Pitchfork has done a full list of 200 best songs from the 70s as voted by their full time staff and contributors!
Obviously, Michael Jackson is in the mix and here the results:
#31 Michael Jackson “Rock With You”
As the master of the single, Michael Jackson’s most memorable songs often feel like individually wrapped gifts of pop perfection—hits that contain entire standalone worlds within them. “Rock With You” is something of an exception in that, while it certainly sounds immaculate on its own, it sounds even better in the context of Off the Wall, for which it serves as the sonic thesis. The album successfully positioned MJ as a grown-up solo artist with a confident vision; “Rock With You” is the sound of that confidence.
There is, of course, a timeless chorus, but the verses that bridge the hooks together cement “Rock With You” as the mature breakthrough Jackson wanted. Instead of the falsetto of album opener “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough,” he shows his range with a sensual lower register (by MJ standards, at least); like the 20-year-old he was, Jackson seemed eager to try out grown folks’ way of singing.
“Rock With You” is also a pure disco song, arriving at a time when the genre was on its way out. Jackson has been praised for defying trends and delivering greatness into the 1980s, when the song peaked at No. 1, but it took someone like him to grow a bounty on ground no longer thought to be fertile. And so “Rock With You,” while not often reaching the highest echelons of the MJ canon, is a triumph: a slightly surprising hit, a transformative moment, and a groove so moving, it can rock you still. –Matthew Strauss
#2 Michael Jackson “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”
Michael Jackson was a monumental figure in global culture, but before he secured that legacy, there was a time he had to break out of his mold and navigate the choppy transition from child star to solo icon. Having found lasting fame at an age where most people are still grappling with their multiplication tables, Jackson already had a sizable career behind him when he teamed up with the already legendary Quincy Jones to cut Off the Wall, his grand entrance into adulthood.
“Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” has early versions of all the traits that made Jackson’s ’80s music so singular: the playful yet unwavering falsetto, his trademark vocal yelps and gasps (heard here in their incubatory form), the unmistakable ear for what constitutes a mega-hit. The video for the song shows Jackson effortlessly finding the courage to crotch-thrust and soft-shoe his way into his larger-than-life identity. Even if, in some dreary and moonwalk-less alternate reality, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” hadn’t been the precursor to two decades of pop music innovation, it would still stand the test of time as a seminal gem from an artist just realizing his limitless potential. –Cameron Cook
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