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    Smile happy birthday billie jean!

    according to the official facebook page, 'billie jean' was released today 36 years ago!

    what a game-changer, and an example of Michael's evolving abilities as a songwriter. both gloomy and groovy. probably my favourite short film.. definitely my favourite performance (Motown 25)

    long may it live!





    now for the video outtakes. I love how we're finally watching these steps in real time. I love it best when Michael is solo and in the moment. I hope to see something similar for the 'don't stop til you get enough' video someday..
    Last edited by 83magic; 02-01-2019 at 09:52 PM.

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    Default Re: happy birthday billie jean!

    HAPPY BDAY BILLIE JEAN

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    Default Re: happy birthday billie jean!

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BILLIE JEAN! Motown 25 is a night I will never forget-from the second Michael whipped his head around and GLARED at the camera-I was electrified. Never saw or heard anything like it. My mouth fell open in a silent scream.
    Ran out the next night after work and bought Thriller and grabbed Off The Wall too. All because of Billie Jean. That performance changed my life. Know it changed Michael's.

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    Default Re: happy birthday billie jean!

    MJs definitive song.

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    Default Re: happy birthday billie jean!

    Quote Originally Posted by barbee0715 View Post
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BILLIE JEAN! Motown 25 is a night I will never forget-from the second Michael whipped his head around and GLARED at the camera-I was electrified. Never saw or heard anything like it. My mouth fell open in a silent scream.
    Ran out the next night after work and bought Thriller and grabbed Off The Wall too. All because of Billie Jean. That performance changed my life. Know it changed Michael's.

    changed mine, too. I remember watching it with my sister and mom. When he put the fedora on and started the hip thrusting, it was so electrifying on my 9 year old mind. Pure magic.

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    Default Re: happy birthday billie jean!

    I think 'billie jean' could have been the lead single off the 'thriller' album. then again, I understand wanting to give people something to look forward to.

    the production is so clean and clear. there's a moment after 'the moonwalk interlude', where all the strings combine to sound like a dramatic symphony! really adds to the mystery element.

    I always wanted to know what Michael was saying in his closing ad-libs; 'don't call me billie jean! yeah, a sta-la-ma-do-see' lol

    I enjoy it mostly on cassette because it sounds faster and higher pitched

    the character 'billie jean' actually makes her first appearance in 'wanna be startin' somethin' (my fav! ) I wonder which one was written first?

    it's interesting that many people heard the song for the first time on Motown 25.

    would love for you to post more of your memories and thoughts!

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    Default Re: happy birthday billie jean!

    Quote Originally Posted by barbee0715 View Post
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BILLIE JEAN! Motown 25 is a night I will never forget-from the second Michael whipped his head around and GLARED at the camera-I was electrified. Never saw or heard anything like it. My mouth fell open in a silent scream.
    Ran out the next night after work and bought Thriller and grabbed Off The Wall too. All because of Billie Jean. That performance changed my life. Know it changed Michael's.
    one of the things that makes that performance so great is the way it was directed. every movement, gesture, and facial expression was captured perfectly from every angle, and in sync with the music. that very rarely happens. it's the standard I use to judge all performances. the lighting isn't dark at all which I love. though it tends to be the opposite in concerts/tours..

    being broadcast internationally (well, at least portions of Michael's performance, and even after that there was a home video release of the whole show) meant that the general public got to see Michael dance in real time since maybe the 'destiny' tour.

    many people forget the Jackson 5 reunion that preceded it. that was meant to be the initial draw. Michael's transition into his solo performance marked the end of an era and the start of a new. he knew how to capitalise on a moment to create magic! the moment he put that hat on was an instant transformation! he went from clark kent to superman!

    the confidence and ownership of the stage, matched with the private torment his seemed to be reliving.. all created an interesting contradiction - and a compelling performance.

    it looked as though he was dancing on ice! I can actually see the reflection of his socks in the surface of the stage at times! his movements looked simple, but they were quick, intricate, and clean. the setup for the first moonwalk was an example of this. I've seen many try to imitate that and fail - as well as the opening combination where the feet movement have to match the hands. I loved the way he curved his leg at the end of his kick - and I can't forget what many call the 'corkscrew' kick. the way his feet circulated out from him in opposite directions was effective and one of the dominating factors of the piece. my favourite has always been the spin though! the difference between that and a turn are major. I also loved the one he did during 'the love you save' (so did the audience!). even when he was standing in place, his whole body was pulsating in time to the beat. that's very hard to do.

    all of this was for the most part, Michael's creation. it may not have been the first time he did some of those steps, and he may have been inspired from past performers, but he refined and tailored it to fit his own sensibilities. even his idols Sammy davis jr, fred Astaire, and james brown praised him for elevating what they did. he raised his toes higher with his moonwalk so that the 'peddling' effect was more noticeable.

    he knew how to pace the performance; he didn't bombard the audience with everything at once to exhaust them. sure, there were certain marks he had to hit, but it was largely unchoreographed, and there was space for improvisation. in fact, i'd say that his 'mistake' enhanced the performance. had he stayed on his toes longer, he wouldn't have done that walk back to the mic stand, where he turns his feet inwards that I love so much.

    Michael alone onstage performing a song that he wrote is the pure essence of him as an artist of course it wouldn't be complete without the sparkles!

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    Default Re: happy birthday billie jean!

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael's Essence View Post
    I think 'billie jean' could have been the lead single off the 'thriller' album. then again, I understand wanting to give people something to look forward to.

    Paul McCartney was still popular on the radio at the time and The Girl Is Mine had the West Coast light rock sound then popular on Top 40 pop radio in the US. I think that if there was a music video for The Girl Is Mine, MTV wouldn't have declined to show it like they did with Billie Jean (or Rick James' Superfreak),which they said didn't fit their format of rock music.Because Paul would have been in the video like Ebony & Ivory with Stevie Wonder.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael's Essence View Post
    the character 'billie jean' actually makes her first appearance in 'wanna be startin' somethin' (my fav! ) I wonder which one was written first?
    I think Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' was written for the Off The Wall album but wasn't used. I don't know if it had the same exact lyrics.

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    Default Re: happy birthday billie jean!

    Quote Originally Posted by DuranDuran View Post

    Paul McCartney was still popular on the radio at the time and The Girl Is Mine had the West Coast light rock sound then popular on Top 40 pop radio in the US. I think that if there was a music video for The Girl Is Mine, MTV wouldn't have declined to show it like they did with Billie Jean (or Rick James' Superfreak),which they said didn't fit their format of rock music.Because Paul would have been in the video like Ebony & Ivory with Stevie Wonder.


    I think Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' was written for the Off The Wall album but wasn't used. I don't know if it had the same exact lyrics.
    thanks for the insights do you think 'billie jean' would have gotten play on mainstream pop radio stations, had it been released in place of 'the girl is mine'? do you think the video played a bigger role in it reaching number one in both America and the uk?

    I've heard various demos of 'startin' somethin', but they are from the '80's - after 'off the wall' was released. it would be interesting to hear how far Michael got with the song initially. the mention of the billie jean may suggest that it was a later addition. then again, he did say that the situation was something he saw happen to his brothers on tour. 'billie jean' was originally a representation of many women. the incident apparently happened to him after the song was released.

    the link between the two songs is one reason i'm glad 'startin somethin' made 'thriller' and not 'off the wall'. although it's a progression from 'working day and night' in terms of Michael's 'fed up/irritated' demeanour, it's simply too big of a song to be anything other than the album opener. I fear it would have cancelled out 'don't stop', although I prefer it. I agree with rod temperton when he said that 'startin' somethin', 'thriller', beat it', and 'billie jean' were the cornerstones of the album, and gave it that edge.

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    Default Re: happy birthday billie jean!

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael's Essence View Post
    thanks for the insights do you think 'billie jean' would have gotten play on mainstream pop radio stations, had it been released in place of 'the girl is mine'? do you think the video played a bigger role in it reaching number one in both America and the uk?
    Maybe, but after the "disco sucks" riot at the baseball game, many pop stations stopped playing R&B artists, because R&B was considered part of disco. Around the time of Billie Jean, more R&B was starting to get played again on Top 40 like Kool & The Gang. But probably what would have happened is that Billie Jean would have to become a big hit on R&B radio before pop stations would play it. That is really what the term "crossover" meant. That a song had to become a hit with a niche audience before Top 40 would play it.

    Radio in the US was segregated. There was Top 40, album oriented rock (AOR), R&B, country, adult contemporary, college radio, easy listening, smooth jazz, and so on. The Hot 100 was considered the main chart, which is where the Top 40 comes from. The rest are sub-charts for different audiences. That's why Top 40 "pop" radio played different genres, rather than primarily one like the other formats. Technically, there isn't really such a genre as pop music, it's just short for "popular music" with the mainstream. Like right now rap is pop music and in the 1930s jazz was pop music. In the 1980s glam metal (Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe) was pop music. Back then black artists in general did not get the same amount of promotion dollars as white acts especially rock n roll artists. Notice none of the songs from The Jacksons' Triumph reached the pop Top 10, but were popular on the R&B chart. Triumph came out after the crossover success of Off The Wall. The Jacksons were considered a R&B group and Triumph came out not that long after the "disco ban". Off The Wall itself was nominated in R&B categories at the Grammys not the main ones. R&B awards were not always shown during the TV broadcast. So that kinda shows what the TV networks & general public of the time thought of R&B.

    I'm not sure that the video of Billie Jean helped it become a hit on Top 40, because it was already a pop hit before CBS Records threatened to remove their other artists from MTV if they didn't show Billie Jean. Which would have included then really popular acts like Journey, Billy Joel, REO Speedwagon, Bruce Springsteen, & Loverboy. Journey was so big that they were the first music act to get an arcade video game Journey Escape
    . Removing acts like those would have really hurt MTV, as it was just beginning.

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    Default Re: happy birthday billie jean!

    I wonder if radio stations in America were more integrated before the anti disco movement? did Michael have to reintroduce himself to the mainstream with 'thriller'? I know that the 'off the wall' album was largely soul, disco, and funk, but what about 'she's out of my life', 'girlfriend', and 'it's the falling in love'? didn't they count for anything? I think that's the point he tried to make in the john pidgeon interview in 1980.

    i'm glad that 'thriller' was more diverse - regardless of the circumstances that caused that. unlike many albums, it doesn't feel like a product of its time. the integration feels natural and effortless. it was as if Michael became a genre onto himself at that point.

    I don't know much about radio, but I understand that the uk had one official chart (singles/albums) based on sales - regardless of genre. there was a show called 'top of the pops' that would feature a weekly rundown of the chart. I happened to catch an old episode a few months ago. 'billie jean' was number one. they showed the video because Michael wasn't there in person to perform it (unfortunately! I wish he made appearances as a solo artist, like he did with j5/jacksons). this had to be January and no later, as it was only number one for a week. when did it make the mtv playlist?

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    Default radio

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael's Essence View Post
    I wonder if radio stations in America were more integrated before the anti disco movement??
    It wasn't just radio in the US that was segregated, but entertainment, the media, and just society in general. Like in the 1970s, there were "blaxploitation" movies primarily marketed to black audiences. There were music TV shows like American Bandstand & Midnight Special that were for the Top 40 & rock audience and other shows mainly dedicated to a particular genre (Soul Train, Hee Haw, Pop Goes The Country, Lawrence Welk). Then there were variety shows and specials for a general mainstream audience that usually had comedy skits in them and were not just music only (Sonny & Cher, The Jacksons, Donny & Marie, etc). Mainstream magazines were primarily white. So was TV. Black performers were generally featured in magazines like Ebony, Jet, Right On!, Rock n Soul, etc. That's why it was a big deal that Bill Cosby & Diahann Carroll were the lead stars of TV shows in the late 1960s and that Nichelle Nichols wasn't just playing a maid on Star Trek.

    With radio, it was mostly race segregated until maybe the rock n roll era of the late 1950s. Rock was really the first popular music specifically marketed to teens. Rock in the beginning was sort of the white version of R&B, gospel, and blues. Elvis Presley went to black blues clubs and black churches before his career started and afterward. The term "rock n roll" itself was slang by black people for sex long before a genre was called that. He was a fan of the music. It had some country & western mixed in with it, especially rockabilly. Even after rock it was certain kinds of R&B that usually crossed over like girl groups, doo wop, and Motown. The Supremes and The Miracles sounded more pop friendly than the acts on the Chess label.

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    Default Re: happy birthday billie jean!

    As old as I am, I never knew that rock and roll was slang for sex-

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    Default Dorothy Dandridge - Swing For My Supper

    Quote Originally Posted by barbee0715 View Post
    As old as I am, I never knew that rock and roll was slang for sex-
    "Rock and roll" can be heard in some older jazz, blues, and R&B songs like this one from 1941


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    Default Re: happy birthday billie jean!

    Quote Originally Posted by barbee0715 View Post
    As old as I am, I never knew that rock and roll was slang for sex-
    Hence Michael's words, "I wanna rock with you......all night. Rock you into day...."
    I always thought from the get-go that it meant sex.

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