Try to convince us that you've never heard this song before. Go on, try. Yep, we didn't think so. "Billie Jean" is just one of those songs that everybody knows - even if they don't know they know it. But you could have heard it a million times and still not understood the lyrics. What on earth is "dancing on the floor in round"? And does the King of Pop have a son, or not? We've got answers to all your "Billie Jean" questions, and a high-tech, complex idea about why this song has stayed popular for so long: it's just plain catchy.
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
If you had any doubts about Michael Jackson's popularity, the publicity following his death in 2009 must have gotten rid of them. A world without Michael Jackson? That's like a world without sliced bread, or without Facebook... But it wasn't always so simple while Michael was rising to fame. The video for "Billie Jean" was, amazingly enough, the first video featuring "black music" that MTV ever showed. Black musicians had played so-called "white" music on the channel before, but music that fell into traditionally "black" genres - blues, soul, funk, hip-hop - had been completely ignored. Could we think about "Billie Jean," then, as one small coda to the Civil Rights Movement?
On the Charts
"Billie Jean" was topped the Billboard US singles chart for seven weeks straight.
"Billie Jean" was the third best-selling single of 1983.
"Billie Jean" won Michael Jackson the Grammy awards for Best R&B song and Best R&B Male Vocal Performance.
The physical single for "Billie Jean" was certified as platinum in 1989, and the digital download of the song is closing in on that milestone as well, having already gone gold.