What a day, what a day. Michael Jackson has died after going into cardiac arrest earlier today. The tributes began quickly, ranging from 106th and Park, CNN, SportsCenter, MTV Jams put on a marathon of his videos, and Facebook/Twitter/the internet has exploded. The staple in entertainment for decades is gone, and behind him he leaves a legacy that will never be matched. He made pop music cool again. This MJ
dominated the 80’s and early 90’s before the basketball MJ dominated the 90’s. Thriller got it’s own 25 year re-release. He owned his own ranch. He made crowds of thousands lose their minds as if Jesus himself had come to their city. Has anybody seen “Live in Budapest”? They all looked like they could die right then and their lives were complete. But here’s the flip side…
Musically, he hasn’t been relevant since HIStory. I really think people love him nostalgically because there’s no generation so far that hasn’t been touched by his music, but when we talk about the music we remember, the videos we remember, we’re remembering stuff like Thriller, the groundbreaking music video and song. We’re remembering Smooth Criminal. We’re remembering Bad. We’re remembering Beat It. We’re remembering Remember the Time. Nobody rocked Butterflies. By the time 1998 rolled around, he’d become more of a public spectacle than the true King of Pop.
But the numbers don’t lie. Michael Jackson helped provide MTV with popularity. He broke ground for being one of the first African-Americans to get a lot of airplay on MTV. He made the music video an artform. And when it comes to album sales, the guy’s untouchable. I could go on and on and on about the records he set, his musical abilities, his singing voice, even his production ability. But I wanted to remind us all that there’s officially a vacuum in the pop world. Much like there will never be another Michael Jordan in the NBA, Wayne Gretzky in the NHL, Joe Montana in the NFL, the question of will there be another WORLDWIDE sensation like Michael Jackson has an easy answer – no. I don’t think anybody else can compete. Justin Timberlake is a succesful pop artist, so is Britney Spears. Maybe MJ was his own phenomenon, like a comet or something. Only comes around once a lifetime. Either way, it’s really weird to think of him as dead. Like I said, even though he really has only been relevant as a media figure in the recent past, his music and entertainment level remains unspeakably strong.
I know I’ve gone ranting a bit here, but this death is highly important because I haven’t seen a worldwide superstar like that ever. I grew up singing and dancing his hits, because I was lucky enough to be alive at arguably the apex of his popularity – the late 80s and early 90s. I was born the same year Bad was released, and when I was 4 he released Dangerous. In my house somewhere is there is a vinyl record of Bad that I used to spin in our front room when I was a kid all the time. I still remember convincing my aunt to buy me the HIStory album on a whim because I saw it in a store and it was 2 days before my birthday. I still remember my uncle always putting on the “Live in Budapest” tape (this uncle of mine ALWAYS had the best bootlegs) everytime I went to his house. My memories of MJ will remain fond, but now the time has officially come. Who will be the next monarch of pop?
…….They won’t be wearing Mike’s crown. They’ll have to fashion their own.