Michael Jackson …
Elvis … The Beatles … there can only be one further name to add to this list and that name is Michael Jackson!
Very few artists get to the plateau that these artists reached and its hard to see where the next true global superstar will come from.
Whether you knew him as Michael, as MJ or as Whacko Jacko this guy was born to perform. Coming from a musical family in smalltown Gary, Indiana, I guess he didn’t have many options open to him but from a young age he was already showing the kind of talent that would make him the undisputed king of pop.
Although a bit before my time I loved The Jackson 5 growing up with hits like I Want You Back, ABC and Got To Be There, Michael had a great soulful voice and certainly made an impact with his unique dance style.
There has been much speculation regarding Michaels father Joe Jackson and his strict regime towards the boys but without this hardline parenting who knows if the Jackson 5 would have been as big a success as they were?
Michael’s songwriting ability really started to show when he wrote the heart felt ‘Ben’ about his pet rat and then came the time when Michael really went solo and created the Off The Wall album – released in 1979 and must be one of the best albums of all time. Michael wrote a couple of the tracks including Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough but my personal favourite is still Off The Wall.
If there’s an album to challenge Off the Wall as the best pop album of all time then this album could very well be Thriller released in 1982. This album is my personal favourite and I think you would have to go some way to find a better over all album. With anthemic tracks such as Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat It and Wanna Be Startin Somethin, this album is a heavy hitter and I often hear some of the less known tracks such as PYT & Human Nature still played in bars & clubs today.
Then came the gloriously 80’s album ‘Bad’ which was released in 1987 and was predominently written by MJ. This is the album that really brought MJ to my attention as I was 14 when it was released. My personal stand out tracks would be Dirty Diana, I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, The Way You Make Me Feel, Man in the Mirror and of course Bad.
I had a chance to see Michael at Wembley in 1988 but had school the next day so couldn’t go!!!! still haven’t forgiven my parents for that one!!!
I’m not a major fan of Michaels later music but there are still some gems but here’s my top 10 MJ tracks:
10. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You
8. Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough
6. Dirty Diana
5. The Way You Make Me Feel
4. Wanna Be Startin Somethin
3. Off The Wall
2. Beat It
1. Billie Jean
One thing is for certain he brought his own style and flair to the stage and most of his videos would bring something never before seen. How many artists today have been influenced by Michaels style or moves? The moonwalk is probably one of his most famous dance moves and although he didn’t invent it he certainly introduced it to the world.
The year surrounding Michaels death was a little strange for me – firstly I took my daughter to a concert on 5th March 2009 at the O2 arena and low and behold it was the day that MJ was announcing his ‘This is IT’ tour so we got to see him in the flesh (although my daughter was more star struck by Dermot O Leary!). Since his death my daughter has become a fan and has all his music!
I then managed to get tickets for the concert at the O2 (which was no mean feat) and this would have been my first time seeing him ‘live’ – absolutely gutted that this didn’t happen and lastly I was stood in Times Square when I first heard of his death (a very surreal moment) – the whole of Times Square standing to a halt and watching the big screens.
I guess everyone has their opinions about MJ … he certainly knew how to attract publicity. Whether it was playing in a tree or hanging his newborn child out of a window or having sleepovers with children the media always got their headlines.
My personal opinion is simply this – the guy had no upbringing and in later life had the money to re-live his childhood. Such was the public frenzy whenever he was out and about meant he could never do normal things so he built himself a fairground and surrounded himself with children (I guess children are less judgemental).
I have no doubt in my mind that he loved children and loved being around children but never did anything untowards – now I’m not saying his choices were the most sensible in the world after all I would not be very happy if I found out my child spent the night in the same bed as an adult male however I do feel MJ was an easy target and certain parents knew this. My reasoning behind this … if someone had molested by child there is no amount of money on this planet that would buy me off – I would want the person in prison so he could never do anything like that again! This is why I do not believe the allegations of child abuse – the parents could see dollar signs and knowing Michael would most likely pay as the damage done by these kind of allegations is usually irreparable.
It is a shame this black cloud was always hanging over him especially with the amount he used to do for charity and underprivileged children, you could also feel the passion he had for all things good in his music.
On 25th June 2009 the legend that was Michael Jackson passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest in his home and with that act one of the last true greats of the music world faded away.
Who knows how his career would have been affected had he not have done that fateful Pepsi advert in 1984 which was the cause of so much of his pain and the start of an addiction that would see him to rest.
Well in his own lyrics … To heal the world is just human nature, first you start with the man in the mirror and know you are not alone. Whatever happens don’t stop til you get enough and the love you save will help you shake your body and shout ‘I just can’t stop loving you’. We’re almost there, things are changing and whether your black or white, rich or poor you can’t just blame it on the boogie anymore – stand up for what you believe in , hold my hand and say This is it – they don’t care about us but we do – Just use one day in your life to make a change – is it scary? dangerous? of course but you wanna be startin somethin before you go off the wall … will you be there? i hope so. Can you feel it? the change is coming and we’ve got to be there … together … unbreakable. Lets not just see it, lets beat it before the break of dawn. We’ve got a good thing going so heaven can wait but for now … to all those smooth criminals that didn’t make it you are gone too soon.
Latino777 – It’s our time down here.