Song of the Day #5,432: ‘Beat It’ – Michael Jackson

Today we throw back 40 years to the week of May 14, 1983, when a song called ‘Beat It’ by little-known pop singer Michael Jackson topped the Billboard Hot 100.

I was surprised to see I hadn’t featured ‘Beat It’ on the blog through 5,432 Songs of the Day. The closest I’ve come is a Random Weekend feature of ‘Beat It 2008,’ a bonus track on the 25th anniversary re-release of Thriller that remixed the song and added vocals by Fergie. Exhibit A of why Throwback Weekends are already better than Random Weekends.

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Song of the Day #4,979: ‘Burn This Disco Out’ – Michael Jackson

To help appreciate the astounding popularity of Michael Jackson, consider that 1979’s Off the Wall sold more than 20 million copies worldwide… and it’s his fifth best-selling album.

What’s nuts is that the four albums Jackson released before this one, all between 1972 and 1975 on Motown Records, barely made a dent. Those records, recorded by a teenaged Jackson in a style very much like his work with the Jackson 5, showed few hints of the R&B/disco juggernaut to come.

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Song of the Day #3,900: ‘She’s Out of My Life’ – Michael Jackson

My second Michael Jackson post in a little over a week, this one comes from Jackson’s classic 1979 album Off the Wall, arguably his overall best release.

Written by Tom Bahler, ‘She’s Out of My Life’ became the fourth top ten single from Off the Wall. Producer Quincy Jones originally intended to give the song to Frank Sinatra but he wanted to see what Jackson could do with a mature ballad. Jackson famously couldn’t help but tear up during the song’s final lines, and you can hear his voice cracking on the final version.

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Song of the Day #3,890: ‘Remember the Time’ – Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson’s Dangerous is the top-selling 1991 album worldwide, though it has sold “only” 8 million copies in the United States. Jackson’s follow-up to Bad and Thriller doesn’t have as many hits as those albums but it certainly found an audience.

I remember listening to this album a fair amount when it came out, though skimming it now I don’t recognize most of the songs. The exceptions are ‘Black and White,’ ‘Heal the World,’ ‘Dangerous,’ and today’s SOTD, ‘Remember the Time.’ I don’t much like any of those other than this one, but I like this one a lot.

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Song of the Day #3,363: ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’ – Michael Jackson

Getting back to the 30 Day Music Challenge, today’s task is to name ‘A Song That Makes You Want To Dance.’ Lots of great candidates here.

I quickly chose to go with a Michael Jackson tune, and then had to decide which one. While Thriller is a pop/R&B juggernaut, I consider Off the Wall a much better funk/dance album. And opening track ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’ is the funkiest, danciest track of them all.

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