Michael Jackson

Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'

Composed by Michael Jackson

Song Review by

The lead track and fourth Top Five single taken from Michael Jackson's Thriller album, "Wanna Be Startin' Something" starts off the best-selling LP of all time with a nod to the freewheeling, cross-cultural disco feel of Jackson's previous album, Off the Wall. The rhythm arrangement (by the Prince of Pop himself) is a complex interweaving of drum-machine patterns and work by percussionist Paulinho da Costa, while the horn arrangement by Jerry Hey is brassy and precise. The entire production, by Quincy Jones and Jackson, is a hallmark of the digital-quality productions that ruled the '80s (and gradually turned into soulless engineering demonstrations). While the music is effervescent and buoyant, the lyrics introduce a confrontational edge, especially compared to Jackson's previously lily-white persona.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Thriller 1982 Epic 6:03
Dangerous: The Short Films 1993 Sony Music Distribution
HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I 1995 MJJ / Epic 6:04
12 Inch Mixes 1998 Sony Music Distribution 6:30
Greatest Hits: HIStory, Vol. 1 2001 Epic
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Vol. 6: Fever 105 2002
Original Soundtrack
Sony Music Distribution 6:01
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Greatest Hits 2002
Original Game Soundtrack
Epic / Sony Music Distribution 6:01
Off the Wall/Thriller 2004 Epic / Sony Music Entertainment 6:02
The Ultimate Collection [Sony/Epic] 2004 Legacy / Epic 6:03
The Essential Michael Jackson 2005 Epic / Legacy 4:17
No Image 2005 EPC
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Sony BMG
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Sony BMG 6:03
King of Pop 2008 Sony BMG / Sony Music Entertainment 4:21
Soul RNB 2008
Various Artists
Sony BMG 6:01
One Night in Japan 2009 Immortal Records
The Collection 2009 Sony BMG / Sony Music Entertainment 6:03
Live in Japan 2009 Hudson Street
In Memory of Michael Jackson 1958-2009: The Tribute Compilation 2009
Various Artists
IMV Blueline / XXL 5:39
Michael Jackson's This Is It 2009 Epic / Sony Music Entertainment 5:43
Live at Wembley, July 16, 1988 [Video] 2012 Legacy / Sony Music
Japan Broadcast 1987 2016 Goldfish 5:45
80s Groove, Vol. 3
Various Artists
Ministry of Sound 4:19
No Image Live Storm 4:52
They Don't Care About Us MJJ
blue highlight denotes editor's pick