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Ben (Michael Jackson album)

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Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 4, 1972
RecordedNovember 1971 ("Ben")
December 1971 – February 1972
Michael Jackson chronology
Got to Be There
Music & Me
Singles from Ben
  1. "Ben"
    Released: July 12, 1972

Ben is the second studio album by the American singer Michael Jackson, released by Motown Records on August 4, 1972, while Jackson was still a member of the Jackson 5. It received mixed reviews from contemporary music critics. Ben, however, was more successful on the music charts than Jackson's previous studio album, peaking within the top 10 on the Billboard 200 in the United States. Internationally, the album was less successful, peaking at number 12 in Canada, while charting within the top 200 positions in Australia and France.

The album released one single, the title track "Ben", which was a commercial success on the music charts, topping both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the Australian ARIA charts, giving Jackson his first number-one single domestically and internationally. "Ben" also charted within the top 10 in other territories worldwide. "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" was planned to be released as the second single from the album, but was cancelled for unspecified reasons.[3] Two of the album's songs were "stripped" in 2009 as part of the three-disc compilation Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection.


In January 1972, while still a member of the Jackson 5, Jackson released his first studio album, Got to Be There, under Motown Records.[4] The album received generally mixed reviews from contemporary music critics, but was commercially successful worldwide. The album's three singles had a good chart performance on the Billboard Hot 100, with all charting within the top 20 positions on the chart, two peaking within the top 5.[5] Got to Be There was more successful in the U.S. than internationally, peaking at number 14 on the Billboard 200[6] while peaking at number 37 in the U.K.[7] and number 121 in France.[8]


Recording sessions for Ben ran from November 1971 to February 1972. It was produced by six people, and executive-produced by Berry Gordy.[9] Songwriters for the 10 tracks of Ben include Mel Larson, Jerry Marcellino, Thom Bell, Linda Creed, The Corporation, Smokey Robinson, and Ronald White.[9] The album's songs have tempos ranging from 69 beats per minute on "Ben", to 130 on "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day".[10]

The album's title track, the theme song for the 1972 film of the same name (itself the sequel to the 1971 killer rat film Willard), won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song, losing to "The Morning After" by Maureen McGovern from another 1972 film, The Poseidon Adventure. "What Goes Around Comes Around" has similarities to Jackson's older brother Jackie's single "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)",[11] which featured vocals from Jackson and his older brothers.[12] For Ben, Jackson recorded covers of The Temptations' 1964 single "My Girl", The Stylistics' 1971 hit "People Make The World Go Round", Lionel Hampton's "Everybody's Somebody's Fool", Brenda Holloway's 1965 single "You Can Cry on My Shoulder" and Stevie Wonder's 1968 single "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day". "My Girl" has a funk rhythm and the song's score includes some call-and-response interaction, which is similar to what Jackson and his brothers displayed in their Jackson 5 material.[13] In 1966, the Jackson 5 won a talent show at Gary's Theodore Roosevelt High School, where they performed "My Girl".[14][15] "You Can Cry on My Shoulder" is a mid-tempo song.[13] "We've Got a Good Thing Going" was previously issued as the B-side to Got to Be There's "I Wanna Be Where You Are" and "In Our Small Way" was also featured on Jackson's previous album, Got to Be There.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Entertainment WeeklyB[16]
Rolling Stone[11]

The album generally received mixed to positive reviews from contemporary music critics. Lindsay Planer of Allmusic rated Ben four out of five stars.[13] Planer cited "What Goes Around Comes Around' as "one of Ben's better deep cuts" and "Shoo Be Doo Be Doo Da Day" as a "winner" while describing "In Our Small Way" as a "lesser note" for the album, having felt that the song contained a "hopelessly dated 'message'".[13] Planer noted that one "interesting shift was the lack of participation from the Motown hitmaking machine known collectively as 'The Corporation'".[13] Vince Aletti of Rolling Stone magazine rated the album two out of five stars.[11] Aletti noted that while the album "contains a good deal more original material" it "has nothing as luscious as 'Got to Be There' or 'I Wanna Be Where You Are,'" but, "it's on the whole a much stronger album than the first."[11] He noted that in the album's title track, Jackson had a "surprising amount of feeling" in his vocal performance.[11] Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly graded the album a "B".[16] Greenblatt commented that Ben's title track was a "testament to his talent" and added that the album would "always be defined" by that one song.[16]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album was released by Motown Records, Jackson's second studio album for the label as a solo artist, in August 1972. As part of promotion for the album, "Ben" was released as the album's lead and only single in July 1972. "Ben" was a commercial success worldwide, generally charting within the top 10 and top 20 positions on the music charts. The song peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, which was Jackson's first, of what would be 13 songs, to top that chart during his career as a solo artist.[5] "Ben" also charted on Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at number 3 and 5.[5] "Ben" charted within the top 10 on the Dutch Top 40 chart, peaking at number 2[17] and number 7 on the U.K. Singles Chart,[18] as well as charting at number 14 in Australia.[17] "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" was planned to be released as the second single from the album, but was cancelled for unspecified reasons.[3]

Ben was more successful on music charts in both the U.S. and worldwide than Jackson's previous studio album. The album peaked at number 5 on the U.S. Billboard 200, becoming Jackson's first of what would be six studio albums to peak within the top 10 on that chart.[19] Ben also peaked at number 4 on the U.S. Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[19] On January 13, 1973, Ben debuted on the U.K. Album Chart at its peak position, number 17.[20] The album remained within the country's music chart's top 50 positions for seven consecutive weeks.[20] On January 1, 1974, the album was certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry for shipping 60,000 units across the U.K.[21] After Jackson's death in June 2009, his music surged in popularity. The album charted on the French music charts on July 25, 2009, at its peak position of number 162.[22] Ben remained within the country's top 200 positions for two consecutive weeks.[22] To date Ben has sold over 5 million copies worldwide.[23]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
2."Greatest Show on Earth"
  • Mel Larson
  • Jerry Marcellino
3."People Make the World Go Round"3:15
4."We've Got a Good Thing Going"3:01
5."Everybody's Somebody's Fool"
  • Gladys Hampton
  • Regina Adams
  • Ace Adams
Side two
6."My Girl"3:05
7."What Goes Around Comes Around"
  • Allen Levinsky
  • Arthur Stokes
  • Dana Meyers
  • Floyd Weatherspoon
8."In Our Small Way"
  • Beatrice Verdi
  • Christine Yarian
10."You Can Cry on My Shoulder"Berry Gordy2:32


Adapted from AllMusic.[9]


Weekly chart performance for Ben
Chart (1972–2009) Peak
French Albums (SNEP)[22] 163
UK Albums (OCC)[20] 17
US Billboard 200[19] 5
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[24] 4


Certifications for Ben
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[25] Silver 60,000^
United States 1,700,000[26]

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Bernadette McNulty (June 26, 2009). "Michael Jackson's music: the solo albums". The Telegraph. Retrieved November 14, 2019. Jackson proved he wanted to move on from the constraints of the R&B charts into the wider limelight of mainstream pop
  2. ^ Chery, Carl: XXL: Michael Jackson Special Collecters Edition, page 100. American Press.
  3. ^ a b Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection, pg. 23 Motown Records (2009)
  4. ^ Rob Theakston. "Michael Jackson - Got to Be There". AllMusic. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "allmusic ((( Michael Jackson > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
  6. ^ "allmusic ((( Got to be There > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
  7. ^ "Michael Jackson - Got To Be There". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  8. ^ "Michael Jackson - Got to Be There (album)". LesCharts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
  9. ^ a b c "allmusic ((( Ben > Credits )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
  10. ^ The Complete Michael Jackson, International Music Publications Ltd, 1997, ISBN 1859094473
  11. ^ a b c d e Aletti, Vince (December 7, 1972). "Michael Jackson : Ben : Music Review : Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Archived from the original on June 18, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  12. ^ Halstead, pp. 76–94
  13. ^ a b c d e f Lindsay Planer. Ben at AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  14. ^ "Jermaine".
  15. ^ "T I T O J a C K S O N".
  16. ^ a b c Greenblatt, Leah (July 3, 2009). "Michael Jackson's Albums". Entertainment Weekly. Time Warner Inc. Archived from the original on September 11, 2010. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  17. ^ a b "Michael Jackson - Ben (chanson)". LesCharts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
  18. ^ "Michael Jackson - Ben". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
  19. ^ a b c "Michael Jackson Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved November 8, 2023.
  20. ^ a b c "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 8, 2023.
  21. ^ "BPI - Certified Awards Search". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on March 13, 2012. Retrieved March 26, 2010.
  22. ^ a b c "Lescharts.com – Michael Jackson – Ben". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 8, 2023.
  23. ^ The 1971 follow up album was even more successful, Ben sold five million copies. Classic Pop Presents Michael Jackson 2016.
  24. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved November 8, 2023.
  25. ^ "British album certifications – Michael Jackson – Ben". British Phonographic Industry.
  26. ^ Michael Jackson the Solo Years. Authors On Line. 2003. ISBN 9780755200917.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]