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Michael Jackson: Madonna’s Songwriter Said 1 of Her Songs Is Just ‘Billie Jean’ in a Different Key

Madonna performed a mashup of "Like a Virgin" and Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Madonna's songwriter, Patrick Leonard, said "Like a Virgin" sounds like "Billie Jean." Both "Billie Jean" and "Like a Virgin" were popular songs.

During a tour, Madonna performed a mashup of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and one of her own songs. One of Madonna’s regular songwriters said the song she combined with “Billie Jean” was just “Billie Jean” in a different key. Notably, Madonna had quite a bit to say about Jackson following his death.

Michael Jackson wearing a hat
Michael Jackson | Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Why Madonna performed a mashup of 1 of her songs and Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’

Both “Billie Jean” and the Madonna song in question were big hits; however, only one reigned supreme on the charts.
Patrick Leonard is a songwriter who helped compose hits for Madonna like “La Isla Bonita,” “Frozen,” “Cherish,” and “Like a Prayer.” During an interview with Boy Culture, he mentioned he was also involved with Madonna’s Victory Tour. He said he helped with the tour’s music because he had great chemistry with the Queen of Pop.

During the tour, Madonna performed a mashup of “Billie Jean” and “Like a Virgin.” Leonard discussed the origin of this. “The ‘Billie Jean’/’Like a Virgin’ thing, that was something that started as one of those musical anecdotes: If you play ‘Billie Jean’ in a major key, it’s ‘Like a Virgin.’ And so, having just done the Jackson tour, we started doing ‘Billie Jean’/’Like a Virgin’ at the early, early rehearsals kind of just to wind her up and she dug it so it stuck. [Laughs].” Interestingly, Leonard didn’t have anything to do with the writing of “Like a Virgin,” which was co-written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg.

How the world reacted to ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Like a Virgin’

“Billie Jean” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 25 weeks. Its parent album, Thriller, was a hit as well. It topped the Billboard 200 and remained on the chart for 485 weeks.

While “Like a Virgin” was a hit for Madonna, it didn’t capture the success of “Billie Jean.” “Like a Virgin” topped the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the charts for 19 weeks. The song’s parent album, Like a Virgin, reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the chart for 109 weeks. While Like a Virgin was popular, it wasn’t as popular as Thriller.


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What Madonna thought of Michael Jackson

Leonard’s comments aren’t the only connection between the King of Pop and the Queen of Pop. According to Rolling Stone, Madonna said some very kind things about Jackson after his death. “When he moved, he had the elegance of Fred Astaire and packed the punch of Muhammad Ali,” she said. “His music had an extra layer of inexplicable magic that didn’t just make you want to dance but actually made you believe you could fly, dare to dream, be anything that you wanted to be. Because that is what heroes do, and Michael Jackson was a hero.” Regardless of what one thinks about the supposed similarity between “Billie Jean” and “Like a Virgin,” Madonna had a lot of respect for Jackson.