Michael Jackson – Beat it: Timeless Rock Anthem
“Beat It” is a timeless rock anthem by the legendary American singer Michael Jackson. It was released in 1983 as part of his iconic sixth studio album, “Thriller.” Written and composed by Jackson himself, the song’s production was a collaborative effort with Quincy Jones, who encouraged Jackson to include a rock song on the album. Jackson’s goal was to create a track that would appeal to a wide audience, from school children to college students.
The song’s composition includes a mesmerizing guitar solo by the incomparable Eddie Van Halen, lead guitarist of the hard rock band Van Halen. Van Halen’s solo adds a captivating and energetic element to the song, making it one of the most recognized and celebrated rock tracks in the history of popular music.
Upon its release, “Beat It” quickly climbed the charts and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for three weeks. It also topped the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart, making it a massive hit both in the mainstream and R&B markets. Billboard ranked the song as the fifth-best track of 1983, and it achieved an impressive 8× platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) with over 11 million copies sold worldwide. “Beat It” also achieved the number one position in various European countries, solidifying its status as an international hit.
The impact of “Beat It” was not limited to its chart success. The accompanying music video, which showcased Jackson bringing two rival gangs together through the power of music and dance, helped establish him as a global pop icon. The video, directed by Bob Giraldi, featured authentic gang members, professional dancers, and breakdancers, and it showcased Jackson’s trademark synchronized dance moves.
For its incredible success and lasting influence on pop culture, “Beat It” received numerous accolades and awards. At the 1984 Grammy Awards, the song won two of a record-breaking eight awards for Jackson: Record of the Year and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. It was also inducted into the Music Video Producers Hall of Fame and received seven Billboard Video Awards.
“Beat It” has not only stood the test of time but has also continued to garner praise and recognition. It ranked at number 337 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004 and rose to number 185 in the updated 2021 list. Additionally, the song was named the 81st greatest guitar song of all time by the magazine.
The song’s success, memorable guitar solo, and groundbreaking music video have cemented “Beat It” as one of the most celebrated and influential tracks in the history of popular music. Its powerful message against violence and its ability to unite people through music make it a song that continues to resonate with audiences of all generations.