Tuesday, June 30, 2009

our butts will always be yours, MJ

I've treated this space sort of flippantly over the past few months, mostly because I'm still more or less attached to Livejournal...but I think it's time to take off the training wheels. Or is switching domains really not that serious? Anyway, what better way to restart than by reposting a reflection on MJ, the only pop artist worth paying attention to in life as well as in death, and whose career peak I sadly missed (thanks, mom and dad).


I'm not a dancer, and I grew up when Michael Jackson was a potential child molester rather than a man who could make girls faint just by walking into a room. I am a voracious consumer of pop culture, though, and so it was absolutely necessary to stop and dedicate last night/today to him. He certainly led a complicated, troubled life--there's no point in playing revisionist historian and ignoring that aspect, especially when the circumstances surounding his past are undeniably (and for better or for worse) what made him the artist who could make girls faint just by walking into a room. At one point in his career, he did begin playing an active role in feeding the media frenzy surrounding his celebrity. He was the first person to take advantage of tabloid journalism for publicity and certainly was among those who made "paparazzo" a viable career option.

I don't believe the molestation accusations leveled against him--in part because by 1993, his image had become such that it would have been easy for anyone to turn his actions against him--but it was more than obvious that he suffered throughout his career from his father's well-documented abuse. It's incredible, given his upbringing, that he could continue making consistently phenomenal music--and utterly change pop as we know it. As someone said elsewhere on the Internet, he was Fred Astaire, John Lennon and Elvis combined--a genius songwriter/composer, a beautiful vocalist, and an unparalleled dancer. Couch it in those terms and it's not surprising to see artists from every genre, not just pop or R&B, breaking down upon hearing about his death. Every single artist I listen to today has been influenced in some way by Michael Jackson's work. For that, if nothing else, I owe it to him to reflect for a minute.

But yeah, not a whole lot of people my age feel this way. Understandable, but I don't know...I feel like I missed out on something big. I'm not convinced that people are going to be this broken up about the death of a Backstreet Boy or a Jonas Brother.

Seriously--65 million copies of Thriller? Do the top 10 artists on Billboard even sell that much combined nowadays?