http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/7fabab963e53d9047b4e103d76f05219f39275d3.jpg Hello World - The Motown Solo Collection

Michael Jackson

Hello World - The Motown Solo Collection

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
August 5, 2009

As a 10-year-old, Michael Jackson mimicked adult emotions, like most child performers. As a teenager, he was able to reach places most mature singers can't touch. Jackson's first four solo albums — released from 1972 to 1975, between his 13th and 17th birthdays — document his transition from boy wonder to precocious teen.

This triple-disc anthology shows that Motown didn't always know what to do with a kid who could wail like James Brown but competed for fans with Donny Osmond. Jackson's early solo records spanned Fifties rock & roll (his smash remake of "Rockin' Robin") and funk (the protodisco "Dapper-Dan") but favored campy puppy-love ballads. Liberace-esque piano flourishes make Jackson's cover of "Too Young" even tackier than Osmond's.

But the best songs are anything but cute: Jackson summoned pains beyond the realm of adolescent experience on his aching cover of "Ain't No Sunshine." The rage he brought to sophisticated soul melodramas like "What Goes Around Comes Around" foreshadows the moral ambiguities of "Billie Jean." And no other vocalist could've turned a celebration of a pet rat into a chart-topping declaration of love between outcasts: Thirty-seven years after its release, Jackson's first Number One solo hit, "Ben," remains eerie and extraordinary.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories


    Nelly Furtado with Timbaland | 2006

    This club-oriented single featuring Timbaland, who produced Nelly Furtado's third album, Loose, was Furtado’s sexy return after the Canadian singer's exploration of her Portuguese heritage on Folklore. "In the studio, initially I didn’t know if I could do it, 'cause Timbaland wrote that chorus," Furtado said. "I'm like, 'That's cool, but I don't know if I'm ready to do full-out club.'" The flirty lyrics are a dance between a guy and girl, each knowing they will end up in bed together but still playing the game. "Tim and I called it 'The BlackBerry Song,' she said, "because everything we say in the song you could text-message to somebody."

    More Song Stories entries »