Got to, got to, got to talk about this group today: the Legendary, the Iconic, the Timeless, Jackson 5.
There has been much said and written about this group, anchored by the lead singer who would become the most recognized figure in modern music: the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
So, there isn’t too much more a blog like this could add when so much literature is already out there. What we can do for now is remember and embrace the genius of this group by taking a look at one of its many performances.
As one of the first four singles released by this group, I Want You Back was released in 1970 and rocketed to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts, making the Jackson Five the first recording act ever to have its first four singles all reach the top spot (the others were ABC, The Love You Save, and I’ll Be There). It was a hit then, and when we hear it even today, we can’t help but get up and rock out.
Of its many elements, the first I want to note is the layering effect that rolls out the song. The song first is anchored by one of the most memorable — and recognizable — basslines in all of music, accompanied by steady cymbals. The strings (in this live performance, the guitars) join in with a counter melody line, and the conga drums add to the groove, before the right hand of the piano cascades down with along with a wailing young Michael Jackson. The bassline repeats until they reach the chorus, when it turns into a simple walking version of itself and his brothers join in with the backup vocals.
Its simplicity, yet fullness of sound with the strings and the backup vocals all united by the theme of redemption and forgiveness — unmistakable tropes of soul music — produce an unforgettable hit people all want to get up and dance to even decades later this very day.