Beat It

original song written, composed, and performed by Michael Jackson

"Beat It" is a song by singer Michael Jackson. It was produced by Jackson and Quincy Jones. It is on his sixth album, Thriller (1982). It was released as the album's third single on February 14, 1983. There is also a music video for the song. The song has a guitar solo by Eddie Van Halen. He chose to make the guitar solo without getting paid. It got the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance in 1984.

"Beat It"
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Thriller
  • "Get on the Floor" (US)
  • "Burn This Disco Out" (UK)
ReleasedFebruary 14, 1983
StudioWestlake (Los Angeles, California)[1]
Songwriter(s)Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Billie Jean"
"Beat It"
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
Music video
"Beat It" at YouTube

"Beat It" was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks.[5] Billboard said it was one of the top five songs of 1983.[6] The song is certified platinum by the RIAA. Over 11 million copies of the song have been sold. It is one of the best-selling singles ever made. "Beat It" was number one on music charts in many countries, such as Spain, Canada, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.[7][8][9]

The song also has a music video. It shows Jackson stopping two gangs from fighting each other, and then dancing with them. The video was very popular. It helped make Jackson a pop icon.[10] Many people say the song and video were important for pop culture.[5][11]

"Weird Al" Yankovic made a parody of the song called "Eat It". Fall Out Boy covered the song with John Mayer on their 2008 album Folie à Deux.

Production change

Jackson made a demo version of the song at his house. Other people that made music helped him make it. The drum sounds for the song were made on a drum machine. The bass guitar sounds for the song were made using a bass guitar and a keyboard. This style of making bass guitar sounds was used in the main song.[12] Jermaine Jackson has said the song was inspired by things that happened when the Jackson family lived in Gary, Indiana.[13]

Guitar solo change

Eddie Van Halen playing the guitar

Jackson and Jones asked Eddie Van Halen, the main guitar player for Van Halen, to make a guitar solo for the song.[14] Van Halen recorded the guitar solo for free. He said that he did it "as a favor". The rest of the band thought he should have asked for money, but he did not want to.[5] Van Halen recorded the guitar solo after Jones and Jackson came to his house. Two versions of the guitar solo were made.[15] In 2015, Van Halen said he also changed the song so that his solo was in the key of E.[16]

When Van Halen was recording the solo, a loudspeaker started burning. Because of this, one of the people recording the music said "This must be really good!"[17] Van Halen later said that working with Jackson was one of the best moments in his career.[18]

Track listing change

"Beat It" was released as a single. It was released on 7-inch and 12-inch vinyl records.

7" vinyl single – US (Epic 34-03759)[19]
No. Title Length
1. "Beat It"   4:18
2. "Get on the Floor"   4:44
12" vinyl single – UK (Epic TA 3258)[20]
No. Title Length
1. "Beat It"   4:11
2. "Burn This Disco Out"   3:38
3. "The Jacksons – Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" (live version) 4:22

References change

  1. Roberts, Randall (August 29, 2012). "Michael Jackson's 'Human Nature': An NYC classic on his birthday". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  2. Halstead & Cadman 2003, p. 40.
  3. Cromelin, Richard (December 12, 1982). "Jackson goes over 'The Wall'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  4. Gill, Andy (June 27, 2009). "'Thriller' was the masterpiece that set tone for pop's next generation". The Independent. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Cadman, Chris; Halstead, Craig (2007). Michael Jackson: For the Record. Authors On Line. ISBN 978-0-7552-0267-6.
  6. "Longbored Surfer - 1983". Retrieved 2023-05-04.
  7. "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6269." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  8. "Michael Jackson – Beat It". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  9. "Michael Jackson – Beat It" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  10. Campbell, Lisa D. (January 1993). Michael Jackson: The King of Pop. Branden Books. ISBN 978-0-8283-1957-7.
  11. Thriller 25th Anniversary - the Book: Celebrating the Biggest Selling Album of All Time. ML Publishing Group. 2008. ISBN 978-0-9768891-9-9.
  12. "Inside Tracks: The keyboards on Thriller". Keyboard. Vol. 10, no. 7. July 1984. p. 10.
  13. Jackson, Jermaine (2011). You Are Not Alone: Michael: Through a Brother's Eyes. Simon & Schuster. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-4516-5158-4.
  14. Shields, Gerard (April 22, 1983). "Motown going strong into the '80s". Daily Collegian. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012.
  15. Quan, Denise (2012-11-30). "Eddie Van Halen deconstructs his collaboration on 'Beat It'". CNN. Retrieved 2023-05-04.
  16. Klosterman, Chuck (June 19, 2015). "Billboard Cover: Eddie Van Halen on Surviving Addiction, Why He's Still Making Music and What He Really Thinks of David Lee Roth (and Other Past Van Halen Bandmates)". Billboard. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  17. "The Many Lives of Q". BBC. December 10, 2010. Archived from the original on 16 November 2021. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  18. Cracknell, Nick (June 29, 2009). "Musicians Pay Tribute to Michael Jackson". MusicRadar. Retrieved May 2, 2022.
  19. Popoff, Martin (2009). Goldmine Price Guide to 45 RPM Records (7th ed.). Krause. p. 354. ISBN 978-0-89689-958-2.[permanent dead link]
  20. Halstead, Craig; Cadman, Chris (2003). Jacksons Number Ones. Authors On Line Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7552-0098-6.