Michael Jackson is one of the most iconic figures in music history. He was an innovator, a trendsetter, and ultimately one of the world’s best-selling artists. His contributions to American culture are vast and varied; he has been called “the King of Pop,” “a global icon,” and “the voice of his generation.”
He is also well known for his childlike demeanor as well as his unique vocal style — his signature sound came from singing with a high larynx while simultaneously speaking in a low register.
Billie Jean is one of Michael Jackson’s famous compositions which was released as the second single from the album Thriller in 1983. It has been described as “a pop-funk masterpiece,” “an iconic piece of pop art,” and one of the most influential songs in history.
It is a legendary music piece since the lyrics and music of this song are so extraordinary. How did the lyrics reach out to the listener’s hearts? How did Michael Jackson perform this musical masterpiece and why is this song still popular today?
The lyrics “Billie Jean” refer to a woman who alleges that Michael Jackson is the father of her child. The woman becomes obsessed with this and frightened the icon. The song begins with Michael Jackson speaking in first person: “The kid is not my son.”
While he sings about Billie Jean and her family throughout the majority of the song, at one point Michael Jackson calls himself a “little runaway” and claims to be “tracing every footstep that she’s done.” He continues to claim his innocence by saying, “I never made a move without thinking of you.”
The lyrics explore a story about a brief relationship of two opposite individuals, one being famous, but the other does not want to be seen publicly with him because it would damage her reputation as well as his own. The lyrics express the following: that the woman’s infidelity does not matter as much as his reputation.
Despite what Billie Jean thinks, she is just one of many women with whom Michael has had a relationship. The song was inspired by groupies who would try to convince Michael they were carrying his child in an attempt to extort money from him.
“Billie Jean” quickly became one of Michael Jackson’s most notable songs. It has been covered, remixed, sampled, or referenced in numerous works and its music video is considered the greatest of all time. The song “Billie Jean” has gone on to be an anthem for young black people. It reached number one in the USA and Great Britain, as well as charted at number three in France.
The Lyrics Analysis
The song starts with “Billie Jean is not my lover” to let the audience know that he does not have a relationship with her. And then, throughout the song, Michael Jackson repeats several times that she is just one of his past relationships.
For example, he says “She’s tellin’ me lies” and “I’ve got her just where I want her” to show that he does not care about what she thinks or says because he knows it is not true.
During the chorus, Michael Jackson says “The kid is not my son.” There are several meanings behind this statement: firstly, he wants to remind everyone that she does not have a right to accuse him because she is just another one of his past lovers.
Secondly, he tries to dissociate himself from the child so that people will not think he has anything to do with him. He repeats the chorus “Billie Jean is not my lover” over and over again at different parts of the song to let everyone know that what Billie Jean said is not true. In addition, in the chorus, Michael Jackson says “I’m just a loner” to express that he is a simple man with no social life or love life and Billie Jean is his only past lover.
In summary, the lyrics tell about “the relationship between two individuals that is being destroyed by the overwhelming celebrity of one of them.”
How was Michael Jackson able to bring this song to life? What does “Billie Jean” mean in terms of his performance and why has it stood the test of time?
The song starts with a laid-back voice, then as the music gets louder, Michael Jackson’s voice becomes stronger and more forceful, which matches the lyrics about his growing frustration. The song begins with just a bass line but then progresses into a disco sound in the second part.
According to many music critics, “the genius of ‘Billie Jean’ is how Steven Spielberg used it in Jaws 3-D” when the main character is too scared to go swimming. “Billie Jean” was also used in the movie Forrest Gump when Forrest and Jenny get married, and it has been featured on numerous television shows, including Friends, The Simpsons, and The O.C.
Michael Jackson performed this song on stage in different ways, depending on the period of its release. During the 1980s, he would wear a single white glove and play his famous moonwalk dance during some parts of the song.
He would also jump off speakers towards the end of the song to emphasize excitement. However, Michael Jackson got rid of his yellow jacket, black vest, and white glove in the second half of his career. In comparison with previous performances, he would wear a black suit or jacket and pants with sunglasses during some parts of the song.
The people went crazy on Michael Jackson’s performance of Billie Jean during the three main events: MTV Video Music Awards, Michael Jackson’s solo concerts, and The Jacksons’ world tours.
The Music Video
What does the music video add to this song? How does it make it more interesting?
The music video of “Billie Jean” was released shortly after the song, and it added a new element to this song. It is now considered as one of the most influential videos in history because of several reasons: firstly, the dance sequence from the video is now a standard for all performers; secondly, Michael Jackson’s outfit in the video, including his black sequined jacket, red leather pants, and one white glove, became a popular fashion trend; thirdly, Michael Jackson’s short curly hairstyle was inspired by Diana Ross.
The music video starts with an innocent clip of Michael Jackson sleeping on a bed. The evil comes when he wakes up and finds a girl lying next to him. Interested in the situation, he walks out of the door and follows her.
When Michael Jackson enters a dark corridor, he begins to dance and follow her around several corners until they reach a dead end with two doors. The evil woman who has been following him throughout his journey finally reveals herself and demands that he “take her by the hand.”
Michael Jackson decides to break free from her evilness, throws off his jacket, and begins to dance. At the end of the video, he falls to the ground as the woman walks away. The girl who was with him wakes up in bed and finds a single white glove lying next to her.
The music video of “Billie Jean” is one of the most notable pieces in history because it was one of the first to receive heavy rotation on cable television and helped establish new standards for production. By using a dance sequence, the music video of “Billie Jean” successfully established Michael Jackson’s moonwalk dance.
It also features unique choreography, an innovative filming technique borrowed from the movies, image processing techniques almost like a science fiction film, and video effects developed in-house at the famous post-production company Video Arts Studios Ltd.
In addition, the music video reflects the time in which it was released. It is very flashy, provocative, and extravagant because that is how MTV videos were being made to attract the audience’s attention.
The Social Context
What are some things that are specific to the period in which this song was released? How does this help us understand what Michael Jackson is trying to convey through his lyrics or performance?
“Billie Jean” is a pop-funk masterpiece with one of the most influential videos in history. However, it would be nothing without its social context. “Billie Jean” was released in 1983, at the peak of Lionel Richie’s reign on the top of the pop music charts.
This decade is also known as the “age of excess,” with extravagant fashion trends and many famous musicians dying from drug abuse. Michael Jackson was one of these musicians whose success would last beyond this decade until he died in 2009.
The world’s most popular entertainer was not a big fan of this decade, though. He describes the excess of this time as “glitter and greed.” It is easy to see that “Billie Jean” is about the pressure from the media on Michael Jackson for his image to be perfect all the time.
This song is also about the darkness in the world, which can be seen in the music video where Michael Jackson’s girlfriend turns into an evil woman.
The lyrics of “Billie Jean” suggest that this song is about a real girl who claimed that she had Michael Jackson’s baby around 1979-1980. He denied it, but the media was convinced enough to make it a scandal.
What does Billie Jean mean? There is no single universally agreed-upon interpretation. However, one possible understanding of the song is that it’s about how men use women for their sexual gratification and then discard them like a used toy.
Another popular theory suggests that Billie Jean might be Michael Jackson himself (or at least an alter ego) who has been emotionally wounded by his father’s infidelity with Katherine Scruse; this would explain the line “She said daddy dear please come home”.
The meaning you derive from Billie Jean will likely depend on what your life experiences are like – if you’ve never had to fight back against someone trying to take advantage of you sexually or have dealt with being abandoned by an important figure in your life.
Whatever the meaning and interpretation may be, Billi Jean will always be one of the most iconic songs ever written by an iconic artist himself.