Michael Jackson: R.I.P. 1958-2009


Features, Music | by — June 30, 2009

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by Joanna Orland

What’s left to say? Michael Jackson – The King of Pop – passed away on June 25, 2009. This is the biggest icon who has passed in my lifetime. Drawing parallels to The King – Elvis, Jacko’s life and death has been one of those rare things that has united the world in remembering and mourning on a global scale. Fans have made the pilgrimage to Neverland Ranch, Londoners gathered for a flashmob moonwalk, impromptu shrines are popping up all over the place, MJ songs are playing everywhere all the time, it’s a bittersweet goodbye to the King of Pop who the world treated so poorly while alive, yet are now finally ready to remember the man for his musical genius rather than his bizarre behaviour and scandals.

Musically speaking, he is arguably the greatest man who ever lived. During this time of MJ reflection, I’m realizing just how many hit singles and absolutely fantastic songs he created. Not just good tunes, but tunes my generation grew up with and are genuinely attached to. And the voice!!! The most unique, interesting and beautiful voice that the music industry has ever produced. And the dancing? Well, what other artist has a signature dance move like the Moonwalk? I suppose only MC Hammer’s Running Man comes close, but I don’t think he even invented that!

I’ve never been so saddened by a public death as I have been with Michael Jackson. I have always been a fan. Even with all his questionable behaviour, I was a fan of the music, and fascinated by the man. Sadly, much of the world shunned Michael when his behaviour became more and more erratic. It was the media who made this man, and the media who destroyed him. He was a sad soul. A seemingly kind-hearted manchild who lived in a different reality to the rest of us. We put him there. People not able to say no to him, being a superstar from the age of ELEVEN, he had no sense of right and wrong.

People started to forgive his outrageous behaviour when he announced his comeback shows for the This Is It tour dates set for this summer in London, first one would have been next week on July 13th. The tickets were selling out as instantaneously as they were released. I myself managed to score two pairs. I am fairly heartbroken that I will never get to see the King of Pop, Michael Jackson live in concert. Leaked footage of his rehearsals two days before his untimely death, showed that he still had that magic.

If people had been as nice to Michael during his final years as they are in his passing, then maybe his death could have been avoided. We don’t seem to learn from our mistakes and voracious society. With the death of Princess Diana, there was a big lesson to be learned. With the death of Michael Jackson, the world should be ashamed of themselves for how he was treated in his life, and remember how good it feels to celebrate him now, albeit far too late.

Michael Jackson is not just Thriller, Beat It, Billie Jean, Black or White and Bad. What are some of the other tunes worth a revisit:

We Are The World: Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and sung by a gaggle of famed 80’s artists all in the name of charity. You can also find an MJ only vocal version kicking around on one of his best-ofs.

Say Say Say: Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. My secret fave song of the 80’s.

Will You Be There: I usually prefer MJ’s rockin tunes to his ballads, but this one gets me every time. I used to listen to it all the time on the Free Willy soundtrack I had as a child. Yes, pretty sad, but come on – TUNE! No other song could have so many key changes and pull it off as slick as MJ does here.

Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough: Pretty much the first big Michael Jackson / Quincy Jones release. Gets your disco on.

There are actually too many to write out. Spotify, iTunes, and old fashioned HMV will help you out here. His entire collection is worth re-listening to. He is definitely the greatest songwriter / entertainer of not only our generation, but perhaps of all time?


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