There were music videos before "Beat It" and music videos after Beat It and they are not the same thing. And for that you can credit Michael Jackson entirely. He had the song, he had the idea for a certain kind of video and, after CBS records declined to finance it, he had to put up the money himself; all $150,000 dollars of it, an unheard of amount of money for a music video in 1983. He hired Bob Giraldi to direct it, Michael Peters to choreograph it and shot it on the mean streets of Los Angeles using actual members of the Bloods and Crips as extras.

Peters choreography reached back to stage productions of earlier times to create an ensemble that alternately moved in sync with Jackson and swirled around him. It's a formula that Jackson repeated for "Thriller" (again choreographed by Peters) and many subsequent videos and has become the dominant template for most any large budget music video of today. If you don't believe that watch Beat It and then take a good look at Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" video, "Circus" by Britney Spears or "Run the World" by Beyonce to cite just a few of Beat It's descendants.

Let's not forget that there is also a kick-*#s song at work here. Beat It was one of those rare fusions of different musical genres that actually worked, and worked spectacularly, owing in large part to Eddie Van Halen's now legendary contribution on guitar (which he did for free). The song won MJ two of his eight Grammy Awards in 1984, was one of the driving forces behind the otherworldly success of the album "Thriller" and went platinum as a single as well.

Michael Jackson - Beat It

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