You Really Tried It, Huh? 10 Artists Who Tried To Cover Michael Jackson (Some Killed It, Some, Not So Much…)

April 30, 2013  |  
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Just last week we showed you a few of the singers who thought they had what it took to try and cover Prince. This week, we’ve got a few big names who thought they could take on the King of Pop. While not every rendition/cover of his classics from throughout his career were well-done, they were all a lot different than the original songs, which is step one to trying to produce a worthy cover: Do your own thing, but have respect for the originator. Check out covers by everyone from Chaka Khan to Celine Dion, Al B Sure! and even Miles Davis, and let us know which ones you think were good, and not so good after all.

And of course, the links to the actual MJ songs are included in each description!

Ginuwine – “She’s Out Of My Life”

Ginuwine really loves to cover the icons, whether he should be doing it or not. The singer tried his hand at “When Doves Cry,” on his first album, and for 100% Ginuwine, he tried his best to tackle Mike Jack’s “She’s Out Of My Life.” Vocally, he was up and down at moments (and all the crying at the beginning on the actual track could have been left behind). Physically, he looked very delicious, but alas, that doesn’t matter when you’re messing with MJ, right? Ginuwine has a slew of ballads of his own that are hot, but I think we can all agree that whether he’s covering MJ, or Prince, or singing his own jams, he’s at his best when he’s dancing up and down somebody’s stage…


Chaka Khan – “Got To Be There”

Khan is another one who can cover just about anybody and get away with it. She took on the solo hit Jackson did as a young’n and added her own touch of flair to it. It’s totally ’80s, and has a totally different groove. A mixture of smooth jazz and R&B at its finest. Call it a smooth jam you would drive home to (or lay down to) as part of one of those “Whispers In The Dark” radio programs. Absolutely beautiful!

Al B Sure! – “Lady In My Life”

Hey, this guy has a lot more to offer than just rocking a unibrow and singing “Night and Day” forever. Al B Sure! did a pretty underrated cover of “Lady In My Life” not too long ago. He somehow managed to make the track a bit more s*xy and even a bit more uptempo. And while you would immediately assume that taking it out of its essence would make such a remake trash, I found myself bobbing my head and grooving to it. The guitar on the track is hot and his voice still works, ya’ll! But what do you think of the remake?

Blackstreet – “Billie Jean Remix (No Diggity)”

A remix of sorts to “No Diggity,” Blackstreet gave “Billie Jean” new flavor with the help of bandmate, producer extraordinaire, and MJ collaborator Teddy Riley. The song left the pop realm with the R&B makeover, and while the vocals are pretty great (aside from Riley using that damn autotune), I just don’t know if I’m feeling it all that much. Maybe it’s the repetitive use of the phrase “No Diggity”? It’s cool, but I would rather stick to jamming to the much faster and much better original.

SWV – “I Wanna Be Where You Are”

Their take on “Human Nature” with “Right Here” wasn’t the only time SWV tried to cover Michael Jackson. In fact, they covered “I Wanna Be Where You Are” in 1998 for the soundtrack of the rom-com, Hav Plenty. The song was put together with the help of Missy Elliott and its new groove screamed ’90s. I was actually pleasantly impressed by their take on the song, but then again, when you have the vocals of someone like Coko, could these ladies ever really do any type of wrong?


Boyz II Men – “Human Nature”

People love to mess with “Human Nature,” right? And this version by the men of Boyz II Men was actually a pretty formidable one. Reminded me of something from a coffee shop performance as stripped down as it was with the drums, and acoustic guitar. Very gorgeous, because we all know these brothas can SANG! The song was featured on their album Throwback, Vol. 1 and they captured what is important when messing with the legends–you’ve got to be different. Shout out to Claudette Ortiz from City High, whose vocals are also featured on the track!

Celine Dion – “Man In The Mirror”

You would assume that since it’s Celine Dion of all people, with those amazing vocal abilities, that she would absolutely slay a song like “Man In The Mirror.” Well, she did okay. I definitely thought she would bring it a bit more. At least get a little funky with Mike’s ad-libs, boo! But alas, she kept it the safe route while performing the song during her popular show in Las Vegas, Celine. She’s still fabulous because she’s the untouchable Celine Dion, but if you’re not going to put your toe in that joint, I wouldn’t really bother to mess with it.

R. Kelly – “You Are Not Alone”

Okay, so the thing about this song is that it was originally said to be written by R. Kelly, and was written as he was going through a particularly hard time in life. However, in Belgium, songwriters claimed R. Kelly ripped it from then and a court over there declared that Kellz plagiarized the lyrics. Therefore, the song credits are attributed to them and the song as a whole is banned in Belgium. Dramatic, eh?

Anywho, Kelly didn’t let that ruling hold him back, as he’s still considered the songwriter here in the states. And after the death of his “idol,” he covered the track for his album Love Letter in 2010. While I hate the unnecessary beat they put in the background, R. Kelly definitely sounds good, even during his attempts to hit the same notes as MJ. Plus, you can always count on R. Kelly to throw a gospel choir in near the end of every emotional ballad…

Miles Davis – “Human Nature”

Okay, so he wasn’t singing Michael per se, but Davis tackled “Human Nature” and all the lyrics in it the only way he knew how–through that trumpet. He performed the song in 1990 and in his own way, made it even more awesome (not as amazing as the original). And if that wasn’t enough for you, jazz man (sax man to be more specific) Grover Washington brought the house down with his own take on “I Can’t Help It,” funking it up just a bit. Or make that, funking it up a whole lot. Check that jam out as well!

Grover Washington – “I Can’t Help It”

Floetry – Butterflies

This beloved track was actually written by Marsha Ambrosius (and Andre Harris), but it was given to Jackson to deliver it, in only the way he could, to the masses. It was featured on his comeback album, Invincible, in 2001, and was said to be Jackson’s favorite song on the album. But Floetry has performed the track (while they were together) as a duo many times, and in all honesty, it was theirs first. And every time I’ve watched them do it, they’ve absolutely slayed it. Even Natalie’s spoken word moments in the chorus add a great deal to the song. Classic!

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  • L&L

    “R. Kelly definitely sounds good, even during his attempts to hit the same notes as MJ”

    Really! Lmao
    1st of all R kelly voice and vocal ability can not be match by any male singer out there. Real talk!

    I love me some MJ but lets be real he aint exactly no power house singer, him and his sister Janet sounds like they are whispering half the time. R kelly don’t whisper on is songs, he hits those notes. He ain’t ATTEMPTING TO HIT SH!T, HE IS HITTING IT

    • Stel

      Untrue. R. Kelly doesn’t touch MJ’s voice. Michael Jackson has a nearly 4 octave vocal range- an extreme rarity for male singers. He easily has one of the finest quality voices and most iconic vocal style in popular music. Michael had a voice so powerful that you didn’t even need to hear the enunciation of the words to feel exactly what he was conveying. Don’t compare his voice to Janet’s who, despite her sweet tone, is no vocalist. Billie Jean, Bad, This is It, Childhood and Butterflies are a few of his best performances among the many. Hell, is performance of ‘Who’s Loving You’ at age 11 kills anything Kells has done.

      • You better say it

  • ebkay82

    You forgot The Weeknd’s cover of “Dirty Diana”. He killed it!! 😉

  • Vandellish

    How in the name of Rod Temperton did y’all miss Esperanza Spalding’s ‘I Can’t Help It’.
    Sorry but that remake kicks all of the rest of these dead in the azz!!!! Do yourselves a favor and check it out…controversial video and all.

  • Janee

    Amber Riley (Mercedes from Glee) killed the Human Nature cover with that one guy. It was an acoustic cover, but absolutely beautiful! That girl has a gorgeous voice!!

  • Now What Now??

    Chaka Khan laid it out on, “Got To be There”. I love the way that she did that. It sounds a little like the original, yet at the same time, she put her own spin on it. This is probably one of my favorite Michael Jackson remakes out of all of them.

  • Trini Girl

    I thought Ne-Yo’s version of “Lady In My Life” would be up there.

  • Hey

    I actually like Alien Ant Farm’s version of Smooth Criminal better than the original. Now be nice!

    • Epic video that came with that version, right? lol

    • Kenedy

      That used to be my jam! Plus the video, I thought I was the only weirdo that liked that version, lol

  • *Despises Haters*

    I sort of like The Weeknd’s version of Dirty Diana, he sounded a lot like Mike, but he was almost too nasally for me

  • Love MJ, but Ive always loved Floetry’s version of Butterflies better..

    • hiswomanandlovingit

      because they wrote it. although he did a good job with the song they knew how they wanted it to sound. but you can’t exactly refuse the king of pop when he wants to use of of your songs.

      • Oh i know they wrote it. I think they bring a different tonal quality that changes the feeling of the song. Not bad, just different. And I totally agree, if MJ asks, you certainly answer!

    • Miri

      Sorry – there’s this quality MJ has – when I first heard Butterflies I had it on repeat, repeat, repeat…then repeat some more…for weeks, doors shut. It’s one of those songs you just have to listen by yourself. He takes you away with him. Other artists your still here – butwith MJ you actually SEE AND FEEL those butterflies fluttering. You know he means every single word he is singing. I believe him and baby “I will love him love him til the tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!”

  • msloveontop215

    As the truest MJ lover and stan I am giving a NO on most of these for the simple fact that their voices are not Michael’s voice. The strongest ones minus Chaka Khan sing songs from his childhood and still don’t compare. Al B Sure voice sounds so rough compared to Mike’s, I could only take 2 seconds of it. Sorry just do us all a favor and don’t attempt it.

  • Yasmin

    The kiss of death, really. Michael’s songs are becoming American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and X-Factor staples though lol.

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  • Chevonne22

    The title says 9 artists, but I counted 10 (11 if you count Grover Washington). Elementary math anyone?

  • Chevonne22

    I had never heard SWV’s version of “I Wanna Be Where You Are” and I’m glad I hadn’t…and I could have passed on not hearing it.

  • Shay n Scrappy 4 ever! Lmao

    b4 i go through the list I KNOW Celine Dion is on 4 her tragic performance of ‘Bad’… it was so bad that i was in tears.

    • Shay n Scrappy 4 ever! Lmao

      welp. i guess not…. oh well

    • Dani

      She says he’s the reason she learned English as a teen in Quebec. She stans hard lol