Hear This: Michael Jackson’s first solo No. 1 hit was an ode to a rat

In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: For Pets Week, songs written about or inspired by pets.

Michael Jackson, “Ben” (1972)

In the animal-songs canon, “Ben” may be the only love song about a rat. The song was the title track of the sequel to the 1971 movie Willard, in which a young outsider trains a rat population to attack his enemies. Eventually the rats, led by their leader, Ben, turn on Willard and devour him. In the disaster-horror genre of the era, this film was so successful that Ben returned the following year for his own sequel. He is slightly more benevolent in this version, befriending a young boy named Danny and helping him to defeat his bullies (until the rats turn on everybody again, surprise). For the sequel, Ben also got his own surprisingly sentimental song, written by …

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