26 June 2009

Michael Jackson performs "Billie Jean"

Everyone and his brother will be blogging tributes to Michael Jackson today. It clearly doesn't fit in as "something you wouldn't know," but I want to store this material for future re-viewing.

The topmost video is the music video that aired on MTV in 1982. (embedding for other copies of this has been disabled, so this one may not last long either). Many people believe that it was this video that helped bring MTV from relative cable obscurity into the awareness of the general public.

The second video is a stage performance at Pasadena in 1983 for Motown's 25th anniversary. Michael looks young, but the performance has already acquired impressive polish, and I believe it was during this performance that he first showed the world the "moonwalk."

The third version is also undated, but to me he appears older and the performance is about eight minutes in length (one can't fault him for lip-synching these songs when so much dancing is involved).

When I first encountered "Billie Jean" (on MTV), I didn't understand the lyrics...
Billie Jean is not my lover
She's just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son...
...and I never tried to figure it out, because Michael Jackson music videos tend to be as much a visual experience as an auditory one. It wasn't until I began researching this blog post that I encountered the backstory. Reportedly, the lyrics were inspired by a real-life experience in which a young woman wrote a series of letters to Michael Jackson, insisting that he was the father of ONE of her TWINS (??). Finally she sent him a gun, asking him to kill himself and indicating that she would kill herself after she killed their baby.

If all you want to see is the moonwalk, here's a shorter excerpt from a different performance, isolating that famous component:

I heard on the radio today that after viewing the MTV 25th anniversary show, Fred Astaire remarked that Michael Jackson was the first dancer he had ever seen who made him jealous!


  1. Fred Astaire remarked that Michael Jackson was the first dancer he had ever seen who made him jealous!

  2. It is possible for twins to have two different fathers; the term is heteropaternal superfecundation.


  3. HE was one of a kind..no one will ever match his talent!!!

  4. At 4:54 of the Learn to Dance Video, the girl looks a lot like Courtney Cox.
    I know that she got her start in the Bruce Springsteen video.
    I wonder if that is her?

  5. For music videos mtvmusic.com usually offers higher resolution videos that don't have the risk of being taken down before you can blink your eyes :)


    They even allow embedding.

  6. @Husky - Thank you!! I switched the embedded video - better resolution for sure. Appreciate your suggestion.


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