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Michael Jackson, ‘Billie Jean’ vs. Prince, ‘When Doves Cry’ – Greatest Pop Song of the Modern Era [Round 1]

Michael Jackson Prince
Frank Edwards / Graham Wiltshire, Getty Images

UPDATE: Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ won in Round 1! Vote for ‘Billie Jean’ in Round 2 of the competition here.

Welcome to March Music Madness! Here at PopCrush, we’ve selected 32 of the most iconic pop songs released from the ’80s to today (divided into brackets by decade) — and now it’s your job to vote and decide which song will be named the Greatest Pop Song of the Modern Era. May the best song win!

March Music Madness is in full swing, with your votes determining which tune will be named the Greatest Pop Song of the Modern Era. For this round, it’s truly a battle royal, with music royalty (the King of Pop) pitted against music royalty (Prince).

Born just three months apart in 1958 and dominating the R&B/pop scene in the 1980s, Michael Jackson and Prince Rogers Nelson have long been assumed to have a longstanding feud. There’s little evidence to support that assertion, but for much of the decade, the two swapped places at the top of the charts. In fact, MJ’s seminal ‘Billie Jean’ was Billboard’s No. 2 song of 1983, while Prince’s genre-busting ‘When Doves Cry’ was the top single of the following year.

Though he was a star since early childhood, it was with ‘Billie Jean’ that Jackson first became a worldwide solo sensation. The second single off his iconic ‘Thriller,’ the track features an instantly recognizable bassline that perfectly underscores its stark instrumentation. Michael’s many vocal hiccups compliment his now-classic lyrics about an ill-fated groupie encounter: “Billie Jean is not my lover / She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one / But the kid is not my son.” Placing the song firmly in the pop culture firmament: It was while performing ‘Billie Jean’ on the ‘Motown 25′ television special that MJ first busted out his legendary moonwalk.

The revolutionary ‘When Doves Cry’ was the first taste listeners got of Prince’s mega-popular ‘Purple Rain’ album, and they most definitely liked what they heard. The song, the last added to the soundtrack for his musical film of the same name, became his first-ever No. 1 single. Prince played every instrument on the track, except for bass … because there was none. Yes, Prince is such an amazing talent that he can produce a great dance track that doesn’t even have a bassline. Groundbreaking sonically and sexually charged throughout, this is what it sounds like when doves cry.

Let’s reignite a decades-old debate, PopCrushers: Who is king of your heart, Michael Jackson or Prince? And which of their most iconic songs rules the roost, ‘Billie Jean’ or ‘When Doves Cry’? Vote below! You can vote once an hour in this round of our Greatest Pop Song of the Modern decade bracket, until the polls close at 12PM ET on March 11.

Next: 'Rhythm Nation' vs. 'Like a Virgin' -- Vote!

Greatest Pop Song of the Modern Era 80s

Greatest Pop Song of the Modern Era 90s

Greatest Pop Song of the Modern Era 2000s

Greatest Pop Song of the Modern Era 2010s

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