Michael Jackson hit passes a billion views on YouTube

One 1983 hit by the King of Pop joins the ranks of other music videos to hit one billion views.
Michael Jackson File photos
Michael Jackson File photos / Chris Walter/GettyImages

YouTube confirmed that on November 29, 2023, Michael Jackson's "Beat It" music video hit one billion views. The music video for the 1983 hit established Jackson as an international music icon and featured synchronized choreography, as did "Thriller." You may be surprised to learn there are 100s of songs on YouTube's Billion Views Club; check out the playlist.

Featured on Jackson's sixth studio album Thriller, "Beat It" was the third single from the album released on February 14, 1983, and features a guitar solo by the late Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen. The song also featured Toto members Jeff Porcaro on drums, Steve Porcaro on synthesizers, and Steve Lukather on bass and guitar. "Beat It" topped the charts and remained there for three weeks.

The video begins with news of a fight and then shows Jackson lying in bed, thinking about the senseless violence. He dances his way to the fight, donning his now famous red leather J. Parks jacket. The leaders of rival gangs are engaged in a knife fight, which leads to a dance battle. Jackson arrives, breaks up the fight, and launches into a dance routine. The story ends with both gangs joining Jackson in the dance.

The success of the singles, especially "Beat It," would propel Thriller to the best-selling album of all time rank. The song is known as one of the most successful, recognized, and awarded songs in pop music history.

Eddie Van Halen on Stage with Jacksons
Eddie Van Halen on Stage with Jacksons / Lynn Goldsmith/GettyImages

"Beat It" had a significant influence on pop culture. Melding Jackson's pop sound with Eddie Van Halen's rock was a turning point that saw many artists merging the two genres. The music video was another Jackson platform used to influence social issues as it sent a message against violence. Throughout his career, he would set fashion trends, this time with the iconic red leather jacket, which became quite a statement piece in many fans' wardrobes.

In 1984, parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic parodyed the song with "Eat It," where he also mirrored the original music video scene for scene. All this was with Jackson's approval, who received royalties as a co-writer.

New York Culture
New York Culture / Hiroyuki Ito/GettyImages

Next. Robert Plant performed Stairway to Heaven at a charity event. Robert Plant performed Stairway to Heaven at a charity event. dark