I thought it would be somewhat appropriate to give this mid 80’s Michael Jackson a newspaper-esque halftone treatment. As everyone’s probably already told you, Michael Jackson died this afternoon.
I confess that I am not the biggest Michael Jackson fan. I own zero of his albums, but that is kind of why I am posting this. Even though I would not consider myself a big fan, or even a medium size one, this still seems significant. Maybe it would seem less significant if I read it in the paper the next day, but this just happened. Earlier today he was alive.
Not too many pop artists were able to create the widespread excitement that MJ did through his focus on entertainment. Video link from Keith:
You’ll notice that this video’s title is “BILLIE JEANS BEST EVER MOONWALK” – as Adam and Graham pointed out, this video shows him doing the Backslide. It’s a popular misconception that I shared until this afternoon, as shown in this video – How Michael Jackson Learned the Backslide and Mislabeled it the Moonwalk. I would embed it but the amount of advertising done on the 5min video service is totally over the top .. but I digress. It is a fascinating video with some good commentary on the before and after of a pretty significant night for MJ in 1983.
Good post Davin. Mike will definitely be missed.
I remember the day after the Motown 25th TV special, that “moonwalk” was all the talk in my highschool, a few of the kids had even figured out how to do it. the other significant thing about that appearance was white socks with black pants(!). A fashion faux pas became fashion, literally overnight.
At that point in time, I’d say “Thriller” sales were in the low millions, if that. Between the appearance of MJ on the Motown special and the video for the eponymous track, which was by far the longest and most elaborate to that point, well, the album sales tell the rest of that story.
I don’t know that many of my peers were outright fans then or ever, but there was a lot more to the man than Britney or boy bands today, or Bananarama or Wham! or Paul Young; Even among non-fans he had a certain level of, perhaps begrudging, cred. The man could sing, my goodness could he dance, and the songs themselves had a way of getting people on the floor at the high school dance, especially that pretty girl you’d been eying in math class all semester long.
Really though, along with the build up from his earlier album “Off the Wall”, “Thriller” I think was his “Citizen Kane”; as it was for Orson Welles, it’s pretty darned hard to do better than the very best you can do, especially when you have done very well indeed. It’s also a testament to that seminal work that even though all the bizarre behaviour, the rumours and allegations, and that his album sales since have been dismal at best in comparison, he today has the cover of every newspaper in the world and will have every magazine in the week and month to come, probably about 50% of the radio airtime, and the attention of someone like me, who did own “Thriller” on vinyl (but purchased in 1986 for the very well produced track “Human Nature” alone, someone distinctly not a fan and who still wonders about all those allegations, but who today feels need to comment in some form on his passing.
No matter what happened to him in later years – this video reminds us all – just how brilliant a person he was. A master showman!
Jackson was a victim of his family as a young child and then a victim of his own success from the age of 5. If anyone wants to know what unending public scrutiny does to someone, they need only look at a detailed account of Michael Jackson’s attempt at privacy, his abuse of drugs, his narcissism and self-revelry, and is private misdeeds to find an answer. He never knew “normal” and wasn’t provided an opportunity to find out.
Brilliant musician… Thankfully, I believe his legacy will portray mostly his positive impacts.
He was a big part of my childhood too, I had the vinyl as well. I still remember pouring over the album art. There was a shot of him laying next to a swimming pool in a white suit that I remember very well.
I’m not a fan either, but I feel sad that he’s gone. Boy, could he dance!
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