Jackson 5’s—- I’ll be there. by Christopher De Silva
“ I’ll be there was a soul song written by Hal Davis, Willie Hutch and Berry Gordy for the musical brother group the Jackson 5. The song was one of the group’s first four consecutive number one hits. The groups first four singles released immediately climbed the chart with each holding the top spot. The Jackson 5 became an overnight sensation with standard classic hits like “ABC” and “I want you back.” They were the first male group to ever achieve such high success. Singles released before I’ll be there was described as “bubblegum pop soul” which dominated the airwaves. The head of Motown at the time, Berry Gordy decided to change the groups direction and help them appeal to older and a wider variety of audience by including a ballad for the group. This song was different from the ballads at the time as this song was specially crafted for the brothers in which they sing about a girl one of the brother’s has lost. Michael Jackson sings the lead part with his older brother Jermaine sharing lead vocals as he almost answers Michael’s part in the song. The two parts are complementary of each other. Hidden within the song is text painting with relation to religious text. The song uses different words and phrases like “salvation” and “where there is love, I’ll be there”, a line said by Jesus. At first I wasn’t aware of the allusion to God in the verses but often times with R&B soul music, religion often influences it.
This song peak twice at number one, once by the Jackson’s 5 and the other by legendary soul singer Mariah Carey and Trey Lorenz. This was recorded during a live appearance on MTV unplug. Mariah’s performance on the show was so well received, MTV played the taping four times more than usual and Mariah’s record company, Colombia records, decided to release an EP of the live performance. It was released in the second quarter of 1992, being co-produced by Walter Afanasieff and Carey. This song gave Carey her sixth number one in the US. Carey, similar to the Jackson 5, had her first four singles hit number one on the charts.
This song was the most successful single released by the Jackson 5 and is also their last number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Up until 1981, this song was Motown records most successful release replacing Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it through the Grapevines”. This song will remain as one of the best, well known Jackson 5 singles as it has appeared on numerous commercials and been covered by many different artist over time. I believe this is one of their best singles and will continue to live one long after the group.