Saturday, April 25, 1970

The Jackson 5 “ABC” hit #1


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


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” mastered the formula, 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.


  • 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.

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