Glee Tackling Michael Jackson Songbook: 5 Songs the Show Must Cover (and 5 to Avoid)

That special tribute episode of Glee that Ryan Murphy has been been hinting at since last summer has been greenlit — and it’s set to air Jan. 24, according to TV Guide Magazine. Yes indeed, the students and faculty of William McKinley High School will be busting out their moonwalks and “hoo-hoos!” as the show begins filming an installment later this week built around the Michael Jackson songbook.

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Since last night’s Jackson Family medley at Sectionals was a bit of a mixed bag, I thought I’d take the liberty of suggesting five songs the show absolutely must tackle, and five that should be avoided at all costs. Check out my picks below, then hit the comments to brainstorm your own list!

Should Do
“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”: I’m envisioning a tense duet between frenemies Rachel and Mercedes, perhaps?
“Leave Me Alone”: Because Kurt needs a solo that’s not Broadway, or a dreary ballad. How ’bout this one?
“Scream”: Oh my god can’t believe what I saw when I turned on the TV this evening/ Santana combusted, a move it got busted…
“I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”: Imagine this one coming to life as a “Like a Virgin”-esque montage featuring most of our main couples in romantic settings.
“Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)”: Send the whole cast to Booty Camp to provide solid backup for a Mike-Brittany dance-off!

Should Not Do
“P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”: Especially if Shelby sings it to Puck. Yuck. (Update: Thanks for pointing out Artie sang this one back in Season 2, but again, I don’t want to hear Shelby singing this to Puck. It will not stand.)
“Ben”: We don’t need to know about the rat infestation at the McKinley cafeteria
“Earth Song”: Unless Ryan Murphy is planning to surprise us with special guests Haley Reinhart and Melanie Amaro
“Heal the World”: Just no.
“I’ll Be There”: Just seems a little too obvious and a little too dreary. Keep it in the closet!

Your turn. Ready, set, brainstorm!

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  1. Kathy says:

    Um….they already did PYT.

  2. Anna says:

    They’ve already done P.Y.T.! Artie did it in season 2 in the Valentine’s episode.

  3. aeronflo says:

    They already did PYT.

  4. Marcel says:

    Umm, they’ve already covered PYT last year. No need to go back to the well on that one.

  5. Krista says:

    They already did PYT like other commenters are saying.

  6. Stacey says:

    They already did PYT. Artie was the featured cast member who primarily sang it. It was on the Glee CD Vol. 5.

    So no worries. I do wonder what they will do, since they have done Michael Jackson songs before…

    Maybe Beat it. Smooth Criminal (Puck). I want to see Dirty Diana (but I am not sure the senario for that).

    • Matt says:

      Personally, I feel like Artie’s the only one who should be covering Michael Jackson. It just suits his voice so amazingly well.

      Dirty Diana would be great for something involving bad-girl Quinn, if a bit meta.

      Black or White seems like an obvious choice for the “acceptance of people’s differences” theme the show’s been pushing since it’s inception. It’s also an easy one to make into a group number, maybe on the steps outside McKinley?

  7. Ryan says:

    The Way You Make Me Feel – yes
    Smooth Criminal – Yes
    Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough – Yes
    Black or White – Yes

  8. Kerri Cavanaugh says:

    THey should do Will You be There

  9. rush says:

    Ehm ditto the two previous comments. They already did p.y.t. how come you dont know that. It was pretty good too. Artie singing, mike dancing ( literally on top of the lockers) tsk tsk tsk ,research is your friend…

  10. Will says:

    Yes, Artie already did P.Y.T in season two, but Tina also sang I Kissed A Girl in the pilot and that didn’t stop them from doing it this season.

  11. Melissa says:

    They could maybe do Smooth Criminal or The Way You Make Me Feel. They’ll probably do Beat It and/or Billie Jean. If they could work it in I think They Don’t Care About Us would be kinda awesome.

  12. Beth says:

    I know they did this last night, but I think that Puck should have been the only one to do Man in the Mirror, because he has grown up and changed so much recently. The song would have been so fitting for him, plus Mark Salling has got one of the most amazing voices I have ever heard.

  13. lifeisspiffy says:

    They should sing I want you back. Technically Jackson 5, but would still be awesome.

  14. Saint Alicia says:

    Don’t watch Glee anymore, but I love MJ so… they should do “Man in the Mirror,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Blame it on the Boogie,” “The Way You Make Me Feel” or “This Is It.”

  15. Matt says:

    Mercedes can sing Black or White when she’s torn over choosing Sam or her current boyrfriend.

    • Matt says:

      “If you’re thinkin’ ’bout being my baby, it don’t matter if you’re black or white”

      Makes Mercedes sound a bit slutty, if put into that context, really. Considering it’s about accepting everyone, it’s hard to apply it to choosing one or the other.

  16. Stephanie says:

    I Just Can’t Stop Loving You would be good for Wemma

  17. Captain says:

    Bad, Beat It, Billie Jean, The Way You Make Me Feel. I feel like they’ve already done the best MJ songs (Thriller,PYT,Man in the Mirror) so I’m not really excited for this but w/e.

    • Stacey says:

      Billie Jean. Could be good for Puck or any of the guys. If there is a pregnancy scare storyline LOL given the lyrics. I also could see Bad! I would also love to see Scream!

    • Michelle says:

      The Way You Make Me Feel is one of my favorite MJ songs. They totally should do it.

  18. Jani says:

    No more Mercedes and Rachel tense moments PLEASE! Amber Riley deserves a storyline and song that is more than (a) I’m jealous of Rachel, (b) I’m overshadowed by Rachel, (c) I’m worried about Rachel, (d) I’m WHATEVER about Rachel. Everyone else on this show has had a unique storyline. Give the girl a chance to shine.

  19. SW says:

    As everyone has pointed out, Artie sang P.Y.T. in season two :) I think they’ll end up doing the really big hits like ‘Billie Jean,’ ‘Smooth Criminal,’ ‘Beat It,’ and maybe, ‘Black or White’. I can’t see them not doing any those for a tribute episode.

  20. Jon says:

    Agreed. Michael Slezak’s research is pretty sloppy and lazy. PYT was done, and done well, by Artie. Should Slezak even continue covering Glee stories, since he’s obviously not a real fan?

  21. Allie says:

    Yeah,like everyone said they already did PYT. It wasn’t bad either. The rest of the songs on the should not do list are pretty obvious nonos.

  22. Sydney says:

    Santana totally needs to sing The Way You Make Me Feel to Brittany!

  23. C says:

    The Way You Make Me Feel could be really fun. Also, not sure how it would work, but how about Human Nature? That’s my favourite Jackson track. And I’d probably like Kevin/Artie to sing it. I know he seems to be the go-to guy for MJ, but I think it’s for a good reason, his voice suits it.

  24. Robin says:

    aww but I love “I’ll Be There…” I would like if the did that song.

  25. Gertrude says:

    They have done Michael Jackson songs before — I think what has changed is that they’ve gotten permission to do songs Michael wrote. Everything they’ve done by Michael thus far was written by other songwriters.

  26. Kelly says:

    The Way You Make Me Feel!!!! Please I really hope they sing that one!!! Like Finn to Rachel. That would make my life!
    Smooth Criminal would be awesome too!

  27. Isaac says:

    My fav MJ song is Human Nature. Would be awesome if someone sang that. I do NOT want to hear Heal the World. I would love to hear someone with edge (Santana?) do Give In To Me. I will literally SHOOT myself if they make Sam and Mercedes’ BF duet The Girl is Mine… unless the big hulking football player opens his mouth and MJ’s high pitched voice comes out with “I’m a lover, not a fighter” HAHA

  28. Riley says:

    She’s Out of My Life, my fave MJ song ever. Puck can sign it to Shelby, Beth or Quinn, depending on how story goes!

  29. Riley says:

    Geez, and then I meant to say meant not met. I’m done posting, oy.

  30. Rick says:

    I was going to say that Artie already did PYT, but since 800 other people already mentioned this, clearly without reading the other comments first, I won’t say more.

    I hope they do “Black or White” and “I Want You Back.”

  31. Um says:

    How about “Off the Wall” for Mike to sing – and dance!! – to?

  32. Josie says:

    I would say yes to:
    The Way You Make Me Feel (Finn to Rachel)
    Say Say Say (Blaine to Kurt about Kurt’s insecurities and Sebastian)
    The Girl Is Mine (Sam and Shane fighting over Mercedes)
    Smooth Criminal (group number with Artie leading)

    I would say no to:
    Billie Jean
    Beat It

  33. Ziro says:

    Should Do :

    You Rock My World
    Give In To Me
    Remember The Time or Butterflies
    Working Day and Night

    Maybe include a lesser know song too but which one ?

  34. Danni says:

    They should do “Remember The Time” (one of the coolerst MJ jams EVER!!) Mike (on the show) could dance the h*ll outta that! Also, “You Rock My World” would be good ,too. Stay away from the slow numbers ’cause they’re mostly solo songs (although “They Don’t Care About Us” might be a good group song.)

  35. Jucy says:

    I’d rather they not do Michael Jackson at all.

  36. Jason says:

    WHo’s Michael Jackson?

  37. Gemma says:

    Remember The Time should definitely be covered! [Sam would sing this to Mercedes but not sure if he can pull it off]

  38. bamabunny says:

    If Sam is STILL pursuing Mercedes by this episode he should serenade her with “Remember the Time” (I always got a “blond Kris Allen” vibe off the guy). Though it was actually on Paul McCartney’s album, “Say Say Say” is one of my favorite Paul/MJ duets and would love for someone to tackle it. And another duet…MJ and Mick Jagger’s “State of Shock.” Maybe Puck and Artie?

  39. Margo says:

    5 They Should Do:
    Rock With You
    Get On The Floor
    Wanna Be Startin’ Something
    Human Nature
    I Just Can’t Stop Loving You

    5 They Shouldn’t Do:
    You Are Not Alone
    Heal The World
    Billie Jean
    Beat It
    The Way You Make Me Feel
    ….and so much more!

  40. Danielle H says:

    Billie Jean. My absolute fav MJ song.. although it probably won’t happen. Then again maybe that’s a good thing.. so they don’t taint it lol.

  41. Kim says:

    So this is the big tribute Ryan Murphy says it’s taken years to get clearance for? But they did MJ last season, so I thought it’d be someone else. And RM said it’d be a big 2 hour episode, the tribute. I keep hearing this is a one hour thing.

    Darn, and here I was hoping the tribute would be to Disney music.

  42. Taylor says:

    Is it bad that I really want to see someone sing Dirty Diana to Quinn just for the inside joke (Dianna being the actress’ name).
    I could see Sam singing Black or White as a bid to get Mercedes back, but we’ll see.

  43. Whitney says:

    MUST we vernerate this predator of children?

  44. Tootz says:

    Please let Artie and Mercedes sing ‘Human Nature’ as a duet!!
    Kevin’s voice so suits singing MJ songs and I’ve heard Amber sing an acapella version of it on a chat show and she was awesome (plus these two NEED to do a duet, and one that is a brilliant EPIC song).
    Might even get me watching and caring again!

  45. Amanda says:

    Bad–Puck (maybe with Quinn)
    The Way You Make me Feel–Santana and Brittany
    Beat It–New Directions with Artie singing lead
    I Just Can’t Stop Loving You–Will (singing to Emma) and/or Rachel (singing to Finn)
    Black or White–New Directions
    Health the World–New Directions
    Dirty Diana–Puck (singing to Quinn)
    Rock with You–Blaine and Kurt
    The Girl is Mine–Sam (about Mercedes)

  46. JW says:

    Dirty Diana
    Black or White
    Billy Jean
    The way you make me feel
    Will you be there

  47. Joey W. says:

    A mashup of Michael’s “Beat It” and Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams”

  48. Beth Hatch says:

    They should do You are Not Alone sung by Puck to Shelby and Beth
    The Love you save sung by Finn to Rachel
    Enjoy Yourself Sung by Will Shouster to Sue Sylvester
    Heal The World Sung by New Directions
    Got To be There Sung by Sam to Mercedes

    • Daniel Chenevey says:

      I Like To Hear The Love You Save,Enjoy Yourself, Got To Be There, Black Or White, The Way You Make Me Feel, Dirty Diana, Bad, Beat It,
      I Can’t Stop Loving You, Rock With You, The Girl Is Mine,
      Health The World, You Are Not Alone,Get On The Floor,
      Wanna Be Startin’ Something, Human Nature, Scream, You Rock My World,
      Give In To Me, Remember The Time, Working Day and Night,
      Smooth Criminal, Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, Say Say Say,
      And Billy Jean

  49. Lulu says:

    I wish jesse st james back in this episode!!!pleaseeeee!!i want hear his extraordinary voice again!!

  50. Tess says:

    They are doing Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin but Darren is singing it
    Santana and that warbeler kid are singing smooth criminal and they are doing scream, i think that might be the group number but im not sure