Why The Jackson 5 Were Told 'ABC' Might Not Be as Popular as 'I Want You Back'

“ABC” remains one of The Jackson 5’s most famous songs. During an interview, Michael Jackson‘s brother, Tito Jackson, revealed the members of the band were told the song might not perform well for a specific reason. Audiences in the United States and the United Kingdom had a strong reaction to “ABC.” 

The Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You back’ sold millions of copies in 6 weeks

In his book You Are Not Alone: Michael Through a Brother’s Eyes, Jermaine Jackson discussed the early days of The Jackson 5. “We just kept on working with new songs, building material for our debut album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5,” he recalled. “Its prospects looked good because our single releases had gone through the roof.”

Jermaine noted “I Want You Back” and “ABC” became incredibly popular. “‘I Want You Back’ went to No. 1 not just on the R&B charts but in the Billboard Hot 100, selling two million copies in six weeks in America, then catching fire in the U.K., the rest of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Israel. In February 1970, we followed up with ‘ABC’ which also went No. 1, selling 2 million copies in three weeks.”

The Jackson 5 were told ‘ABC’ might not perform as well as ‘I Want You Back’ because ‘I Want You Back’ was the band’s 1st single

During an interview with The Guardian, Tito said he was nervous when The Jackson 5 released “ABC.” “‘ABC’ was more nail-biting [than ‘I Want You Back’],” he said. “We’d been told the second hit is harder than the first, so to watch that one go up the charts was even more amazing. Then it happened with ‘The Love You Save,’ too. We didn’t think we’d do it a fourth time with ‘I’ll Be There.’” Marlon Jackson said the members of The Jackson 5 were shocked by their success.

The way the world reacted to ‘ABC’

“ABC” became a massive international hit. The song lasted 13 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, staying at the top of the chart for two weeks. “ABC” appeared on the album ABC. ABC reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200, and lasted on the chart for 50 weeks.

“ABC” was prominent in the U.K. as well. According to The Official Charts Company, “ABC” peaked at No. 8 there and stayed on the chart for 16 weeks. Meanwhile, the album ABC hit No. 22, lasting on the chart for six weeks. 

“ABC” had an impact beyond its time on the charts. “ABC” appeared in trailers for the Eddie Murphy comedy Daddy Day Care. The song was No. 22 on Rolling Stone Australia‘s list of the greatest boy band songs of all time. The members of The Jackson 5 were told “ABC” might not succeed and yet it connects with fans over 50 years after its release.

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