This was written and produced by Stevie Wonder, who also contributed backing vocals to this track. He's also credited on the drums, piano, guitar, and synthesizer.
When The Jackson 5 left Motown for Epic Records, Jermaine Jackson opted to remain with the label as a solo artist as he was then married to Hazel Gordy, the daughter of Motown owner Berry Gordy. He recorded a couple of unsuccessful albums so Berry Gordy became concerned about his son-in-law's waning career. When he heard a track Stevie Wonder was working on called "Let's Get Serious," he thought it would be ideal for Jermaine and persuaded Stevie to let his son-in-law record it.
In this funky love song, Jackson falls for a girl and tries to get her to commit, singing "Let's get serious." It topped the R&B chart for six weeks in 1980, making it the longest-running #1 involving Wonder since "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours
" topped the tally a decade earlier. Both tunes were co-written by Lee Garrett, a former nightclub singer who befriended Wonder at the Michigan School for the Blind.
This is one of Jermaine Jackson's biggest hits in the UK, where he came in second to Shilpa Shetty in the 2007 Celebrity Big Brother finale.
In a Billboard magazine interview, Garrett recalled when Wonder first brought the track to him: "He said, 'What do you hear?' I listened and listened, and all of a sudden it hit me, and I started jumping up and down, singing 'let's get serious.' That's it. He wrote most of the words and stuff. I just kind of did the track and the melody. I felt particularly proud of that, because it was only our two names on it."
Jackson tried his best to nail a Wonder-ful lead vocal, but knows he didn't quite match the singer's vision. "Stevie wrote it for me, but when he dubbed me in on the song, we did it 15 times," he told Billboard. "I'm pretty sure I got pretty close to how he wanted it, but still it's not how he would sing the song."
Aside from Jackson and Wonder, the other backing vocalists were Angela Winbush, Alexandra Brown, and Marva Holcolm, who sang on Wonder's 1980 hit "Master Blaster (Jammin')
." Additional musicians included Nathan Watts (bass), Rick Zunigar (guitar), Ben Bridges (guitar), and Larry Gittens (trumpet).
This was used in the 2016 comedy Everybody Wants Some!!, which follows a group of college baseball players in 1980.
This earned Jackson a Grammy nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.