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear yaSayin’, ball of confusionThat’s what the world is today, hey, heyLet me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear yaBall of confusion

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