Not a lot of names demand as much attention and respect as it attracts controversy. This eccentric personality not only changed his music with time, he changed his skin color too. He was a singer, a dancer, a producer, a songwriter, and also a fashionista.
If there was one person who absolutely redefined dancing, it was our own MJ. Such is the popularity and fame associated with the name that every kid and adult alike knows him.
The eighth kid of the family, Michael overshadowed all his siblings. He was, in every sense of the word, Bad. He could never hold on to a good image in front of the media and the press, but the fans adored him nonetheless.
The sheer talent that this man possessed can be seen from the facts that he holds multiple Guinness World Records, 13 Grammy Awards, 26 American Music Awards, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Grammy Legend Award, and if this was not enough, he’s recognized as the Most Successful Entertainer Of All Times by Guinness. And to top it all, he has been inducted in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, twice!! [*]
Thriller is the best-selling album of all time. And he’s had few (few, mind you, not one) of the world’s best-selling albums including Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995). Musically, his high pitched vocals were what filled fans with joy and energy.
Rolling Stone compared his vocals to the “breathless, dreamy stutter” of Stevie Wonder. Their analysis was also that “Jackson’s feathery-timbred tenor is extraordinarily beautiful. It slides smoothly into a startling falsetto that’s used very daringly”. Not only have his dance and singing styles been copied and emulated by fans, a deliberate mispronunciation of the phrase, “Come On” as “C’mon” is Jackson’s contribution to the English language.
His singing was great and contradictory to itself. It was mature, yet had a boyish naturalness to it. It was sad and melancholic, yet you could hear the excitement when he sang. He had a natural falsetto, owing to his high tenor pitch. He could also let out a ferocious growl.
And his singing wasn’t just limited to singing. He would gulp, give out a vocal hiccup, grunt and exclaim. He could do all this in the same song. Michael was an extraordinary man whose expressions were just not limited to singing and dancing but went beyond that. Way beyond.
His music videos were not just videos but a whole spectacle in themselves. A typical MJ video would extend way beyond the song. It was a whole story packed in a video. It was in the music video of Bad, that Michael first did his (in)famous crotch grab. Once it started, it became a trademark. It might be the norm today, but back in the ’90s, MJ was the one who had the balls to depict sexual innuendos in his videos.
His live performances were no less a spectacle. Although it is quite a known fact that MJ would lip-sync in a majority of his concerts, it never hampered the experience for the fans. The MoonWalk wasn’t really his invention, but the world doesn’t care.
He was the one who made it famous. The King of Pop has been called the biggest thing since The Beatles, who were in turn, were “More popular than Jesus”. Michael Jackson dealt in a large domain of music genres, from Punk to Post-Disco, pop, soul, R&B.
The fascinating aspect of Jackson’s music production is that he wasn’t the one who would write songs on a paper. That is for peasants. Peasants like you and me. MJ used to directly record his songs and would use beatboxes in place of instruments. Genius? Yup. Not a doubt.
Controversies were not too far from the idol too. He was accused of sexually molesting kids a number of times. First in 1993, then in 2003-05. The first case was settled out of court for a whopping $22 million. In the second instance, he was acquitted of all the charges.
On June 25, 2009, Jackson fell unconscious while lying in bed at his rented mansion. Attempts at resuscitating him by his personal physician were unsuccessful. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics received a 911 call at 12:22 pm, arriving three minutes later. Jackson was reportedly not breathing and CPR was performed. He was pronounced dead at 2:26 pm Pacific time.
Not a lot of musician’s death triggers an emotional out-pour on this large a scale. But then, not a lot of musicians are Michael Jackson.