Album: ABC (1970)
Charted: 8 1

Songfacts®:

  • The Jackson 5 open the book of love in this Motown classic, where Michael Jackson sings about giving a young lady private lessons. He's confident she'll see it's as simple as ABC, do re mi and 1-2-3... they should be together.

    The schoolyard theme was a good fit, as Michael was just 11 years old when it was released.
  • Motown signed the Jackson 5 in 1968 and moved them to Los Angeles, where the company set up offices. The group was very young but had years of training by this point thanks to their father, Joe, who drilled them constantly. The challenge for Motown was finding the right songwriters and producers to team them with - their stalwart team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland (Holland-Dozier-Holland) had left the label, and there were no ready successors. A new team - Freddie Perren, Fonce Mizell and Deke Richards - stepped in, writing the first Jackson 5 hit, "I Want You Back," which was released in October 1969 and went to #1 US in January 1970. Berry Gordy, the boss at the label, took and active role in the writing and production of that song, so much so that he included himself in the credits. Gordy dubbed this new team (with him included) "The Corporation," which was how the songwriting credit appeared - individual names were not listed, making them interchangeable.

    When Gordy found a winning formula, he stuck with it, so he had the same team work on the next Jackson 5 single, "ABC," with the same Los Angeles session musicians playing on it. Musically, it's very similar to "I Want You Back" - the heavy lifting was the lyrics, as they wanted a completely different storyline. According to Perren, they came up with about 10 different verses before settling on the two that conveyed just the right amount of energy and innocence. Perren was a former school teacher, which influenced the school metaphors in the lyrics.

    Released in February 1970, "ABC" went to #1 in on April 25, knocking off "Let It Be" by The Beatles. The next two Jackson 5 singles, "The Love You Save" and "I'll Be There," were also written by The Corporation and rose to to #1.
  • This song is packed with hooks that put Michael Jackson's talents to good use. It opens with the call-and-response "buh buh buh buh buh buh" and has lots of little vocal interjections throughout ("Get up, girl!"). These vocal bits became one of Michael Jackson's hallmarks, both the the Jackson 5 and as a solo artist.
  • In 1991, the rap group Naughty by Nature sampled "ABC" into "O.P.P.," giving them a huge hit. What's striking about it is how the sample forms the basis for the entire track - it's essentially a loop with the raps built on top of it. Over the next few years, more rappers started lifting huge chunks of hits to craft their tracks - Puff Daddy was especially brazen.
  • This song closes out the 2006 movie Clerks II in a scene where Rosario Dawson dances to it, then the who cast gets their groove on to the song. Other movies to use it include:

    Kindergarten Cop 2 (2016)
    Quest for Zhu (2011)
    College Road Trip (2008)
    The Italian Job (2003)
    Daddy Daycare (2003)
    Dick (1999)
    Billy Madison (1995)
    Crooklyn (1994)

    TV series to use it include:

    Glee ("Hold on to Sixteen" - 2011)
    Gilmore Girls ("Bon Voyage" - 2007)
    Chicago Hope ("Songs from the Cuckoo Birds" - 1995)
    The Wonder Years ("Math Class" - 1989)

Comments: 12

  • Andre from Pittsburgh/pa, PaWhen I was a young boy I used to lisson to the Jackson 5 all the time tell one day I began to write down these words ...ABC its easy as one two three I say for it door ray me ABC that's how easy love could be ...Exs.......So I look on a Jackson 5 45 record. I found the adress to motown in mailed my lyrics to thay gave me a 30.00 check I never cashed it in that is the gods truth. A.M from Pittsbrugh PA.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhThe Jackson's jazz, soul and passionate sound really came alive in this verbally simplistic tune. It was clean, pure and fun to listen to; in fact, it still is.
  • Breanna from Henderson, NvI agree with Rachel.
  • Annie from Lombard, Ilthis was sampled into my song "take it back"
  • John from Nashville, TnThis song came about when co-writer Deke Richards was noodling at the piano. As Richards was noodling, he came up with the lines "ABC/1 2 3/Do re mi/You and Me". And a million-seller was born!
  • Jade from Washington D.c., DcA friend of mine was singing this the other day. He made a slight mistake though. That is because he was singing the lyrics to 'ABC', but singing the melody of 'Candy Girl' by New Edition. LOL!
  • Tal from Cheshire, --Love it. It just lightens your mood. And Rachel, Micheal was normal back then, it's just now that he's a wierdo.
  • Meredith from Wauwatosa, WiThis is great for teaching kids the first 3 letters of the alphabet, the first 3 numbers and the first 3 vocal notes. This song makes me giggle!
  • Rachel from Cleveland, AlI love the song but I hate the man who sings it.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaAppreciate the contrast
  • Linus from Hamilton, On, CanadaFun little song.
  • Brandon from Mcadoo, Pathis song is the gratest song ever!!!!!
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