Can you believe it’s been 7 years since Michael Jackson passed away? It feels like it was just last week. His legacy is far from gone, however, and this week, we’ll be taking a look at and celebrating what made MJ the true King of Pop.
Everyone has an origins story, and for Michael Jackson, that was the Jackson 5, a group made up of him and his brothers – Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon – that he joined when he was only six years old in 1964. They would later become the Jacksons when brother Randy replaced Jermaine after the group switched music labels, and eventually they would all pursue solo careers to varying degrees. But while they were together, they became one of the most famous and influential music groups of all time. Let’s take a look at some of their top songs.
“I Want You Back” (1969)
This is it, the first hit single that started it all and really jumpstarted the Jackson 5’s success, and is highly regarded as one of the greatest pop songs of the 1960s. In it, a young Michael sings about wanting a former lover back after not appreciating them enough the first time around. It reached the number one spot on both the the Soul singles chart and the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. It was also ranked 121st on Rolling Stone‘s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” and has sold 6 million copies around the world.
Considered one of the Jackson 5’s signature songs, “ABC” has that catchy, playful beat that you just can’t help but dance and sing along to. It was written in a similar design as “I Want You Back,” and was first performed on the show American Bandstand on February 21st, 1970. “ABC” was their second-straight number one hit single, knocking the Beatles’ “Let It Be” from the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100.
“I’ll Be There” (1970)
“I’ll Be There” is one of the group’s most popular songs and their best-selling single, with 4.2 million copies sold in the U.S. and 6.1 million sold worldwide. A slow and steady ballad compared to their other fast-paced beats, Michael beautifully sings about promising to always be there for a lover, even if she “should ever find someone new.” The song became the Jackson 5’s fourth-straight number one hit single on the Hot 100 (after “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” and “The Love You Save“), which made them the first recording group to have their first four singles reach the top spot of the chart. Michael would perform this song as part of a Jackson 5 medley during his solo tours, and he listed it as one of his three favorite songs the group recorded for Motown.
“Dancing Machine” (1974)
“Dancing Machine” makes anyone who listens to its funky beat just that – a dancing machine. The song was the Jackson 5’s first hit on the US Top Ten since 1971, and it reached the number two spot on the Hot 100 and number one on the R&B charts. In addition, it reportedly sold over 3 million copies. What the song is best known for, however, is Michael’s use of the advanced dance move, the Robot, during live performances of the song.
“Can You Feel It” (1981)
An incredibly powerful song about “the whole world coming together now,” the Jacksons released “Can You Feel It” as the third single off their album Triumph. It peaked at number six on the charts in the UK, and features lead solos by Michael and Randy. It’s most notably known for its music video, called “The Triumph,” which features stunning special effects. The video was voted one of 100 best videos of all time, as part of a poll for MTV’s 20th anniversary.