Michael Jackson

June 25th, 2009 · 12 Comments · By

Well, apparently Michael Jackson‘s dead. They’re reporting it as a heart attack.

I’m always had weirdly mixed feelings about Jackson — on the one hand, he was clearly a victim of abuse and what might charitably be described as a unhealthy upbringing, and appeared at most times to be more or less completely insane. Yet he was also given to such vulgar displays of egotism and wealth and spectacle (plus more or less constant accusations that he was a child molester) that I was never able to really elicit much sympathy for him.

Musically, his stuff with the Jackson 5 remains undeniably great, and while his records from the 80’s are widely regarded as pop masterpieces, I’ve always absolutely hated his voice, post-adolescence (the latest I go with solo Jackson is his 1972 cover of Bobby Day’s “Rockin’ Robin”). I mean, if there were an instrumental version of Off the Wall, I’d eat it up — Quincy Jones is amazing. I can’t really hang with Thriller or any of that nonsense (an unpopular opinion, I know) — still, Jackson had a weird, sad life, and his death has brought that into perspective. I’m not terribly upset about it, but I will say it’s a sad story and that one might hope his life had been happier and more balanced, less filled with spectacle and embarrassment.

Anyhow, enough negativity from me. Here’s an awesome clip of the Jackson 5 (with a great intro):

Tags: news

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 sarah // Jun 25, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    do you think they are going to show that sad movie about his childhood on vh1 in remembrance? the one where his dad kills his pet rat because he messed up a dance step?

  • 2 Jacob // Jun 25, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Really? No 80s MJ for you? But you love Prince… Trying to figure that out.

  • 3 Jacob // Jun 25, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    According to Sarah Carr, there’s a MJ/reggae dance party at The Box right now.

  • 4 Michael // Jun 26, 2009 at 1:10 am

    Hey, have you seen this news article?
    New details about Michael Jackson’s Death Emerge
    I was wondering if you were going to blog about this…

  • 5 James // Jun 26, 2009 at 3:26 am

    Apparently everyone else heard about this on Facebook hours before I did, which to my mind speaks not of the relevancy of that forum (not that it’s entirely irrelevant, c.f. current events in Iran) but instead of the way in which western popular culture can often cheapen and flatten such things through the way in which they’re so widely and quickly and insubstantially distributed. clearly this is the “Most Important News in the World” at the moment…

    Then Victoria called to tell me that on the drive down here, every black radio station between DC and C-ville had ceased all regular programming for an all-out musical tribute to Michael Jackson. It was at that point that I started to feel a little tactless and insensitive about my comments above. I mean; I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for what the man’s career trajectory (’69-’82) represented for the history of black popular music. It’s just that I never liked Jackson all that much himself (which I’m always willing to admit is a fringe position), and I’m always getting shit for it, and I guess I sort of took the opportunity to hop on my tiny-ass soapbox and point out that: hey, I think his music itself is pretty overrated and he’s kind of an embarrassing, weird, intensely depressing cultural figure, and that his death seems far more a sad inevitability than any sort of huge overall cultural loss. But that’s my 2ยข … certainly not trying to rain on anyone’s Jackson-celebration parade at the moment. Like I said, I’m enjoying the hell out of that clip above (Cosby as Groucho!!!! OMG!!)

    Anyhow. My essay on the merits on early-80’s Prince should appear in this space some time tomorrow (Jacob is apparently a Prince-hater! which is unthinkable in my book, and something I hope to correct through well-reasoned arguments and subtly, strategically-placed iterations of Prince’s finest works when Jacob has lowered his guard.)

  • 6 emily // Jun 26, 2009 at 8:50 am

    dedicated a Wipers song (the lonely one) to MJ on black circle revolution last night ….probably the first (and last) time you’ll ever see that happening!

  • 7 sarah // Jun 26, 2009 at 9:45 am

    that party was busted. dj only played sad songs!

  • 8 sarah // Jun 26, 2009 at 9:46 am

    ps how can you hate prince, jacob? perhaps you should try this song: “when you were mine.” it is more like a rock song than other prince songs and, yet, still funky.

  • 9 Jacob // Jun 26, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I guess I’ll have to wade into this and incur the inevitable textual onslaught to follow:

    Prince just strikes me as hugely egotistical and insincere. It distracts from whatever his music is actually accomplishing. Which, by the way, is entirely too rooted in everything that sounded shittily glammy and synthetic about the 80s. And his voice irritates me.

  • 10 nick // Jun 26, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    heehee. prince IS totally egotistical, which stems from being a COMPLETE BADASS. after 1988 he started going downhill, gaining speed every year, imo. but until then, he ranged from pretty damn good to unfuckingtouchable. but to each their own…

    re: mj, despite his own long artistic decline and discomfiting behavior – and stage-kissing priscilla p. in front of a huge live audience to “prove their love was real” was seriously sad – it’s a total drag. r.i.p.,m.j.

  • 11 kaveh // Jun 28, 2009 at 11:41 am

    prince + mj = both badasses. also, isn’t wanting superstar musicians to be nice non-egotistical guys, kinda like wanting to have a president we can share a beer with? gimme superhumans : )

  • 12 Jacob // Jun 28, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Okay, sure, I suppose the egotism thing is, contextually speaking, an unfair criticism. I guess there’s just something more undefinable that rubs me the wrong way.

    And we totally do have a President I could enjoy a beer with!