song of the summer

Song of the Summer: ‘Billie Jean’ Gets Some Love

The aftershocks of an unprecedented week on the pop charts have left their mark on the SoS Power Rankings. While the twin-headed Hydra that is the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling” continues to rule, Michael Jackson’s posthumous assault on the charts and radio has introduced a song that was not released this summer — or this decade, for that matter: “Billie Jean,” the second single from 1982’s Thriller, is this week’s Biggest Gainer.

We’ve been hearing an impressive array of MJ tunes out of car stereos and apartments — Jacksons’ radio airplay did jump 1735% last week, after all — but it’s “Billie Jean” that has officially been the most played. When all is said and done it’ll surely be “Thriller” that is held up as Jackson’s crowning achievement, but considering that so much of that song’s legacy is tied to its video, it makes sense that a shorter, harder song like “Billie Jean” would break away from the pack in the immediate aftermath. Plus, everybody loves to do the lighted-up-tiles dance. Surely the ubiquity of “Billie Jean” and MJ material in general will fade in the coming weeks, but it’s nice to see the kind of impact it’s had so far.

1. Tie: Black Eyed Peas, “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling”: We’re aware of its impressive national chart performance, but based on (our admittedly statistically irrelevant) personal experience, we feel that “I Gotta Feeling” hasn’t quite caught on in New York the way it has elsewhere. Also, will that whole bizarre Perez Hilton situation have any impact? Thoughts?

2. Michael Jackson, “Billie Jean”: Just for the record, we’ll take this over BEP everyday of the week and twice on Sunday.

3. Mariah Carey, “Obsessed”: The song isn’t at full steam, but people are talking, thanks to video shoot stills that seem to show Carey in Eminem-drag. (Apparently, Carey decided to play dress up after Andy Samberg dropped out when he realized who he was portraying.)

4. Drake, “Best I Ever Had”: He finally agreed to sign a record label contract, performed at the BET Awards despite a torn ACL, and and released this song’s official video. The official album, Thank Me Later, is tentatively slated for this year. Can the young buck keep the momentum going?

5. Jeremih, “Birthday Sex”: Has been treading water for a few weeks now, although we gotta say, “Birthday Sex” has been a distinct and welcome part of our diegetic summer music experience.

6. Keri Hilson feat. Kanye West and Ne-Yo, “Knock You Down”: We don’t know whether to blame her or the last minute shift towards honoring MJ, but that BET performance was very, very awkward, and did’t do the song any favors.

7. Young Money, “Every Girl” : Their BET performance wasn’t much better than Hilson’s, but it at least showed that the heavily edited version — they just want to love every girl in the world — works pretty well.

8. Pitbull, “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)”: Shaky theory of the day: could all this summer rain affect the decidedly Miami-esque “I Know You Want Me,” with popular opinion shifting towards a slightly grittier SoS?

9. Harlem Shakes, “Strictly Game”: A clever new video, in which the band poses for a fake YouTube fan tribute, has drawn deserved attention to this chugging little banger (off this March’s Technicolor Health). “This will be a better year”? A better summer, at the very least.

10. Major Lazer, “Keep It Goin’ Louder”: Diplo and Switch have the indie circles talking, but with Nina Sky on board — the sister duo behind the 2004 smash “Move Ya Body” — could this be a for-real radio anthem?

Song of the Summer: ‘Billie Jean’ Gets Some Love