Understanding Music

The piece of music under discussion is Michael Jackson’s They Don’t Care About Us, compared to his song Billie Jean. Michael Jackson is a king of pop music and all his compositions are worth listening. The most prominent and extraordinary piece of his work is the song They Don’t Care About Us as it uses rhythm to create a special emotional coloring and to intensify the main idea of the author of this song. Michael Jackson wrote this song as he wanted to express his emotions and feelings towards the situation in the world in general and to him personally what makes the music and lyrics sound so full of passion and real feeling about the situation. The discussion in the paper reveals the differences and similarities between two songs by Michael Jackson Billie Jean and They Don’t Care About Us and gives an analysis of the latter.

The song They Don’t Care About Us (TDCAU) appeared in 1995 while Billie Jean in 1983 under the same label of Epic Records. Both music pieces are similar in general idea of telling the society that they are unfair and make points to the cruelty and evil sides of people and society. The protest is vividly seen in both pieces under discussion. Analyzing melody of the music piece in TDCAU it is important to mention that the piece is based on rhythm predominantly, the melody goes smoothly together created by the voice and accompanying the most intensive rhythm created by drums. The pulse of the song is similar to the heartbeat and is very syncopated as the sounds are torn between each other making the music sound aggressive and strong. The meter is equal during the verse and differs during the chorus. Melody of the piece is wavy as it goes up and down rhythmically changing its direction. The music is pleasant to the ear as it easily conquers attention due to its smooth and energetic tempo. The melodic line of chorus and verse are two sequential lines with the culmination in the last chorus and at the end of the song. The piece of music of TDCAU is not harmonious during the verse but it reaches harmony during the chorus when the beating sounds of drums unite with the voice of the chorus and performer’s voice.


Comparing to Billie Jean, the latter piece of music is more harmonious and easy for listening as it has better combination of dissonant and consonant sounds, while TDCAU is filled with consonant sounds making it not so harmonious. The form of the song easily breaks down to the verse and chorus with the introduction in the form of few words said by a feminine voice in the beginning of the song in Brazilian language addressing to the performer in the question form. Speaking about the instruments used in the given piece of music they include drums and all kind of percussion instruments added by piano in the second half of the song and chorus singing starting in the middle of the music piece.

The lyrics is rather aggressive giving the listeners important idea for thinking, expressing the general idea of cruelty and unfairness of people in the world. It is important to mention that the lyrics of the song are composed of couplet pieces and added by lines without stanza making the lyrics more emotional and vivid. Comparing TDCAU to Billie Jean, it is evident that the former music piece is more contemporary while Billie Jean composition elements are more traditional and classical. Billie Jean has more evident division to verse and chorus and does not have neither introduction nor bridge. However, it is more harmonious than TDCAU, and the problem raised in it is milder and not that aggressively presented as the one in TDCAU.

Billie Jean is pleasant for the listener’s ear and does not make the feeling and desire to move or dance, as it is mild and smooth. The same cannot be said about the music piece TDCAU as its significant and strong rhythmic nature, similar to animalistic features make the body to be willing to move together with the drums’ sounds. The dance would be energetic and emotional, the moves would rather me fast and impulsive but not mild and slow. The music of TDCAU has a very strong emotional wave and makes the listeners involved to the problem of social injustice raised in it. It seems as the music comes from the deepest part of its creator’s soul where he fells all the pain that every human being and he personally experiences every day. The music is a scream that characterizes the piece of music and proved by the actual scream of the singer at the end of the song. Comparing it to Billie Jean is interesting to mention that the general idea of both pieces is similar but they differ significantly by the form of expression and emotional coloring of both music pieces.

Michael Jackson wrote both songs under discussion on his own. He is the main performer and the stories revealed in the music pieces are personal. He expresses his individual perception of the world controversial attitude to others and condemns the senseless and unreasonable cruelty of the world towards him and every human being in particular. The song had significant impact on society at the time of its primary presentation to the world. The author of the song had to change some specifically emotionally colored words as they raised discussions and could not be accepted by some ethnic groups due to their inability to understand general idea and intentions of the performer. The song is very emotional and makes the listeners think about the way they live and to have a deeper look on things they do and see in their lives. The selection of this music piece is justified by the fact that this song remains actual nowadays. The phrase and the general idea of the powers that have chance and ability to change something in the world to the better think about the people that live in the countries all over the world the same way they thought in 1995 – “They don’t really care about us…” The music is warmly accepted by all society levels and it is close to people despite their race, skin color, religion or language they speak. The song is international and the problem raised in it is close to the current generation of people. The problem is the same and this makes this music piece actual and popular among the listeners.

The music piece of TDCAU was performed in a live version using more than two hundred drums and percussion instruments of the ensemble Olodum in Brazil. The music sounded quite suitable for the place as it was played in the poor suburbs of Brazil in its narrow streets intensifying the general feeling of negative attitude to inequality and evilness expressed in the song. The music has a very easy notation that it did not require any notes for the musicians and they played the same rhythm during the whole music piece.

In conclusion, the music piece of TDCAU is one of the most prominent pieces performed by Michael Jackson during his best period of prosperous activity. Billie Jean is one of the best singles that gained love of the listeners all over the world and remains to be the gold star in the collection of Michael Jackson songs. The music piece of TDCAU significantly differ from Billie Jean on many aspects despite having general idea of condemnation of injustice. However, the problem raised in TDCAU is more global and severe than the one presented in Billie Jean that is more personal and not global. The song under discussion had a significant resonance in the world and not only in the USA. At the same time, the story of Billie Jean is rather personal but reveals the part of Michael Jackson’s life that became discussed in the society. TDCAU is more emotionally colored rising aggressive and passionate feelings while Billie Jean is more pleasant to the ear and makes easy listening. The latter music piece is more harmonious and melodic while TDCAU’s leading element is a strong beat and rhythm.

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