The subject of the death of The King Of Pop seems to be being covered in a million different ways. You have the hardcore fans going to his home, you have the bloggers arguing about his worth and his place in the musical hierarchy and the usual ‘He was just bonkers’ comments. Basically the same mix of opinions that he brought out in people when he was alive.. Wow, just writing that sentence sounds odd –The King Of Pop is dead.
We will never see his like again. Not in terms of talent or albums etc, just that he came along at a certain time, before the internet changed everything, when single sales were still buoyant, when the chart was important. In the eighties the holy trinity of Jackson, Prince and Madonna ruled the pop world, they seemed indestructible and everything they did was important news. All three created controversy, all three were judged by the most conservative parts of society and all three produced some of the greatest pop songs ever.
The most affecting things I have read on the net in the last day or so are people’s personal memories, not arguing over which was the best album (My vote still goes with Bad) but remembering dancing around to Beat It, or trying to learn to moonwalk. It seems Jackson has a special place in the memories of a lot of people.
For me the mention of Jackson takes me straight back to EPCOT Center in Florida, me and my sister laughing and playing in the fountains randomly spitting water up into the air like liquid bullets. This was outside a movie theatre, a 3D movie theatre showing only one movie, Captain EO, a film that you literally could not watch anywhere else in the world. It starred Jackson, a variety of humorous characters and a terrifying space queen who would fly out of the screen and hover just in front of you. I can still hear her claws rattling together and remember closing my eyes on a number of occasions. Jackson was mesmerising in this film, larger than life, it was an absolutely magical experience. I spent the rest of my youth with my Captain EO poster proudly displayed on my wall.
I remember the week Bad came out, getting the cassette, sitting in the back of the car reporting to my parents on the brilliance of each track, one by one, as they blasted out of my personal stereo (nice big orange headphones) for the first time. I remember sitting in front of Top Of The Pops, the week they premiered Black Or White – not only an epic new Jackson video, but Macaulay Culkin too and some amazing effects, I sat there transfixed, how was he coming up with this stuff.
I remember when John Landis’ Thriller video was released on VHS and I rented it, all ready to enjoy some Jackson greatness, only to totally freak out the first time I saw his yellow eyes, flinging the tape out of the player and returning it instantly, replacing it with the less disturbing action of Landis’ The Blues Brothers.
And the odd stuff? Come on, if you had an unlimited pile of cash and someone said “Hey, do you wanna pet monkey to hang around with?”, would you really turn around and say “No, no, it’s terribly cruel?” or would you jump at the chance to have the little guy running around the place dressed in a variety of hilarious outfits? I don’t think it’s crazy, it’s just a fantasy that he had the opportunity to make come true. The same with Neverland. What a place! No one thinks twice if a superstar spends two million on crack for him and his posse, but when a man builds himself a theme park to enjoy away from the adoring hordes, he’s odd? Again, I don’t get it. News reports are even finding it odd that he had his own collection of collectable soft toys, man they are clutching at straws there, what he did was create a business model that every other pop idol has aspired to and repeated with lesser results since. Nobdy said KISS having their own dolls was strange, so why is a Jackson endorsed snake an oddity?
Michael Jackson will remain one of the most important figures in popular music. Was he as good as Elvis? As groundbreaking as The Beatles? The genres are different, the times are different, Jackson should not be compared to these other icons. It’s best you just press PLAY and listen to ‘Beat It’ for the millionth time and try for the millionth time to pull off that perfect Moonwalk whilst raising a glass to The King Of Pop. Just don’t spill it.