30. "Got to Be There"
Got to Be There, 1972
Jackson's first single as a solo act found him already thinking outside the Jackson-family box. A Top Five pop and R&B hit, the buttery ballad "Got to Be There" was written by New Jersey songwriter Elliot Willensky, and featured a plush, pillow-talk arrangement that was far sultrier than the J5's bubblegum fare. And few pop stars of the time – let alone ones that were still 13 years old – ventured into sweetly suggestive lyrics like "Got to be there in the morning/And welcome her into my world." Was he referring to the classroom or the bedroom? Either way, he was convincing.