'Cause when I look in her eyes I realize
I need her sharing her world beside me
"Got to Be There" was Michael Jackson's first solo single in 1971 from the 1972 album of the same name. Young Michael, who had become the face and voice of the Jackson 5 brand, ventured out on his own for the first time with impressive results. Reaching highs that would make a choirboy jealous, MJ sings this song in an eyebrow-arching octave and with such high majesty that only the incredible Chaka Khan could later cover this song and attempt to match the perfect pitch that little Michael modeled almost effortlessly. "Got to Be There" was proof that Michael Jackson was not a fluke.
This song illustrated that his voice and professionalism as a vocalist was not dependent on the entourage his brothers provided. He was the real deal and a child prodigy who was before his time. "Got to Be There" had Michael singing about grown-up lovin' and feelings that were counter to the cotton-candy fun found in other songs on his debut including the hit song "Rockin' Robin." Yet, in the same old-soul vein of the album's covers of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" and Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," "Got to Be There" was a prelude to the man that MJ was to become, giving us a sneak peek that was both endearing and affirming of his greatness.
Michael Jackson: "Got To Be There"