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Off the Wall, released in 1979, was a worldwide success story that made music history, becoming the first album ever to spawn four top-ten hits, including the number-one hits, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock with You". It reached #3 in the Billboard album charts, spending 48 consecutive weeks inside the Top 20. Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson jointly produced the album, with lyrics and music by Jackson, Heatwave's Rod Temperton, Stevie Wonder, and Paul McCartney, among others. The album signaled the arrival of a new Michael Jackson, one not reliant upon his brothers to further his career. Off the Wall, buoyed by its catchy dance rhythms and avoidance of the "shallow excesses...of the period's disco," eventually sold some 20 million copies worldwide. Despite its commercial success, Jackson felt the album should have made a much bigger impact and was determined to exceed expectations with his next release.

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