“ABC” by The Jackson 5 (1970)

If you’re a regular Billboard chart reader, you’ll probably be able to relate to this.

Some songs hit #1 and your immediate thought is either “payola” or “wow, the American public got that _all_ wrong.” Not so with the Jackson 5′s #1 singles. Hell, the worst of the four (”The Love You Save”) is good. The other three are monumental.

Songs by kiddie groups tend to feel a bit icky as one gets older. And while there are a handful of songs in the J5 canon that would qualify as icky-feeling, “ABC” is not one of them. It’s effervescent; cute without being cloying. You can tell that The Corporation (who wrote and produced the song) were listening to a lot of Sly & The Family Stone when this song was written. Listen to the way that Michael’s, Jermaine’s, Jackie’s and Tito’s voices dart in and out of the arrangement. A clear nod to songs like “Dance To The Music”, in which just about everyone in the group gets a turn at the mic (at this point, it must be noted that poor Marlon gets left out here.) It’s just different enough from “I Want You Back” (the J5′s initial chart topper and “ABC”’s immediate predecessor) that it doesn’t sound like a carbon copy, although there are definite similarities.

And Mike playing grown-up is super cute. Although I still don’t get why he would want the object of his affection to sit down after discovering that he (thinks he?) loves her. Hmm.

This Carol Burnett Show clip of a post-pubescent (mid-puberty?) Michael and the J5 singing “ABC” is pretty neat, too.

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