Michael Jackson didn’t often duet with major singers, however, when he did, they were usually major celebrities like Paul McCartney and Eddie Murphy. Despite this, he decided to perform a duet with an unknown artist that reached No. 1 on the charts. Here is the story of that song.
Michael Jackson had a sweet surprise for the writer of one of his most iconic hits
Firstly, some background. In 1982, Jackson released his most famous album: Thriller. He took five years to release a follow-up. His next album, Bad, was almost certain to be a hit because of the success of Thriller.
While working on Bad, Jackson worked with a number of proven hitmakers, including Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, and Glen Ballard. However, he also worked with Siedah Garret, who co-wrote his power ballad “Man in the Mirror.”
According to Billboard, Jackson introduced Garrett to his song “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.” So of course, he just casually called over his shoulder, ‘Hey Sid, you like this song?’” Garrett recalled “And I kind of said, ‘Yeah, I like it.’ He said, ‘Well, can you sing it?’” I didn’t seem to dawn on Garrett what was about to happen next.
“So I get up to go into the vocal booth to record this song, and as I’m going out of the studio door I hear Quincy say, ‘Michael, go on in there.’ And so Michael is following me to this vocal booth, and I’m going to myself, ‘Oh my god.’ It wasn’t until I walked into the vocal area and there were two music stands, two microphones, two lyric sheets… The music stands were facing each other, and the microphones were facing each other, and the lyrics sheet said, ‘I Just Can’t Stop Loving You’: First verse, Michael, second verse Siedah.’ And it was in that moment that I realized, “Oh my god. I’m singing a duet with the King of Pop, the biggest recording artist on the planet!’” Jones commented that Jackson “loved” Garrett, so this could be why he gave her the opportunity.
How Quincy Jones reacted to Michael Jackson working with Siedah Garrett
According to The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, Garrett believes Jackson mimicked her vocal stylings when he performed on the song. Because of this, Jones couldn’t tell who was singing when he closed his eyes. Garrett didn’t realize how similar their voices sounded until after she and Jackson finished recording it.
How the world reacted to ‘I Just Can’t Stop Loving You’
Upon release, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a week in 1987. It did well considering it’s one of Jackson’s hit singles that was not accompanied by one of his signature high-concept music videos. In fact, it doesn’t have a music video at all. While Garrett didn’t become a pop star, Jackson helped her reach the top of the charts.