Friday, November 27, 2015

"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" by Michael Jackson

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1474
Date:  05/28/1983
Debut:  41
Peak:  5
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  After the back-to-back #1's of "Billie Jean" and "Beat It," Jackson issued this fourth single from his mega-hit album "Thriller." Although it didn't have a video like the previous two hits to help it along, the song easily went to #5 at both Pop and R&B. Jackson originally wrote the song for his sister La Toya, but then decided to record the tune himself. It was initially recorded in his "Off the Wall" sessions, but was not chosen to be on the album. He then rerecorded the tune for "Thriller" and this time it made the cut serving as the album's lead cut. The song was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Song, but it lost to another "Thriller" track "Billie Jean."

ReduxReview:  Ah, the genius of Michael Jackson. I mean, there are very few people who could write an entire song around two chords and make it into something exciting and awesome. This thing has hooks all over the place, and not just in the melody - the bass line, the horns, etc. I played this song quite a bit back in the day. I thought it was, well...thrilling. It's definitely not as classic as "Billie Jean" or "Beat It," but it comes pretty close.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  It seems the famous phrase used in this song, "mama say mama sa mama ko-sa," was an adaptation of a phrase used in the song "Soul Makossa" by Manu Dibango. That song reached #35 on the Pop chart in 1973. It was Dibango's only chart entry. The similarity between the phrases was not lost on Dibango who sued Jackson. Jackson freely admitted he did borrow from Dibango's song and settled out of court with Dibango. Unfortunately, in 2007 when Jackson and his label gave approval for Rihanna to use samples of "Wanna Be" in her song "Don't Stop the Music" (#3), they forgot about getting permission from Dibango as well because the samples Rihanna used contained the disputed phrase. Dibango balked again and while awaiting resolution on credits and royalties, Dibango sued both artists for damages stemming from the incident. That case was thrown out, but the matter of credit and royalties worked itself out.


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