10. "Rock With You"
Off the Wall, 1979
"So much uptempo dance music is threatening, but I liked the coaxing, the gentleness, taking a shy girl and letting her shed her fears rather than forcing them out of her," Jackson recalled, describing "Rock With You." Arguably the last hit of the classic disco era, this chart-topper remains one of the great seduction jams in modern R&B, a template for countless wanna-be mirror-ball lotharios, wrapped in vibrant string arrangements and poised halfway between a silk-sheet ballad and a dance-floor burner. "Songs like 'Rock With You' made me want to become a performer," Usher said in 2009. It was the first song written for Jackson by key collaborator Rod Temperton, of boogie merchants Heatwave, after a request from Quincy Jones. (Temperton went on to pen "Thriller," "Off the Wall," "Burn This Disco Out," "Baby Be Mine" and others.) The video, with Jackson working his magic in a silver outfit with little more than lasers and smoke as visuals, shows a solo artist looking barely more than a kid but in complete control of his game.