Billie Jean" is a song by American recording artist Michael Jackson, released by Epic Records on January 2, 1983 as the second single from his sixth studio album, Thriller (1982). It was written and composed by Jackson, and produced by Jackson and Quincy Jones.
The song's spare, bass-driven arrangement helped pioneer what one critic called "sleek, post-soul pop music". It also introduced a more paranoid lyrical style for Jackson, a trademark of his later music. The lyrics describe a woman, Billie Jean, who claims that the narrator is the father of her newborn son, which he denies. Jackson said the lyrics were based on groupies' claims about his older brothers when he toured with them as the Jackson 5.
Jackson's performance of "Billie Jean" on the TV special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, which aired in May 1983, won acclaim and was nominated for an Emmy Award. The performance introduced a number of Jackson's signatures, including the moonwalk and white sequinned glove, and was widely imitated. The "Billie Jean" music video, directed by Steve Barron, was the first video by a black artist to be aired in heavy rotation on MTV. Along with the other videos produced for Thriller, it helped establish MTV's cultural importance and make music videos an integral part of pop music marketing.
"Billie Jean" was one of the bestselling singles of 1983, helping Thriller become the best-selling album of all time, and became Jackson's best-selling solo single. In the United States, it remained at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks. It also reached number one in the United Kingdom and several other European countries, and reached the top ten in many other countries. It was awarded honors including two Grammy Awards and an American Music Award. "Billie Jean" was critically acclaimed; in 2004, Rolling Stone placed it at number 58 on its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
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