This was written by Rod Temperton, who was the keyboard player and primary songwriter in the group Heatwave. He wrote their 1977 hit "Boogie Nights," which got the attention of Michael Jackson's producer, Quincy Jones, who enlisted Temperton to write some songs for Jackson. The arrangement work out quite well: The first song he wrote for Jackson was "Rock With You." Temperton also wrote the "title track to the album" and later contributed the title song to Jackson's next album: "Thriller."
This song is ostensibly about dancing, but the sexual subtext is clear. Jackson wants his girl to relax and let the music take over her body, but when they "share that beat of love," it's not likely to happen on the dance floor.
The original title was "I Want To Eat You Up," but it was quickly changed to fit Jackson's image as a wholesome heartthrob.
When "rock" is used as a verb in a song title, it typically means to play or enjoy rock music (Kiss: "Rock And Roll All Nite"). This song appropriated it as another way to describe dancing while implying something more ("boogie" and "groove" were often used in this context). Justin Timberlake used it the same way in his disco-tinged 2002 hit "Rock Your Body."
Early in the hip-hop era, Run-D.M.C. declared the group "King of Rock," claiming their stake. They distanced themselves from Jackson with the line, "It's not Michael Jackson and this is not Thriller" and by stepping on his glove in the video.
Especially when you watch the video, it dawns on you that this was a disco song... in 1979, when disco was supposed to be sleeping with the fishes (it wouldn't be right to say 'deader than disco'). In fact, it even has some soul overtones. Jackson was well-suited for the dance beats of disco, and was able to work in the genre when it was well past its prime.
You'll also find the video in the collections Video Greatest Hits - HIStory, Number Ones and Michael Jackson's Vision.
Bruce Gowers directed the music video, which was shot the same day as the clip for "She's Out of My Life." Gowers, who also directed Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," remembered working with a tight budget to create the smoky promo, with Jackson glimmering in a sequined suit. He told Rolling Stone: "In those days they were done for peanuts. Absolute peanuts. I think about all we could afford was the laser. This one was probably about $3,000. If you look at it, there's nothing there but a laser and Michael Jackson. When we did this, this was the start of his solo career. He was very, very timid, very quiet, very unassuming. Really nice, he's an absolute professional, even in those days.
It was filmed on a little stage in LA called the 800 Stage, a little stage that we got cheap because we were shooting quite a lot of music videos. There was minimal editing as well, because obviously in those days editing costs money. It was about $350 per machine per hour. If you were using two playbacks and one record, that was a lot of money Everything was rented, trust me: the cameras, the stage, the Duvetyne drop, the smoke."
This song was part of the soundtrack for the video game Michael Jackson: The Experience. That was the 2010 game which hearkened back to his Moonwalker phase (you can see it right on the cover art), and hence to the 1989 arcade game Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. And hoo-boy, we just gave every old-skool MJ fan a nostalgia flush!
Barry from Sauquoit, NyThe week of January 20, 1980, for the 2nd straight week, #1 through #7 on Billboard's Top 10 did not change: #1. Rock With You by Michael Jackson (2nd of 4 weeks at #1) #2. Do That To Me One More Time by The Captain and Tennille #3. Coward of the County by Kenny Rogers #4. Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes #5. Cruisin' by Smokey Robinson #6. Send One Your Love by Stevie Wonder #7. We Don't Talk Anymore by Cliff Richard.
Camille from Toronto, OhDefinitely one of Michael's best. Upbeat and innocently sensual. This was Michael's coming of age album.
Katie from Vienna, AustriaBack in the day, when your date played that song you knew what he wanted (and hopefully enjoyed the thought, too). We perfectly understood what it's about - believe me, it's not dancing...
Mike from Kumamoto, JapanI have to agree with Love 105 fm, and I think "Off The Wall" is a very underrated album. It has a great atmosphere to it and Rod Temperton contributed greatly, along with Quincy Jones' nicely balanced production. I also like the simple but inspired drum intro to this song.
David from Birmingham, AlIncredible but true: songwriter Rod Temperton first pitched this song (and "Off The Wall") to Karen Carpenter. She turned them down. Then, he took them to Quincy Jones, who delivered them to Michael. Can you imagine the Carpenters doing "Rock With You?" It could've happened....
Aliyah from Manchester, United Kingdommjs hotness is unblvable in mostly all of his videos, and he doesnt even know he does it! he looks so cute in that sparkly outfit and i loovvee the song so much :) rip king of music and hotness
Paul from Detroit, Mihis best song.. ever
Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiI love the video to this,with the song,hard to believe Michael Jackson is gone.
Kevin from Mobile, AlThe last great disco song. I think this song actually killed Disco. After "Off The Wall" what more can you say or do in that genre?
Kevin from Mobile, AlMy favorite song of all time. The opening drums sound like a Mardi Gras band. This song is super smooth and it ages well. This and Human Nature.
Shauna from Atlatna, GaThis is an extremely sexy song. and MJ had a way of leaving the lyrics open to whatever the listener wanted. Rock with you could be sex or dancing. :)
Vanessa from Long Island, NyThis is my favorite song from Michael Jackson. It has a funky disco feeling to it.
Angelica from Boynton, Flin rememberance of michael jackson im going to have my husband tattoo "BOOGIE" right above or on his private. cause this is one of my all time favorite songs by michael.and he says "when you feel the heat, and we gonna ride the boogie, share that beat of love.... I want to rock with you!! All nite." i want to ride the boogie lol rip michael jackson your the greatest!!
Claire from Miller's, MdI cant believe that poor Michael iz gone. He had so much talent. He could dance so awsomely.
Catron from Memphis, Tni love this song and i love micheal jackson is one of my favorite singers
Love 105 Fm from Minneapolis, MnAn amazing track from Michael Jackson. Off The Wall is easily his best solo album. Thriller=HIGHLY OVERRATED.
Jeremiah from Philadelphia, Vtthis song is one of jackson's best song's.
Benjy from Bonn, Germanythe video is one of the best ever!!
Lala from Anywhere, Mtomg have u guys seem this video. one word- INSANE!!!! waaaaaayyyy too many sparkles. but i still am in love with this song!!!!
Sarah Floyd from Bloomingdale, Ili have the song i think and i have the video i like them both. i like this song because its about love. and i want love and peace in this world like michael jackson does. and i dont want war any more just for nothing and i think war is so stupid.