Billie Jean – Michael Jackson Song Meaning

The famous Billie Jean became the most famous and commercially successful single of Michael Jackson, whose popularity at one time went beyond all conceivable boundaries. It was with the release of this composition that he appeared before the public as we remember him, and began to turn into a pop icon. What’s more, Billie Jean paved the way for black artists on MTV.

The history and meaning of the song Billie Jean

Jackson claimed that Billie Jean was based on the experiences of his brothers and fellow members of The Jackson 5, who were constantly harassed by female fans.

Here’s what he had to say about the meaning of the song at a fan meeting in Thailand:

There is a girl named Billie Jean, but this is not the same Billie Jean. This Billie Jean is kind of anonymous. She represents many girls. In the sixties they were called “groupies”. They hung around the doors leading offstage and were ready to get in touch with any band that came to town. I think I wrote this from my brothers and I’s experiences when I was little. There were a lot of those Billie Jeans back then. Each girl claimed that her son was related to one of my brothers.

Thailand, 1996

However, most researchers of Jackson’s work are sure that the history of the Billie Jean song is connected with the personal experiences of the musician. In 1981, he was stalked by a deranged woman who claimed he was the father of one of her twins. Such claims were commonplace for Michael, but at that time the situation was especially difficult.

The woman wrote him one letter after another, and then sent a package with a real gun and an offer to Michael to shoot himself. She promised to do the same so that they could be together in the next life. Later, this fan of Jackson ended up in a psychiatric hospital.

Michael himself composed the words and music. According to Q magazine, it happened at his home studio in Encino. While working on Billie Jean, Jackson was literally obsessed with the song and almost died because of it:

I knew it was going to be a hit since I was writing it. This song completely engulfed me. One day, during a break in a recording session, I was driving down the Ventura Freeway with Nelson Hayes, who was then working with me. I had Billie Jean in my head and all I could think about was her. We were pulling off the highway, and then a guy on a motorcycle drove up to us and said: “Your car is on fire.” Suddenly, we noticed smoke, pulled to the side of the road and realized that the entire lower part of the Rolls-Royce was on fire. That guy may have saved our lives. If the car had exploded, we could have died. But I was so engrossed in the melody playing in my head that it wasn’t until some time later that I thought about the possible dire consequences.

Now it seems incredible, but such a hardened producer as Quincy Jones did not recognize the potential of the song, and he did not like much about it at all. He thought that the name Billie Jean would remind people of the famous tennis player and suggested changing it to Not My Lover. The introduction seemed to him “… so long that you could have had time to shave.” He did not even like the bass part, which Jackson composed over the course of three weeks (not without the influence of Hall & Oats’ I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do). However, Michael convinced Jones to record Billie Jean without changing anything about it.

Release and achievements

The Billie Jean single from the album Thriller was released on January 2, 1983. He topped the charts in many countries, became one of the best-selling in the world and received platinum status. The composition was awarded two Grammys and several other prestigious awards. Rolling Stone listed Billie Jean as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Billie Jean has been covered numerous times and remains one of the most sampled songs.

Videoclip of Billie Jean

The music video for the song was directed by Steve Barron. The video had to be launched on MTV, but the management of the then young channel did not want to take clips of black artists. And then the president of the CBS label, Walter Yetnikoff, got down to business. He threatened to remove all their products from MTV and to tell the public about the racial discrimination prevailing on the channel. After that, “Billie Jean” got into a very active rotation, which contributed to its further popularity.

Interesting Facts

  • Performing “Billie Jean” on “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever”, Jackson performed his first moonwalk.
  • The song was used in a famous Pepsi commercial featuring Jackson. During the filming of the video, he was seriously burned.
  • Lydia Murdock recorded the song “Superstar” as an answer to “Billie Jean”.
  • In 2012, the handwritten lyrics of the song “Billie Jean” were sold at auction for almost twenty-five thousand pounds.

Billie Jean Lyrics

She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene
I said don’t mind, but what do you mean, I am the one
Who will dance on the floor in the round
She said I am the one, who will dance on the floor in the round

She told me her name was Billie Jean, as she caused a scene
Then every head turned with eyes that dreamed of being the one
Who will dance on the floor in the round

People always told me to be careful of what you do
And don’t go around breaking young girls’ hearts
And mother always told me to be careful of who you love
And be careful of what you do ’cause the lie becomes the truth

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
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son

Forty days and forty nights
The law was on her side
But who can stand when she’s in demand
Her schemes and plans
‘Cause we danced on the floor in the round
So take my strong advice, just remember to always think twice
(Don’t think twice, don’t think twice)

She told my baby we’d danced till three, then she looked at me
Then showed a photo my baby cried his eyes were like mine (oh, no!)
‘Cause we danced on the floor in the round, baby

People always told me to be careful of what you do
And don’t go around breaking young girls’ hearts
She came and stood right by me
Just the smell of sweet perfume
This happened much too soon
She called me to her room

Billie Jean Lyrics – Michael Jackson

She looked more like a beauty queen from a movie
I said I don’t mind but what do you mean I’m the one
Who will dance in the center of the circle
She said I’m the one to dance in the center of the circle

He said her name was Billie Jean and when she made a scene
Everyone turned in our direction, and in their eyes shone the desire to be the one
Who will dance in the center of the circle

I was always told to be careful what I do
And don’t break girls’ hearts left and right
And mama always told me to be careful who you love
And be careful what you do cause lies become true Billie Jean is not my mistress
She’s just a girl who claims that I’m the one
But the child is not my son
She says I’m the one, but the baby is not my son

Billie Jean is not my mistress
She’s just a girl who claims that I’m the one
But the child is not my son
She says I’m the one, but the baby is not my son

Forty days and forty nights
The law was on her side
But who can resist if she’s so popular
Her intrigues and schemes
‘Cause we were dancing in the center of the circle
Here’s my strong advice: never forget to think twice.
(Don’t think twice, don’t think twice)

She told me, my baby, that we danced until three, and then she looked at me
Then he showed a photo, my baby was crying, his eyes were like mine (oh no!)
‘Cause we were dancing in the middle of the circle, baby

I was always told to be careful what I do
And don’t break girls’ hearts left and right
She came and stood right next to me
Just the smell of sweet perfume
It happened too fast
She called me to her room

Song quote

Billie Jean is the most important record he has made. And not only because of its commercial success, but also because of its musical depth. It has more “chips” than any other thing I’ve heard. Everything about that song was catchy, and every instrument did it differently. It could be divided into twelve separate pieces of music, and I think there would be twelve separate hits. I look for this kind of song every day.

Antonio Reid, Rolling Stone, 2004

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