7 Songs You Didn’t Know Michael Jackson Wrote for Other Artists

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

In a career spanning more than four decades, Michael Jackson wrote more than 150 songs and produced a number of artists across genres.

Already penning several songs for his 1979 Quincy Jones-produced solo album Off the Wall—including “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” which he wrote on his own—Jackson’s songwriting continued to flourish under the tutelage of Jones, who would work with Jackson on two more of his seminal albums Thriller and Bad.

By the ’80s, Jackson was already writing and producing songs with everyone from Diana Ross, Jennifer Holliday, sisters Rebbie, LaToya and Janet Jackson, and Paul McCartney, among others.

Other collaborations continued with the 1985 USA for Africa charity song “We Are the World,” co-written with Lionel Richie, The Jacksons’ 1984 single “State of Shock,” featuring Mick Jagger, Jackson’s duet with Freddie Mercury on the Queen singer’s solo release “There Must Be More To Life Than This,” and “Whatzupwitu” with Eddie Murphy, off the actor and comedian’s 1993 album, Love’s Alright.

[RELATED: New Documentary to Give Inside Look into Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’]

Jackson’s tenth and final album Invincible in 2001 also featured 16 tracks all co-written by the king of pop.

Aside from his own collection of hits, here are seven songs Michael Jackson wrote or co-wrote for other artists.

1.“It Had to Be,” The Brothers Johnson (1980)
Written by Michael Jackson, George Johnson, Louis Johnson

Produced by Quincy Jones, who already worked with Michael Jackson on his breakthrough solo album Off the Wall, the Los Angeles-based funk and R&B duo of The Brothers Johnson, consisting of siblings George (“Lightnin’ Licks”) and Louis “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson, had a chance to write a song with the king of pop for their fourth album, Light Up the Night. Aside from co-writing the song with the Johnsons, Jackson also provided backing vocals on “It Had To Be.”

To make you see that the truth of truth in here to be
Cause I′ve heard of life of no more weep
You just stand back in the face so anyone could see
And you took the car but I hold the key
To love in happiness is just for me
You are the night so fill the key
You just stand back in the face so anyone could see
I′m living my life for me, living my life for me

2. “Night Time Lover,” LaToya Jackson (1980)
Written by Michael Jackson and LaToya Jackson

“Night Time Lover” was originally written by the brother and sister for Donna Summer under the title “Fire Is the Feeling” but ended up on LaToya Jackson’s self-titled album. Produced and co-written by her brother Michael Jackson, who also sings on the track, LaToya would perform the song on American Bandstand in 1980.

[RELATED: The Story Behind Michael Jackson Buying The Beatles’ Catalog and Angering Friend Paul McCartney]

Baby, save my soul tonight
I need your loving
This is right for me
Your touch is strong, you’ll see
And I adore to be
Your night time lover

Baby, save my soul tonight
I need your loving
This is right for me
Your touch is strong, you’ll see
Can I hold on to be
Your night time lover

3. “The Man,” Paul McCartney (1983)
Written by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney

A year after Michael Jackson released his duet with Paul McCartney on the Thriller single, “The Girl Is Mine,” Jackson also had two songs co-written with the Beatle for his fourth solo album, Pipes of Peace, the duo’s duet hit “Say Say Say” and the lesser-known track “The Man.”

“The Man” was initially scheduled as the third single in 1984, following “Pipes Of Peace” and “Say Say Say” but was delayed following Paul and Linda McCartney‘s drug bust in Bridgetown, Barbados for possessing under half an ounce of marijuana.

The video features home video footage of Jackson, Paul, and Linda McCartney taken at the McCartney’s home and farm in Sussex, England in 1981.

“If you say ‘The Man,’ it can mean God, it can mean ‘Women, listen to your man,’ it can mean so many things,” said Paul McCartney of the track. “Later, I did a song with Michael Jackson called ‘The Man’ and again, it’s quite nice leaving things ambiguous: I’m sure for Michael, probably ‘The Man’ meant God.”

Soldier boy kisses girl
Leaves behind a tragic world
But he won’t mind, he’s in love
And he says love is fin
e

Oh yes, indeed we know
That people will find a way to go
No matter what the man sa
id

And love is fine for all we know
For all we know, our love will grow
That’s what the man said

4. “Centipede,” Rebbie Jackson (1984)
Written by Michael Jackson

The debut single by Rebbie Jackson, the eldest sibling in the Jackson family, “Centipede” was written by her younger brother Michael as the title track off her first album. Michael and The Weather Girls (Martha Wash and Izora Armstead)—known for their Paul Jabara- and Paul Shaffer-penned 1982 hit “It’s Raining Men”—also provides backing vocals on the song.

Don’t you know in the quiet of the night
Is when the snake is in the crawlin’
And the moon starts to glow then disappear
When the time is really right
Is when the centipede is crawlin’
You’ll be crying in the night so many tears
And you’re crawlin’ like a centipede

5. “You’re the One,” Jennifer Holliday (1985)
Written by Michael Jackson and Alan “Buz” Kohan

Jennifer Holliday only released two singles off her second album Say You Love Me—”Hard Time for Lovers” and “No Frills Love.” Surprisingly, the title track and album opener, “You’re the One,” which followed a young woman’s search for true love and was co-written and produced by Michael Jackson, was never released as a single.

When I was a child, I cried on mother’s shoulder
She would look at me and say: “When you grow older
You will come to know the joy and love of one good man
Everything will come in time if you believe it
Anything you truly want, you can achieve it
Picture In your mind the love you’ll find with one good man

6. “Eaten Alive,” Diana Ross (1985)
Written by Michael Jackson, Barry Gibb, and Maurice Gibb

For her sixth solo album, Diana Ross had the Bee Gees‘ Gibbs brothers write the entire album, including the title track, which was also co-written by her friend Michael Jackson, Maurice, and Barry Gibb. The song reached No. 3 on the dance chart and had an accompanying black and white video, directed by David Hogan, with Ross playing a demonic feline huntress and seducer of men.

Capture me, my blood is red
Another victim of your ritual
For you, my skin is shed
Ecstasy ain’t what you find
In the modern world
One flick of my tongue changes
The meaning of the world

7. “Alright Now,” Ralph Tresvant (1990)
Written by Michael Jackson and John Barnes

When Ralph Tresvant was putting together his debut (self-titled) solo album, Michael Jackson co-wrote one track for the former New Edition singer “Alright Now.” Though it was never released as a single, Tresvant hit No. 1 with the track “Sensitivity” and had hits with “Do What I Gotta Do” and “Stone Cold Gentleman,” featuring fellow New Edition member and label mate Bobby Brown.

[RELATED: Behind the Song Lyrics of “Thriller” by Michael Jackson]

I was a fool too blind to see
I turned my back on all your needs
What a price
I almost let you get away
You’re like the precious air I breathe
Without your love I’m not complete
Now I know
And my forever starts today

Photo: FRANCIS Sylvain/AFP via Getty Images

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