Inger Driskell

Written by Inger Driskell

Modified & Updated: 18 Jul 2024


Are you intrigued by the story behind Michael Jackson's iconic track "Beat It"? This song not only rocked the music charts but also left a lasting impact on pop culture. "Beat, It" is more than just a catchy tune; it's a masterpiece that showcases Jackson's genius and his ability to blend rock and pop seamlessly. From its unforgettable guitar riff to its powerful message of peace and resilience, every aspect of the song has a story. In this post, we'll unveil 30 fascinating facts about "Beat It," shedding light on its creation, the inspiration behind its lyrics, and its influence on future generations of musicians. Whether you're a die-hard MJ fan or a music enthusiast curious about the legends of pop, these insights will deepen your appreciation for one of the greatest hits of all time.

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Michael Jackson, known as the King of Pop, left an indelible mark on the music industry. Among his vast array of hits, "Beat It" stands out as a monumental track that not only showcased Jackson's musical genius but also his ability to bridge the gap between genres. Let's dive into some fascinating facts about this iconic song.

The Genesis of "Beat It"

"Beat It" was a bold departure from Michael Jackson's previous work, blending rock and pop in a way that was groundbreaking at the time. Here's how it all started.

  1. Michael Jackson wanted to create a song that spoke against gang violence, inspired by his desire for peace and his own experiences.

  2. The song was released on February 3, 1983, as part of Jackson's album "Thriller," which would go on to become the best-selling album of all time.

  3. Quincy Jones, the producer of "Thriller," was initially hesitant about including "Beat It" on the album, fearing it was too rock for Jackson's predominantly pop album.

Eddie Van Halen's Legendary Solo

One of the most memorable aspects of "Beat It" is the guitar solo, performed by Eddie Van Halen, a legend in the rock world.

  1. Eddie Van Halen recorded his guitar solo for "Beat It" free of charge, as a favor to Quincy Jones.

  2. Van Halen thought the call from Jones was a prank at first, not believing that Michael Jackson wanted him on the track.

  3. The solo was recorded in one session, and Van Halen improvised the parts, leaving everyone in the studio astounded.

The Iconic Music Video

"Beat It" wasn't just a hit on the radio; its music video played a significant role in making Michael Jackson a global superstar.

  1. Directed by Bob Giraldi, the "Beat It" music video was groundbreaking for its time, featuring real gang members alongside professional dancers.

  2. Michael Jackson's red leather jacket, worn in the video, became an iconic piece of pop culture fashion.

  3. The video won two Grammy Awards and was instrumental in breaking down racial barriers on MTV, which had been criticized for not featuring enough black artists.

Chart-Topping Success

"Beat It" soared to the top of the charts, solidifying Michael Jackson's status as a pop icon.

  1. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for three weeks.

  2. Internationally, "Beat It" was a massive success, topping the charts in several countries and becoming a global anthem against violence.

  3. "Beat It" helped "Thriller" win a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.

Cultural Impact and Legacy

The influence of "Beat It" extends far beyond its initial release, impacting music and pop culture for decades.

  1. "Beat It" is credited with helping to popularize the fusion of rock and pop music.

  2. The song has been covered and sampled by numerous artists across various genres, showcasing its wide appeal.

  3. Michael Jackson's performance of "Beat It" during the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever special in 1983 is one of his most iconic live performances.

  4. "Beat It" is often used in films, TV shows, and commercials, cementing its place in popular culture.

  5. The song's message of peace and its stance against violence remain relevant, inspiring new generations.

  6. In 2009, following Michael Jackson's death, "Beat It" re-entered charts around the world, demonstrating the enduring love for Jackson's music.

  7. "Beat It" has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including induction into the Music Video Producers Hall of Fame.

  8. The song's influence is evident in the work of contemporary artists who cite Michael Jackson as a major inspiration.

  9. Eddie Van Halen's guitar solo in "Beat It" is often ranked among the greatest guitar solos of all time, highlighting the song's cross-genre appeal.

  10. The success of "Beat It" contributed significantly to the sales of the "Thriller" album, which continues to be the best-selling album worldwide.

  11. Michael Jackson's innovative approach to music and video production in "Beat It" set new standards for artists, influencing how music videos were made and marketed.

  12. The collaboration between Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen on "Beat It" is considered one of the most successful in music history, bridging the gap between rock and pop fans.

  13. "Beat It" remains a powerful anthem for peace and unity, with its message resonating with audiences around the globe.

  14. Schools and organizations have used "Beat It" in anti-violence campaigns, highlighting its positive impact on society.

  15. The choreography in the "Beat It" music video has inspired countless dancers and performers, showcasing Michael Jackson's influence on dance.

  16. "Beat It" was a pivotal moment in Michael Jackson's career, establishing him as a solo superstar capable of crossing musical boundaries.

  17. The song's success paved the way for other artists to experiment with blending different genres in their music.

  18. "Beat It" continues to be celebrated and remembered as a masterpiece that showcases Michael Jackson's genius and his commitment to making music that breaks barriers and brings people together.

A Final Note on "Beat It"

Diving into the world of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" reveals more than just a chart-topping hit. It's a deep dive into musical genius, cultural impact, and a message that resonates across generations. From Eddie Van Halen's iconic guitar solo to the song's role in breaking racial barriers on MTV, "Beat It" isn't just a track; it's a milestone in music history. Its legacy, marked by awards, critical acclaim, and a timeless appeal, shows how art can inspire change and bring people together. Remember, every listen brings a new appreciation for the King of Pop's talent and vision. "Beat It" isn't just a song; it's a piece of cultural fabric, woven into the very essence of pop music history.

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