(Un)Covered: Billie Jean

Michael Jackson vs Cobra Starship vs Breathe Carolina By | June 22, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Billie Jean”
Writer: Michael Jackson
Original Release Date: January 2, 1983

It’s been nearly seven years since we lost Michael Jackson, but we’ll always have his classic dance jams to remember him by, including 1983’s “Billie Jean”.

Full of his signature vocal hiccups and a memorable bassline, “Billie Jean” is not only a quintessential Michael Jackson song, but also one of the world’s best-selling singles. If you’re only going to listen to one Michael Jackson song, you might as well make it his ode to groupies.

A few months after the King of Pop died, Cobra Starship (aw, remember them?) did an acoustic take. Gabe Saporta’s vocals are decent, but he almost sounds forced, and not nearly as powerful as he does on a regular Cobra (or even Midtown) song. The bassline is still really smooth in this stripped down version, and you have to love guitarist Ryland Blackington’s falsetto backing vocals.

There are literally dozens of “Billie Jean” covers out there, but I haven’t come across one as dancefloor-ready as Breathe Carolina’s contribution to to Punk Goes Pop Volume 5. They took it on enthusiastically and added their own spin: electronics, including vocal effects, plus a thumping beat and an unclean chorus. Vocalist David Schmitt tries to mimic Jackson’s voice and is mostly successful, though he is a bit more nasal. Overall, it sounds exactly like it should: a modern take on a classic pop song.