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Michael Jackson, Billie Jean, and why you can’t mess with his legacy

I can remember being twelve years old, sitting in the living room watching the Motown 25 anniversary special on television with my mother, father, and younger brother and sister. We watched all the performances, and our parents got a kick out of seeing all the acts they could remember from their youth, but we kids were staying up late for one person: Michael Jackson.

I found this video on a friend’s Facebook feed. It is a young boy performing the Motown 25 performance of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” I have watched it over and over again multiple times.

I love Michael Jackson, and I love anyone who can do justice by him in a musical or dance performance. He has inspired everyone who came after him from Usher to Ne-Yo to Pharrell even. His impact on the world is legendary, and his music is something I consider to be sacred. My basic stance is, don’t f*ck up a Michael Jackson song.

“Remember The Time” is one of those Michael songs that I consider a classic. I have my own thoughts as to the meaning of the lyrics and who the song was directed toward, and it makes it that much more sentimental to me. The video and accompanying dance routine give us more classic Mike in his element, dancing his favorite choreographed moves and looking good while doing it. I love this song. I’d list it in my top 5 Michael songs of all time.

When I heard Mack Wilds had remade “Remember the Time,” my first question was why? There are just some things you don’t touch, and Michael Jackson songs are in that group. If I’m honest, I will say that Mack did a decent enough job, and my misgivings about people remaking Mike’s work are what lead me to cast any negative light on this cover. I loved Mack on The Wire and 90210, and he has shown himself to be a respectable music artist, but why, Mack, why?

What do you think? Did Mack do Mike justice? Should he have left it alone? Let me know in the comments. 

6 Comments

  1. to pass it down. There are new kids that don’t know what those lyrics mean today and what the song meant to that time in the 90’s, they too busy turning up, he re-introduced it and passed it down to the new kids. Now they hear this and can play it in a car ride or party. MJ sang the original song, he didn’t create the beat. MJ was an artist and this is a future kid showing the impact MJ had in his life. Isn’t that what most artists strive for? to have a long lasting impact on the culture of the future?

    • Monique Judge

      June 12, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      You have brought up some really valid points. I guess I take Mike’s music personally, but I can’t be mad at an entirely new generation being exposed to it, even if it is through Mack Wilds instead of the original Thriller Maker.

  2. Sometimes people up and surprise you. I didn’t expect to, but I loved Alien Ant Farm’s remake of “Smooth Criminal,” a song I would’ve said you just can’t do before I heard it. I suppose any really bangin’ pop song can be covered by an amazing artist, and work. I’ve heard Janelle Monae cover stuff I’d have considered untouchable, but she brings it. If you boil it down, the answer is probably “just don’t do it,” 99% of the time, but man, that 1% can be amazing.

    • Monique Judge

      June 12, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      Jenn, you have brought up a good example, because I actually liked the Smooth Criminal remake. Perhaps I need to rethink my stance.

  3. Wilds’ version isn’t horrible especially considering the task he undertook – trying to do justice to a legend’s legacy. I’d rather people simply stay away from it all together.

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