|Released September 1972|
|Format 7" single|
|B-side "You Can Cry on My Shoulder"|
"Ben" (often referred to as "Ben's Song"), is a song written by Don Black and composed by Walter Scharf for the 1972 film of the same name (the sequel to the 1971 killer rat film Willard). It was performed in the film by Lee Montgomery 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 U.S. pop chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 20 song for 1972. It also reached number-one on the Australian pop chart, spending eight weeks at the top spot. The song also later reached a peak of number seven on the British pop chart.
"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" from The Poseidon Adventure; Jackson performed the song in front of a live audience at the ceremony. The song was Jackson's first U.S. #1 solo hit.
Originally written for Donny Osmond, "Ben" was offered to Jackson as Osmond was on tour at the time and unavailable for recording. In addition to its one week at #1 in the U.S., the song also later reached a peak of number seven on the British pop chart. "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.
Although Jackson had already become the youngest artist to ever record a number-one ("I Want You Back" with The Jackson 5, in 1970), "Ben" made him the third-youngest solo artist, at fourteen, to score a number-one hit single. Only Stevie Wonder, who was thirteen when "Fingertips, Pt. 2" went to number one, and Osmond, who was months shy of his fourteenth birthday when "Go Away Little Girl" hit number one 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, 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, Number Ones, King of Pop and Icon.
A live recorded version was released on the 1981 album The Jacksons Live! 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.
Marti Webb version (1985)
In 1985, the song became a top ten hit again in the UK when covered by Marti Webb as a tribute to Ben Hardwick, a young liver transplant patient. This version reached #5 in the UK Singles Chart and was one of the singer's biggest hits. The song's lyricist, Don Black, was at that time Webb's manager.
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" and she highlighted the track. 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."