On this day in 1983, Billie Jean went to #1 on the Billboard chart. Here’s a short behind the scenes look at the video for this week’s Saturday Matinée.
Another short one for this week but nevertheless iconic and influential for many reasons. Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean was arguably the best single from his seminal Thriller album and for many (including myself) the greatest pop song of all time. The video was equally as iconic with magical pavement tiles, a PI in a trench coat, a coin that turned a tramp into an extra from Miami Vice and a teleportation bed but best of all, it featured amazing movement from Michael as the majestic focal point. In an interview, director Steve Barron briefly touched on how it all came about and reiterated the reason for the video initially not making it to MTV: for featuring a black artist. It seems preposterous to think that was a legitimate barrier in 1983 but it wasn’t the first stumbling block the song was subjected to. During the Thriller sessions, Quincy Jones didn’t actually want it on the album. Michael fought hard for it to be placed and eventually it was.
Take a moment to ponder on what would have happened if the decision had gone the other way and stream the interview below.