Tuesday, February 25, 2020

“Get It” by Stevie Wonder, featuring Michael Jackson

Stevie Wonder’s 1987 single “Get It” marked the second time that he and Michael Jackson dueted on a song. The superstar pair had previously traded vocals on “Just Good Friends,” a track from MJ’s multiplatinum album Bad (1987). “Get It” is a step up from “Just Good Friends,” which is a rather pedestrian piece of pop/soul fluff. “Get It,” on the other hand, has some real bite to it. Both Stevie and MJ deliver strong vocal performances over a potent dance groove; and Stevie anchors the track with a nasty synth bass line and a bumpin’ electro beat.

The song is about a woman who’s wary of getting into a new relationship due to being hurt too many times. But Stevie and MJ try to convince her that they are different from other guys and can offer her more than just material things, heartbreak and empty promises—and they’ll shower her with tons of “tender love and affection.” The high point of the song comes near the end when MJ and Stevie engage in an epic riff-off to win over the girl; the two artists let loose with some vocal fireworks. It’s a shame that they never got the opportunity to perform this song together live. They surely would have left the stage in ashes if they had.

“Get It” was written, arranged and produced by Stevie. It was a single from his platinum-selling album Characters (1987). He played all the instruments on the track except for the guitar part, which was played by his longtime sideman Ben Bridges. And Mary Lee Evans accompanied Stevie on the background vocals. The song performed extremely well on Billboard’s R&B singles chart, peaking at #4. It also had a strong showing on the Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, climbing to #11. However, it only made it to #80 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart.

And “Get It” and “Just Good Friends” weren't MJ and Stevie's only music collaborations. MJ and his brothers provided background vocals for Stevie’s chart-topping protest anthem you “You Haven’t Done Nothin,’” a single from the Grammy-winning collection Fulfillingness' First Finale (1974). And Stevie wrote and produced an entire Jackson 5 album in 1974, but it was shelved. One of the songs recorded during those sessions was “Buttercup,” which appeared on the 2009 compilation album I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters.

Additionally, Stevie and Susaye Greene co-wrote the haunting ballad “I Can’t Help It” for MJ’s landmark album Off The Wall (1979). Not long after that, MJ sang background vocals on “All I Do,” a track from Stevie’s 1980 LP Hotter Than July. And in 1985, Stevie and MJ joined a slew of other big-name music artists for the all-star benefit single “We Are The World” to help raise money for famine relief in Africa. The song, which was co-written by MJ and Lionel Richie, sold 20 million copies worldwide and raised millions for famine relief.

MJ and Stevie had similar career paths: Both were child prodigies who began their professional music careers at a very young age; and both got their start at Motown. The two enjoyed highly successful music careers while still preteens and went on to even bigger success as young adults. Upon reaching young adulthood, they successfully pushed for more creative control over their art, which resulted in their best and fully realized work. And both artists’ music helped define a decade—the ‘70s for Stevie and the ‘80s for MJ.

Stevie and MJ were also close friends; and they maintained that close friendship until MJ’s death. The pop/soul legend learned a lot about recording music and songwriting from Stevie. This was mainly through observing Stevie at work in the studio, and he’d just soak it all in like a sponge. In fact, MJ was in the studio when Stevie was putting together his magnum opus Songs in the Key of Life (1976). And what better teacher to learn from about making music than the Wonder man himself? MJ always drew inspiration from the best and applied it to his own work, be it in the studio, on the stage, or in his music videos.

"Get It" at Amazon

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