What is there to say about Michael Jackson that hasn’t already been said countless numbers of times already in the wake of his death 4 years ago today?
As the world remembers Michael Jackson on the 4 year anniversary of his death I’d like to share my own opinion and thoughts on the undisputed King Of Pop.
Now I was by no means a die hard fan of Michael Jackson while he was alive but it was just the done thing to respect him and his music because if you didn’t it was deemed blasphemous in the realm of music. I was always told that ‘Thriller’ was the most important and iconic music video of all time and he changed pop music forever. In essence, if you enjoyed pop music then you were a default MJ fan because non of what we enjoy today would of been possible without him. He invented the blue print.
And I remember hearing of his death whilst I was on my way back from London and bearing in mind there had been a good few hundred hoaxes claiming Michael Jackson died in the years before so I took this one with a pinch of salt. But then once BBC News reported it I realised it was the real deal. Now my instinct wasn’t to burst into tears or flock to Facebook and post a status up at how much of a die hard fan I was of the man and how he changed music forever and how upset I was. It was to listen to his music. In the moments of hysteria and contrived emotion I saw from people who I’d never heard sing Michael Jackson’s praises but emphasise his downfall; ‘Oh he’s a peado!’ ‘Omg he dangled his baby from a balcony? No wonder they call him Wacko Jacko’. These same people all of a sudden became his number 1 fans.
Thats the funny thing about death. Only until someone dies do people really start to praise you. And when MJ died it became fashionable to be a fan of him. Gone were the connotations of child sex abuse. Gone were the stories of his faulty nose. It was all gone. Just like that.
But all that aside, I chose to just listen to his music and really understand why he was held in such high regard. I mean the death of Michael Jackson forced TV networks to scrap their original programming, Channel 4 decided to dedicate a night to showing all his music videos and MTV for a good month only played Michael Jackson.
I wondered this because during my school years I never saw the Michael Jackson who moon walked across the stage effortlessly. I never saw the Michael Jackson whose music videos were mini movies pushing the boundaries and opening the minds of the world to new ideas of gender/race/sexuality. I saw a man who was constantly in and out of court for claims of child abuse. I saw a man who hardly ever showed his face and hid behind his black top hat. I saw a man who got completely savaged by the media when he accidentally accepted the MTV award for Artist Of The Millenuim’ even though the award never existed.
So I listened to his music, I watched his videos and I really wanted to understand what made this guy who seemed so broken and such an easy target to ridicule this iconic pop star who was the inspiration for the people I grew up listening to. Britney Spears/Usher/Chris Brown/N*Sync etal.
And then I saw this video;
And it all made sense. The way the audience were captivated by him. His dance moves yet so minimal were performed with such conviction. The way my own favourite Britney Spears, who I thought was the best thing in the world, paled in comparison to him and even on stage she looked just as giddy as anyone else in the audience. It amazed me.
I also realised that his music, whether it was ‘PYT’, ‘Smooth Criminal’ or ‘ You Are Not Alone’.. all his songs stood the test of time. Not a single one sounded dated or like something cooked up in 5 minutes on the computer. He made music that out lived him and continues to do so. How many artists today can you say have done this?
Now Im not saying I have instantly become a hardcore fan of Michael Jackson in the wake of his death. That would be silly and personally it looks tacky and as if I am jumping on the bandwagon. I will say this though, in the wake of his death 4 years ago I have learn’t and realised why he is considered the King of Pop, why he is so influential to all of my favourite singers today and why there was a sense of universal mourning when he passed. And because of that I have a new found respect and appreciation for him not only as a singer but as an artist, performer and all round showman. He is the only artist I know who appealed and still does appeal to everyone across age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, etnicity, religion, creed, geographical location. That is, in my eyes, pretty damn impressive.
I think thats the best thing to do. Understand why and how he made such a huge impact on the world because I am sure a lot of people my age was far to young to remember MJ at his peak and grew up witnessing his downfall. Rather than just claim to have been a fan of his from day one because it is the done thing and base your appreciation for him on cosmetic reasons like ‘Cos enit, Its Michael Jackson’.
Doing that is just an insult to the legacy he leaves behind not only in music but in Pop Culture History.