Monday, June 29, 2009

Verily, This Was The King Of Pop

Clearly I have underestimated Michael Jackson's hold on our popular psyche. The news people can't get enough of him. Last night as I was going to bed, the BBC World Service devoted 10 minutes at the top of the hour to him; this is time they would normally devote to the revolution in Iran. You don't see McMahon or Fawcett getting this treatment.

Then again, Jackson was a unique guy. In addition to his (I'll be generous) unusual public persona, he also had a rare and beautiful voice, a phrasing that cannot be duplicated, and a knack for making what he did for a living look easy, even as he made a normal life look impossible.

How easy he made singing became apparent to me last night at the Karaoke bar. No less than 5 people took on Jackson's material, some of them very very good, and all came out as weak imitations. It only served to remind me that Jackson himself was a genius. I'm no fan of that kind of drippy, electric-piano eighties easy listening, but when Michael Jackson is mixed up in it I can always listen to it. Hate the song, love the singer. I recall when I first heard MAN IN THE MIRROR my thought was, "that's brilliant" and and suspect had it come from anyone else it would have been "how trite."

Sadly he did his job so well for the first twenty years that once the nineties rolled around, we were all stocked up with Jackomusic and didn't need any more. So sales dropped off but we were still willing to stick around and let him entertain us with his increasingly bizarre facelifts and terrifying behavior around children. We never tired of that, and it looks like we're not going to for a long time to come.

1 comment:

Publius said...

It is disgusting, isn't it?

Anyway, who's the next one that will be TVized for a week after he goes? Jagger? Dylan? McCartney? Babs? None of them?

Can this culture even spawn an entertainer as ubiquitous since entertainment is so diffused now? Is it even possible to have another Beatles because there is so much offered from so many venues these days?