The Justin Bieber Hit Inspired by Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’

There are many similarities between the careers of Justin Bieber and Michael Jackson — for example, one of Bieber’s hits was even inspired by “Man in the Mirror.” Interestingly, the story behind “Man in the Mirror” is very different from the story behind the Bieber song it inspired. Here’s a look at two songs and how the public reacted to them.

Justin Bieber near someone
Justin Bieber | Peter Kramer/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Why Quincy Jones wasn’t sure Michael Jackson would sing ‘Man in the Mirror’

Jackson is a renowned songwriter, but he didn’t write “Man in the Mirror.” According to AllMusic, Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard co-wrote the track. Fittingly, Garrett is most known for duetting with Jackson on the song “I Just Can’t Stop Lovin’ You.” Although she liked “Man in the Mirror,” Garret wasn’t sure it would strike a chord with Jackson.

“There was just no predicting what was gonna happen,” Garrett told Songwriter Universe. “Quincy [Jones] had told me, ‘You know, [“Man In The Mirror”] is a great song. But we’ve been in the studio with Michael for two-and-a-half years recording [Bad], and Michael has yet to record anything that he didn’t write.’ So it was always iffy. But as Ray Charles used to say, ‘It’s gonna do what it’s gonna do.’ So I had to just let it be.”

Garrett said Jackson liked “Man in the Mirror.” In fact, he understood its meaning the first time he heard it. Garrett explained why she thought the song worked for Jackson.

“Man in the Mirror”

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“Because the song was deeper than just the visual of a man looking at himself in the mirror,” she explained. “It was that, juxtaposed with the idea of a man going deeper inside himself to change from within. To make a difference on the outside, you have to first start from within.” 

The Justin Bieber song inspired by ‘Man in the Mirror’

“Man in the Mirror” is a popular song by Jackson that Jackson didn’t write. Oddly enough, MTV News reports it inspired a hit by Bieber which Bieber did write. The song in question is Bieber’s ballad “Pray.”

“It’s a very uplifting song, very motivational,” Bieber explained. “It definitely comes from the heart. It’s very beautiful. I definitely thought of Michael [Jackson’s] ‘Man in the Mirror’ when I was writing it.” How did the two tracks compare in terms of chart performance?

“Pray”

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How the public reacted to ‘Man in the Mirror’ and ‘Pray’

“Man in the Mirror” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was one of five singles from Bad to do so. In addition to “Man in the Mirror,” “I Just Can’t Stop Lovin’ You,” the album’s title song, “The Way You make Me Feel,” and “Dirty Diana” all reached the top spot. “Pray” was a hit as well, albeit a more modest one.

“Pray” reached No. 61 on the Billboard Hot 100. Compared to other Beiber hits like “Baby,” “Sorry,” and the remix of “Despacito,” ‘Pray didn’t perform phenomenally well. However, the song still proved Bieber could write chart hits at a very young age — and that the influence of Bad was being felt decades after its release.