Michael Jackson versus The Civil Wars (“Billie Jean”)

I could have put the Michael Jackson video for “Billie Jean” on here to share with everyone. I’m sure that it would have caused some 90s nostalgia… But I went with my gut and just posted The Civil Wars’ version. I mean, I may have been totally biased, but this cover of the song is fantastic! If you really want to listen to the Michael Jackson version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi_XLOBDo_Y.

Okay, so, earlier this week we discussed Byrd’s Songs of Sundrie Natures, and we listened to two of the songs being performed — one as a solo and the other as a group. We decided in the end that the music either emphasized the story or the emotion depending on how many voices were present.

In the song in which the soloist sings, more emphasis is given to the story. In the other song, multiple voices overlap one another, emphasizing the devotional, or emotional, aspect of the song.

I found this same effect within the songs that I chose for this week’s blog post. If you want, you can listen to Michael’s version. When I listen to it, it seems to focus more on the story: some girl says he is the one, but they kid is not his son. He talks about when he first sees her. Then goes into how she confronted him with telling her that he has a baby with her. His moral of the story: Don’t go around breaking young girl’s hearts.

Now, the same story is told in The Civil Wars’ version of the song. However, for me, there’s just a different emotional emphasis. John Paul White starts off singing solo, but Joy comes in adding her harmonies and her “oohs” and “aahs.” To me, it seems like she’s Billie Jean, and she slips in and out adding “her schemes and plans” to the story. Now, there isn’t just one narrator but two, which offers another perspective to the song, a more emotional perspective. She sounds flirty (and certainly looks it) and scheming in the song. There’s a connection between the two people that emphasizes the emotional impact of the events on the characters in the song. Their voices seem to portray the emotions better than Michael does. I mean, you can refute me, but I’m going to support The Civil Wars no matter what.

So, yes, the story is still there, but The Civil Wars added a different take on it — a darker, more emotional take that I really enjoy.

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