“Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell
“Somebody’s Watching Me” was a hit that owed its virality to featuring the King of Pop in his prime. And this is not only due to MJ representing in the chorus but also the fact that the lyrics actually speak to what he was going through at the time and honestly continued to endure throughout his life.
Relatively speaking, even though Rockwell’s dad may be a celebrity, no one knew who he was when this track came out. So the concept of him being persistently stalked by the likes paparazzi and other busybodies, in the real world, would be a stretch. But at the same time, we know that there’s always some camera or microphone up in Michael Jackson’s face, perhaps even more so then than in the 21st century.
But if you really read into the verses, it’s not like Rockwell is trying to falsely present himself as an A lister. In fact the vocalist clarifies that he’s just “average man with an average life”, ‘working a nine to five’ like most of us. Also, he’s paid his dues to society, like not being in any serious debt or anything. So that’s why he marvels at the prospect of being stalked.
A Paranoid Narrator
But all lyrics considered, what’s actually going down is that he’s suffering from an extreme case of paranoia. Indeed if you were to ignore the Michael Jackson factor, it is more reasonable to conclude that this piece is based on a concept like government surveillance as opposed to persecution of celebrities.
Or at least that’s how “Somebody’s Watching Me” would be interpreted if it were dropped more recently, like in the 21st century. But that said, the vocalist sorta implies that what may really be driving him bonkers like this is perhaps consuming too much pop media.
Conclusively, the vocalist is suffering from what a psychologist may term as paranoid personality disorder. Unless he’s a celebrity or a spy or someone who can rationalize being under constant surveillance, which by his admission he isn’t, then Rockwell shouldn’t believe that everyone he comes into contact with at home – including the people at the other end of the television screen – are spying him.
But once again, if we were to flip these lyrics more into the context of his co-star, Michael Jackson’s, real life, then it becomes a lot more understandable why the singer would believe that he’s constantly being watched.
Of course the highlight of this song is Michael’s vocal contribution. The King of Pop serves as the lead vocalist of the chorus and outro, and this was back in the Thriller days, which many people feel were the late Jackson’s artistic peak. As such, this is the only big hit in Rockwell’s catalog, with the singer, no disrespect intended, being sort of a Michael Jackson (1958-2009) clone himself.
Indeed Rockwell’s discography is limited solely to the mid-1980s. His debut album, which is named after this song, broke the top 20 of the Billboard 200 and the top 5 of the US R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
But the two follow-ups, 1985’s Captured and 1986’s The Genie, weren’t nearly as successful. Also by the looks of things, it isn’t talent that afforded Rockwell the opportunity to drop this song via musical powerhouse Motown Records and even score Michael Jackson himself, not to also mentioned big bro Jermaine – a goal that even many established A listers would be hard-pressed to accomplish.
Rather the primary vocalist, whose legal name is actually Kennedy Gordy, is in fact the son of Berry Gordy. And Berry, as some readers would already know, is the gazillionaire founder of Motown Records, who also ran the legendary label up until the late-1980s. Or put differently, considering that Rockwell and Michael are similar in age and the latter spent the early part of his career as part of Motown Records, they actually grew up knowing each other.
And despite the fact that Rockwell may not have his dad’s business chops, he apparently holds the distinction of being the only member of the Gordy family proper to have ever dropped a song that appeared on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Somebody’s Watching Me”
This track fell just a spot short of topping the Billboard Hot 100. It was actually held out of first place by Van Halen’s “Jump” (1984). But it did top Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs listing and music charts in a few other countries, including:
Moreover it reached number six on the UK Singles Chart. Furthermore, it achieved gold certification in the US and Canada.
Aside the aforenoted countries, this classic also enjoyed top-10 status in the official singles charts of these countries:
- New Zealand
- South Africa
“Somebody’s Watching Me” was written exclusively by Rockwell. According to the vocalist, being able to pen it came to him as a divine blessing. And he also produced the track alongside Curtis Anthony Nolen, whom he worked with regularly.
This song was officially released, along with the rest of the Somebody’s Watching Me album, on 14 January 1984.
The songs officially features the following:
- Michael Jackson
- Jermaine Jackson