This Week In 1983: April 29th
Only out of the top spot for a week, Michael Jackson retakes the #1 position with “Beat It”. In the bottom half of the Top Twenty, Duran Duran meets themselves coming and going this week. “Hungry Like The Wolf” is on the way down at #16 while “Rio” jumps fourteen spots to #17. Bryan Adams and Irene Cara make big jumps this week as well. “Straight From The Heart” climbs thirteen spots to #21 and “Flashdance…What A Feeling”, which will turn out to be one of the biggest songs of the year, jumps ten spots to #23. Once again, the Top Ten looks like an 80’s greatest hit collection.
Song Story: “Beat It” by Michael Jackson
The song that won the 1983 Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Rock Vocal Performance. Jackson came up with the song after his producer, Quincy Jones, challenged him to write something like “My Sharona.” Speaking about this song, Jackson said “I wanted to write the type of rock song that I would go out and buy but also something totally different from the rock music I was hearing on Top 40 radio.”
Eddie Van Halen played the guitar solo. He did it as a favor for Quincy Jones and was not paid, unless you count the two six-packs of beer brought into the studio. It was good timing because Eddie’s band mates were out of town, so they couldn’t give him any static for taking on another project. He figured nobody would ever know it was him on the record if anyone ever heard it (LOL). According to Eddie, he had the engineer restructure the song to accommodate his solo, then blasted out two takes off the cuff.
Bob Giraldi directed the video which featured real gang members. Giraldi said in the book I Want My MTV (which I’ve been reading): My inspiration was the streets of Paterson, New Jersey, where I grew up. I listened to the song over and over, and realized it was about all the Italian hoodlums I grew up with – everybody trying to be tougher than they are, but really, we’re all cowards at heart.” Giraldi added that Jackson asked to use members of the rival gangs, the Bloods and the Crips, as extras in the video, which they did. He says that on the first day of shooting, things got a little tense, so Giraldi had them shoot all scenes with the gang members on the first day to get it over with.