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8 Unexpected Michael Jackson Covers: Metallica, Willie Nelson, And More

by Joey DeGroot   Jun 25, 2014 17:04 PM EDT

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Today marks the five-year anniversary of Michael Jackson's tragic death, so in honor of the King of Pop, we've compiled a list of his greatest songs that were covered by very unlikely musicians. Here are eight unexpected covers of Michael Jackson songs.

1. Faith No More - "Ben"

Faith No More is known for its eclectic and quirky approach to metal, but the band briefly mellowed out for its Coachella set in 2010 to perform a cover of Michael Jackson's 1972 hit "Ben," which gave singer Mike Patton a chance to show off his more delicate, soulful side.

2. Metallica - "Beat It"

While performing a medley of some of the biggest hits in MTV's history for the Video Music Awards, Metallica ended on a brief instrumental version of Michael Jackson's "Beat It," which was one of his most rock-influenced songs.

3. Miles Davis - "Human Nature"

Miles Davis' 1985 cover of "Human Nature" doesn't actually sound all that different from the original. It still has the typical '80s ballad production, but the most obvious difference is that Jackson's voice is replace by Davis' trumpet.

4. Willie Nelson - "She's Out of My Life"

Though Willie Nelson is known as a country singer and songwriter, his version of Michael Jackson's "She's Out of My Life" has almost no traces of country music whatsoever, other than the brief blasts of harmonica.

5. The Bates - "Billie Jean"

"Punk" and "Michael Jackson" rarely ever appear in the same sentence, but that didn't stop German punk band The Bates from releasing its version of "Billie Jean" as a single in 1995.

6. Ray Stevens - "Bad"

Ray Stevens is known for his playful, humorous take on country music, and that even extends into his choice of cover songs. For his 1988 album I Never Made A Record I Didn't Like, Stevens included a country/bluegrass version of Michael Jackson's hit "Bad," which had just been released the previous year.

7. James Chance and the Contortions - "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"

The Contortion's style of avant-garde punk-jazz doesn't naturally lend itself to the slick dance-pop that Michael Jackson was known for, but the band still released a typically frenetic cover of Jackson's 1979 hit "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."

8. The Wood Brothers - "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"

For an episode of The A.V. Club's "Undercover," in which artists are given a choice of songs to cover, folk trio the Wood Brothers chose to cover Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing), and manage to pull of a soulful, rootsy version of the song.

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