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Music / Off the Wall

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The front cover for all copies of Off the Wall manufactured during The Nineties and The 2000s
'Cause we're the party people night and day
Livin' crazy that's the only way

You know, I was...
I was wondering, you know...
If we could keep on, because...
The force, it's got a lot of power, and...
It make me feel like, ah...
It-it make me feel like, ah... OOH!
"Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", the opening to a new chapter for The Jackson 5's lead...

Off the Wall is the fifth studio album recorded by Michael Jackson. It was released through Epic Records on August 10, 1979.

After the first four albums of his solo career, which he released under Motown, he and his brothers signed with CBS Records. Initially, they worked under the Philadelphia International Records label, before shifting to the Epic label. It was under Epic that Michael resumed his solo career. Working with Quincy Jones, whom he got to know through his work in the 1978 film version of The Wiz, this album would mix in both Funk and Disco.

The result could be best described as a complete revelation.

It became the best-selling album by a black artist, and it wasn't even close. The album went nine-times Platinum in the United States, six-times Platinum in the United Kingdom, and has sold 20 million copies worldwide.

The album was also notable for having four Top Ten singles: "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", "Rock With You", "Off The Wall" and "She's Out Of My Life". The first two would be #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The collaboration with producer Quincy Jones would become a lasting one, extending to the releases of Thriller and Bad in The '80s. It was a set-up for one of the most meteoric rises in American pop music, as the records set by Off The Wall would fall soon enough.

The album was released as a special edition by Sony Music in 2001, which was re-issued in 2016.


Side One

  1. "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" (6:04)
  2. "Rock With You" (3:40)
  3. "Workin' Day And Night" (5:14)
  4. "Get On The Floor" (4:39)
  5. "Off The Wall" (4:05)

Side Two

  1. "Girlfriend"note  (3:05)
  2. "She's Out Of My Life" (3:37)
  3. "I Can't Help It" (4:29)
  4. "It's The Falling In Love" (3:48)
  5. "Burn This Disco Out" (3:41)

You got to feel the heat, and we can trope the boogie:

  • Alternate Album Cover: The cover art is a gatefold-spanning photo of Jackson standing in front of a wall; the original release oriented the photo so that his upper half was on the front. Starting in 1990, reissues would flip this around so that his legs were instead on the front and can be seen in the Trivia section; the original configuration would eventually be reinstated in 2015.
  • Break-Up Song: "She's Out Of My Life".
    It's out of my hands
    It's out of my hands
    To think for two years she was here
    And I took her for granted I was so cavalier
    Now the way that it stands
    She's out of my hands
  • Broken Record:
    Keep on, with the force don't stop/ Don't stop 'til you get enough.
  • Call-Back: In "I Can't Help It" Jackson sings about looking in the mirror, a theme he would revisit in "Man In The Mirror" from Bad.
  • Concept Album: Sort of. All the tracks are about dancing and escapism, save for "She's Out Of My Life".
  • Concept Video: This album had early music videos going with them, but not particularly remarkable yet. "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" is the most well known, with three Michaels dancing alongside each other in a memorable scene.
  • Cover Version: An interesting example where the original song was actually meant for the artist covering it in the first place. "Girlfriend" was initially written by Paul McCartney for Jackson, but Paul wound up recording it with his band Wings on their 1978 album London Town instead. Quincy Jones, in a 2001 interview, said he heard the song, and suggested that Jackson record it for Off The Wall, unaware that it was originally meant for him.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" encapsulates the joys of dancing, not to forget "Off The Wall", "Rock With You", "Burn This Disco Out" and "Get On The Floor".
  • Disco: The album is disco-flavored as a whole, but the standout is the anthem "Burn This Disco Out".
  • Dysfunctional Family: On the 2001 remaster of the album, the original 1978 demo version of "Workin' Day and Night" is included as a bonus track. Jackson's siblings pitched in during the recording, and the demo provides a revealing glimpse into his home life at the time:
    Randy Jackson: Michael, turn down my earphones, man! Turn 'em down!
    Janet Jackson: He's trying, Randy.
    Randy: [angry stammering]
    Janet: [shouting] Then take them off!
    Randy: Shut up!
  • Epic Rocking: "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" just barely cracks the six-minute mark.
  • Evil Laugh: At the start of "Off The Wall".
  • Face on the Cover: Michael in tuxedo, smiling.
    • Subverted for about two decades; certainly a unique example in musical trope history. See the Trivia page for details.
  • Funk: The album is a cross between disco and funk.
  • Intercourse with You: Subverted with "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough." Jackson's mother objected to the lyric, as she felt it was referring to sex, but Michal calmed her down by saying it didn't really mean anything.
  • Longest Song Goes First: The album kicks off with the six-minute "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", the only Epic Rocking track on the album.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: The open for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" acts as this for the entire album—and, symbolically, for this phase of Michael's solo career.
  • Men Don't Cry: Subverted with "She's Out Of My Life", where Jackson according to legend couldn't end the take without bursting into tears. After a couple of those Quincy Jones decided to keep the crying on the record.
  • New Sound Album: Michael's earlier albums were recorded when he was a child and a teenager and therefore the music was more in tone with that age demographic. Off The Wall put him back on the map as an adult star and had a sound that was closer to the Funk of The Jackson 5 and the Disco that was popular at the time. The reinvention sure paid off: Off The Wall became the best-selling album by a black artist at the time.
  • The Power of Love: "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"
    Love is force power!
  • Record Producer: Quincy Jones, who would produce Michael's next two albums Thriller and Bad.
  • Salaryman: "Workin' Day And Night".
    You got me workin', workin' day and night
    You say that workin' is what a man's supposed to do
    But I say it ain't right, if I can't give sweet love to you
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Michael on the album cover.
  • Shout-Out: "Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya Man" from Fear of a Black Planet in 1990 by Public Enemy samples "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough".
  • Spoken Word in Music: The intro to "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough".
    You know, I was
    I was wondering, you know
    If we could keep on, because
    The force, it's got a lot of power, and
    It make me feel like, ah...
    It- it make me feel like, ah... ooh!
  • Title Track: "Off The Wall"
    Live your life off the wall!
  • Updated Re-release: The album was reissued several times before and after Michael's passing.
    • The first time in 2001 as a "Special Edition", to promote what would become Jackson's final studio album Invincible. This edition contains audio interviews with Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton and also the original demo versions of "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" and "Workin' Day and Night".
    • The second time in 2009 as part of the box set titled The Collection released just a few weeks after Jackson died.
    • The third time in 2013 in the iTunes-exclusive collection The Indispensable Collection.
    • A fourth time in 2016 as part of the promotion of Spike Lee's second MJ documentary Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall.

Keep on, with the force don't stop
Don't stop 'til you get enough!
Keep on, with the force don't stop
Don't stop 'til you get enough!
Keep on, with the force don't stop
Don't stop 'til you get enough!
Keep on, with the force don't stop
Don't stop 'til you get enough!