Song 1: The Jackson 5, “I Want You Back” (1969)


Is there a more perfect pop song than “I Want You Back”? Even the first few seconds are pure adrenaline: the piano slide, the guitar octaves, the handclaps. It’s solid through and through, but also airy and carefree. It’s unbridled confidence, which is amazing considering 1) it’s sung by a ten-year-old and 2) it’s about a person begging for forgiveness. Oblivious to obstacles, unwilling to accept no for an answer–that’s pop music for you.

The arrangement of “I Want You Back” is simple but brilliant. That immortal bassline snakes around, and that chiming guitar never stops playing G#, the song’s key, providing the foundation. Michael yells, the strings swell. It’s everything great about music, and it’s all over in exactly three minutes.


3 Comments on “Song 1: The Jackson 5, “I Want You Back” (1969)”

  1. Dizzy Miss Lizzy says:

    Groovy, baby! (Though some, i.e. Dad, might say the most perfect pop song is “Downtown” by Petula Clark….) I forgot how much I love the opening piano slide.

  2. davidcbrusie says:

    Ha! I thought of that too.

  3. Superb post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject?
    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more.

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