I Want You Back

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This article is about the Jackson 5 song. For other uses, see I Want You Back (disambiguation).
"I Want You Back"
Single by The Jackson 5
from the album Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5
B-side "Who's Lovin' You"
Released October 7, 1969 (U.S.)[1]
Format Vinyl record (7" 45 RPM)
Recorded July 1969 The Sound Factory, West Hollywood
Genre R&B, funk, pop
Length 2:59
Label Motown
M 1157
Writer(s) The Corporation - (Berry Gordy, Freddie Perren, Alphonzo Mizell and Deke Richards)[2]
Producer(s) The Corporation
The Jackson 5 singles chronology
"We Don't Have to Be Over 21 (To Fall in Love)"
"I Want You Back"

"I Want You Back" is a 1969 song, and the debut major-label single for The Jackson 5 which became a number-one hit for the band and the Motown label in early 1970. The song, along with a B-side cover of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Who's Lovin' You", was the only single from the first Jackson 5 album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5. It went to number one on the Soul singles chart for four weeks and held the number-one position on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for the week ending January 31, 1970.[4] "I Want You Back" was ranked 121st on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[1]


Originally considered for Gladys Knight & the Pips and later for Diana Ross, as "I Wanna Be Free", "I Want You Back" explores the theme of a lover who decides that he was too hasty in dropping his partner. An unusual aspect about "I Want You Back" was that its main lead vocal was performed by a preteen, Michael Jackson.

The single was a notable first in many respects: it was the first Jackson 5 single to be released on Motown,[5] the first of four Jackson 5 number-ones released in a row (the others being "ABC", "The Love You Save", and "I'll Be There"), and the first song written and produced by The Corporation, a team comprising Motown chief Berry Gordy, Freddie Perren, Alphonzo Mizell, and Deke Richards.[1]

"I Want You Back" was also the first Jackson 5 song recorded in Los Angeles, California; the quintet had previously been recording Bobby Taylor-produced covers, including "Who's Lovin' You", the B-side to "I Want You Back", at Hitsville U.S.A. in Detroit, Michigan.

Although Gladys Knight had been the first to mention the Jacksons to Berry Gordy, and Bobby Taylor brought the Jackson brothers to Motown,[5] Motown credited Diana Ross with discovering them.[5] This was done not only to help promote the Jackson 5, but also to help ease Ross' transition into a solo career,[5] which she began in 1970 soon after the Jackson 5 became a success.[5]

Live performances[edit]

The Jackson 5 performed "I Want You Back" during all of their world tours, either as a full song or as a part of the Jackson 5 Medley in concerts (which also included "ABC" and "Mama's Pearl", later on switched with "The Love You Save" in 1973). During their second-ever television appearance (in an episode of The Hollywood Palace hosted by Diana Ross & the Supremes),[6] the Jackson 5 performed "I Want You Back" along with Sly & the Family Stone's "Sing a Simple Song," The Delfonics' "Can You Remember," and James Brown's "There Was a Time".

After leaving the Jackson 5, Michael Jackson performed the song as part of his "Jackson 5 Medley" (which also included the songs "The Love You Save" and "I'll Be There") during all of his world tours: the Bad World Tour, the Dangerous World Tour, and the HIStory World Tour (the song also had been scheduled to be performed during the "Jackson 5 Medley" portion of Michael Jackson's This Is It concerts, which never occurred due to his death). The last time the song was performed live was during the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special, which was also the first time the Jackson 5 had performed together since 1984.


It has sold 6 million copies worldwide.[7] In 1999, "I Want You Back" was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[8]

"I Want You Back" ranks number 121 on Rolling Stone's list of the '500 Greatest Songs of All Time'.[1] It also ranks ninth on Rolling Stone's list of the '100 Greatest Pop Songs since 1963'.[7]

In 2006, Pitchfork Media named it the second best song of the 1960s, adding that the chorus contains "possibly the best chord progression in pop music history."[9] A June 2009 article by The Daily Telegraph called it "arguably the greatest pop record of all time".[10]

The single has been awarded Silver certification on August 22, 2014 by the British Phonographic Industry Association.[11]

The song was played in the closing scenes of the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy & is included in its Soundtrack.


Chart (1970-2009) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 77
UK Singles Chart[10] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 1
Chart (2009) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 53
French Digital Singles Chart 26[12]
Irish Singles Chart 34
Swedish Singles Chart 47[13]
UK Singles Chart 43



  1. ^ a b c d "I Want You Back". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  2. ^ ASCAP entry for song ASCAP, accessed 28 May 2011
  3. ^ Taraborrelli, J. Randy (2004). The Magic and the Madness. Terra Alta, WV: Headline. pp. 36–37. ISBN 0-330-42005-4. 
  4. ^ Neely, Tim (2000). Goldmine Standard Catalog of American Records 1950-1975 2nd Ed. Iola, WI: Krause. ISBN 0-87341-934-0. 
  5. ^ a b c d e George, Nelson (2007). Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. pp. 159–60, 183–188. ISBN 978-0-252-07498-1. 
  6. ^ Jackson 5 On TV!|http://www.jackson5abc.com/dossiers/tv/ |Viewed 30 June 2009
  7. ^ a b Boy bands throughout history. By Ed Masley. The Arizona Republic. Viewed 30 June 2009.
  8. ^ GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Award. grammy.com Viewed 30 June 2009.
  9. ^ The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s. By Mark Ricardson. Pitchfork Media. Published August 18, 2006. Viewed 30 June 2009.
  10. ^ a b c Michael Jackson and Motown: the boy behind the marketing. By Helen Brown. The Daily Telegraph. Published 26 June 2009. Viewed 30 June 2009.
  11. ^ http://www.bpi.co.uk/certified-awards.aspx
  12. ^ "Download French Single Top 50". France. lescharts. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  13. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Jackson 5 - I Want You Back". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Someday We'll Be Together" by Diana Ross & the Supremes
Billboard Best Selling Soul number-one single
January 10, 1970–January 31, 1970
Succeeded by
"Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) / Everybody Is a Star" by Sly & the Family Stone
Preceded by
"Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" by B.J. Thomas
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
January 31, 1970 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Venus" by The Shocking Blue