Not surprisingly, Michael Jackson covers have been coming fast and furious these past few days. Whatever you thought of the man, you can’t deny the music. CoverLayDown’s got a good round-up of what’s already been done, so we’re going to try something a little different. Michael passed on Thursday afternoon. By concert time that evening, artists were already beginning to bust out Jackson songs in tribute, a trend that only intensified over the weekend. So here are some of those live covers, recordings of tributes performed since Jackson’s death. They’re in turns emotional, joyous, spontaneous, and apologetic. But all are heartfelt. I weeded out anything with poor or incomplete recordings (as well as those that just weren’t any good). This is what was left.
R.I.P. Michael Jackson
Mark Rose – P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
Solo electric guitar is usually a shaky proposition, but not when you sing like this.
Duffy – Billie Jean
Duffy goes the extra mile at this Romanian festival, mixing “Billie Jean” in with her own “Mercy.”
David Garrett – Smooth Criminal
Classical music fans may appreciate that Garrett throws in a bit of Mozart’s “Turkish March” into the middle here. Apparently the two songs have the same harmonic progression.
Ne-Yo & Jamie Foxx – I’ll Be There (Jackson 5)
The BET Awards Sunday night turned into a de facto Jackson tribute, capped off by this duet following a tearful speech by Janet.
Amanda Palmer – Billie Jean
Dresden Doll Palmer says she threw this solo piano wail together in twenty minutes, performing it the night of his death. Impressive indeed, as this gothic lament should be a concert staple for years to come.
Timothy Molo – Thriller
You don’t come across a bass line this meaty every day.
AYO – I Want You Back (Jackson 5)
An impassioned spoken tribute leads us into those instantly recognizable riffs.
Rachel Bernard & Steven Keith – Man in the Mirror
A simple but effective duet by two unknowns tugs at the heartstrings.
The Roots & Erykah Badu – I Wanna Be Where You Are
The Roots & Erykah Badu – Billie Jean
Recorded during rehearsal breaks at the Roots new home at Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
Martin Sexton – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Only one of a series of impromptu Jackson cover from Sexton the night of his death, his falsetto means you can’t tell if he’s joking or not.
Christian Larke – Black or White
Nothing elaborate here, but sometimes a passionately strummed acoustic guitar is enough.
Third Eye Blind – I Want You Back (Jackson 5)
A noisy crowd can’t silence a jam like this.
Castledoor – Rock With You
You forget how catchy this song is until you hear it.
Robin Thicke – Human Nature
Another night-of-death cover, it’s just one a cappella chorus, but with that voice that’s all you need.
Dave Matthews Band – I’ll Be There (Jackson 5)
Dave keeps it short and sweet.
Stevie Wonder & John Legend – I Can’t Help It
Stevie Wonder & John Legend – We Are the World
Few people are more qualified to do this tunes than Stevie, a living legend in his own right who sang on the original “We Are the World,” even going so far as to coach Bob Dylan through his part.
James Eric – P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
Alright, this last one isn’t actually live, but friend of the blog James Eric put it together over the weekend to honor the legend and it’s a hell of a tribute.