Saturday, July 24, 2010

Song of the Week: Nobody

by Corey Sheppard

The first time that I heard “Nobody” was through the Jackson 5ive cartoon series around 1997 (for the true Jackson fans it was the weekend VH-1 had a marathon of MJ shows because it was announced then that he had become a father). I believe it was the episode when the J5 assembled a robot called "Groovatron." I immediately loved the song, thought it was sooo catchy, and was wondering why I didn't have this tune in my collection. Four years later in 2001, I remember buying the Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5/ABC CD and listening to “Nobody” over and over again.

“Nobody” is the perfect example of "bubblegum soul" for the Jackson 5. It was recorded around the same time that the brothers first moved to Los Angeles along with “I Want You Back” and “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” (the rest of the album, produced by Bobby Taylor, was recorded in Detroit). I love how you can hear the excitement in Michael and Jermaine's voice on this record. You can tell that they were ecstatic about being able to record for Motown. This tune was one of the first songs that the boys collaborated with the Corporation on. The three recordings the boys did with them on the first album are totally amazing.

My favorite section of ”Nobody” is the bridge, because it takes the soul to the next level. The bass player totally gets into it hitting those notes that only Motown bassists can play. I've always admire the guitar work throughout the record. It's fantastic. I love the vocals on the record as well. Michael is fantastic as usual, and I love Jermaine's early raspy lead. Jermaine's consistent “Baby” lines on the bridge add that little kick of spice to the recipe. And for jokes, the piano-driven intro on the record always remind me of a Charlie Brown ditty :o).

This song is also unique by the fact that there is no kick drum in the song. Unless it’s completely buried in the mix (which I highly doubt because the hi-hat and snare are very prominent in the song) I have never heard it in the record, or felt it in my speakers. But while I’ve noticed that it was missing, I never felt it was truly needed. The only complaint I have about this record, is that it's not long enough. I’m sure they is an extended version hanging around the vaults and maybe one day, Motown will surprise us all, with the unedited version.

In my opinion, “Nobody” is as much of an enjoyable number as “I Want You Back.” I think it would have been a great choice for a second single on Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5. “Nobody” would’ve been the perfect follow-up to “I Want You Back” and I could totally see Michael, Marlon, and Jackie during the coolest dance moves to it. I was also quite surprised that this cut was never performed live by the J5 throughout their numerous tours.

“Nobody” will always be one of the funkiest grooves that the boys have ever done, and one of the baddest cuts ever IMO! “Nobody” is such a hidden gem by the boys and I feel as though it should as least get the recognition as records such as “It’s Great to Be Here” and “2-4-6-8.” And the fact that always amazes me is that a song off of their debut album, basically defines the sound the J5 have. That statement proves to me that the J5 were hungry and ready for stardom from the jump.

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Corey Sheppard, 20, has been a Jackson 5 fan since 1993. His favorite hobbies are listening to music, playing racquetball at the YMCA, and hanging out with friends. Corey’s life passion is centered on music. His latest project is an all-new production company shared with Robert White Jr. entitled "Ask About It Productions."


  1. I remember when this song first came out, I had the hardest time understanding the lyrics. I used to listen to it over and over again to try to make them out, especially this line: "If you want to know the hour / I got nothin to say..." ??? It was a real thrill when I finally realized Michael was saying "The wise old owl got nothin to say / But if you loved him like you love me he'd hoot hoot 24 hours a day!" Whoever thought Michael would sing about an owl!

  2. This has always been a Corey favorite. Well written Core!!!

  3. Thanks for bringing that song up, I listened again, and MAN if it ain't one of the funkiest jams. The Corporation gave 'em another winner here. The song seems to play with time changes, and like the bridge best too, the background singing, the enthusiasm, so much going on here! I think the lyric is hard to understand because Michael sings it: "the wise old Ow-Wol" -- what is THAT? Thanks for pointing out the missing kick drum, and yeh, it's WAY too short a song. Kinda reminds me of the feel they had in Sugar Daddy.

  4. I always thought Michael sang "The cook book says" instead of "The good book says" lol! I do like this song, it is catchy but for some reason I've never really gotten into it like I have other Jackson 5 songs. Another great column Corey :)

  5. I used to think the on the opening they sang "No money, no-oh-oh-oh money. Got no money, I got got got no money..." even though I *knew* the song was named "Nobody."

  6. I love Nobocy but I just read the lyrics...
    That's not what I heard LOL... I'm kinda embarrased to be posting these but.. whatever...
    Your my desire, honey >> Your mighty body, honey
    I get steaming hot Every time you light my fire >> You're steaming hot ???do you like my butt?

    And I also though he was talking about a cook book

    I blame the fact that english is not my first language and I heard it for the first time when my english was even worse than now. I never really think about lyrics... But I probably should have looked these up earlier LOL.