Fall Out Boy’s Cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ Became a Hit by Accident

One of the most famous songs of the 1980s is “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. In the 2000s, Fall Out Boy released a version of “Beat It” featuring John Mayer. Members of Fall Out Boy have shared some insight into how the cover came to be.

Fall Out Boy in front of a mural
Fall Out Boy | James Looker/Avalon/Getty Images

What Patrick Stump had to say about Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’

In a 2009 Rolling Stone article, Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump discussed the “Thriller” singer. Stump said he admired Jackson for not caring about genre. He noted the King of Pop made “Beat It,” which featured a rock guitar riff. Stump said it made perfect sense for Fall Out Boy, a pop-punk band, to cover “Beat It.”

In a 2008 interview with MTV News, Stump discussed recording “Beat It” in more detail. “We never really planned this to happen,” he said, laughing. “Basically, I just started playing the riff in sound-check one day, and then we all started playing it, and then we started playing it live, and then we figured we’d record it and put it out with our live DVD.”

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Why Fall Out Boy’s version of the song became a single

Stump and company didn’t intend for the cover to become a single. “And so we put it out, and then radio started playing it, and then it got huge on iTunes,” he said. “It was on the top 10 there, and so we were like, ‘Psssh, I guess it’s a single then.'”

Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz also discussed his band’s rendition of “Beat It.” “We didn’t plan on it being a single, but I hate when bands put out DVDs and they’re basically an excuse to have you buy the record twice,” Wentz revealed. “We wanted our DVD to have real value, so we did this … and it sort of spiraled into iTunes and all that stuff.”

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The way listeners in the United States reacted to Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ and Fall Out Boy’s version

Jackson’s “Beat It” became a massive hit. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three of its 25 weeks on the chart. “Beat It” appeared on Jackson’s album Thriller. And Thriller was No. 1 for 37 of its 510 weeks on the Billboard 200.

Fall Out Boy’s “Beat It” was a more modest hit. It reached No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for seven weeks. The band released the cover on the compilation album Believers Never Die – Greatest Hits. That album reached No. 77 on the Billboard 200, remaining on the chart for 28 weeks.

Fall Out Boy’s “Beat It” wasn’t as popular as Jackson’s; however, it remains an interesting connection between Fall Out Boy and the King of Pop. 

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