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Michael Jackson - Wanna Be Starting Something

Written by Michael, and recorded for his Thriller album, issued in December 1982. Believed by some fans to be a hidden criticism of the media pressure Michael faced at this time, and would continue to face long into the future.

It's the first song written by Michael for Thriller: "(It's a song) which I had written when we were doing Off The Wall," he said, "but had never given to Quincy for that album."

Cited by Michael as a song that disappointed him: "Song-writing is a very frustrating art form," he said. "You have to get on tape exactly what's playing in your head. When I heard it up here (his head), it's wonderful - I have to transcribe that on to tape."

The rhythm arrangement 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.

Fourth single released from the album - peaked at no.5 on both American charts, and no.8 in the UK.

It was the song chosen to open the Jacksons' Victory Tour and Michael's Bad Tour concerts. It was again performed live on later tours by Michael.

Featured in 1990, along with The Way You Make Me Feel, in commercials for L.A. Gear - Michael was paid $10 million for his sponsorship of the brand.

Featured in the popular 2002 video game, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and its accompanying soundtrack.


Credits
* Written, arranged, and composed by Michael Jackson
* Produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson
* Lead vocals by Michael Jackson
* Backing vocals by Michael Jackson, Julia Waters, Maxine Waters, Oren Waters, James Ingram, Bunny Hull, and Becky Lopez
* Rhodes and synthesizer by Greg Phillinganes
* Synthesizer by Michael Boddicker and Bill Wolfer
* Guitar by David Williams
* Bass by Louis Johnson
* Percussion by Paulinho da Costa
* Trumpets and flügelhorns by Jerry Hey and Gary Grant
* Sax and flute by Larry Williams
* Trombone by Bill Reichenbach
* Bathroom stomp board: Michael Jackson, Nelson Hayes, and Steven Ray
* Vocal arrangement by Michael Jackson
* Rhythm arrangement by Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones


Lyrics
Chorus
I said you wanna be startin somethin
You got to be startin somethin
I said you wanna be startin somethin
You got to be startin somethin
Its too high to get over (yeah, yeah)
Too low to get under (yeah, yeah)
Youre stuck in the middle (yeah, yeah)
And the pain is thunder (yeah, yeah)
Its too high to get over (yeah, yeah)
Too low to get under (yeah, yeah)
Youre stuck in the middle (yeah, yeah)
And the pain is thunder (yeah, yeah)
1st verse
I took my baby to the doctor
With a fever, but nothing he found
By the time this hit the street
They said she had a breakdown
Someones always tryin to start my baby cryin
Talkin, squealin, lyin
Sayin you just wanna be startin somethin

Chorus
I said you wanna be startin somethin
You got to be startin somethin
I said you wanna be startin somethin
You got to be startin somethin
Its too high to get over (yeah, yeah)
Too low to get under (yeah, yeah)
Youre stuck in the middle (yeah, yeah)
And the pain is thunder (yeah, yeah)
Its too high to get over (yeah, yeah)
Too low to get under (yeah, yeah)
Youre stuck in the middle (yeah, yeah)
And the pain is thunder (yeah, yeah)

2nd verse
You love to pretend that youre good
When youre always up to no good
You really cant make him hate her
So your tongue became a razor
Someones always tryin to keep my baby cryin
Treacherous, cunnin, declinin
You got my baby cryin

Chorus
I said you wanna be startin somethin
You got to be startin somethin
I said you wanna be startin somethin
You got to be startin somethin
Its too high to get over (yeah, yeah)
Too low to get under (yeah, yeah)
Youre stuck in the middle (yeah, yeah)
And the pain is thunder (yeah, yeah)
Its too high to get over (yeah, yeah)
Too low to get under (yeah, yeah)
Youre stuck in the middle (yeah, yeah)
And the pain is thunder (yeah, yeah)
Youre a vegetable, youre a vegetable
Still they hate you, youre a vegetable
Youre just a buffet, youre a vegetable
They eat off of you, youre a vegetable

3rd verse
Billie jean is always talkin
When nobody else is talkin
Tellin lies and rubbin shoulders
So they called her mouth a motor
Someones always tryin to start my baby cryin
Talkin, squealin, spyin
Sayin you just wanna be startin somethin
Chorus
I said you wanna be startin somethin
You got to be startin somethin
I said you wanna be startin somethin
You got to be startin somethin
Its too high to get over (yeah, yeah)
Too low to get under (yeah, yeah)
Youre stuck in the middle (yeah, yeah)
And the pain is thunder (yeah, yeah)
Its too high to get over (yeah, yeah)
Too low to get under (yeah, yeah)
Youre stuck in the middle (yeah, yeah)
And the pain is thunder (yeah, yeah)
Youre a vegetable, youre a vegetable
Still they hate you, youre a vegetable
Youre just a buffet, youre a vegetable
They eat off of you, youre a vegetable

Ad-lib
If you cant feed your baby (yeah, yeah)
Then dont have a baby (yeah, yeah)
And dont think maybe (yeah, yeah)
If you cant feed your baby (yeah, yeah)
Youll be always tryin
To stop that child from cryin
Hustlin, stealin, lyin
Now babys slowly dyin

Chorus
I said you wanna be startin somethin
You got to be startin somethin
I said you wanna be startin somethin
You got to be startin somethin
Its too high to get over (yeah, yeah)
Too low to get under (yeah, yeah)
Youre stuck in the middle (yeah, yeah)
And the pain is thunder (yeah, yeah)
Its too high to get over (yeah, yeah)
Too low to get under (yeah, yeah)
Youre stuck in the middle (yeah, yeah)
And the pain is thunder (yeah, yeah)

Ad-lib
Lift your head up high
And scream out to the world
I know I am someone
And let the truth unfurl
No one can hurt you now
Because you know whats true
Yes, I believe in me
So you believe in you
Help me sing it, ma ma se,
Ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa
Ma ma se, ma ma sa,
Ma ma coo sa
(repeat/fade-out)



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