US cover art
|Single by Michael Jackson|
|from the album Thriller|
|Released||February 14, 1983|
|Michael Jackson singles chronology|
"Beat It" is a song written and performed by American singer Michael Jackson and produced by Quincy Jones (with co-production by Jackson). It is the third single from the singer's sixth solo album, Thriller (1982). Eddie Van Halen played the song's distinctive overdriven guitar solo. While Van Halen was prevented by his record label from appearing in the music video, he did appear on stage with Jackson in Dallas during the Jackson brothers "Victory Tour." Following the successful chart performances of the Thriller singles "The Girl Is Mine" and "Billie Jean", "Beat It" was released on February 3, 1983 as the album's third single. The song was promoted with a short film that featured Jackson bringing two gangs together through the power of music and dance.
"Beat It" received the Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, as well as two American Music Awards. It was inducted into the Music Video Producers Hall of Fame. The single, along with its music video, propelled Thriller into becoming the best-selling album of all time. It single was certified platinum in the United States in 1989. Rolling Stone placed "Beat It" on the 344th spot of its list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". The song was also ranked number 81 on Rolling Stone 's "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time".
In the decades since its release, "Beat It" has been covered, parodied, and sampled by numerous artists including Pierce the Veil, Fall Out Boy, Pomplamoose, Justin Bieber, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Fergie, John 5, "Weird Al" Yankovic and Eminem. The song was also featured in the National Highway Safety Commission's anti-drunk driving campaign.
- 1 Production and composition
- 2 Release and reception
- 3 Music video
- 4 Live performances
- 5 Legacy
- 6 Track listing
- 7 Official versions
- 8 Personnel
- 9 Charts and certifications
- 10 Beat It 2008
- 11 Fall Out Boy version
- 12 Other cover versions
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Production and composition
The lyrics of "Beat It" are about defeat and courage, and were written by Jackson for inclusion on his Thriller album.
|Problems playing this file? See media help.|
"Beat It" was composed by Michael Jackson for his Thriller album. Producer Quincy Jones had wanted to include a rock and roll song in the vein of the Knack's "My Sharona", though Jackson reportedly had never previously shown an interest in the genre. Jackson later said of "Beat It", "I wanted to write a song, the type of song that I would buy if I were to buy a rock song... That is how I approached it and I wanted the children to really enjoy it—the school children as well as the college students." Upon hearing the first recorded vocals, Jones stated that it was exactly what he was looking for. The song begins with seven distinct synthesizer notes played on the Synclavier digital synthesizer, while Tom Bahler is credited with Synclavier performance on the song. The intro is taken note for note from a demo LP released the year before, called "The Incredible Sounds of Synclavier II" first published in 1981 by Denny Jaeger Creative Services, Inc and sold by New England Digital, makers of the Synclavier.
Eddie Van Halen, lead guitarist of hard rock band Van Halen, was asked to add a guitar solo. When initially contacted by Jones, Van Halen thought he was receiving a prank call. Having established that the call was genuine, Van Halen recorded his guitar solo free of any charge. "I did it as a favor", the musician later said. "I was a complete fool, according to the rest of the band, our manager and everyone else. I was not used. I knew what I was doing – I don't do something unless I want to do it." Van Halen recorded his contribution following Jones and Jackson arriving at the guitarist's house with a "skeleton version" of the song. Fellow guitarist Steve Lukather recalled, "Initially, we rocked it out as Eddie had played a good solo—but Quincy thought it was too tough. So I had to reduce the distorted guitar sound and that is what was released." The song was among the last four completed for Thriller; the others were "Human Nature", "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" and "The Lady in My Life".
On the record, right before Van Halen's guitar solo begins, a noise is heard that sounds like somebody knocking at a door. It is reported that the knock was a person walking into Eddie's recording studio. Another story has claimed that the sound was simply the musician knocking on his own guitar. The sound, however, is that of Jackson knocking on a drum case, as he is credited in the album's liner notes. The lyrics of "Beat It" are about defeat and courage, and have been described as a "sad commentary on human nature". The line "don't be a macho man" is said to express Jackson's dislike of violence, whilst also referring to the childhood abuse he faced at the hands of his father Joseph. The song is played in the key of D-sharp minor at a moderately fast tempo of 132 beats per minute. In the song, Jackson's vocal range is B3 to D5.
Release and reception
"Beat It" was released on February 14, 1983, following the successful chart performances of "The Girl Is Mine" and "Billie Jean". Frank DiLeo, the vice president of Epic Records, convinced Jackson to release "Beat It" whilst "Billie Jean" was heading towards No. 1. Dileo, who would later become the singer's manager, predicted that both singles would remain in the Top 10 at the same time. "Billie Jean" remained atop the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, before being toppled by "Come On Eileen". The Dexys Midnight Runners' song stayed at No. 1 for a single week, before Jackson reclaimed the position with "Beat It".
"Billie Jean" and "Beat It" occupied Top 5 positions at the same time, a feat matched by very few artists. The single remained at the top of the Hot 100 for a total of three weeks. The song also charted at No. 1 on the US R&B singles chart and No. 14 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart in the US. Billboard ranked it at the No. 5 song for 1983. "Beat It" also claimed the top spot in Spain and The Netherlands, reached No. 3 in the UK and the Top 20 in Austria, Norway, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland.
In a Rolling Stone review, Christopher Connelly describes "Beat It" as the best song on Thriller, adding that it "ain't no disco AOR track". He notes of the "nifty dance song", "Jackson's voice soars all over the melody, Eddie Van Halen checks in with a blistering guitar solo, you could build a convention center on the backbeat". AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine states that the song is both "tough" and "scared". Robert Christgau claimed that the song, in which Eddie Van Halen "wends his night in the service of antimacho", is the "triumph and the thriller". Slant Magazine observed that the song was an "uncharacteristic dalliance with the rock idiom". The track also won praise from Jackson biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli, who stated that the song was "rambunctious".
"Beat It" has been recognized with several awards. At the 1984 Grammy Awards, the song earned Jackson two of a record-eight awards: Record of the Year and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. The track won the Billboard Music Award for favorite dance/disco 12" LP in 1983. The single was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a few months after its release, for shipments of at least one million units. In 1989, the standard format single was re-certified platinum by the RIAA, based on the revised sales level of one million units for platinum singles. The total number of digital sales in the US, as of September 2010, stands at 1,649,000.
The music video for "Beat It" helped establish Jackson as an international pop icon. The video was Jackson's first treatment of black youth and the streets. Both "Beat It" and "Thriller" are notable for their "mass choreography" of synchronized dancers, a Jackson trademark.
The video, which cost Jackson $150,000 to create after CBS refused to finance it, was filmed on Los Angeles' Skid Row—mainly on locations on East 5th Street—around March 9, 1983. To add authenticity to the production but also to foster peace between them, Jackson had the idea to cast members of rival Los Angeles street gangs Crips and Bloods. In addition to around 80 genuine gang members, the video, which is noted for opening up many job opportunities for dancers in the US, also featured 18 professional dancers and four breakdancers. Besides Jackson, Peters and Vincent Paterson, the cast included Michael DeLorenzo, Stoney Jackson, Tracii Guns, Tony Fields, Peter Tramm, Rick Stone and Cheryl Song.
The video was written and directed by Bob Giraldi, produced by Antony Payne and Mary M. Ensign through production company GASP. The second video released for the Thriller album, it was choreographed by Michael Peters who also performed, alongside Vincent Paterson, as one of the two lead dancers. Despite some sources claiming otherwise, Jackson was involved in creating some parts of the choreography. Jackson asked Giraldi, at the time already an established commercial director but who had never directed a music video, to come up with a concept for the "Beat It" video because he really liked a commercial Giraldi had directed for WLS-TV in Chicago about a married couple of two elderly blind people who instead of running from a run-down neighborhood all the other white people had fled from, chose to stay and throw a block party for all the young children in the area. Contrary to popular belief, the concept of the video was not based on the Broadway musical West Side Story; in reality Giraldi drew inspiration from his growing up in Paterson, New Jersey.
The video had its world premiere on MTV during prime time on March 31, 1983 though it should be noted that neither Beat It nor Billie Jean was, as is often claimed, the first music video by an African-American artist to be played on MTV. Soon after its premiere the video was also running on other video programs including BET's Video Soul, SuperStation WTBS's Night Tracks, and NBC's Friday Night Videos. In fact, Beat It was the first video shown on the latter's first ever telecast on July 29, 1983.
The video opens with the news of a fight circulating at a diner. This scene repeats itself at a pool hall, where gang members arrive via foot, forklift, and out of sewers, while the video's titular song begins to play. The camera cuts to a scene of Jackson lying on a bed, revealing he's the one singing contemplating the senseless violence. The singer notices rival gangs and leaves. Michael Jackson dons a red leather J. Parks brand jacket, and dances his way towards the fight through the diner and pool hall. A knife fight is taking place between the two gang leaders in a warehouse. They dance battle for an interlude of music until M arrives; the singer breaks up the fight and launches into a dance routine. The video ends with the gang members joining him in the dance, agreeing that violence is not the solution to their problems.
The video received recognition through numerous awards. The American Music Awards named the short film their Favorite Pop/Rock Video and their Favorite Soul Video. The Black Gold Awards honored Jackson with the Best Video Performance award. The Billboard Video Awards recognised the video with 7 awards; Best Overall Video Clip, Best Performance by a Male Artist, Best Use of Video to Enhance a Song, Best Use of Video to Enhance an Artist's Image, Best Choreography, Best Overall Video and Best Dance/Disco 12". The short film was ranked by Rolling Stone as the No. 1 video, in both their critic's and reader's poll. The video was later inducted into the Music Video Producer's Hall of Fame.
On July 14, 1984, Jackson performed "Beat It" live with his brothers during The Jacksons' Victory Tour. The brothers were joined on stage by Eddie Van Halen, who played the guitar in his solo spot. The song became a signature song of Jackson; the singer performed it on all of his world tours: Bad, Dangerous and HIStory. The October 1, 1992 Dangerous Tour performance of "Beat It" was included on the DVD of the singer's Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection box set. The DVD was later repackaged as Live in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour. Jackson also performed the song on the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special, a concert celebrating the musician's thirtieth year as a solo performer. The performance featured Slash as the song's guest guitarist.
A highlight of Jackson's solo concert tour performances of the song is that would he would begin the song on a cherry picker (which he would also later use with "Earth Song" during the HIStory World Tour) after performing Thriller. Another live version of the song is available on the DVD Live at Wembley July 16, 1988. The song would have also been performed as part of the This Is It concerts which were cancelled due to Jackson's death.
Michael Jackson's "Beat It" has been cited as one of the most successful, recognized, awarded and celebrated songs in the history of pop music; both the song and video had a large impact on pop culture. The song is said to be a "pioneer" in black rock music, and is considered one of the cornerstones of the Thriller album. Eddie Van Halen has been praised for adding "the greatest guitar solo", aiding "Beat It" into becoming one of the biggest selling singles of all time.
Shortly after its release, "Beat It" was included in the National Highway Safety Commission's anti-drunk driving campaign, "Drinking and Driving Can Kill a Friendship". The song was also included on the accompanying album. Jackson collected an award from President Ronald Reagan at the White House, in recognition for his support of the campaign. Reagan stated that Jackson was "proof of what a person can accomplish through a lifestyle free of alcohol or drug abuse. People young and old respect that. And if Americans follow his example, then we can face up to the problem of drinking and driving, and we can, in Michael's words, 'Beat It'."
Frequently listed in greatest song polling lists, "Beat It" was ranked as the world's fourth favorite song in a 2005 poll conducted by Sony Ericsson. Over 700,000 people in 60 different countries cast their votes. Voters from the UK placed "Billie Jean" at No. 1, ahead of "Thriller", with a further five of the top ten being solo recordings by Jackson. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine placed "Beat It" in the 337th spot on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song was featured in the films Back to the Future Part II, Zoolander and Undercover Brother. When re-released, as part of the Visionary campaign in 2006, "Beat It" charted at No. 15 in the UK. The song has been used in TV commercials for companies like Budweiser, eBay, Burger King, Delta Air Lines, Game Boy, Coldwell Banker and the NFL. On the City Guys episode of season 3's "Face the Music", Jamal says to Slick Billy West, played by Sherman Hemsley, "Well Gone Michael Jackson and Beat It" which was in the final scene. The song also appeared in the 2008 music game, Guitar Hero World Tour, as the last song in the vocal career. Notably, in this game, the vocalist will perform the same dance routine performed by Jackson on the video and live performances when singing the final verse. The song is featured on the dancing game Michael Jackson: The Experience.
- 12" Maxi (Epic TA 3258)
- "Beat It" – 4:18
- "Burn This Disco Out" – 3:38
- "The Jacksons – Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough (Live Version)" – 4:22
- 12" Single
- "Beat It" – 4:18
- "Working Day And Night" – 5:14
- 12" Mexican Promo of Bille Jean
- "Billie Jean" – 6:22
- "Largate (Beat It)" – 5:41
- 7" Single (Epic A 318402)
- "Beat It" – 4:18
- "Get on the Floor" – 4:44
- Visionary Single
- "Beat It"
- "Beat It" (Moby's Sub Remix)
- "Beat It" (Video)
- Album Version – 4:18
- Extended Version – 5:41
- Moby's Sub Mix – 6:11
- Live from Live at Wembley July 16, 1988 – 6:45
- 2008 Version with Fergie – 4:11
- "Beat It" / "State of Shock" (Immortal version) – 3:09
- Michael Jackson – vocals, drum case beater
- Paul Jackson, Jr. – guitar
- Steve Lukather – guitar, bass guitar
- Eddie Van Halen – guitar solo
- Steve Porcaro – synthesizer, synthesizer programming
- Greg Phillinganes – Rhodes piano, synthesizer
- Bill Wolfer – keyboards
- Tom Bahler – Synclavier
- Jeff Porcaro – drums
- Michael Jackson – writing, composition, co-production, rhythm and vocal arrangement
- Quincy Jones – production, rhythm arrangement
- Greg Smith – synergy
Charts and certifications
Sales and certifications
|Order of precedence|
"Let's Dance" by David Bowie
|Canadian RPM number-one single
May 14, 1983 – May 28, 1983 (3 weeks)
"Flashdance... What a Feeling" by Irene Cara
|Belgian Ultratop 50 Flanders number-one single
May 21, 1983 – June 11, 1983 (4 weeks)
"Comment ça va" by the Shorts
|Belgian VRT Top 30 Flanders number-one single
May 21, 1983 – June 4, 1983 (3 weeks)
|Dutch Top 40 number-one single
May 7, 1983 – May 21, 1983 (3 weeks)
|Single Top 100 number-one single
May 7, 1983 – May 28, 1983 (4 weeks)
|New Zealand number-one single
May 29, 1983 – June 26, 1983 (5 weeks)
"Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler
|Eurochart Hot 100 number-one single
June 25, 1983 (1 week)
"Let's Dance" by David Bowie
"Come On Eileen" by Dexys Midnight Runners
|US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
April 30, 1983 – May 14, 1983 (3 weeks)
"Mr. Roboto" by Styx
|US Cash Box number-one single
May 7, 1983 – May 14, 1983 (2 weeks)
"Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson
|Spanish number-one single
March 26, 2006 (1 week)
"Bad" by Michael Jackson
Beat It 2008
|"Beat It 2008"|
|Song by Michael Jackson featuring Fergie from the album Thriller 25|
|Released||February 8, 2008|
|Thriller 25 track listing|
For Thriller 25, The Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am remixed "Beat It". The song, titled "Beat It 2008", featured additional vocals by fellow Black Eyed Peas member Fergie. Upon its release in 2008, the song reached No. 26 in Switzerland, the Top 50 in Sweden and No. 65 in Austria. This was the second remixed version of "Beat It" to get an official release, following Moby's Sub Mix which was released on the "Jam" and "Who Is It" singles in 1992, as well as the "They Don't Care About Us" single in 1996 (and re-released as part of the Visionary campaign.)
"Beat It 2008" received generally unfavorable reviews from music critics. Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone claimed that the song was a "contender for the year's most pointless musical moment". AllMusic criticized Fergie for "parroting the lyrics of "Beat It" back to a recorded Jackson". Blender's Kelefa Sanneh also noted that the Black Eyed Peas singer traded lines with Jackson. "Why?", she queried. Todd Gilchrist was thankful that the remix retained Eddie Van Halen's "incendiary guitar solo", but added that the song "holds the dubious honor of making Jackson seem masculine for once, and only in the context of Fergie's tough-by-way-of-Kids Incorporated interpretation of the tune". Tom Ewing of Pitchfork Media observed that Fergie's "nervous reverence is a waste of time".
|Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)||65|
|Canada (Hot Canadian Digital Singles)||66|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||26|
|Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)||14|
- Written and composed by Michael Jackson
- Remix drums: will.i.am
- Remix keyboards and synths: will.i.am
- Remix engineered by will.i.am and Kerin
- Remix produced and mixed by Michael Jackson and will.i.am
- Remix recorded in November 2007
Fall Out Boy version
|Single by Fall Out Boy featuring John Mayer|
|from the album Live in Phoenix|
|Released||March 25, 2008|
|Fall Out Boy singles chronology|
American rock band Fall Out Boy covered "Beat It". The studio version was digitally released on March 25, 2008 by Island Records as the only single from the band's first live album, Live in Phoenix (2008). The song features a guitar solo by John Mayer, which was performed by Eddie Van Halen in the original song. In the United States, the song peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached No. 21 on the defunct-Billboard Pop 100 chart, also charting internationally. The band has since regularly incorporated it in their set list at their shows.
Background, recording and release
In early 2008 it was announced that Fall Out Boy were to cover "Beat It" for their Live in Phoenix album. The band had previously performed the song at venues such as Coors Amphitheatre and festivals such as the Carling Weekend in Leeds. Bassist Pete Wentz, who has claimed to have an obsession with Jackson, stated that prior to recording the song, he would only watch Moonwalker. It was also announced that John Mayer was to add the guitar solo previously played by Eddie Van Halen.
The band's lead singer/guitarist Patrick Stump stated that the band had not planned to cover the song. "Basically, I just started playing the riff in sound-check one day, and then we all started playing it, and then we started playing it live, and then we figured we'd record it and put it out with our live DVD." Bassist Pete Wentz added that the band had not originally intended for the song to be released as a single either. "'Beat It' seemed like a song that would be cool and that we could do our own take on", he said. Having spent time deciding on a guitarist for the song, Wentz eventually called John Mayer to add the guitar solo. "We were trying to think about who is a contemporary guitar guy who's going to go down as a legend", Wentz later noted.
Upon its digital release as a single in April 2008, Fall Out Boy's cover of "Beat It" became a mainstay on iTunes' Top 10 chart. The song peaked at No. 8 in Canada, becoming another top 10 hit in the region. It also charted at No. 13 in Australia, No. 14 in New Zealand, No. 75 in Austria and No. 98 in the Netherlands.
The music video for Fall Out Boy's "Beat It" was directed by Shane Drake and was made in homage to Jackson. "I think when you're doing a Michael Jackson cover, there's this expectation that you're going to do one of his videos verbatim," Stump said. "What we decided to do was kind of inspired by Michael Jackson and the mythology of him. There are specific images that are reference points for us, but at any given point, it's not any of his videos. It's kind of all of his videos, all at once, but on a Fall Out Boy budget, so it's not quite as fancy." The costumes for the video were similar to the originals. "My costume is this take on one of the guys from Michael Jackson's original 'Beat It' video, like, the guy who plays the rival dancer," Wentz said during the filming of the video. The music video featured numerous cameos, including a karate class/dance session being taught by Tony Hale, Donald Faison and Joel David Moore dressed up like Michael Jackson. The short film later received a MTV Video Music Award nomination for Best Rock Video.
|Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)||75|
|Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)||12|
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||8|
|Canada (Hot Canadian Digital Singles)||4|
|Europe (Eurochart Hot 100 Singles)||53|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||69|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||98|
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||14|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||21|
|US Billboard Hot 100||19|
|Venezuela Pop Rock (Record Report)||9|
Other cover versions
- In 1984, parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic released his parody song "Eat It". Yankovic recorded the song with Jackson's permission. The song's music video mocked the "Beat It" short film scene-for-scene, with Yankovic mimicking Jackson's dance moves in a clumsy fashion. Jackson received royalties from Yankovic due to the strong similarities.
- Halstead & Cadman 2003, p. 40.
- Cromelin, Richard (December 12, 1982). "Jackson goes over 'The Wall'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Gill, Andy (June 27, 2009). "'Thriller' was the masterpiece that set tone for pop's next generation". The Independent. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- 100 Greatest Guitars Songs of All Time at the Wayback Machine (archived May 30, 2008). Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Thriller 2008, p. 41.
- Taraborrelli 2004, pp. 224–225.
- Johnson, Robert E. (May 1984). "Michael Jackson, the World's Greatest Entertainer". Ebony 39 (7): 165. ISSN 0012-9011.
- "The Incredible Sounds of Synclavier II," and other hits at the Wayback Machine (archived January 6, 2014). May 14, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Sheilds, Gerard (April 22, 1983). "Motown going strong into the '80s". The Daily Collegian. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
- Quan, Denise (30 November 2012). "Eddie Van Halen deconstructs his collaboration on 'Beat It'". CNN. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Cadman & Halstead 2007, pp. 27–28.
- Day, Patrick Kevin; Martens, Todd (February 12, 2008). "25 'Thriller' facts". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
- Dean 2003, p. 463.
- Whiteley 2005, p. 35.
- Beat It at the Wayback Machine (archived December 3, 2013). Michaeljackson.com. November 18, 2003. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Ruhlmann, William. "Jeff Porcaro – Artist Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Jackson, Michael. Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix (booklet). Sony BMG. p. 8.
- Powers, Ann (February 15, 2008). "Nine reasons why Jackson masterpiece remains a 'Thriller'". South Coast Today. Retrieved March 25, 2009.
- Baldwin, Kristen (April 30, 1999). "V" for television victory at the Wayback Machine (archived October 13, 2008). Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
- George 2004, p. 39.
- "Top 100 Hits for 1983". The Longbored Surfer. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- Connelly, Christopher (January 28, 1983). Michael Jackson – Thriller at the Wayback Machine (archived June 30, 2009). Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Michael Jackson – Thriller". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
- Christgau, Robert. "Michael Jackson: Thriller". Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Henderson, Eric (October 17, 2003). "Michael Jackson – Thriller". Slant Magazine. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Cadman & Halstead 2007, p. 29.
- "RIAA – Gold & Platinum Searchable Database – Beat It". RIAA. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- Grein, Paul (September 24, 2010). Chart Watch Extra: Songs From The Last Century at the Wayback Machine (archived September 30, 2010). Chart Watch. Yahoo! Music. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Campbell 1993, p. 60.
- Austen 2005, p. 264.
- Weitner, Sean. Michael Jackson: A Life in Film at the Wayback Machine (archived July 5, 2012). Flak Magazine. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Reed, J.D. (July 18, 1983). "Music: New Rock on a Red-Hot Roll". Time 122 (3). Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- Blake, Lindsay (March 26, 2010). "The (Probable) Warehouse from Michael Jackson's "Beat It" Video". Iamnotastalker.com. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- Ritchie, Kevin (July 7, 2009). Q&A: Bob Giraldi on directing "Beat It" at the Wayback Machine (archived March 28, 2012). Boards. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- Farley, Ellen (September 2, 1983). "Cable service triggers boom in marketing for music videos". St. Petersburg Times. pp. 1D and 5D, here 5D. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- Halstead & Cadman 2003, p. 41.
- Crawford, Allyson B. (June 26, 2009). "Tracii Guns Danced with Jackson, Recalls Concert Memory". Noisecreep. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- "Tony Fields". The Solid Gold Dance Connection. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- Foti, Laura (March 26, 1983). "Music Monitor". Billboard 95 (13): 30. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Willman, Chris (July 28, 1991). "Cover Story : Traveling Along The Mtv Time Line ...". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- "MTV's Highlight History". The Washington Post. August 1, 2006. p. C01. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
- Reesman, Bryan (September 2, 2006). "Rewinding 25 Years of MTV". Billboard 118 (35): 36–54, here 38. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Denisoff 1988, p. 106.
- Denisoff 1988, p. 142.
- Cadman & Halstead 2007, pp. 29–30.
- Cadman & Halstead 2007, p. 30.
- "Remarks at a White House Ceremony Marking Progress Made in the Campaign Against Drunk Driving". Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. May 14, 1984. Retrieved February 3, 2009.
- The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (1–500) at the Wayback Machine (archived August 20, 2006). Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- Jackson, Michael. Thriller (booklet). Sony BMG.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- "Austriancharts.at – Michael Jackson – Beat It" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Ultratop.be – Michael Jackson – Beat It" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Radio 2 Top 30 : 21 mei 1983" (in Dutch). Top 30. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- CHART NUMBER 1373 – Saturday, May 07, 1983 at the Wayback Machine (archived November 7, 2006). CHUM. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6269." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- MusicSeek.info – UK, Eurochart, Billboard & Cashbox No.1 Hits at the Wayback Machine (archived June 14, 2006). MusicSeek.info. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Jacksons 2003, p. 19.
- "Officialcharts.de – Michael Jackson – Beat It". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Beat It". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- "Nederlandse Top 40 – Michael Jackson - Beat It search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – Michael Jackson – Beat It" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Charts.org.nz – Michael Jackson – Beat It". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Norwegiancharts.com – Michael Jackson – Beat It". VG-lista. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "BEAT IT – Michael Jackson" (in Polish). LP3. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (J)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- "Swedishcharts.com – Michael Jackson – Beat It". Singles Top 60. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Swisscharts.com – Michael Jackson – Beat It". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Archive Chart: 1983-04-17" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Thriller – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending MAY 7, 1983 at the Wayback Machine (archived September 13, 2012). Cash Box magazine. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Lescharts.com – Michael Jackson – Beat It" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Italiancharts.com – Michael Jackson – Beat It". Top Digital Download. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Spanishcharts.com – Michael Jackson – Beat It" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Archive Chart: 2006-03-13" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Danishcharts.com – Michael Jackson – Beat It". Tracklisten. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Australian-charts.com – Michael Jackson – Beat It". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Top 100 Music Hits, Top 100 Music Charts, Top 100 Songs & The Hot 100
- "Michael Jackson: Beat It" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Download Single Top 50 France – 11/07/2009" (in French). Lescharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- "Billboard Türkiye Top 20". Billboard Türkiye (in Turkish). July 6, 2009. Retrieved July 6, 2009.
- "Archive Chart: 2006-07-05" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Jaaroverzichten 1983" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Top Singles – Volume 39, No. 17, December 24, 1983". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "TOP – 1983" (in French). Top-france.fr. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "I singoli più venduti del 1983" (in Italian). Hit Parade Italia. Creative Commons. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Single Top 100 1983" (PDF) (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1983" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1983 at the Wayback Machine (archived September 11, 2012). Cash Box magazine. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2009 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association.
- "Canadian single certifications – Michael Jackson – Beat It". Music Canada.
- "Certificeringer" (in Danish). IFPI Denmark. Retrieved October 29, 2012.
- "Les Singles de Platine" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "New Zealand single certifications – Michael Jackson – Beat It". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand.
- "British single certifications – Michael Jackson – Beat It". British Phonographic Industry. Enter Beat It in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
- Trust, Gary (September 30, 2011). "Ask Billboard: Who Has the Most Million-Selling Downloads?". Billboard. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
- "Fergie joins Michael Jackson's Thriller". MTV. December 21, 2009.
- "Still a Thriller". The Times. February 2, 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2009.[dead link]
- "Michael Jackson's Thriller 25 is Rocking the Planet!". PR Newswire. February 6, 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
- "Austriancharts.at – Michael Jackson with Fergie – Beat It 2008" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Jam (CD cover). Sony Music. 1992.
- Beat It (DVD cover). Sony Music. 2006.
- Sheffield, Rob (February 21, 2008). Michael Jackson – Thriller 25 Deluxe Edition at the Wayback Machine (archived February 7, 2008). Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Thomas Erlewine, Stephen. "The Funk of 25 Years: Thriller Hits The Quarter Century Mark". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- Sanneh, Kelefa (February 12, 2008). "Thriller – 25th Anniversary Edition". Blender. Retrieved March 10, 2009.[dead link]
- Gilchrist, Todd (February 7, 2008). "Michael Jackson – Thriller 25th Anniversary Ed.". IGN. Retrieved March 10, 2009.
- Ewing, Tom (February 15, 2008). "Michael Jackson – Thriller: 25th Anniversary Edition". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 10, 2009.
- "Swedishcharts.com – Michael Jackson with Fergie – Beat It 2008". Singles Top 60. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Swisscharts.com – Michael Jackson with Fergie – Beat It 2008". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Austriancharts.at – Michael Jackson with Fergie – Beat It 2008" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Beat It (feat. John Mayer) – Single – Fall Out Boy". iTunes. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Kreps, Daniel (March 3, 2008). News Ticker: Robert Plant, Digital Hip-Hop, Gnarls Barkley, Fall Out Boy at the Wayback Machine (archived March 6, 2008). Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Wenzel, John (December 5, 2007). "Review: Kids are all right with Fall Out Boy". The Denver Post. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Fall Out Boy load Carling Weekend: Leeds Festival set with covers". NME. August 24, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Fall Out Boy to release first full-length live CD/DVD". NME. March 4, 2008. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Montgomery, James (April 24, 2008). "Fall Out Boy Released 'Beat It' By Accident, But Still Dream Of World Tour With Michael Jackson". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Montgomery, James (April 10, 2008). "Fall Out Boy To Enter Studio Soon, But Michael Jackson Cover Could Delay Them A Bit". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – Fall Out Boy feat. John Mayer – Beat It" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- Montgomery, James (April 18, 2008). "Fall Out Boy Say Their 'Beat It' Clip Is Like All Of Michael Jackson's Videos 'But On A Fall Out Boy Budget'". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- Harris, Chris (August 15, 2008). "Britney Spears, Jonas Brothers Battle It Out For VMA Video Of The Year". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- "Australian-charts.com – Fall Out Boy feat. John Mayer – Beat It". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- "Austriancharts.at – Fall Out Boy feat. John Mayer – Beat It" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- "Ultratop.be – Fall Out Boy feat. John Mayer – Beat It" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- "Artist Chart History – Fall Out Boy – Singles". Billboard.
- "Fall Out Boy – Awardds". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Fall Out Boy". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Officialcharts.de – Fall Out Boy feat. John Mayer – Beat It". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- "Charts.org.nz – Fall Out Boy feat. John Mayer – Beat It". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
- "Archive Chart: 2008-06-15" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- (Spanish) Record Report – Pop Rock at the Wayback Machine (archived April 28, 2008). Record Report. April 26, 2008. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Cadman & Halstead 2007, p. 100.
- Weird Al Yankovic Dishes On James Blunt, Discusses His Role As the Whitest, Nerdiest Rock Star Ever at the Wayback Machine (archived October 21, 2006). Rolling Stone. September 19, 2006. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Ankeny, Jason. "Weird Al Yankovic – Artist Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- Campbell 1995, p. 154.
- Austen, Jake (2005). TV-a-Go-Go. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 1-55652-572-9.
- Cadman, Chris; Halstead, Craig (2007). Michael Jackson: For the Record. Authors OnLine. ISBN 978-0-7552-0267-6.
- Campbell, Lisa (1993). Michael Jackson: The King of Pop. Branden. ISBN 0-8283-1957-X.
- Campbell, Lisa (1995). Michael Jackson: The King of Pops Darkest Hour. Branden. ISBN 0-8283-2003-9.
- Dean, Maury (2003). Rock 'n' Roll Gold Rush. Algora Publishing. ISBN 0-87586-207-1.
- Denisoff, R. Serge (1988). Inside MTV. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 978-0-88738-864-4.
- George, Nelson (2004). Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection booklet. Sony BMG.
- Halstead, Craig; Cadman, Chris (2003). Jacksons Number Ones. Authors OnLine. ISBN 978-0-7552-0098-6.
- Halstead, Craig; Cadman, Chris (2003). Michael Jackson: The Solo Years. Authors OnLine. ISBN 978-0-7552-0091-7.
- Taraborrelli, J. Randy (2004). The Magic and the Madness. Terra Alta, WV: Headline. ISBN 0-330-42005-4.
- Thriller 25: The Book. ML Publishing Group. 2008. ISBN 978-0-9768891-9-9.
- Whiteley, Sheila (2005). Too Much Too Young. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-31029-6.