Michael Jackson: 1 of the Songs From ‘Thriller’ Was Co-Written by a Rock Star
Michael Jackson wrote some of the greatest songs from Thriller himself; however, some were written by other artists. One of them was co-written by a member of a 1980s rock band. Interestingly, the rock artist in question never intended for Jackson’s producer, Quincy Jones, to hear the song. Later, another pop star sampled the song for a hit in the 2010s.
Michael Jackson didn’t write these songs from ‘Thriller’
Thriller remains Jackson’s most iconic album. Interestingly, Jackson didn’t write most of the songs on Thriller. For example, the song “Thriller,” “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing),” and a few other songs were written by others.
One of the songs on Thriller that Jackson didn’t write was “Human Nature.” Steve Porcaro and John Bettis co-wrote “Human Nature.” Porcaro is most known for being a member of the rock band Toto. Toto gave the world classic 1980s hits like “Africa” and “Rosanna.”
Michael Jackson’s producer wasn’t supposed to hear ‘Human Nature’
During an interview with The Tennessean, Porcaro discussed the origin of “Human Nature.” He said his daughter came to him in the studio and kept asking him why a boy from school hit her. The word “why” stuck in Porcaro’s head and the song poured out of him very quickly. He only had one cassette left.
Porcaro had to put his demo of “Human Nature” on a cassette that already had some material on it. That cassette had some of the grooves David Paich of Toto wrote. Jones wanted to hear those grooves. Jones listened to the tape and heard the demo of “Human Nature.”
“I had no intention of Quincy hearing “Human Nature,'” Porcaro said. “That was unfinished demo. The lyrics weren’t done. It was a completely unfinished song. I would have never handed that in a million years to a Quincy Jones.”
Porcaro explains why he believes Jones heard the demo. “I believe what happened is he just let the tape run and auto-reverse kicked in (playing the other side of the tape),” he said. “He was very excited about it. He thought it was a David Paich tune, you know, for a real long time. David said Quincy called him the next morning, and it took him 20 minutes to finally tell him, ‘I think you’re talking about one of Steve’s tunes.'”
How the world reacted to ‘Human Nature’ and ‘Thriller’
“Human Nature” became a major hit. It reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the chart for 14 weeks. Its parent album, Thriller, was a massive success as well, topping the Billboard 200 and remaining on the chart for 485 weeks.
Chris Brown sampled “Human Nature” for his 2011 song “She Ain’t You.” “She Ain’t You” reached No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the chart for 20 weeks. “Human Nature” and “She Ain’t You” showed that Porcaro’s work connected with people across generations.