While it’s tragic that the King of Pop has died, let me present to you two ideas:
A) In a sense, wasn’t he already dead? If we didn’t know better, it is doubtful that anyone would have ever guessed that the man who suffered from cardiac arrest last week and the man who starred opposite Iman and Eddie Murphy in the video for You Rock My World were one in the same. And that video came at the end of Michael’s heyday as a pop star, when he was strange but not so far gone that we all looked at him as a weirdo freakazoid rather than the guy who changed the face of pop music for the better as we know it.
2) As a friend said the other day, now that Michael Jackson is dead, Justin Timberlake is now the King of Pop. I wonder what his first act as ruler will be.
According to Facebook, my Michael Jackson song is Rock With Me. Which is interesting, because I always thought my Michael Jackson song would be Billie Jean. I don’t know why; I just always liked those squares of sidewalk that would light up as Jackson danced down the street. Though I was never sure what the tiger was supposed to represent.
I was watching a retrospective of Michael Jackson videos on VH1, and they went through all the hits, with commentary about each, the time period when they were made, what the videos were maybe saying about Jackson’s life at that time.
The amount of music videos that man put out is astounding. I came upon the retrospective as they were showing the “Say, Say, Say”* video, co-staring Paul McCartney, telling the story about he and MJ being swindlers, potion-men, actors, as they rode through various Olde Tyme towns selling their acts and their wares. I hadn’t seen that video in decades! The show moved forward with clips of the “We Are the World” video, the “Bad” video, and a brief flash on the “Thriller” video, at which point I averted my eyes.
I can’t help but avert my eyes, as that song and video still make me nervous. Sister #1 is 10 years older than me, so when I was six I was watching those early days of MTV, because that’s what she, as a 16-year-old, was watching. And I have distinct memories of her being all, “No, just watch it, just watch it,” when the Thriller video premiered, and I sat there on the couch and did just that, because what did I know and to this day I’m all why on earth did my mother leave her in charge of me? Because I was terrified. And I have been terrified of that video ever since. (I have only just been able to listen to it on the radio without being scared.) Six years old is maybe a little young to watch Michael Jackson transform into a sunken-eyed, garishly-green skinned dancing zombie. And don’t even get me started on Vincent Price’s voice bookending the video. It is the ultimate in chill-inducing creepiness.
Though the “Thriller” video wigs me out, plenty of other Michael Jackson songs hold happy memories for me, as I’m sure they do for many. “PYT” and “Beat It” both make me smile, thinking of Sister #1’s wedding, her being chased around the dance floor to the former by a friend who was lip-syncing the song at her, and the latter being the song of the dance-off later in the night between another of Sister #1’s friends and myself, which I totally lost due to some mad Irish dancing skills by my competitor. (Though we did an excellent re-creation of the tied-wrist knife-fight.)
I could go on, but you get the idea. And I’m sure you have your own Michael Jackson memories besides. The slew of pop hits and videos he gave us will go on in our iPods, but along with the death of Michael Jackson there is also a certain death to music videos, I think. He was the one who really changed the landscape with epic videos that were more like mini-movies, and there hasn’t been anyone who has come close to that since. (R. Kelly tried to give it a whirl with that mess of “Trapped In the Closet,” but um, no.) But then again, those television stations that purport to be music television stations don’t so much really show music videos anyway, so what would it matter if an epic video were to hit the scene?
Probably not much.
Good thing those videos came out when they did, then. Sad that there won’t be anything like them ever again.
*Is that the name of the song? I actually have no idea.