Friday Face-Offs: “I Want You Back” — WINNER!

Somewhere out in the world exists a VHS tape of my friend and me performing a fully choreographed dance to “I Want You Back” in his living room. Were we 11 years old? NO. We were in high school.

Something about this song has always made me giddy and joyful. I could give you a moment-by-moment, running commentary on every awesome thing that happens during “I Want You Back,” from the bass lick (sampled by Kriss Kross in “Jump,” people don’t realize that but it’s one of the all-time great samples), to the four snare shots that bring you out of the bridge, to Tito’s tortured “Let me live again!” I can’t imagine a more exciting pop song.

We’ll let this guy serve as a proxy for everyone who’s ever sung along, danced, or smiled to “I Want You Back.” I love his enthusiasm and exuberance, because that’s what pop music is all about, and that’s what “I Want You Back” has always meant to me, and the Jackson 5 were totally amazing and I used to rock their greatest hits cassette when I was weeding my parents’ garden back in the day.

Also, when Michael Jackson first performed “Man in the Mirror” at the Grammys, do you remember that? Because it definitely wasn’t very incredible. What was that?


Friday Face-Offs: “I Want You Back” – 2nd Place

This is the one that got to me.

It’s a beautiful arrangement — the harmony on the chorus is a heartbreaker — but even more than that:

Look at that little guy there, sleeping in the back seat.

Who knows what that child had seen?

Who knows what he would go on to see?

Rest in peace.

Friday Face-Offs. Winning video is next.

Friday Face-Offs: “I Want You Back” – 3rd Place

Hmm … does the beginning of this video get me very pumped to see what’s about to happen? “Slide 24,” am I very excited about that?

At first I was confused about the beeps; then I realized the video was preemptively bleeping out the “Fuck yeahs!” I was yelling at the screen.

LOL, does this woman know very much about flags and waving flags and “Slide 22’s” and whatnot? What is she talking about?


Anybody chillin’ very hard in this video? LOL, why don’t you spend six years getting a PhD and get back to me, because that’s the only way you’ll be able to figure out if anyone is chillin’ in this video.

Friday Face-Offs: “I Want You Back” – 5th Place

YES! What is that amazing instrument/sound? Because it takes the song to new levels of abstraction and rockin’. And also, makes me laugh a small amount when it first comes on.


Friday Face-Offs! You wanted us back, now we’re back!

Friday Face-Offs: “I Want You Back” – 8th Place

One beautiful thing about “I Want You Back” is how, when people hear the first couple seconds — the piano glissando, the bad bassline (and I mean the really bad bassline) they get sad. They start getting really, really sad.

And LOL then the energy level in the room drops.

Friday Face-Offs!

Man, it’s been a while since we enjoyed a Friday Face-Offs, huh? I haven’t done one since Pete Seeger turned 90.

If you know me, and you know what I like to dance to, and you know what gives me goosebumps, then you know I couldn’t end this week without a five-alarm Friday Face-Offs.

So lean back, settle in, and turn it up …

… because the subject of this week’s Friday Face-Offs is the greatest pop song ever recorded:

Let’s do this.