Michael Jackson’s Pop Rock Song Beat It

On February 14, 1983, a passionate, fierce pop-rock song was released by a man who was known as the King of Pop. “Beat It” instantly skyrocketed and was a complete success, winning two Grammy’s and holding the top spot in the Top 40 for three weeks (Whitaker). Michael Jackson, the pop and R&B star, wanted to broaden his audience and wrote “Beat It” after his producer advised him to write something like, “My Sharona,” which was a great success for The Knack in 1979 (Songfacts).

Jackson’s popular tune was covered by several artists, but one particularly stood out to many rock fans. 25 years after the release of “Beat It,” Fall Out Boy and John Mayer released their rendition of the song and it hit #19 on the US charts and performed it live at the MTV Movie Awards (Songfacts). Fall Out Boys’ version is relished more by rock fans who enjoy the loud drums, powerful vocals, and heavier guitar, while Michael Jackson’s version is enjoyed by everyone, and is not just limited to rock fans.

Both Michael Jackson’s and Fall Out Boys’ version of the song, “Beat It” reached tremendous success with their raspy voices and rocky anthems, however Michael Jackson’s version has had a more powerful, positive effect on many listeners who are against violence and is enjoyed by all sorts of music fans because of the combination of instrumentation and vocal quality. “Beat It” has an anti-violence theme and essentially says that although one wants to seem tough to others, there will always be a cowardly interior inside of every person.

Jackson is teaching a lesson in this song and advises the listener to walk away from violence because losing a life is not worth it. Throughout the song, he repeats the same message and advises the listener to not let their stubbornness get in the way. When the song begins, his lyrics are narrating a scene then throughout the song it seems as if he is speaking to someone personally and is giving advice solely to that person. Jackson wanted to help promote anti-violence and did so with the lyrics in his song. Michael claimed that he aimed to reach out to children since they were easily influenced (Songfacts).

Fall Out Boys’ version remained the same lyrically, but drastically different instrumentally. Fall Out Boys’ version has a much faster tempo that begins with a heavy electric guitar strum, then immediately begins with a loud drum set that instantly gives the song a rockier feel. The drums are heavier and involve loud snares and crash cymbals. The climax of the song consists of not just a strong drum set and a blaring, electric guitar solo, but a loud cow bell that seems to give a tempo to the guitarist. The heavier and louder electric guitar may be enjoyed strictly rock fans and not all listeners.

The band concentrates more on their instrumentation than on the lyrics that are sung. However, anyone who hears the beginning of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” will recognize the tune instantly. It starts out with these low, electronic bass notes that make the song seem intense and mysterious because the notes do not show a direction of what kind of genre the song is. Then suddenly a quicker drum beat arises, making it sound like an electronic beat that creates a dancing atmosphere. As the song continues, a steady electric guitar gets added in that gives the song a pop-rock feel.

Jackson’s version can be enjoyed by all sorts of music tastes because it is a mixture of pop, rock, and electronic, while Fall Out Boys’ version is limited to one genre. Michael Jackson satisfies all ears by finding that perfect median by incorporating the catchy guitar and beats that makes the song very pleasing. Michael Jackson and Fall Out Boys’, Patrick Stump, have two different, but talented voices. Michael Jackson’s legendary voice was like no other. Every note in the song was hit effortlessly and his slightly high-pitched voice had a way of showing intensity and passion in the song.

As the song ends, Jackson added in these high-pitched notes that that made the song have more of a catchy feel, suitable for a dancing atmosphere. In Fall Out Boys’ cover, he ended the song with a long, roaring, screaming note that made the song seem like a heavy rock song. Fall Out Boys’ lead singer, Patrick Stump has a deep, raspy voice and instead of hitting high notes, like in Jackson’s version, he screamed his parts fiercely. The song may be too intense for some music listeners and one might not enjoy the loud, husky vocals mixed with the loud drums and strong electric guitar.

Indeed, Jackson and Stump both have brilliant voices, but one could enjoy Jackson’s voice more because it’s captivating and easily likeably. What also makes Michael’s song so incredible is the tone that he fuses into his lyrics. The lyrics alone sound like they are teaching a lesson, but Michael’s tone added fuel to the fire. His tone sounded demanding and tough, almost as if scolding the person in his song. The tone added a theatrical feel to the song that can be appreciated by Art lovers. Jackson also seemed very serious about the song and it showed how strongly he felt about violence and how he was absolutely against it.

Fall Out Boys’, Patrick Stump’s tone however, seemed pretty neutral. He did not seem happy nor upset, and it sounded if he was just singing any other song. Stump kept his tone even until the roaring note he sings at the end of the song that illustrated stronger passion. The lyrics send a powerful message, but Patrick Stump’s tone did not seem as convincing as Michael Jacksons. Patrick Stumps pitches did not do Jackson’s lyrics justice and the band seemed more focused on the guitar and drums, making Stumps’ tone harder to identify.

Michael Jackson’s and Fall Out Boys’ version of “Beat It” can both be appreciated in their own way. Michael Jackson can be acknowledged by all sorts of aspects because the instruments in “Beat It” create catchy tempos and his vocals make the song easily enjoyable. Fall Out Boys’ version can be appreciated by certain music fans because not everyone enjoys a heavy rocky feel. Although both versions have accepted awards and both artists are incredibly talented, Michael Jackson’s version has been incorporated in anti-violence movements and is savored by multiple music tastes.