15 Monster Hit Singles That Almost Never Happened

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1. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson (1982)

MJ knew he had a hit on his hands when he started composing “Billie Jean” while cruising around L.A. in his Rolls Royce. In fact, he was so absorbed that he didn’t realize the car had actually caught on fire! But master producer Quincy Jones felt that the song was “too weak” to be included on their upcoming Thriller, a record jam-packed with weapons-grade floor-fillers. He feared that the title would make people think it was an ode to tennis great Billie Jean King, he hated the intro, and he especially hated the bass-line. “But that’s the jelly! That’s what makes me want to dance,” Jackson reportedly told him. What could Jones say to that? The King of Pop got his way. In a weird coda to the whole story, Michael was famously burned while singing “Billie Jean” for a Pepsi commercial. Two fires? Now THAT’S a hot song!

[Photo: London/Interscope/Def Jam/Warner Brothers/Epic/Star Trak]