With all the Michael Jackson music playing…

… as a tribute to him since he died, why don’t they ever play Ben?

What, you don’t know the MJ song Ben?  Well, here you go!

There it is: a ballad about friendship, about outcasts now being less lonely when the world is against them.   So why isn’t this on the airwaves as much as Billie Jean?

Maybe it’s because, if you know the song, you know it’s about a psychotic killer and his pet rat that he trained (amongst a hundred other rats) to kill people.

MJ’s Ben was written for the movie sequel to Willard — about a man exacting his revenge on society for making him an outcast.  At the end of the first movie, Willard dies, but Ben, the lead rat, survives.  (Or so I’ve heard; I never saw either film, even as an adult.) He gets his own movie and Michael Jackson sang the title song.

Of course, the song has nothing in it that’s about the plot of either movie.  The only tie-in is the name Ben.  It’s not like the lyrics are:

Ben is this killer rat I know!

I taught him how to do it with one deadly blow!

I’m guessing that’s deliberate, so MJ could sing it anywhere and it was a huge hit for him.  I do remember when they played it on the radio into the 80s — and I remember asking my older sisters who was Ben, and them delighting in telling me.  I was scared to walk past storm drains for months.

But here’s where my sarcasm backfires on me: so much time has gone by that most people don’t know it came from that movie.   Jackson sang it into his 20s, and quite a few singers have done covers of it, right into American Idol.   People who are hearing for the first time on Idol or on sources like youtube are falling in love with it, downloading it, getting ringtones of it, or buying it.

So my attempt at being so clever has blown up and left the question:

Why aren’t they playing this huge hit of a song as part of Michael Jackson’s career on the radio? For that matter, why don’t they play Will You Be There?  I actually liked that song.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go pet my friend’s pet rats: Lucy and mini-Morgan, the namesake for my dog Morgan.  (OK, I added the mini, kind of like Morgan’s mini-Me.)

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