vinyl label
Side A of the Brazilian single
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Ben
B-side"You Can Cry on My Shoulder"
ReleasedJuly 12, 1972
RecordedNovember 1971
Producer(s)The Corporation
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Ain't No Sunshine"
"With a Child's Heart"

"Ben" (often referred to as "Ben's Song")[1] is a song written by Don Black and Walter Scharf for the 1972 film of the same name (a spin-off to the 1971 killer rat film Willard). It was performed by Lee Montgomery in the film and by Michael Jackson over the closing credits. Jackson's single, recorded for the Motown label in 1972, spent one week at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, making it Jackson's first number one single in the US as a solo artist.[2] Billboard ranked it as the number 20 song for 1972.[3] It also reached number 1 on the ARIA Charts, spending eight weeks at the top spot.[2] The song also later reached a peak of number 7 on the UK Singles Chart.[2] In 2004, the song appeared in The Ultimate Collection.

"Ben" won a Golden Globe for Best Song. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1973, losing to "The Morning After" by Maureen McGovern from The Poseidon Adventure. Jackson lip-synced to the song at the Oscars ceremony.[citation needed][4]


"Ben" was written for Donny Osmond, but he was on tour at the time and unavailable for recording, so Black and Scharf offered the song to Jackson instead.[5] In addition to its one week at number 1 in the US, the song later reached a peak of number 7 on the British pop chart.[2] "Ben" won a Golden Globe for Best Song. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1973; Jackson performed the song in front of a live audience at the ceremony.[4] Billboard called it a "beauty".[6]

Although Jackson had already become the youngest artist to ever record a number 1 ("I Want You Back" with The Jackson 5, in 1970),[7] "Ben" made him the third-youngest solo artist, at 14, to score a number 1 hit single. Only Stevie Wonder, who was 13 when "Fingertips" went to number 1, and Osmond, who was months shy of his 14th birthday when "Go Away Little Girl" hit number 1 in 1971, were younger. The song is one of Jackson's most re-released, having appeared on The Jackson 5 Anthology, The Best of Michael Jackson, 18 Greatest Hits, Michael Jackson Anthology, Jackson 5: The Ultimate Collection, The Essential Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection, Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection, The Definitive Collection, The Jacksons Story, the North American version of Number Ones (even though here it is the 1981 live version), some versions of King of Pop and Icon.

Live recorded versions were released on the 1981 album The Jacksons Live! and Live at the Forum, and remixed versions have appeared on The Remix Suite, The Stripped Mixes and some versions of Immortal. After Jackson's death, singer Akon released a remix of the song with his own background vocals and Jackson's original vocal solo.

Osmond did record it later in his career, including it in his 2014 album The Soundtrack of My Life.[8]

Critical reception

AllMusic editor Lindsay Planer wrote about the success of the song: "Like much of the Motown empire at the time, the title track's multimedia exposure, coupled with strong crossover appeal, ensured that 'Ben' scored the artist his first Pop Singles' chart-topper".[9] Rolling Stone editor Vince Aletti was not satisfied: "The title song is lovely, no doubt, and Michael packs it with a surprising amount of feeling (his delivery of 'They don't see you as I do/I wish they would try to' still tears me up) but it's all a little too thick for my tastes".[10]


Certifications and sales

Certifications and sales for "Ben"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Mexico 51,000[24]
United Kingdom (BPI)[25] Silver 200,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Marti Webb version

Single by Marti Webb
from the album Encore
B-side"Nothing Ever Changes"
StudioAngel Recording Studios, London
LabelStarblend Records
Producer(s)John Altman
Marti Webb singles chronology
"For the Touch of Your Love"
"Ready for Roses Now"

In 1985, the song became a top 10 hit again in the U.K. when covered by Marti Webb[26] as a tribute to Ben Hardwick, a young liver transplant patient. [27] This version reached No. 5 in the U.K. Singles Chart and was one of the singer's biggest hits.[26]

See also


  1. ^ "BEN (1972) - (MOVIE CLIP) BEN'S SONG". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on 8 August 2022. Retrieved 13 February 2024.
  2. ^ a b c d Cadman, Chris (2007). Michael Jackson: For the Record. Authors OnLine. ISBN 978-0-7552-0267-6.
  3. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1972
  4. ^ a b "Michael Jackson - Ben (Oscars 1973)". Youtube.com. 3 February 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2024.
  5. ^ "Donny Osmond". Lvrj.com. 2009-06-27. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  6. ^ "Radio Action and Pick Singles" (PDF). Billboard. July 22, 1972. p. 93. Retrieved 2020-08-02.
  7. ^ McDermott, Maeve. "Ranking Michael Jackson's No. 1 hits, in honor of what would have been his 60th birthday". Usatoday.com. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  8. ^ "Donny Osmond Gets Personal With 'Soundtrack Of My Life'". Huff Post. 13 January 2015. Archived from the original on 4 November 2023. Retrieved 4 November 2023.
  9. ^ Lindsay Planer. "Ben - Michael Jackson | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  10. ^ "Michael Jackson: Ben: Music Reviews: Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. 1972-12-07. Archived from the original on June 18, 2008. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  11. ^ "Image: RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  12. ^ "Item: 9840 - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  13. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Songs (A-B)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  14. ^ "Michael Jackson — full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 30, 2021.
  15. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. 21 September 2021. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  16. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 118.
  17. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 10/21/72". Tropicalglen.com. 1972-10-21. Archived from the original on 2014-11-11. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-01-13.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Archived from the original on 2016-10-05. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  20. ^ "Michael Jackson - Ben". ARIA Charts. 21 September 2021. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  21. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1972/Top 100 Songs of 1972". Musicoutfitters.com. Archived from the original on 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  22. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1972". Tropicalglen.com. 1972-12-30. Archived from the original on 2018-09-28. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  23. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Austchartbook.com.au. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  24. ^ "Label's Biggest Seller Almost Wasn't Released" (PDF). Billboard. June 7, 1975. p. 24. Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  25. ^ "British single certifications – Michael Jackson – Ben". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved May 12, 2023.
  26. ^ a b "MARTI WEBB | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Oofficialcharts.com. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  27. ^ "Marti Webb – The Pheasantry". Musical Theatre Review. 20 December 2022. Archived from the original on 19 February 2024. Retrieved 19 February 2024.