Wednesday, October 12, 2022

6 Fantastic Covers of Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel"

Michael Jackson’s classic “The Way You Make Me Feel” is one of those feel-good songs that people love to sing along with and is a great mood-booster. It’s a perfect mix of soulful R&B and exuberant radio-friendly pop. The track is a great example of MJ's gift at composing songs that feature pronounced pop elements but without losing an ounce of soul or funk in the process. It boasts an energetic shuffling groove and an irresistible chorus–and all punctuated by Jerry Hey’s superb horn arrangement. Funky guitar licks and bright synth lines further sweeten this exhilarating slice of pop/soul. 

“The Way You Make Me Feel” was the pop legend’s third consecutive U.S. #1 single from his multi-platinum Bad album. It also made the top 10 in a number of other countries and has sold more than two million copies worldwide. The song also has an iconic short film where MJ pursues beautiful model/dancer/actress Tatiana Thumbtzen. It was directed by Joe Pytka and features amazing choreography created by MJ and acclaimed choreographer/director Vincent Paterson. The pop superstar and his backup dancers dazzled audiences with TWYMMF choreography on his Bad and Dangerous world tours.

The song has been covered by countless artists in various genres. So I had to sift through a lot of great covers before narrowing it down to my six favorites. Here they go and in no particular order.

Judith Hill and the California Philharmonic Orchestra

Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Judith Hill delivers a scorching jazz-tinged performance of “The Way You Make Me Feel” with backing by the California Philharmonic Orchestra. She infuses tons of sultry soul into the pop/soul classic and makes it her own. The 2017 performance took place at Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. It was conducted by Maestro Victor Vener.

Hill has made quite a name for herself in the music industry. She has sung backup on tracks for many well-known artists, including Carole King, Andraé Crouch, Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow, Evelyn “Champagne” King and Gregg Allman. And she was selected as Michael Jackson’s duet partner on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” for his ill-fated 2009 This Is It concert series in London. She rehearsed with MJ for months on the song; a sement of the This Is It documentary shows the two rehearsing IJCSLY. And she sang lead on a touching group performance of “Heal of the World” at MJ’s memorial service. She has also worked closely with Prince. He co-produced her debut album Back ln Time (2015), which was recorded at his Paisley Park Studios. Additionally, Hill wrote and performed a number of songs for Spike Lee’s 2012 film Red Hook Summer, and she toured with John Legend in 2014.

Hill earned a Grammy for her performance in the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom (2013). Her most recent album release was Baby, I’m Hollywood! (2021), which received high marks from music critics. She’s currently on a world tour. Here’s a link to upcoming dates and ticket info.


Kevin Ross

 Washington D.C.-born singer/songwriter/producer Kevin Ross delivers an incredible a cappella performance of “The Way You Make Me Feel.” This young brother can blow! He brings a whole new energy to the track with his soul-stirring vocal performance. 

Ross initially made a name for himself penning tracks for prominent artists such as Toni Braxton, Trey Songz, Johnny Gill, Nicki Minaj, Jamie Foxx and Tank. As a solo artist, he wrote, recorded and produced the hit “Long Song Away,” which was released on Motown in 2016. The song topped the Billboard Adult R&B Songs Chart and reached #23 on Billboard’s R&B singles chart. Some of his other solo hits include “Looking for Love,” “Don’t Go,”“Thing Called Love” and “This Is My Wish.” 

Ross has also collaborated with renowned artists like Ne-Yo and T.I. And he has garnered nominations at the Soul Train Music Awards, NAACP Image Awards and iHeart Radio Music Awards. In 2019, Ross created his own record label, Art Society Music Group. He has released two full albums so far–The Awakening (2017) and Drive 2 (2021)–as well as five EPs. Drive 2 reached #1 on the iTunes Top R&B/Soul Album Chart; and the smooth, rich ballad “Sweet Release” from the collection has been creating quite a buzz on the R&B/soul music scene. 

Ross has a show coming up on October 29 at Center Stage Theater in Atlanta, GA. For info about new music releases or to purchase tickets for his upcoming concert, visit his official website



Nashville-based pop trio IMY2 effectively captures the vibrant spirit of MJ's classic on this sensational cover. Lead singer Annalise Mahanes delivers a flawless vocal performance and even nails MJ’s signature “hee hees.” Guitarist Michael Monahan contributes an excellent solo and also holds down all the horn parts. Cal Tucker’s percolating keyboard work keeps the groove humming. This is one of the most popular covers of TWYMMF on Youtube and currently has more than a million views.

Over the last few years, IMY2 have created quite a buzz on Youtube through their stellar covers of well-known classics; and they currently have more than 35 million views across all their videos on the video-sharing platform. In addition to TWYMMF, some of the other classics they’ve covered include Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” The Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” the Beatles’ “Yesterday,” Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” which currently has 4.2 million views. IMY2 also posts videos of their own music on their Youtube channel, including the infectious “Kiss” and the smooth, sensual “Breakfast in Bed.” Here’s a link to their Youtube channel to check out their original songs as well as covers. And to learn more about the trio and info about upcoming shows, visit their official website or follow them on Instagram



Stevie Wonder 

Music legend Stevie Wonder pays homage to MJ in this rousing live performance of “The Way You Make Me Feel.” The performance took place at the 2011 Rock in Rio Festival. Stevie puts his own unique extra-soulful flavor on the classic track. MJ no doubt would have been moved by this affectionate musical tribute from his friend and mentor. He greatly admired Stevie and learned a lot from him about songwriting, recording and music production. In fact, MJ frequently visited Stevie’s recording studio during the making of Songs In The Key of Life; the then teen pop/soul star mostly just quietly observed and soaked in all the knowledge he could while Stevie put together his masterpiece.

The two artists collaborated several times, including two duets: “Just Good Friends” from MJ’s Bad album and “Get It” from Stevie’s Characters album. And Stevie put on a moving, heartfelt performance of his songs “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” and “They Won’t Go When I Go” at MJ’s memorial service.


Haley Reinhart & Casey Abrams

Singer-songwriter and actress Haley Reinhart delivers a stunning performance of “The Way You Feel.” The performance took place at Los Angeles’ Room 5 Lounge in August of 2014. Reinhart's smoky rendition of the song showcases her formidable vocal abilities. And she gets terrific musical support from singer/songwriter/musician Casey Abrams on the double bass; his bass work keeps the flow chill and jazzy. This clip really blew up on Youtube and currently has over a million views.

Reinhart first came into national attention after placing third on the 10th season of American Idol, which originally aired in 2011. In July of that same year, she signed a record deal with Interscope Records. She released her debut album Listen Up! on Interscope on May 22, 2012. The collection received high marks from music critics and much love from her fans. 

Also, Reinhart was the first former American Idol contestant to perform at Lollapalooza. And she received a lot of recognition for touring with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox in 2015. Her biggest collaboration with the band was a jazz cover of Radiohead’s song “Creep,” which spent 58 consecutive weeks on Billboard’s Jazz Digital Song Chart. And her cover of Elvis Presley’s classic “Can’t Help Falling in Love” created tremendous buzz. It was even featured in a commercial for Extra Gum and became a viral sensation. It rose to #16 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart and was certified Gold by the RIAA. 

Reinhart has had a number of other big career highlights. She released her most recent album, Lo-Fi Soul, on her own label Reinhart Records in 2019. She has some shows lined up later this month. Check out her official website for concert dates and ticket info. 

Abrams is a talented musician, singer and songwriter. He finished sixth on the 10th season of American Idol in 2011. He’s released two EPs and three studio albums. His albums Put a Spell on You and Jazz had an impressive showing on the US Jazz charts, peaking at #5 and #2, respectively. His single “Get Out” climbed to #23 on Billboard’s Adult Pop Airplay chart and #39 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. And his song “Simple Life” peaked at #9 on the US Smooth Jazz chart. He and Reinhart have collaborated a number of times. Abrams is also a member of Postmodern Jukebox. Check out his official site for any new music info or concert dates.


Bruno Mars

Pop/R&B sensation Bruno Mars serves up a short and sweet acoustic cover of “The Way You Make Me Feel.” The musician’s butter-smooth vocals sound amazing on this marvelous rendition of the classic track. And he has a bit of fun near the end by singing in an exaggerated version of MJ’s unique vocal style. It would have been cool if he performed a full version of the song in this mellow acoustic setting.

Mars is one of the most versatile artists of his generation and a throwback to great performers of an earlier music era. He’s a consummate showman in the tradition of people like Prince, James Brown and Michael Jackson. And he’s a skilled multi-instrumentalist and talented singer/songwriter. He has landed hit after hit with his dynamic gumbo of pop, R&B, funk, reggae and rock. So far, he has won 15 Grammys, including the coveted Album Of The Year award in 2018 for 24K Magic. Also, he and Mark Ronson had one of the biggest songs of the 2010s with the global smash “Uptown Funk.” 

Mars and drummer/singer/songwriter /producer Anderson .Paak recently made a big splash on the music scene as superduo Silk Sonic. The talented pair dropped one of the most acclaimed albums of 2021 with An Evening with Silk Sonic. The album appeared on a slew of year-end best-of lists. And the platinum-selling collection’s chart-topping single "Leave the Door Open” earned the duo four Grammys. 

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