Michael Jackson releases "Beat It"

"Beat It" is a song by American recording artist Michael Jackson.

It was written by Jackson and co-produced by Quincy Jones for the singer's sixth solo album, Thriller (1982). Jones had wanted an ambitious black rock 'n' roll song, however, Jackson had never previously shown an interest in the genre. Eddie Van Halen was drafted in to add the distinctive overdriven guitar solo with tapping, but initially thought the phone calls from Jones requesting that he participate were fake. The lyrics of "Beat It" are about defeat and courage, despite media sources jokingly stating that they are a reference to masturbation.

Following the successful chart performances of Thriller, "The Girl Is Mine" and "Billie Jean", "Beat It" was released on February 14, 1983, as the album's third single. The song was a worldwide commercial and critical success, becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time. Both "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" occupied Top 5 positions at the same time, a feat matched by very few artists. One of the most lauded songs in history, "Beat It" was certified platinum in 1989.

Honoured numerous times—including two Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards and an induction into the Music Video Producers Hall of Fame—"Beat It" and the song's music video propelled Thriller into becoming the best-selling album of all time. The song was promoted with a short film that featured Jackson bringing two real life gangs together through the power of dance. Covered and sampled by modern artists, including Fergie and Fall Out Boy, the song was included in the National Highway Safety Commission's anti-drunk driving campaign. "Beat It" has become a signature song of Jackson; the singer has performed it on all of his world tours.

"Beat It"
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Thriller
Released: February 14, 1983
Genre: Rock, R&B
Length: 4:19
Label: Epic Records
Writer(s): Michael Jackson
Producer: Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones
Certification: Platinum (RIAA)