Unlike most people, I haven’t been terribly distraught over Michael’s passing last week. I missed yesterday’s lavish memorial service, though the good folks on Twitter gave me minute updates on who was doing what.
Like most 80’s babies, Michael was a MASSIVE part of my childhood, from rehearsing the dance moves to “Thriller” in my living room to bringing my VHS copy of Moonwalker to Catholic school any time we had Movie Day planned in advance (I was so steadfastly bringing in my copy of Moonwalker to grade school that a classmate, who I later bumped in to in college, first remembered that about me after not seeing me for over a decade). I played the “Moonwalker” arcade ad nauseum at the Harrisburg East Mall anytime I would go visit my relatives in Steelton, PA. I used to do drawings of Michael’s phoenix chestplate from the “Remember the Times” video on all my made-up comic book heroes I would craft in the back of class in 5th grade. And you bet your ass I wanted to kill those select few kids who were lucky enough to have the “Beat It” jacket in South Philly, riding around their bikes, feeling bigger than the world.
With all of that said…I still feel no sympathy or sadness over Michael’s passing. I think it’s because he broke my heart so many times over the past 15 years that I was almost glad he moved on to a better place. The child molestation accusations, the weird two-night ABC special on him from earlier this decade in which he came off as an aloof shopaholic, the Thriller remake album which featured Fergie, Akon, and will.i.am…I mean, there wasn’t much to root for post-Dangerous. When I think about the resurgance of Prince after he squandered the mid 90’s and early 00’s, it made me upset at Michael that he was almost caught up with things that were beneath him–publicity spats, baby mama drama, collaborating with much lesser talents on new materials. This is how it must feel to grow up rooting for Barry Bonds–and then his head becomes the Epcot Center. Sure, he’s still arguably the best, but the most recent memories are taitned.
Fair or not, Michael was the king. Now that he’s gone people are blogging and remixing and tweeting and actually going to record stores and empyting the Pop/Rock bins under “J”. It’s incredible. My question is: if Michael meant this much to so many people’s lives, where were they the past 10 years? Maybe they became numb to the public spectacle of MJ, the seemingly endless potshots thrown at him by comedians and talk show hosts every 6 months. Maybe they just didn’t like the newer music he was making–2001’s Invincible didn’t make much of a dent and that Thriller remake is better left unacknowledged. Whatever the reason, I am happy that the man’s music is being celebrated once again because let’s face it–looking at the list of tracks Michael has cut is like looking at the starting roster for an All-Star team.
I’ve been listening to Michael’s work constantly with a new excitement. We all know every nuance to “Billie Jean” and “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”, arguably the two greatest dance songs ever made–but what about “Get on the Floor”, a rare non-top 10 hit off of Off the Wall?
Since you are all smart and internet savvy, I’m posting my personal MJ playlist compiled the past few days cherry picked from various blogs that have paid a much more fitting and extensive tribute to the King than I ever could. Since Michael’s music will be in our ears the rest of our lives, it’s only right to start embracing every inch of his catalogue now.
Rest in peace, Mike!
4. “Baby Be Mine” Michael Jackson
5. “I Can’t Help It” Michael Jackson
6. “Leave Me Alone” Michael Jackson
8. “Maybe Tomorrow” Jackson 5
9. “The Way You Make Me Feel” Michael Jackson
10. “Human Nature” Michael Jackson