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Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ Returns To Hot 100; Legend Lands 50th Hit

A week after becoming the first artist to reach the Billboard Hot 100's top 10 in five different decades (and six including his work with the Jackson 5), as "Love Never Felt So Good," with Justin…

A week after becoming the first artist to reach the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 in five different decades (and six including his work with the Jackson 5), as “Love Never Felt So Good,” with Justin Timberlake zoomed 22-9, Michael Jackson makes news again, as his 1983 No. 1 “Billie Jean” returns. The song re-enters at No. 14 thanks to the popularity of a viral video featuring the track.
Meanwhile, Jackson scores his milestone 50th Hot 100 hit, as “Slave to the Rhythm,” from his new album “Xscape,” debuts at No. 45.
“Billie Jean” revisits the Hot 100 with 95 percent of its chart points from streaming. It debuts on the Streaming Songs chart at No. 2 thanks to the stylings of Brett Nichols, a junior at Pitman High School in Turlock, Calif. Nichols performed Jackson’s iconic dance sequence from 1983’s “Motown 25” TV special for his school’s talent show, with the clip featuring the song’s original audio. The video went viral and Jackson’s classic bows on Streaming Songs with 11.2 million U.S. streams in the week ending May 25 (a 320 percent surge), according to Nielsen BDS. It debuts with 95 percent of its streams from YouTube (non-Vevo) activity.
“Billie Jean,” from “Thriller,” the best-selling studio album of all time (it’s been certified 29 times Platinum by to the RIAA), spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in a 24-week run in 1983. It and 1991’s “Black or White” mark the longest reigns of Jackson’s 13 Hot 100 No. 1s, the most leaders among solo males.
On Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, “Billie Jean” re-enters at No. 6. It spent nine weeks at No. 1 in 1983, passing “Rock With You” (six weeks, 1980) for his longest command on the genre tally.
Jackson also earns his landmark 50th Hot 100 entry, as “Slave to the Rhythm” begins at No. 45. With 75 of its chart points from streaming, the song enters Streaming Songs at No. 11 (3.9 million, up 345 percent). Fifty-six percent of its streaming activity is owed to the official Vevo video of the much buzzed-about virtual Jackson performing the song at the Billboard Music Awards on May 18.
The late King of Pop becomes the 30th artist to collect at least 50 Hot 100 hits and the 20th solo male to earn the honor (tying Eminem’s sum). Lil Wayne leads all male soloists with 121 entries, followed by Elvis Presley (108), James Brown (91), Jay Z (82) and Ray Charles (74). Among all acts, Lil Wayne trails only the cast of Fox’s “Glee,” which has made 207 Hot 100 visits.
On Hot R&B/Hop-Hop Songs, “Slave” soars 38-12. Jackson also debuts at No. 50 with “Chicago.”
“Love Never Felt So Good” (which drops 9-16 on the Hot 100 dated June 7), “Slave” and “Chicago” are from Jackson’s posthumous album “Xscape,” which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 dated May 31. It ranks at No. 3 this week with 67,000 copies sold (down 57 percent) in the U.S. in the week ending May 25, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Its two-week sales total stands at 224,000.
An additional feat regarding “Slave”: The song marks a return to the Hot 100 for L.A. Reid as a songwriter after a nearly 20-year break. The current chairman and CEO of Epic Records co-wrote “Slave” with Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Kevin Roberson and Daryl Simmons.
Reid co-wrote and co-produced numerous Hot 100 hits with Babyface in the ’80s and early ’90s for the likes of Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Boyz II Men and Bobby Brown. Reid eventually stepped back from writing in the early ’90s, focusing on his then-role as co-president of LaFace Records.
Until “Slave,” Reid had last charted as a writer on the Oct. 29, 1994, Hot 100, when Braxton’s “You Mean the World to Me” spent its final week on the chart. It had peaked at No. 7.
“Slave” dates back to 1989, when Reid and Jackson collaborated in writing and recording sessions for what would become Jackson’s 1991 album “Dangerous.” “Slave” ultimately never was included on the set and sat unreleased until “Xscape.” The original tune (produced by Reid and Babyface) was reworked and produced for its 2014 incarnation by Timbaland and Jerome “JRoc” Harmon.
As an artist, Reid was a member of the Deele (with Babyface), which reached No. 4 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 10 on the Hot 100 in 1988 with its sultry ballad “Two Occasions.”
Additional reporting by William Gruger