Saturday, April 25, 1970

The Jackson 5 “ABC” hit #1

ABC

The Jackson 5

Writer(s): Berry Gordy, Freddie Perren, Deke Richards, Fonce Mizell (see lyrics here)


Released: February 24, 1970


First Charted: March 6, 1970


Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 11 GR, 12 HR, 14 RB, 8 UK, 14 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.6 UK


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 78.4 video, 328.97 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Jackson 5, fronted by a pre-teen Michael Jackson, burst onto the scene in 1969 with their #1 hit “I Want You Back,” “a perfect song.” SG It was the group’s first Motown single with chief Berry Gordy actively involved in writing the song. It “was a Motown tradition for a follow-up to resemble the song it succeeded” FB so when it came to putting together a follow-up, “his brainstrust pretty much just rewrote ‘I Want You Back’ as closely as possible.” SG That would seemingly be “an artistically bankrupt move” SG but Gordy knew “how well formulaic pop music could work.” SG

The resulting “ABC” “might’ve improved on it,” giving the group its second of four consecutive #1 hits. The song was “based around the goofy idea that learning about love is like learning the alphabet.” SG Freddie Perren, one of the songwriters, was a former school teacher. He said they wrote roughly ten verses before landing on the two “that conveyed just the right amount of energy and innocence.” SF

“Pop history really would be much the poorer without ‘ABC,’ as it personifies all that is exciting about pop.” LW Like its predecessor, the song is “fast and jittery and joyous” SG and driven by “the way that Michael and his brothers would euphorically bounce their voices off of each other.” SG “It’s a ridiculously funky confection, with fuzzed-out guitars and berserker bongos and a nagging piano riff that keeps the song airborne throughout.” SG Michael “spends the whole song sounding like the teenage Superman at the precise moment that he figured out that he could fly.” SG

Rapper 50 Cent says it was the first song he remembered hearing. WK In 1991, Naughty by Nature sampled the song in its hit “O.P.P.” Rosario Dawson dances to “ABC” in the 2006 movie Clerks II.


Resources:

  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 272.
  • LW Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 131.
  • SF Songfacts
  • SG Stereogum (12/20/2018). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia


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First posted 11/21/2022.

Saturday, April 11, 1970

The Beatles hit #1 with “Let It Be”

Let It Be

The Beatles

Writer(s): John Lennon/Paul McCartney (see lyrics here)


Released: March 6, 1970


First Charted: March 6, 1970


Peak: 12 US, 14 CB, 14 GR, 13 HR, 14 AC, 1 CL, 2 UK, 13 CN, 16 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, -- UK, 7.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 5.0 radio, 75.36 video, 354.61 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Debuting at #6 on the Hot 100, “Let It Be” was that chart’s highest debut to date. It became one of the Beatles’ most enduring ballads. Although credited to Lennon-McCartney, it was solely a Paul McCartney effort. AMG The song was Inspired Aretha Franklin’s “church-born soul,” RS500 giving it a spiritual quality. Between that and its mix of elements of rock, pop, and gospel, the song tread similar ground as Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” AMG the song it knocked off the top of the Hot 100.

McCartney initiated writing during the contenious White Album sessions in 1968 RS500 and unveiled a bare-bones version in January 1969, during the rehearsals for the Let It Be album. RS500 Misinterpreting Paul’s “secular humanism for self-righteous piety,” RS500 John Lennon reacted with brutal dismissiveness. RS500 For whatever reason, that song and others from those sessions sat on the shelves unreleased until after the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. When finally released in 1970, the song hit #1 the same week that the Beatles broke up, a coincidence which has spurred speculation that the song was intended as “an unofficial, subtle epitaph to the Beatles’ career.” AMG

Indeed, McCartney crafts a song of consolidation during times of darkness, a message which could certainly be viewed as a statement to Beatles’ fans. AMG However, it was Paul’s mother, who died of cancer when Paul was fourteen, who inspired the opening lines, “When I find myself in times of trouble/ Mother Mary comes to me.” WK Paul had a dream in which his mother came to him to offer comfort, saying, in his words, “It will be all right, just let it be.” WK


Resources:


Related Links:


First posted 7/13/2014; last updated 11/26/2022.