What were the Jackson 5 going to do for an encore after "I Want You Back"? How about build on it? Songwriter Deke Richards elaborated on a little riff from their previous hit's chorus, shaping it into a new, equally potent song. He and his partners in the Corporation came up with lyrics inspired by reality; as co-writer Freddie Perren put it, "[They were] the age they were, and . . . most of their fans were still in school." "ABC" was, in other words, straight-up bubblegum pop, but funnier and funkier than the kid-directed hits that groups like the Archies and Ohio Express had scored during the previous couple of years: The growling, percussive breakdown, and a blaring fuzz guitar that makes the riff more exciting every time it starts or stops, are as sophisticated as anything that was happening in pop in 1969. In Michael's words, "The verses were tongue-twisting, and that's why they were split up between Jermaine and me." And yet, Michael dominates the song: Jermaine's lines are deep in the mix, and Michael hollers like he needs the teacher's attention.