Michael Jackson was an icon and today is a deity. Everyone has their two cents on this, so below are just a few of mine …
Pop: Michael Jackson embodied pop from head to toe, Michael was and is pop — period. VH1 opened their tribute with statements like “on the brink of his biggest comeback to date, Michael died,” and “the King has died.” When one man can singlehandedly make all music video television stations play music videos again, when the 4 hours of radio broadcast directly following his death are more diverse — and universally better — than the 4 years leading to his death, when every media outlet — from ABC to TMZ and everywhere in between — becomes an amplified epitaph, when the internet gets shut down, when one man can singlehandedly take the world from ripping him one day to R.I.P.-ing him the next, when that man’s death sparks an unspoken public guilt for allowing pop to descend to its present state … this is not “the brink of his biggest comeback to date,” it is his biggest comeback, this is not the “death of a King,” it is the ascent of a deity. Michael Jackson as pop, in and of itself, resurrected more than a concept — he resurrected a culture.
I would go on about all of the celebrity vs. artistry themes and nuances interwoven through the icon’s tale, but that’s for a coffee discussion or roundtable forum (open invitation)
Personal: Keith Olbermann said it best when he said this is bigger than the fame and controversy, that this transcends the trials — at its core this is the tragic death of a human gone too soon. The footage of Michael’s body being transported to the coroner brought his death to the human level. Regardless of everything else surrounding the event, Michael Jackson is a human being — a friend, a brother, a father, and another son to be buried by his parents.
Political-esque: BBC World asked what the death of Michael Jackson means for the African-American community; someone replied “What did Elvis’ death mean to the white community?” Michael’s death is bigger than that because Michael’s death, life, and impact transcend race: he was the first black artist on MTV, but he is also the greatest pop artist of all-time — race with and notwithstanding Michael’s death means everything to everyone within pop culture.
Everyone has their favorite Michael songs, videos, etc. Many are classics like Billie Jean, Thriller, Beat It, Black or White, etc. but below are my understated favorites.
First, the first Michael Jackson song I remember buying …
the man made a song about a rat … a ballad that remains heads and shoulders above the bulk of modern pop love songs today
Next, the first Michael song that made me buy a pack of Orbit to clean myself up
so raw … so gritty … so epic
Finally, what remains my first favorite Michael video
words … can’t … just … yeah.