"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" is a song by American recording artist Michael Jackson. It is the sixth single from Jackson's sixth solo album, Thriller (1982). The original demo version of the song was written by Jackson and Greg Phillinganes. Quincy Jones passed on the song itself but liked the title and, with James Ingram, fashioned a totally new song with that title.
"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" was released on September 19, 1983, as the penultimate single from Thriller. The single charted at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 46 on the R&B singles chart, becoming the sixth Top 10 hit from the album. In the UK, the song reached a peak position of 11. The single was most successful in Belgium, charting within the Top 10 at number 6. "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" has been covered and sampled by numerous artists, including Monica, Justin Guarini and Kanye West. The original demo was also remixed by The Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am for Thriller 25.
"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" was never performed live by Jackson. In a rehearsal for the Dangerous World Tour, however, Jackson sang a small part of the demo version, describing it as "something I wrote that I haven't recorded yet."
James Ingram later described working with Jackson and Jones as being in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. "It's almost like I got the chance to go to Oz and Quincy was the Wizard of Oz and Michael Jackson was who he was dealing with in his world. Their work ethic is unbelievable." He noted how Jones would fall asleep on the board, waking up to answer a question. "He works in the Alpha state a lot", Ingram added. Two of Jackson's sisters, Janet and La Toya, provided backing vocals in the guise of the P.Y.T.s. The two sisters sang "na na na" back at their brother towards the end of the song.
Release and reception
"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" was released on September 19, 1983, as the penultimate single from Thriller. The single charted at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 46 on the R&B singles chart, becoming the sixth Top 10 hit from Thriller. In the United Kingdom, the song reached a peak position of 11. The song was most successful in Belgium, charting within the Top 10 at number 6. The single was placed at number 14 in the Netherlands. "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" charted at number 24 in Canada and peaked at number 51 in Germany.
Response to the song was mixed. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic enjoyed the song, and thought that the song was "frizzy funk."  However, Rolling Stone reviewer Christopher Connelly, while discussing the album in a review, stated that the song "isn't up to the spunky character of the other tracks." Connelly mentioned that one of Jackson's weaknesses was "a tendency to go for the glitz," and cited the song as one example of this. Davitt Sigerson, from the same magazine, also agreed with Connelly, calling the song one of Thriller's "forgettables". Jon Pareles of The New York Times called the song "fluff", and believed that the other songs from the album were what made Thriller such a hit. Tal Rosenberg of Stylus Magazine believed that the song was a "jazzy R&B number", and Eric Henderson of the same magazine believed that the song was a "lush disco paradise."
Cover versions and references to the song
My first concert ever was the Bad tour. I was absolutely mesmerized. I've always been a fan of Michael's for the simple fact that what he's done no one else will really be able to do. And that's something that makes you legendary.
- 2002: Jackson's demo version of "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" was sampled on Monica's single "All Eyez on Me". "We used vocals from the song that didn't make the Thriller album", stated producer Rodney Jerkins. "He [Jackson] had more vocals and ad-libs that were never heard, and we used the ones that were not heard." Jackson hand delivered his original masters to Monica, who, as a longtime Jackson fan, was touched by the move.
- 2003: The chorus of "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" was sampled by rapper Memphis Bleek on "I Wanna Love U". The song, sung by Donnell Jones, featured on Bleek's M.A.D.E. album.
- 2005: The song has been interpolated by Johntá Austin on rapper Bow Wow's song "Is That You (P.Y.T.)" from his album Wanted.
- 2007: "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" was also sampled on rapper Kanye West's "Good Life", the third single from his Graduation album.
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) 2008
For Thriller 25, The Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am remixed the demo version of "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)". The singer commented on Jackson and the project, "You always just dream of meeting him, let alone working with him. I wouldn't have believed it. I grew up in the projects in East Los Angeles and Thriller was filmed about two blocks from my house, but my mother was really strict and she wouldn't let me go to the factories—she didn't care who was filming a video there; but I'm on the 25th anniversary, 25 years later—that's pretty awesome." Entitled "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) 2008", the remix was well received by Rolling Stone. The publication described the track, along with "The Girl Is Mine 2008", as being one of the best songs on the album. They noted that will.i.am "updates the songs' original sound to make them dancefloor-worthy twenty-five years after their release".
- Written, composed and arranged by James Ingram and Quincy Jones
- Produced by Quincy Jones
- Greg Phillinganes: Synthesizer, synthesizer programming
- Michael Boddicker: Vocoder, emulator
- James Ingram: Portasound Keyboard
- Paul Jackson: Guitars
- Louis Johnson: Electric bass
- N'dugu Chancler: Drums
- Michael Jackson, Louis Johnson, Greg Phillinganes, James Ingram, Steven Ray: Handclaps
- Additional background vocals:
- James Ingram
- Howard Hewett
- P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing) - 3:58
- Workin' Day and Night (Live-Jacksons) - 4:26
- P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing) - 3:58
- This Place Hotel - 4:41
- Thriller (Instrumental) - 5:56
- Album Version - 3:58
- Demo Version - 3:47
- 2008 Remix with will.i.am - 4:21
- Instrumental Version (Unreleased) - 3:58
^ a: This demo, recorded between April and October 1982, was included on the compilation album Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection, issued in November 2004.
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