Song 1: The Jackson 5, “I Want You Back” (1969)Posted: January 2, 2013
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.