How to Sing “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson A Capella

(In the spirit of eHow.)

“Billie Jean” is a classic song by Michael Jackson (RIP) from his 1982 album Thriller. All you need to sing the song a capella is yourself and three friends. They don’t even need to be your friends. They can be anyone with mouths, although friends are best because making new sounds can be uncomfortable, and it’ll be less uncomfortable if the people are your friends.

The song can be broken down into four parts. (There are more than four parts, but for the sake of this tutorial and me not being Quincy Jones, let’s go with four.) If each person in your group is responsible for one part, in no time your group will be rolling down the street singing “Billie Jean,” truly a good song.

Here are the four parts:

1. The Snare Drum Part

The snare drum is the first sound you hear in “Billie Jean.” It keeps the whole song on rhythm. It’s the foundation, the vertebrae, the exoskeleton if the song was a crab. The least musically talented person should NOT be responsible for this part, although it shouldn’t be the most talented person either.

The snare drum part of the song goes like this: duh–tss–duh–tss (repeat)

(Don’t say “repeat,” but repeat the “duh-tss” sound really fast.)

To do this part, you basically need to turn your mouth into a drum machine. The “duh” sound comes from putting your tongue on the back of your front teeth, then removing it. The “tss” sound comes from blowing a thin stream of air through your teeth and lips. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.


2. The Bass Line Part

The bass line is the second sound to come in after the snare. It sounds low (low frequency, to be technical) and it sounds like bass. The second least talented person in your group should do this part and it should be a guy. I’m not trying to be sexist — it’s just easier for guys to get low.

The bass line part of the song goes like this: din-din-din-din-din-din-din-din (repeat)

(Again, don’t say “repeat.”)

The trick to making a good bass sound is to use your throat. Someone without a mouth and just a throat could even do this part, if you know someone like that. (Should be a guy.)


3. The Keyboard Part

The keyboard is the third sound in the song and the part after the bass line. It’s also the part of the song that people usually recognize in which they then feel the need to say, “I love this song.” Yeah, who doesn’t? It’s MJ. The keyboard is the easiest part and can go to the least talented person in your group, guy or girl.

The keyboard part of the song goes like this: dun–dun (breathe) dun–dun

(Breathing in between “dun-duns” is crucial to the rhythm of the song and also assures you’ll stay alive.)

To make a good keyboard sound, put the tip of your tongue against the back of your front teeth, then release your tongue and open your mouth as you make the sound.


4. The Michael Jackson Singing Part

The Michael Jackson singing part of the song “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson is the most complicated part of the song because you have to sing like Michael Jackson and not many people can.

I can’t really teach you how to sing like Michael Jackson in this tutorial. I hope that wasn’t your expectation. If I could teach people to sing like Michael Jackson, I wouldn’t be writing this. I’d be in Las Vegas pursuing a career in singing consulting instead of a career in writing online tutorials.

Good luck singing “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson a capella. It’s a good song.


Alex J. Mann is a writer based in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter.