Perhaps the most incredible performances of any artist came in the form of an 11-year-old and his incredibly talented brothers. The Jackson 5 was one of those rare moments in music in which everything was perfect, from the vocals to the costumes. Every bit of their performances was full of magic and the charisma of a child who seemed to know more about love than most of his adult contemporaries.
Indeed, when Smokey Robinson gave the group his 1960 lover’s lament “Who’s Loving You”, suddenly the song became more than just the coo of an ex-lover. It became an ache and a yearn, a cry for forgiveness. It raised the question, what the hell does a child still in grade school know about the intricacies of love? What has he been through in his life to be able to produce a performance and sound like the one on the Ed Sullivan Show, where the group gave one of the best performances of the song in 1969? It’s a particularly poignant piece of history that shall never be repeated no matter how many groups with kids you try to concoct. It wasn’t the precociousness of the lead singer. It was, in fact, his level of maturity, his ability to feel every single thing he sang about as if it were a part of his very young life. This performance of “Who’s Loving You” is no exception, setting the standard for performers and singers inexplicably high. It’s truly one of the best, most honest performances I’ve ever seen, lasting just over two minutes, and yet still being a raw, unapologetic look into the soul of the singer. But what do you expect from the world’s finest entertainer?