Billie Jean (4:42)

Cover of Carry On

From Carry On and 3 other releases

Billie Jean” was recorded by American rock musician Chris Cornell for his Carry On album in 2007. Cornell said of his cover, “I didn’t plan on it. It just sort of happened organically. I changed the music quite a bit, I didn’t touch the lyrics. And it’s not a joke. I took a completely different approach to it, musically.” Cornell had previously performed the song live in Europe, including an acoustic set in Stockholm, Sweden in September, 2006. He later added, “I was getting ready to do some acoustic shows on a promotional tour for Revelations and I just wanted to have fun with it. ” The cover received favourable reviews from critics, MTV noting the “bluesier, more pained and impassioned feel” which stripped away “any pop elements of the original”. Los Angeles Times described the track as “a grim, spooky take” on Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, adding that it’s “amusing enough, even if it sounds a lot more like Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”. The newspaper concluded that “Jacko’s mega hit survives the stunt translation”.

Cornell’s version was performed live by David Cook on the seventh season of American Idol. After covering Cornell’s cover, the Idol judges praised him for his “originality”. Whilst some news organisations criticized Cook for covering a cover version, others praised him for singing the song well. Cornell was surprised and flattered by the cover, but was also concerned that Idol viewers may have thought Cook created the interpretation.

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