Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson (1958–2009)

We've all made jokes and laughed at the misfortunes of Michael Jackson in recent times but this isn't a time to laugh. This is truly a sad day for music.
After hearing about this, a friend asked how will Jackson be remembered: as the performer who wowed audiences with his solo career as well as his time with the Jackson 5/Jacksons and an artist who transcended any and all racial barriers in music or as the bizarre caricature he has spent the last decade as. The truth is he'll probably be remembered as both depending on your views and feelings toward him.

While it is true that the last decade or so hasn't been kind to Jackson (lawsuits, disappointing albums and their sales, failed tours, etc), the thing to remember is that whenever Jackson made an appearance, it was a huge deal. No matter what, the man was still a huge draw but for all the wrong reasons. This is how he'll be remembered toward the end of his life, as some ghoulish shadow of his former greatness. While this is disappointing, it is the truth and very sad.

Overall, however, the man was definitely one of the greatest entertainers the world has ever seen. This is how he will mostly be remembered. As the kid in the Jackson 5 singing "I'll Be There" and "ABC," as the teen and young adult singing on tracks like "Dancing Machine" and "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)" and as the solo artist behind "Thriller" and "Smooth Criminal," Michael Jackson was untouchable as a singer, lyricist and overall performer. His level of performing still has yet to be rivaled. While artists like Justin Timberlake and Chris Brown have modeled some of their performances and careers after Jackson, the fact remains that no one has and probably ever will come close to his talent and skill in both performance and music.

For that alone, we've lost one of the greats and one of the last remaining greats of the Motown era which makes this a much sadder day that just losing some entertainer. It's a musical era long gone but losing one of the few active legends from that period seems to makes the whole thing really sad. A few years ago, James Brown passed away and while it was sad to know that "The Hardest Working Man In Show Business" and "The Godfather Of Soul" was gone, the thing is that I didn't grow up with James Brown outside of "Living In America" from the Rocky IV soundtrack.

I grew up on Michael Jackson and wore a Michael Jackson iron on t-shirt when I was 6. I had the "Thriller" doll and went to see Captain E-O at Epcot Center toward the end of its run. My friends and I are all fans of Moonwalker (both movie and game) and despite any jokes, would've gone to see him or meet him in a heartbeat if the opportunity were provided.

With that said, this is definitely the saddest day for me musically. I didn't care about Kurt Cobain's death or Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac's. Then again, Cobain, Biggie and Tupac didn't sing "It's close to midnight and something evil's lurking in the dark."

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