Beat It

Article

July 5, 2022

Beat It is a song by American artist Michael Jackson, taken from the album Thriller released in 1982. Written and composed by Jackson, co-produced by Quincy Jones, it is the 3rd single from this album. Following the excellent sales of the first two singles from Thriller, namely The Girl Is Mine and Billie Jean, the single from Beat It was released on February 14, 1983. The title obtained enormous worldwide success, both commercially and critically, and became the one of the best-selling singles of all time. At one point, the singles Billie Jean and Beat It both made it into the Top 5 best-selling records in the United States. Beat It was also certified platinum in 1989 in this country. Beat It has been honored numerous times, including two Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards and entry into the Music Video Producers Hall of Fame. Covered and sampled by several artists, Jackson also gave his permission for it to be used for an anti-drunk driving campaign. The artist receives for this an award from President Ronald Reagan at the White House.

Composition

During the creation of Thriller, Quincy Jones decided to add a rock song to give credibility to the album. Its goal is to succeed in seducing the white public, and in particular young people who like hard rock, while keeping a song with accents of black music so as not to cut itself off from the African-American public. He asks Michael Jackson to imagine a "black" version of the hit My Sharona by the Californian rock band The Knack. Jackson agreed to write the song, and later said, "I wanted to write a song, the type of song I would have bought if I had to buy a rock song... That's how I approached it and I wanted young people really love it — school children as well as high school students. To record the track, Michael Jackson collaborated with members of the Toto group. Two of them had already collaborated with him for Off the Wall. Apart from the solo, it is Toto's guitarist, Steve Lukather, who plays on the whole piece. However, as he himself admits, everyone only remembers Eddie Van Halen. He recalls, “He actually hired us because he liked what we were doing. It happened in a good mood and without problems. On certain points, he had his demands. On others, he let us do whatever we wanted. Anyway, he wasn't there all the time. We did Beat it without him! », From the first listening to a recording with the songs, Quincy Jones is delighted and confirms that it is exactly what he wanted. Rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen, frontman of the hard rock band Van Halen, is recruited to perform an electric guitar solo. When Quincy Jones calls him on the phone to ask him to participate in the title, Van Halen is convinced to be the victim of a telephone prank. After realizing the call was genuine, Van Halen obtains an amplifier on loan from Allan Holdsworth. Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson come to his house with a draft of the song for him to record his contribution. While recording, the amplifier caught fire when Van Halen played his solo. The latter did not ask to be paid for his performance: "I did it as a favor [...] According to the rest of the group, my manager and just about everyone, I was an idiot complete, but I was not manipulated. I don't do anything if I don't want to. ". Fellow guitarist Steve Lukather recalls that “at first we rocked it [the song] hard because Eddie had played a good solo — but Quincy Jones thought it was too rough. So I had to reduce the overdriven guitar sound and that's what came out. », When Van Halen begins his guitar solo