Our Top 10 Jacksons Songs list takes a look at the most famous family in the music business. The Jacksons were the original pop and r&b boy band. If it weren’t for the Jacksons, there wouldn’t be groups like New Edition, New Kids On The Block, N*Sync, Backstreet Boys, etc. They started their career at Motown Records in 1969 when they were known as The Jackson 5. The group originally consisted of Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and of course Michael Jackson. As the Jackson 5, they had numerous hit singles. They were one of the first groups to have four consecutive number one hits.
In 1975, their father Joe wanted the group to sign with CBS Records. He wanted the group to have more creative control. Jermaine decided to stay with Motown Records while the others changed labels. Their younger brother Randy replaced Jermaine in the group. They changed the name of the group to The Jacksons.
They released their self-titled album in 1976. It was their first album on the new label and their first without Jermaine. The pressure was on for them to produce a hit album because they left Motown. The Jacksons had more creative control on this project. The album peaked at number 36 on the Billboard 200 and number six on the r&b charts. It features the singles “Enjoy Yourself,” “Show You the Way to Go” and “Dreamer.” The single “Good Times” wasn’t released as a single, but it managed to be a quiet storm hit. The album sold over 500,000 copies.
The Jacksons released their second album Goin’ Places in 1977. It peaked at number 63 on the Billboard 200 and number 11 on the r&b charts. It features the singles “Goin’ Places,” “Find Me A Girl,” “Even Though You’re Gone” and “Music’s Takin’ Over.” “A Different Kind of Lady” wasn’t released as a single, but it became a disco hit. The album sold over 500,000 copies.
In 1978, they released Destiny. This album proved to be more successful than their previous album. The album peaked at number 11 on the Billboard 200 and number three on the r&b charts. The Jacksons had more control on this project. It features the singles “Blame It on the Boogie,” “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” and “Destiny.” The album sold over four million copies.
The group faced an obstacle when Michael Jackson released his Off the Wall album. There was a chance that he might not have remained with the group. He ended up staying with the group. They released the Triumph album in 1980. This is the first album to debut at number one on the r&b charts since The Jackson 5’s album Maybe Tomorrow. It features the singles “Lovely One,” “This Place Hotel,” “Can You Feel It” and “Walk Right Now.” The album sold over three million copies.
Michael Jackson released his monster-hit album Thriller in 1982. He reunited with his brothers on the Motown 25 special. After that appearance, the group decided to get back together and recorded another album. They released Victory in 1984. Jermaine returned to the group. This is the only album that features all six brothers. It’s also the last album to feature Michael as the lead singer. The album features the singles “State of Shock,” “Torture,” “Body” and “Wait.” The album debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 and number three on the r&b charts.
After the Jacksons did their world famous Victory tour, Michael and Marlon left the group. The rest of the group decided to record one more album together. They released 2300 Jackson Street in 1989. It was their first album without Michael singing lead. The album peaked at 59 on the Billboard 200 and number 14 on the r&b charts. It features the singles “Nothin’ (That Compares 2 U)” and “2300 Jackson Street.” The album sold over 500,000 copies.
The Jacksons were innovators in r&b and pop music. Their music is very influential and can be heard through different acts. They were able to enjoy success as The Jackson 5 as well as The Jacksons. They transcended with the times and developed a more mature sound. This Top 10 Jacksons Songs list will be about their hit singles. Which one of their singles do you think will be number one?
# 10 – Nothin’ (That Compares 2 U)
The first song on our Top 10 Jacksons Songs list is the love song “Nothin’ (That Compares 2 U)” from the 2300 Jackson Street album. This song has a new jack swing, r&b, pop and funk sound. This is a romantic song about them expressing how they feel about the women they love. This is the first single they released without Michael. In fact, it is their only hit single without Michael. They had big shoes to fill because they were doing music without their lead singer. It turned out to be a good thing because the song is really good. This is the first time they worked with L.A. Reid and Babyface. This song sounds like a classic Babyface song. In fact, it sounds like Babyface’s single “Tender Lover.” LaFace brought out the best in the Jacksons because they did a great job without Michael. This song gives them a chance to show that they are good singers too. The music is bouncy and upbeat. It has a little rock edge in the bridge. It’s definitely worth a listen.
# 9 – 2300 Jackson Street
The next song on our Top 10 Jacksons Songs list is the nostalgic “2300 Jackson Street” from the album of the same name. This song has a pop and r&b sound. This is an autobiographical song about their childhood home. What is significant about the song is the majority of the Jacksons worked together on this track. The Jackson siblings (with the exception of LaToya and Marlon) came together to sing this song. If you are a fan of all of the Jacksons, this is a treat because you get the chance to hear them sing together on one song. This is the last song the Jacksons would perform together as a family. They worked very well together. Michael does take a back seat in the song. He has a small part in it. They sing the song with a lot of passion. No one holds really big notes, but they weren’t needed for the song. Their harmonies are amazing throughout the track. The music is soft and smooth which fits with the nostalgic feeling of the song.
# 8 – Torture
This haunting song is from the Victory album. This song has an r&b sound. This is a breakup song about someone ending a relationship and the pain they feel because the relationship is over. Here is some trivia about the song. Jackie was supposed to sing lead on the song because they weren’t sure if Jermaine was going to be able to do it. Jermaine became free and was able to sing the song with Michael. The music has an 80’s vibe to it. The synth and guitars give the song a rock sound. The guitar solo in particular is masterful. Tito does an outstanding job on the guitar solo. He is really talented with the guitar. Randy also does an incredible job with the synthesizer, keyboard and percussion. Michael and Jermaine take turns singing lead. It is reminiscent of their Jackson 5 days when they used to take turns singing lead. They do a great job together. They are in sync with each other. The only minor complaint is they are hard to understand. You may need to read the lyrics in order to understand what they are saying.
# 7 – Blame it on the Boogie
This upbeat song is from the Destiny album. This song has disco and pop sound. This is a fun song about dancing. It is also about leaving a girl behind and blaming it on dancing. Here is some trivia about the song. The song was originally written for Stevie Wonder. The writers made an excellent choice giving it to the Jacksons because Michael slayed this song. He made the song sound happy and playful. His vocals work well with the music. The rest of the Jacksons do a great job supporting him in the background. They harmonize well in the hook. When the music first starts there is an incredible riff line that will blow you away. It sets the stage for the incredible music that is about to follow. The energetic music includes the horns, guitars and claps. The music makes you want to get up and move. This is one of the best songs on the album.
# 6 – Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)
This catchy song is also from the Destiny album. This song has a disco funk sound. This is a disco anthem about dancing. The song has crossover appeal. It is similar to something Michael would have done on his own album. It is similar in style to Michael’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” The music is catchy and infectious and makes you want to dance. The song is about eight minutes long so you will get a chance to do a lot of dancing. The guitar riffs will blow you away. The bass guitar, piano and horns are through the roof. Michael’s vocals are stellar on this track. He showcases his beautiful falsetto throughout the song. He brings something special to the song that no one else could have done. His ad libs towards the end of the song are fantastic.
# 5 – Show You The Way To Go
The next song on our Top 10 Jacksons Songs list is the inspirational “Show You The Way To Go” from their self-titled album. This song has an r&b, soul and pop sound. This is a touching song about people uniting together. The song misleads you into thinking it’s a love song when in actuality it’s an enlightening song about racial unity. Michael would go on to be known for singing inspirational songs like this throughout his solo career so it wasn’t hard for him to be convincing in this song. Michael’s tenor vocals are heartfelt and emotional. His tone is perfect for this quiet storm style of the music. Michael sounds very confident and self-assured in the song. He experiments with vocal tricks that he would use throughout the rest of his career. He shows versatility when he sings the ad libs. He uses a raspier voice for the ad libs. He channels his hero James Brown during the ad libs. The brothers harmonize well in the chorus. The music is soft and rhythmic. It is a ballad with tempo so it gives you a chance to move around in your seat. It has the Philly sound of music. It has a rich string arrangement, horns and disco filled beat.
# 4 – Walk Right Now
This angry song is from the Triumph album. This song has a disco and r&b sound. This is a vengeful song about him being tired of his woman’s excuses on how they can fix their relationship despite her cheating on him. Despite the theme of the song, the music is upbeat. The guitar riffs are phenomenal. Tito does an outstanding job. He proved that he is one of the best guitar players in the business. The drumbeat will leave you breathless. There is no way to sit still while listening to the music. Michael’s vocals are amazing. He shows versatility in this song because he sings the verses in a lower register. He goes up an octave in the chorus. He sings in time with the catchy music. He never misses a beat with each beat change of the music. He uses the “hee hee” ad lib that he would go on to use in his solo career.
# 3 – Lovely One
This sweet song is from the Triumph album. This song has a funk and post disco sound. This is a sizzling song about him trying to convince the woman he loves that she is the one for him. The music has a funky guitar beat. The bass beats are infectious. It also includes a classical instrumentation such as the horn, trumpets and violins. The lyrics are beautiful and heartfelt. Michael’s vocals add to the music. His vocal timing is impeccable. He keeps up with every beat change throughout the song. He sings in different octaves in this track. He does the verses in a lower octave while he does the pre chorus in a higher octave. He harmonizes very well in the chorus. You could get lost listening to his voice. This song will leave you wanting more from it. The only complaint is he is a little hard to understand. Other than that, the song is flawless.
# 2 – This Place Hotel
This cinematic song is from the Triumph album. This song has an r&b, soul and pop sound. This is a unique song about him taking his girlfriend to a hotel only to find out that the place is designed to end relationships. The people at the hotel made it seem as if he was cheating on her even though he wasn’t. She ends up breaking up with him at the hotel. The music has a haunting and creepy sound to it. The theme of the music is similar to Michael’s future number one hit “Thriller.” The music contains sound effects to create the spooky feel. LaToya can be heard screaming in the beginning of the song. The bass line is on point. The horns and strings are mind blowing. Michael sings this song alone. His vocals are strong and powerful. He has incredible harmony in the lead as well as background vocals. Everything about this song works.
# 1 – Can You Feel It
The number one song on our Top 10 Jacksons Songs list is the anthemic song “Can You Feel It” from the Triumph album. This song has a disco sound. This is a social song about the world uniting together and loving each other. Michael and Randy sing lead on this track. They both sound soulful and passionate. When Michael starts the pre chorus, he takes the track to another level. The music has a thumping groove. It also has a climatic horn and string arrangement. The song is a combination of a dance tune and social awareness. It sounds like a song that would fit in a movie. This is another prelude to the social songs that Michael would go on to sing in his solo career. The song will draw you in the minute you listen to it. It will keep you hooked until the end. This song is flawless and one of the best ones on the album.
The Jacksons Songs Ranked article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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