Michael Jackson was the consummate entertainer; a groundbreaking dancer and showman, and that's saying nothing about his songbook, which ranks right up there with the tunes of
Over the course of his career, Jackson scored 13 #1 singles — more than any other male artist of the past 50 years. His musical output was so great that a whole new generation of artists landed hits of their own simply by covering his songs, which is also a big testament to his work.
"Billie Jean" has been covered by everyone from Blackstreet to Belle and Sebastian, and Chris Cornell's take on the tune was covered again in a star-making performance by eventual "American Idol" champ David Cook during the show's seventh season. Fall Out Boy's cover of "Beat It" replaced Eddie Van Halen's incendiary solo with one from John Mayer and became a surprise hit, charting internationally and becoming a permanent fixture on the iTunes Top 10 chart in early 2008. And "Weird Al" Yankovic scored a Top 20 hit — and won a Grammy — for his parody of the tune, a track he dubbed "Eat It." Yankovic also scored a Best Concept Music Video Grammy for "Fat," his take on "Bad."
Those weren't the only left-field Jackson covers that became hits: California rockers
And there's plenty more — so many that we can't even begin to list them all here. Jackson covers are seemingly required on the indie circuit, with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, KT Tunstall, Petra Haden and Lightspeed Champion weighing in with various versions of MJ/Jackson 5 classics like "Thriller" and "I Want You Back." Amy Winehouse and Charlotte Church dueted on a fantastically trashy version of "Beat It" on the latter's BBC variety show. And just last year, John Legend and Stephen Colbert joined forces for an unlikely take on "The Girl Is Mine."
MTV will be paying tribute to MJ throughout the weekend with music videos, exclusive performances and calls and tweets from celebrity admirers and friends.
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