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The Rewind: 45 years of ‘Off the Wall’

Off the Wall is a superhero origin story. 45 years ago, Michael Jackson dropped his (sort of) debut solo album and everything changed. We (most of the American public) knew that Jackson was talented. We’d known since he fronted The Jackson 5 as their lead singer as a kid. But we didn’t know that Jackson was a supernova. We didn’t know that Michael was the most talented person alive. We didn’t know that he was a powerhouse vocalist. We didn’t know that he was supernaturally charismatic. We didn’t know that Jackson was brilliant. Off the Wall was the work of someone we thought we knew transforming into something else completely. In real life we saw Clark Kent toss his glasses, become Superman, and do cool s***. And he did it for nine straight years.

Below are my thoughts on Off the Wall’s most popular songs.

  • Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get EnoughThat scream on the song that’s 16 seconds in? That’s the official rebirth of Michael Jackson. That’s his own Big Bang moment. Quincy Jones (the album’s producer) let Jackson rip, and a new star was born. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” is one of the most important pop culture moments ever. It was also a bona fide smash…the song became a number one hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1979.
  • Rock with You. I know Jackson had bigger songs on Thriller, the follow up to this album. But, you could make an argument that “Rock with You” is his signature song. The mixture of funk and pop and those angelic vocals? This single really is the template for the majority of Jackson’s most massive hits.

    On its own, “Rock with You” is a fantastic cut that still works 45 years later. Play this at a party or BBQ, and it starts the party or at least a fun sing-along. It was also a big hit, as the song was number one on Billboard’s pop chart for four weeks.

Off the Wall has sold nine million copies since its August 10th, 1979 release. Its sales and cultural impact are impressive to say the least. But, the album’s actual accomplishment was its reintroduction of Michael Jackson to the world. After 1979, it seemed that Jackson could rule the world.

(He did. That’s for another article.)

I give Off the Wall an A +.

Greg Simms Jr. is a veteran content creator and cultural expert who's worked for numerous digital publications over the years. He's a resident of Greene County, but he's always aware of social-cultural events happening all over the Miami Valley. To contact Greg, email him at: grgsmmsjr@gmail.com