While I always like to find some of the more curious moments in 80s pop music, I do try and stay away from what can be classed as “novelty” songs, or celebrities having an unlikely attempt as showing off some previously hidden vocal talent (that usually remain hidden), but this one was such a strange idea, that I thought that it would be good to feature this.
In the mid-80s, Michael Jackson was arguably the biggest pop star around, releasing some hugely successful singles and albums, so there seemed to be a lot of other people who were being influenced by his work (for example, there was “Superstar” by Lydia Murdock, which was designed to be an “answer” song to the chart-topping “Billie Jean”, and was just about to the same tune too).
This is another song that sounded similar to “Billie Jean”, although I am not sure if this was being played for laughs or was entirely serious. In this 6½ minute epic, “I’m In Love With Michael Jackson’s Answerphone” gives us the story of a girl called Julie, who is constantly on the phone, and she would like nothing more than to get through and talk to her favourite pop star, but she only ever gets his answerphone message (which I very much doubt was provided by the man himself for this).
Her increasing frustration at not being able to talk to Michael (“oh no, not again!“) means that she goes as far as to try and hire a detective to track him down, but she can’t get through to him either (I presume the joke here is that it is Jim Rockford, and every episode of the TV show The Rockford Files began with his answerphone message). This concludes with a “Thriller”-style section.
What is also notable is the lyric “they say you’re weird“, although this was before “Jacko” (as was) was widely considered to be “weird”, maybe she saw the early signs. Believe it or not, when “I’m In Love With Michael Jackson’s Answerphone” was released in November 1984, this failed to make the Top 100 in the UK, but to discover that such a thing exists at all was just so amusingly odd.
I haven’t been able to find out much about who Julie was exactly, but in some European countries where this was released, she was credited as “Julie B”, and one of the writers was Paul Burnett, the former BBC Radio 1 and Top Of The Pops host. Her only other single was “I Can’t Stand The Pain”, which flopped too, and once again, it would be rather odd if she only ever recorded two songs, but that’s what’s out there. I haven’t been able to find any clips or interviews or anything like that either.