“Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson (1979)

Dear Michael Jackson, welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.

“Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough” was where Michael stopped being the lead singer of the Jacksons and became Michael Fucking Jackson. “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough” transcended boy bands, transcended disco, transcended those silly “Star Wars”-esque references about the force, transcended being quite dirty (Michael said “the song’s about forces and the power of love”; I think he’s full of shit. The song’s about fucking. Or at the very least has a double meaning that MJ was well aware of when he wrote/released it.)

I just finished watching the Quincy documentary last night. It was interesting for several reasons, and I won’t give anything away except to say it must be awful to have just about everyone you know pre-decease you, and also I believe most of what he said in that controversial Vulture interview from about six months ago. There is already a fair amount of proof that Richard Pryor, Marvin Gaye and Marlon Brando were at the very least hetero-flexible (that quote during the interview made me laugh, but didn’t surprise me), and there is some weirdness about the songwriting credit for “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough”. My 45 copy lists MJ and Greg Phillinganes as the songwriters. Somewhere along the line, Phillinganes’ name dropped off. Greg himself went on Questlove Supreme and explained that Michael decided to omit his name from the song’s writing credit (after it had already been released). I guess they came to some sort of gentleman’s agreement-Phillinganes continued to work with MJ for decades. But still–it lends some credence to Q’s comments about Mike being a bit on the shady side.

But that mess has nothing to do with the gloriousness of “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough”. It’s like Michael and Quincy took the brightness of the biggest J5 hits, added in a barely contained post-adolescent sexuality, Barry Gibb’s falsetto, and a dollop of dirty funk, put it all in a blender, and the blender couldn’t contain it all and exploded on the public. It made everyone feel like…WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Amazingly, “Don’t Stop” was Michael’s first (of many) #1 R&B single. It was also his second #1 pop single as a solo artist. Interesting that it bucks against pop single convention by a) having a somewhat abnormally long title and b) not having had a single edit. Radio played all six minutes of “Don’t Stop” and played it happily.

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