This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #407: Want You Back by The Jackson 5.
Before Michael Jackson became “The King of Pop”, he was a member of a family singing group called The Jackson Five. Managed by the mercurial hand of their father, Joe Jackson, The Jackson Five sang and danced together all through their childhood years. Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jermaine and Jackie performed throughout the “Chitlin’ Circuit” in the 1960s. As they did, father Joe reached out to all manner of established stars and music industry-types to sign the family up and help them to realize the success that he knew existed within the group. Eventually, they were seen by Gladys Knight and were brought (by her) to the attention of Barry Gordy, the Head of Motown Records. He agreed that there was something unique and special about the five brothers (especially, the youngest one, Michael) and he signed them to a contract.
The Jackson Five became part of the Motown family and, as such, they were incorporated into the hit-making factory that was Motown Records at the time. At Motown, The Jackson Five were assigned a producer and a songwriter. They spent their initial months recording covers of existing Blues and Motown hits. Eventually, a marriage of convenience was arranged and The Jackson Five were formally paired with existing Motown star, Diana Ross, whose job it was to act as mentor to the group. It was in this arrangement that The Jackson Five released their first record for Motown called, “Diana Ross presents The Jackson Five”. On that record was a song called, “Want You Back”. That song was the first of four consecutive #1 hits released at Motown (“ABC”, “I’ll Be There” and “The Love You Save”, being the others).
“Want You Back” was first performed live on a TV show that Diana Ross had back in the day called “Diana Ross’ The Hollywood Palace”. But, their big break came a month or so later when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. After that appearance, The Jackson Five became worldwide sensations, laying the foundation for the emergence of Michael Jackson as a solo performer a decade later. “Want You Back” went straight to #1 on the charts, selling six million copies worldwide. It has ended up being inducted into the Song category at The Rock n’ Roll hall of Fame, along with The Jackson Five (as a group) and Michael Jackson (as a solo artist). If you want to see what all the fuss was about then, here is the video for “Want You Back” by The Jackson Five. Even waaaay back then, the talent and charisma were obvious. Enjoy.
The link to the music video for Want You Back by The Jackson 5 can be found here.
A website dedicated to maintaining the legacy of The Jackson 5 can be found here.
A website dedicated to maintaining the legacy of Michael Jackson can be found here.
Thanks to KEXP for helping to inspire the writing of this post. A link to their website can be found here.