Blerd: Well, we just finished up a lengthy conversation that was primarily about the King of Pop, so we’re gonna continue in that vein.
Although neither version of this song is ESPECIALLY well-known, we’re gonna go with the reasonably popular version first-which, in this case, is the cover.
G: Ah yes.
B: one of the more incidental tracks on “Off the Wall”, IMHO, but in England, it was the then-unprecedented fifth hit single from it.
G: and perhaps the instigator of the relationship between MJ and Macca?
B: From what i understand it was.
G: I didn’t know it was a single in the UK, but that makes sense
B: Macca met Michael on a boat or something like that…
G: Ha! of course they did.
B: …and was like, hey, i have a song i wrote for you.
G: Well, Off the Wall was certainly my first introduction to this song. I’ve always liked (though not loved) it. It’s a sweet little ditty, innocent (despite being about cheating…)
B: But Michael’s vocal kinda makes it sound less…threatening?
G: Yeah. Imagine that vocal telling boyfriend #2 “exactly what we’re doin'”
B: They’re playing checkers. that’s “exactly what they’re doin'”
G: Is that what they called it in the ’70s? I wasn’t born yet.
G: I’ve never actually heard the Wings version, so this will be a new experience.
What the fuck, is this Linda?
B: Nope, it’s Paulie Paul rockin’ the falsetto.
G: He’s no Prince.
B: he’s not even a…(struggling to find someone who has a strained falsetto) Adam Levine? John Mayer?
G: This sounds like a fucking novelty record. OK, the bridge is decent. Well, chalk this up as another reason I generally don’t like Wings.
B: I’m not a big fan of Paul’s solo albums. I think Wings put together a run of great singles, but more than 2 or 3 tracks in and it’s like, holy shit.
G: Yes. Victims of 1970s rock excess…and I’m not even talking about the drugs
It’s not even like it was a situation of “here’s a few pop songs, now I’m gonna get real experimental”
B: There was definitely some (a lot of?) autopilot-type stuff happening.
G: I think I’ve made my opinion clear already.
B: Well, let me throw a minor wrinkle into the proceedings.
Paul says (or Michael said) that the song was originally written with him (MJ) in mind, and that when Paul couldn’t get a hold of Michael, he wound up recording the song himself. The fact that Quincy and Michael wound up using the song was mere coincidence. Do you buy that?
G: That sounds sketchy to me. Honestly, the Wings version sounds like a well produced demo to me.
B: I can almost see Paul saying “yeah, the Jackson 5 kid might be good on this”, but Michael wasn’t exactly a hot property at the time.
G: “Get that Dancin’ Machine lad”
Overall, Paul’s version is pretty damn goofy.
B: Mike’s version is still kinda corny, but certainly more up his alley at the time, and he gives it a sorely-needed infusion of soul.
G: Absolutely. Corny is a good way to describe MJ’s take, but it’s at least focused and has a boyish charm to it. The Wings take just sounds like “hey, let’s fuck around and I’ll sing in a falsetto. Linda – keep that tambourine going.”
B: There was probably a lot of pot in the studio.
G: And mullets!
B: So. final rendering?
G: : MJ all the way, and I’m not even a big fan of the song.
B: Yeah man, i feel the same. Easily in the lower third of tracks on “Off the Wall”. Might even be my LEAST favorite track on “Off the Wall”
G: I’ve always felt there was a slump on the second side.
B: Well…there’s “Off the Wall” and “I Can’t Help It”, both of which are genius, “She’s Out of My Life” and “Burn This Disco Out”, which are solid, and then “It’s the Falling in Love” and “Girlfriend”, which are not bad, but definitely more generic.
I would almost respect McCartney more if he’d not recorded his own version.
B: Ha!!! it’s definitely a case of a cover knocking an original out of the park.
So, there ya have it, a decisive and convincing victory by the King of Pop
G: Well, considering our individual proclivities, this one was kind of a shoe in.
B: Yeah i made this one easy, for Michael’s sake.
G: a hee!
Final Verdict: MJ by a landslide