This video was made shortly after the death of Michael Jackson, a favorite singer! Learn how to pronounce the titles of some of his most popular songs.
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As I’m sure you know, the world lost an icon last week when Michael Jackson passed away. The Rachel’s English way of paying homage to him will be to go over the pronunciation of some of his most popular songs.
But first, his name. Michael Jackson in both his first and last names the first syllable is the stressed syllable. This means it will be slightly higher in pitch and also slightly longer. Michael Jackson. Michael begins with the M constant sound and opens into the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong [aɪ]. Mi-chael. The second syllable has the K constant sound followed by the dark L sound: uh-uh-ul. Michael. Jackson begins with the jj consonant [ʤ] sound where the lips round. jj. Aa, the ‘aa’ as in ‘bat vowel sound [æ], aa, Michael Ja-, kk, the K consonant sound: Michael Jack-. And finally, -son, the S consonant sound, the schwa [ə], and the N sound, -son. Michael Jackson.
First, the title track from his most popular album, actually, the highest grossing album ever, Thriller. thriller begins with a TH sound [unvoiced!!] [θ], so the tongue must come through the teeth: th, Thriller. It then has the R consonant[ɹ] sound: thr, thr, so the tongue has to pull back into the R position. Thri-, the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel [ɪ] sound. thri-ller. The L consonant sound followed by the schwa and the R consonant sound. Thriller. It’s the first syllable here that is stressed. Thriller.
Beat it. This title has two T’s in it, however, neither are pronounced ‘tt’, the way that you may think at T is normally pronounced. Also, they are not pronounced the same. But let’s start at the beginning. Beat it begins with a B, so the lips are closed for that. It opens into the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ vowel sound [i]: Be-. Now here comes the first T, and it is pronounced as: some people call it a flapped T, I really think it functions just like a D. Beat it. You see how it comes up and touches the roof of the mouth and pulls down without -tt- air escaping through the teeth. It begins with the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel sound: Beat i-. And now, the final T is not pronounced as a T or as a D, rather, it is a stop. So the tongue moves into position for it: Beat it, but then you stop the sound. So, you don’t pull it down or let air come through.Beat it.
Bad.Bad has also the B sound to begin, so the lips are closed over teeth that are slightly opened. Ba-, the ‘aa’ as in ‘bat’ vowel sound, and finally, the D sound. Bad, Bad. The tongue moves up, but it’s not a strong DD sound. Bad. It’s just a very light release. Bad.
Black or white. Another title beginning with at B. Bla-. This has the B followed by the L sound. Bl. So, bl-, the tongue is up into position for the L as soon as the mouth opens for the B. Bla-, the ‘aa’ as in ‘bat’ vowel sound, followed by the kk K consonant sound. Black. Now the next word is not pronounced ‘or’. Because it is not an important word in this phrase. It’s BLACK or WHITE. So it becomes reduced to simply this sound: rrr. The R consonant sound.Black or. Black or white. White begins with the W consonant sound [w], so you can see the lips have to be in that tight circle. Whi-, it opens into the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong, white. And ends with the T sound, tt, where you do let air come through your teeth.Black or White.
Don’t Stop ’til you get Enough. Sorry, it’s just so hard to resist singing them! Ok, this particular title has several stops like I’ve talked about. It begins, Don’t. You can see that T is a stop. It begins with the D consonant sound, moves into the ‘oh’ as in ‘no’ [oʊ] diphthong, Do-. Nn, the tongue then moves up into the N, Don-, and you don’t actually release it make the T sound. Don’t sss, rather you move right into the S sound for stop. The S sound is followed by the T sound, st-, st-, stop. It opens into the ‘ah’ as in ‘father’ [α] sound, followed by: you might think the P, but actually it’s another stop. Don’t stop til. So you don’t let air out after that P. Don’t stop til. You move right into the T sound of ’til’. Which is followed by the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel sound followed by the dark L. Til. Don’t stop til you. The Y consonant sound followed by the ‘oo’ as in ‘boo’ [u], you. Get: the gg consonant sound [g] into the ‘eh’ as in ‘bed’ [ε] vowel sound. Although, I think I just said a T, get. It’s not pronounced that way when you’re saying the whole title. Don’t stop til you get – you see the tongue moves up but it doesn’t release. Get enough. Enough. You move straight into the next vowel, which here is the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ or the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’, it sort of depends on how you pronounce it, enough/enough. The N consonant sound. En-.Uh, the ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’ sound [ʌ], and finally, the F consonant [f] sound. Don’t stop til you get enough.
Man in the Mirror. Man begins with the M consonant[m] sound and opens into the ‘aa’ as in ‘bat’. But as I’ve noted before, when the ‘aa’ vowel is followed by a nasal consonant, that is, m, n, or ng, it is not the pure ‘aa’ as in ‘bat’.Watch this: man. So it opens into that, but then it immediately starts making this uh sound as it moves into the nasal consonant. Man, man, in the, in the. Now both of these words are less important than ‘man’ and ‘mirror’, so they are lower in pitch and shorter in duration.>br>
In the. So, it begins with a very quick ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ and the n consonant sound, the TH consonant sound [voiced!] [ð], and the schwa. In the, in the.Man in the Mirror. Now this, I know is a difficult word. It begins with the M consonant sound and opens into the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ [better ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’], mi-. But now, what’s happening at the end of the word?-Ror, -ror. That’s what can be difficult. So, it’s the R consonant sound for mir-, and then you sort of slide quickly into the schwa and then back into the R consonant sound. It’s like a second emphasis of the R consonant sound. Mirror. Mirror. Man in the mirror.
And finally, Michael’s most popular song of all time, Billie Jean. Billie Jean opens with the B consonant sound, Bi-, it opens into the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ vowel, Billie, it moves into the dark L, Bil, bil, ee, the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ sound, Billie, so note that it is the first syllable that is stressed: Billie. Jean begins with the ‘jj’ as in ‘jar’ consonant sound, the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’, and the N consonant sound. Billie Jean.
Well, we’ve lost a great artist, but luckily not his music.