Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’

FROM : Original track listing of the Thriller album (1982)

RELEASE DATE : November 30, 1982 (album version)

May 8, 1983 (single version)

LENGHT : 6:03 (album version)
4:15 (single version)

LABEL : Epic CBS Records (now Sony Music)

RECORDING DATES : April 14, 1982 to November 8, 1982.

STUDIOS : Westlake Recording Studios (Los Angeles, California)

SONGWRITER(S) : Michael Jackson

PRODUCER(S) : Quincy Jones & Michael Jackson (co.)


LEAD VOCALS : Michael Jackson

BACKING VOCALS : Michael Jackson, Julia Waters, Maxine Waters, Oren Waters, James Ingram, Bunny Hull, Becky Lopez.


Greg Phillinganes: Rhodes, synthesizer
Michael Boddicker and Bill Wolfer: synthesizers
David Williams: guitar
Louis Johnson: bass
Paulinho da Costa: percussion
Jerry Hey, Gary Grant: trumpets, flugelhorns
Larry Williams: saxophone, flute
Bill Reichenbach: trombone
Michael Jackson, Nelson Hayes and Steven Ray: bathroom stomp board
Vocal arrangement by Michael Jackson
Rhythm arrangement by Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones
Horn arrangement by Jerry Hey and Michael Jackson


*Worked by MJ during his lifetime. Covers and remixes by other artists are not included.

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (demo) : demo recorded at Michael’s Hayvenhurst home recording studio in 1978. Leaked online & released posthumously in 2009 (This Is It).

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (12 extended mix) 6:30 (12″ version) released in 1983 as maxi singles.

Wanna Be Startin Somethin (2008) : Remix by Akon featuring new vocals by MJ recorded in November 2007 at the Palms Studios in Las Vegas and released on February 8, 2008 (Thriller 25 Special Edition).


MJ performed the song at every concert on :

-Victory Tour 1984

-Bad World Tour 1987-1989

-Dangerous World Tour 1992-1993

-Royal Brunei Concert on July 16, 1996

-History World Tour 1996-1997

-The song was rehearsed for the planned This Is It concerts in June 2009 and some footage appear in the “This Is It” movie released in 2009.

SHORT FILM : No short film



-Usher, Mya and Whitney Houston performed the song in front of MJ at the 30Th anniversary solo celebration at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on September 7, 2001. The performance was captured and televised.

-After Rihanna sampled the song in her 2007 hit single “Don’t Stop the Music”,she and MJ were both sued in February 2009 by Cameroonian musician Manu Dibango, who claimed that both songs stole the “mama-say mama-sa mama-coo-sa” hook from his 1972 single “Soul Makossa” without permission. According to Agence France-Presse, Jackson admitted earlier that he had borrowed the line for “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” and had eventually settled financially with Dibango. However, when Rihanna asked only Jackson’s permission to sample the line in 2007, Jackson allegedly approved the request without contacting Dibango beforehand. Dibango’s attorneys brought the case before a court in Paris, demanding €500,000 in damages and for Sony BMG, EMI and Warner Music to be “barred from receiving ‘mama-say mama-sa’-related income until the matter is resolved”.Dibango lost the case in Paris, after it turned out that Universal Music had updated its database and added Dibango into the list of those credited for Rihanna’s song.

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