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10 Best Michael Jackson Cover Songs

Michael Jackson
Phil Walter, Getty Images

Today would have been Michael Jackson‘s 55th birthday if he were alive. Sadly, the late singer died in June 2009, after suffering from cardiac arrest due to an injection of drugs administered by his now jailed physician Conrad Murray. Though his death was untimely, his talents still live on in the music he created.

The King of Pop’s music and career have influenced many artists in the genres of reggae, R&B, jazz and hip-hop. To celebrate his work, we present some stellar covers of Michael Jackson’s tunes.

Singers such as R. Kelly, Marsha Ambrosius, Prince, Tarrus Riley, Dwele, Esperanza Spalding, Maxwell and others have all performed their own unique spin of a classic MJ tune.

So without further ado, check out TheDrop.FM’s list of the 10 Best Michael Jackson Cover Songs.

Happy birthday, MJ! Sha-mone!


'Human Nature,' Tarrus Riley

 
 

Tarrus Riley is an award-winning reggae crooner who brought an island twist to Michael Jackson's intimate ballad, 'Human Nature.' Riley's groovier version is a step up from MJ's more brooding version. "Reaching out to a stranger / Electric eyes are everywhere / And to see that girl / She's knows I'm watching / She likes the way I stare," quivers Riley's voice over an organ shuffle and shimmering synths. Riley's rendition is a great reggae flip of a wonderful pop ballad.

 

'She's Out of My Life,' Ginuwine

 
 

Undoubtedly, Ginuwine was heavily influenced by Michael Jackson. On his second album, '100% Ginuwine,' the crooner paid homage to his idol by covering 'She's Out of My Life.' Ginuwine stays close to the original version as possible, even going so far as to mimic Michael's sniffling on the track. The only difference is the crescendo at the end with its orchestral strings. This is a good faithful rendition of MJ's tear-jerking ballad.

 

'You Are Not Alone,' R. Kelly

 
 

Michael Jackson's 'You Are Not Alone' originally appeared on his greatest-hits album 'HIStory.' Written by R. Kelly, who often collaborated with the late singer, it became one of MJ's biggest-selling singles. After Michael's death, R. Kelly honored his late friend by covering the ballad on his 2010 LP, 'Love Letter.' "In loving memories of my hero, MJ," he says at the beginning of the ballad. Kells' version is more soulful than MJ's song but only slightly. "I am honored and blessed to have been in Michael's presence," he wrote in his biography 'SoulaCoaster.' "I got to know him like most of the world never will -- on a person-to-person, soul-to-soul level."

 

'Startin' Somethin',' Dwele

 
 

Before Dwele was a household name in R&B, he was a struggling artist selling music out of the trunk of his car in Detroit. One of those beat tapes, titled 'Beat Dat,' featured the crooner reworking Michael's cautionary ode, 'Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' from his 'Thriller' album. Over a slow-grooving beat and chunky bass line, Dwele repeats the original song's chorus and bridge. Near the end of the track, the singer spits a few non-sensical bars about pulling girls and dissing his competitors. Who knew Dwele would be starting something with this rendition?

 

'Don't Stop Till You Get Enough,' Prince

 
 

It was often rumored but never substantiated that Prince despised Michael Jackson and was extremely jealous of his success. This video is proof positive that, at the very least, the singer-guitarist respected Michael and his musical accomplishments. During his concert stop at the Forum in Los Angeles, Prince performed 'Don't Stop Till You Get Enough' and mixed it with Time's 1981 anthem 'Cool.' It's the perfect jam session with Eva Longoria jumping in and shaking her booty. We also get to see the Purple One show off some of his fancy footwork as well. There are other videos where Prince performs 'Don't Stop Till You Get Enough' in full but, unfortunately, he had them all removed from the internet. Watch this video immediately before his lawyers yank this one.

 

'The Lady in My Life,' Maxwell

 
 

If there's anyone who could be the heir apparent to Michael Jackson, it's Maxwell. His soft falsetto can melt a woman's heart like butter. During the 2010 Grammy Awards, the R&B crooner paid tribute to the King of Pop with his rendition of 'The Lady in My Life.' Maxwell flipped the song a little bit by singing the chorus first. He also added a few affectionate lyrics of his own at the end that made the ladies swoon. It's a beautiful tribute for an extraordinary artist.

 

'I Can't Help It,' Esperanza Spalding

 
 

Esperanza Spalding gives us a jazzy reworking of Michael Jackson's melodic ballad, 'I Can't Help It,' from the 'Off the Wall' LP. The afro-wearing cellist's tune is an uptempo version of the original, which boasts a soft trumpet groove, wobbling bass and other percussions. The video itself is an interesting flip on the lyrics as it appears that Spalding can't help but fall in love with another person despite having a boyfriend.

 

'D.D.,' The Weeknd

 
 

The Weeknd re-flipped Michael Jackson's 1988 classic, 'Dirty Diana' for his song 'D.D.' on the 'Echoes of Silence' mixtape. Abel Tesfaye's falsetto cries almost resemble that of the late singer as he croons about an obsessive groupie who's stalking him. Along with the Weeknd's quivering vocals, there's plenty of reverb and tension on the song. It's a faithful rendition that we think the King of Pop would be very impressed with.

 

'Butterflies,' Marsha Ambrosius

 
 

Michael Jackson's 'Butterflies' originally appeared on his 10th album, 'Invincible,' and was written by Marsha Ambrosius. As a tribute to him, the former Floetry singer reworked the song and give it a more uptempo R&B groove than the original version. Listening to the song, it's clear why Michael liked the tune so much. It's a care-free ballad about infatuation and love. "I just want to touch and kiss / I just wish I could be with you tonight / You give me butterflies inside," she sings.

 

'It Ain't Hard to Tell,' Nas

 
 

Nas' 'Ain't Hard to Tell' is not quite a cover song, but it features the most well-known usage of Michael's classic tune 'Human Nature.' Producer Large Professor sampled the bass line and the singer's "da-da-da-da" to give the song it's mystical feel as if you were traveling into another world. Not to mention Nas' braggadocio rhymes are vivid and exemplary here. "I never fail / Nas' rhymes should be locked in a cell / It ain't hard to tell," he raps.

 

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