Music

Michael Jackson, RIP

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Michael Jackson has died at age 50. It occurs to me that there's a whole generation out there for whom the man was never anything but a tabloid headline, so here's a quick reminder that his fame began not with a facial operation or a Macaulay Culkin joke but with some incredibly catchy music:

At a time when the most creative singers in the Motown stable were seizing control of their careers and making more challenging (and rewarding) music than the company had issued in the '60s, the Jackson 5 were a reminder that the studio could still produce singles whose only ambition was to be a completely perfect pop song. Jackson's early solo career was no less fun: How many people who swear they hate disco will, when pushed, make an exception for the best hit on Off the Wall?

Then came Thriller in 1982, which was so enormously popular—and broke through so many racial barriers—that I hate to admit that aside from the spare and infectious "Billie Jean," I never really warmed to it. After that there was a bunch of albums that didn't interest me much at all, and with time didn't interest his other old fans either. By the '90s his music took a back seat to the freakshow atmosphere around him: the personal theme park, the plastic surgery, the peculiar parenting decisions, the accusations of pedophilia.

I've written about that stuff before, and I don't feel the need to revisit it now. If Michael Jackson hadn't sung some great songs in the late '60s, the '70s, and the early '80s, no one would have cared how he lived his life. On the day of his death, I'll ignore the weirdness and enjoy the music.

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  1. If it’s true, I’m a sad panda.

  2. Well said and Thanks!

  3. “Then came Thriller in 1982, which was so enormously popular — and broke through so many racial barriers — that I hate to admit that aside from the spare and infectious “Billie Jean,” I never really warmed to it.”

    Beat It.

    Eddy Van Halen on Guitar. Wow!

  4. Today is the day that Generation X realizes it is old.

    OLD.

  5. I have mixed feelings on his death. First I feel bad for his kids and family. His children are still young and it sucks losing your dad as a child.
    I was born in 1979 so I remember his solo career at its pinnacle. As a child I loved Thriller and bad (and dangerous was alright).

    Of course I know he was never convicted of bad touching children, but it always bothered me that he paid 20mil to shut an accuser up. If I was uber rich and some one accused me of being a pedophile I would spend every penny clearing my name. However, I digress, this is still shitty for his family.

  6. The interwebz are overloading as this story gets spread far and wide.

  7. I love you michael jackson!!! I was hoping you would rise above all negativity from the media. RIP.

  8. In three days, he will rise.

  9. RIP Michael.

    Musically, my thoughts echo Jesse’s. My favorite Michael Jackson tune is She’s Out of My Life-1979 IIRC. It is the only MJ song in my piano repertoire.

  10. I’m with Jesse Walker on this. The Jackson 5 were great and Off The Wall was a great album; I don’t are much at all for his other stuff.

    I’m one of those weirdos who never owned a copy of Thriller.

    In fact, of the Top 10 selling albums of all time, AC/DC’s Back In Black is the only one I’ve ever owned, although I have owned #11, Dark Side of the Moon.

  11. This is so sad he was a great man! Love to him and his family. Dying is part of life a very very sad part so i hope his family is doing okay. love to Michael always

  12. …aside from the spare and infectious “Billie Jean….

    Jesse, you forgot “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”. These two are true classics.

    R.I.P.

  13. I don’t remember much from the 80s, but I remember the debut of “Thriller” on MTV.

  14. Wow, I thought you meant Michael Jackson the Beer Hunter.

  15. I’m not ashamed to admit that I fucking hate Thriller. Christ when that album was released, radio stations played it into the ground so bad, you probably could have heard it on Stormfront radio. Having to hear Billie Jean and the rest of the shit on that album every five minutes made me hate Michael Jackson from thereon after.

  16. This is so sad. I hope he eventually is vindicated. It is a shame how people tore him down. Anyone who can hear a person’s soul through music knows who this man really was.

  17. “Thriller” WAS MTV.
    Just finished a bar session with a bunch of fellow journalists. Consensus: Biggest celebrity death since Princess Di.
    Before that?
    Some said John Lennon. I held out for Marilyn.

  18. “I don’t remember much from the 80s, but I remember the debut of “Thriller” on MTV.”

    MTV acted as if the debut of that video was as monumental as the moon landing. I will never forget how much they hyped a bunch of zombies dancing around.

  19. ??? ????? ?????? ??????!!!!!
    ????? ????…………

  20. “Wow, I thought you meant Michael Jackson the Beer Hunter,”

    Only if he was resurrected and then died again. That Michael Jackson has been dead for a couple of years now.

  21. “??? ????? ?????? ??????!!!!!
    ????? ????…………”

    Wow, way to contribute absolutely nothing to the conversation.

  22. I’m with B. I think I was the perfect age to hate disco when OTW came out and then old enough to be past that brand of pop when he got ubiquitous with Thriller.

    It didn’t help that my pseudo-step-brother played Jackson (and, oddly enough, Boz Scaggs) non-stop.

    By the time the zombie video came out I was listening to The Circle Jerks and Black Flag.

  23. For being only marginally talented, MJ was a fucking god of music.

  24. “I was born in 1979 so I remember his solo career at its pinnacle. As a child I loved Thriller and bad (and dangerous was alright”

    You remember the pinnacle of his career from when you were three and four years old?

  25. Whether you were a fan or not, SF, you gotta admit that MJ was a -1 mag. popular culture figure.

  26. LOL@Cavanaugh

    This really is a Big F*ckin’ Deal moment, though isn’t it? It’s been nearly 30 years since he did or said anything of note, and he was deranged fool after that.

  27. you really don’t get it dbc? or are you playing a part?

  28. You didn’t have to be an Elvis fan to know that something big when down when he expired on that toilet.

  29. “This is so sad. I hope he eventually is vindicated. It is a shame how people tore him down. Anyone who can hear a person’s soul through music knows who this man really was.”

    Christ the guy had preteen boys sleeping in his bed with him and threw slumber parties for young boys with the only adult supervision being provided by him. You don’t have to be Learned Hand to realize something wasn’t fucking right at the Jackson Mansion.

  30. This is so sad he was a great man! Love to him and his family. Dying is part of life a very very sad part so i hope his family is doing okay. love to Michael always

    Shut the fuck up, Lilly. To quote Kyle Broflovski,

    “Dude. You have sex with children.”

    Fuck Michael Jackson, and fuck anyone who admires him beyond his incredible music. He was a horrible human being, and anyone crying because he died should just kill themselves out of all that sympathy.

  31. B-

    I think he is saying to the effect that MJ was the best dancer or singer-sorry my russian is rusty.

  32. Compared to what was on MTV at the time, MJ was a God. Except maybe for Peter Gabriel

  33. Shock the Monkey rocked. Comparitively.

  34. I’m seven beers into it, boys. Carry on.

  35. Weird. I never knew a world without Michael Jackson featured prominently in it.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, the same day joe comes back to Hit’n’Run, Jackson AND Farrah Fawcett kick it. That guy is a dick.

  36. I wish he never got that surgery…
    He was an AWESOME singer.

  37. Wait, joe is back? Dammit, now I have to look at the other threads.

  38. Michael Jackson May Have Left Paul McCartney Rights to 200 Beatles Songs in His Will

    That’s a silver lining? I HATE that vegan asshole.

  39. joe says that if we’d only elected Obama sooner, we could have saved MJ.

  40. What the hell is Meatloaf doing in the top 5?

  41. “Christ the guy had preteen boys sleeping in his bed with him and threw slumber parties for young boys with the only adult supervision being provided by him.”

    That’s fine. As long as he didn’t search their underpants.

  42. Fuck Michael Jackson, and fuck anyone who admires him beyond his incredible music. He was a horrible human being, and anyone crying because he died should just kill themselves out of all that sympathy.

    That’s great. You surely do not get it.
    To paraphrase the Green Mile “I do not see God putting a gift like that in the hands of a man who could harm a child.

  43. “He was a horrible human being”

    I blame his abusive father.

  44. To plagiarize from popehat.com:

    Mark Sanford is very glad to hear this. Jacko’s death will kick him off the front page.

  45. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, the same day joe comes back to Hit’n’Run, Jackson AND Farrah Fawcett kick it. That guy is a dick.”

    I thought that too.

  46. His children are still young and it sucks losing your dad as a child

    …unless your dad is Michael frickin Jackson. Yes, I’m serious, if I were his kid I would prefer to grow up not knowing him.

    PS Any replies to this comment will probably consist of ad homs, conceding my point and showing the childish, anti-intellectual nature of Michael Jackson fans.

  47. Wait, joe is back? Dammit, now I have to look at the other threads.

    Trust me, it is NOT worth it.

  48. “By the time the zombie video came out I was listening to The Circle Jerks and Black Flag.”

    Nervous Breakdown. Now _there_ is a classic album (er, EP, I guess). The opening riffs of the title track still rank amongst my favorite things to hear in rock and roll.

    Back when I was around 20, I asked my friend:

    “You know how whenever Michael Jackson releases an album, he sells like a bajillion of them?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Well, do you actually know anyone who owns any of them?”

    “No, um. Well, I guess my parents own Thriller.”

  49. Back in ’79, my high school biology teacher had the famous poster of Farrah posted on the door to his office. THAT’S a biology lesson.

  50. Where the fuck did all these simpering MJ fans come from?

  51. Citizen Nothing-

    Do tell why you think MJ’s death is the biggest celebrity death since Princess Di? Same for your flack friends (just alliteration, no offense intended)?

    My guess is that you and your colleagues are factoring in the age at death. ELvis being 42; JFK 46: Lady Di 37 and MJ being 50. The sudden, unexpected character of their deaths?

    OTOH, I bet that you do not necessarily consider Michael Jackson and Princess Di to have been at the absolute apex of celebrity culture.

  52. Compared to what was on MTV at the time, MJ was a God. Except maybe for Peter Gabriel

    ahem.

  53. I hear Olbermann is trying to blame Michael Jackson’s death on Dick Cheney.

  54. X: Do you deny the magnitude of his fame?
    Not defend (fuck, the man was a perv), but deny?

  55. It’s too bad, but I don’t see how this could be that surprising. The guy has looked like walking death for years.

    I’m surprised that nobody here blogged about the death of Farrah Fawcett today. How could any male child of the 70s not feel a little emptiness today? The famous red swimsuit poster of her has to rank up there with some of the most iconic pop culture images of the last 30+ years. I think I’ll go watch Cannonball Run…..

  56. In 1976 for sure, and from 1976 to 1982, imo, Farah was bigger than MJ.

  57. “There may be a silver lining here:

    Michael Jackson May Have Left Paul McCartney Rights to 200 Beatles Songs in His Will”

    He left them to the most ego-bloated, untalented, over-rated, piece of shit jingle writer on earth ever?

    You know why he wrote Elanore Rigby? Because the critics panned his song writing. They took the bait.

    Go back sometime and look at Elanore Rigby. My 8-year-old grand daughter could have written that.

    The man has spent his entire life trying to prove he is a musical genius. Epic. Fail.

    Lennon was the talent.

  58. libmik: you are correct, sir. The relative youth of the decedents plays a large role in our calculations. Frank Sinatra was mentioned, but the man, let’s face it, was a geezer. If McCartney were to keel over tomorrow, it would be a great pop-culture loss, but a “lesser death”, so to speak.

  59. X: Do you deny the magnitude of his fame?

    Where the hell did i deny his fame? I was talking about the drive-by posters like Lilly and Fan and THT and that Russian.

  60. Fuck you, Grandpa. Harrison was the REAL talent.

  61. X: Do you deny the fact that I already mentioned the seven beers?

  62. JLM-

    How about if the first season of Charlie’s Angels coincides with 9th grade?

    That swimsuit poster, imo, is more iconic than any of the pinups from the 40s or the 50s.

  63. “Fuck you, Grandpa. Harrison was the REAL talent.”

    I’ll meet you half way on that. But PM will forever have a chip on his chronically insecure shoulder.

  64. Maybe even “forever”.

  65. Apparently, nobody at H&R wants to bother with a post on the death of Farah Fawcett. Allow me to fill in the gap with my admittedly wordless statement on it.

  66. X: Do you deny the fact that I already mentioned the seven beers?

    Definitely not.

    Harrison was the REAL talent.

    Fuckin’ A.

  67. What the hell is Meatloaf doing in the top 5?

    And you didn’t bitch about Saturday Night Fever. Hmmm.

  68. joe is back?

  69. The only celebrity death that has bummed me out is Buck Owens, to which most people respond, “Really? That guy from Hee Haw?”

    No, the guy who used to play with Don Rich.

  70. Oh, Cab. Always late to the party.

  71. I’m ambivalent about this… on the one hand, he raped children… but what a voice!

  72. “I’m ambivalent about this… on the one hand, he raped children… but what a voice!”

    You’ve heard joe speak??

  73. Grandpa Withers . . . I seriously doubt that your 8 year old gd could write a song replete with stabbing cello harmonies, a strong minor-key melody and plagal cadences. Sir Paul has more than his share of almost nausea inducing simple cheesy songs . . . but to deny his ability to write a great song every now and then is sheer stupidity.

  74. God. I miss George Harrison.
    Outta here, boys. A lot more liquor with my name on it tonight.

  75. Joe_D, “raped” is too strong a word. My take is that in his twisted, abnormally childish mind he really thought sleeping with boys in the same room, but not in the same bed, is a-OK.

  76. “Grandpa Withers . . . I seriously doubt that your 8 year old gd could write a song replete with stabbing cello harmonies, a strong minor-key melody and plagal cadences. Sir Paul has more than his share of almost nausea inducing simple cheesy songs . . . but to deny his ability to write a great song every now and then is sheer stupidity.”

    There’s not a MUSICAL device in there that isn’t borrowed.

  77. Grandpa-

    You have not heard enough silly love songs.

    FWIW, try learning to play the full arrangement of Silly Love Songs on the piano-it isn’t easy, it isn’t easy, it isn’t easy at all-just try to get that left hand to mirror the percussion action-just try!

  78. Don’tknow why musical went all caps.

    Damn You Big Aging!!!

  79. Apparent death by small cans.

  80. liberymike-

    I was born in 72, so Charlie’s Angels doesn’t mean that much to me. I remember seeing that poster a lot, though, and also on t-shirts. The first thing that I really identify her with is Cannonball Run, probably because it coincided with that time in my life when I realized that it is a damn nice thing when women don’t wear a bra. By that time the poster had been floating around for a while, but it was still a pretty common thing to see.

  81. I just tried to show my kids what all the hub-bub was about. On youtube, we started with Off the Wall, Beat it, etc. By the time we got to “The Way You Make Me Feel,” I remembered why I thought he was such a tool in the in the first place.

    The guy was a clown.

  82. Having to hear Billie Jean and the rest of the shit on that album every five minutes

    That’s tragic. Who made you listen, B?

  83. I liked Rock With Me the best.

  84. I just tried to show my kids what all the hub-bub was about. On youtube, we started with Off the Wall, Beat it, etc. By the time we got to “The Way You Make Me Feel,” I remembered why I thought he was such a tool in the in the first place.

    Did you show them “Eat It” and “Fat”?

  85. “There’s not a MUSICAL device in there that isn’t borrowed.”

    And your point is? Are you a musician? If you were, you would know that all musical devices are “borrowed” so to speak . . . its the assembling of the various parts into a coherant and sensible whole, one that makes musical “sense” so to speak that is the mark of a good musician. Paul, and John, proved time and again that they were good composers because they utilized these devices to build musically interesting pieces.

  86. “Joe_D, “raped” is too strong a word.”

    NP, I know what his official story is, but I think it’s more likely than not that he did rape little boys.

    It’s amazing in the comments above somewhere, someone really basically said that someone that can dance that good couldn’t possibly do anything so evil. We’re a strange species, we are.

  87. B,

    This is what Swam said (I think): “He was a great dancer!!!!! It is a pity.”

    McCartney and Lennon were both less apart than they were together. Harrison was the same either way. Ringo “Barbara Bach” Starr wins, however.

    Too bad about Jackson, but the real tragedy is how he lived his life, not how he died. I feel for his family, of course.

  88. Did you show them “Eat It” and “Fat”?

    No, but I shall. Thanks for the parenting tip. I have to do something to get that freaky image of Michael Jackson out of their heads before bed.

  89. And, Grandpa Withers, if you claim that an 8 year old could write Eleanor Rigby, then certainly you could as well . . . I challenge you to write a piece as strong, and then send it to me.

  90. CN,

    Booze, journalism, and mega-fame? You need to read John Varley’s Steel Beach. Seriously. I’ll remind you tomorrow when you haz a sober.

  91. i love michael jackson that man never did a thing wrong in my eyes

  92. Joe_D, that’s just my gut feeling based on what I’ve seen, read and heard. The guy really didn’t seem to understand what society expects of grown-ups. Anyway I learned a long time ago that it’s all but impossible to convince others on this issue, so I’ll drop it here.

  93. i love michael jackson that man never did a thing wrong in my eyes

    Ladies and gentlemen, this person probably votes.

  94. Cab

    Don’t forget to remind them that other kids are starving in Japan(?)

  95. i love michael jackson that man never did a thing wrong in my eyes

    Ladies and gentlemen, this person probably votes.

    With Joe being back and all, I think it’s time to declare a thread winner.

  96. Relax your mind
    Lay back and groove with mine
    You got to feel the heat
    And we can ride the boogie
    Share that beat of love

  97. Joe is resurrected on the same day that MJ passes.

    Coincidence?

  98. Who made you listen, B?

    In defense of B: There were a few weeks when it was nearly impossible to go out in public without hearing that song. It was ubiquitous in a way that’s rarely been matched since. Next to “Billie Jean,” “Living La Vida Loca” felt like a rare punk seven-inch.

    Unlike B, I liked the record, so I didn’t mind this. But if I didn’t like it, it would’ve driven me crazy.

    Incidentally, my 12 year old ears thought he was singing “A pair of jeans is at my door.”

  99. Michael Jackson?!?! He was ok, but I liked better stuff. Stuff that a lot of people like is ok, but not that good! When Jackson’s thriller came out, I was already listening to the NEXT BIG THING and I was only like 4. So put that in your pipe and smoke it you pot smoking rethuglicans! RIP MJ! Only one MJ left, Michael Jordan. He will never die.

  100. Where is this evidence of joe’s return?

  101. booya, your 8:17 post is spot-on. Paul, imo, was/is a better compser/orchestrator. Lyricist, perhaps not.

  102. Where is this evidence of joe’s return?

    Scroll down the main page til you find a post with like 300+ posts. Half of them are his.

  103. NP, to be fair, I purposefully avoided the media coverage surrounding the Jackson trials (and similar child murder or abuse media events); those stories are just too sickening to focus on. So don’t take my comments too seriously.

  104. Christ-all-mighty, I could only make it through the 1st sentence.

    This ruling is an 8-1 endorsement of the concept of empathy in jurisprudence, as recently articulated by Barack Obama.

    The horror.

  105. Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone wants to know what I thought of Michael. Go here.

    Oh, and Jesse: “peculiar parenting”? “accusations of pedophilia”? The guy’s dead. He can’t sue you. Or are you afraid of Tito and LaToya?

  106. Gotcha, Joe_D.

  107. The horror.

    I KNOW. He was so over the top with his Obama-fellatio that i was initially inclined to attribute his reappearance to a particularly talented spoofer.

  108. People are reading too much into this “Joe’s Back/Michael Jackson died” thing. I more interested in LoneWacko’s whereabouts today…

  109. The man has spent his entire life trying to prove he is a musical genius. Epic. Fail.

    Lennon was the talent.

    The problem with this statement is that the solo work that stands up the best [and actually can be mistaken for the Beatles, by someone who doesn’t have the content of each Beatles album memorized] is Paul’s.

    Frankly, the next best solo work is probably Ringo’s, followed by George’s, and then John brings up the rear.

  110. I am more interested, I should say…

  111. Yo! Xeones! I need to contact you for something. An . . . invitation of sorts.

  112. I KNOW. He was so over the top with his Obama-fellatio that i was initially inclined to attribute his reappearance to a particularly talented spoofer.

    Prior to the blog/forum era of the internet would your average idiot have thrown around terms like jurisprudence? I think not, and that is a sad indictment on our times.

  113. I can attest that Thriller was *everywhere* for a while. I loathed it. Now that I’m 25 years older, I can appreciate it from a distance, along with some of his better earlier material.

    PS. I will take Flock of Seagulls *any* day over any Michael Jackson song. Yeah, that’s right.

  114. Incidentally, my 12 year old ears thought he was singing “A pair of jeans is at my door.”

    That’s ok, I always thought CCR was singing “There’s a bathroom on the right.”

  115. Xeones! Don’t do it! It’s a buttsecks trap! Why do you think no one’s seen TofuSushi in forever?

    Protect your poopgina!

    (Unless you’re into that sort of thing, and then I say “You could each do worse.”)

  116. “You could each do worse.”

    Thanks, SugarFree. And no. Not about buttsecks.

  117. Hey, SugarFree. You still have my email address right?

  118. “That’s ok, I always thought CCR was singing ‘There’s a bathroom on the right.'”

    Yeah. Either that, or you saw that episode of Wayne’s World where they just happen to use the “there’s a bathroom on the right” joke. You better be glad Joe Rogan isn’t a frequent commenter here.

  119. fuck anyone who admires him beyond his incredible music.

    Incredible?

    Come on, the guy was no Mozart. I liked some of the early motown records, but that was before he really went off the deep end.

    -jcr

  120. “The man has spent his entire life trying to prove he is a musical genius. Epic. Fail.”

    Christ, anyone who thinks the man who conceived and wrote most of Abbey Road and some of the best of The Beatles’ work has failed in demonstrating he is a musical genius is unworthy of commenting on anything musical.

    And George’s solo work is better than Ringo’s. It is widely recognized by most experts on the subject that George wrote Ringo’s two most famous songs “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Photograph”. He has pretty much admitted it.

  121. That’s ok, I always thought CCR was singing ‘There’s a bathroom on the right.

    Trust me, you don’t even wanna know what I though Judas Priest’s cover of “Better By You, Better Than Me” was saying…

    and B, you responded to a comment by “Lady Mondegreen”. You might wanna look up Mondegreen before you’re too harsh on her…

  122. Dammit SugarFree! Now you scared him off with all your buttsecks talk! Do you mind being an intermediary? I’ve been picked by one of the powers that be over on “The Not to Be Named Libertarian/Social Site” to extend an invitation to him.

  123. I lump Michael Jackson in the same category as Prince ie that group of musicians whose fans labor mightily to convince others they are musical geniuses. I just don’t see it, especially when you consider that someone else wrote a huge amount of Jackson’s songs.

  124. “PS Any replies to this comment will probably consist of ad homs, conceding my point and showing the childish, anti-intellectual nature of Michael Jackson fans.”

    Not that I disagree with you about Jackson, but seriously, I wouldn’t go far as to say an ad hominem attack against you specifically makes someone anti-intellectual.

  125. Despite my dislike of Jackson and his music, I am forced to admit that I like “Wanna be Startin Somethin”.

  126. He was around for as long as I can remember.

  127. B-

    Who’s forcing you?

    Go ahead, just admit that you like the guy’s work more than you have thus far stated.

  128. “That’s great. You surely do not get it.
    To paraphrase the Green Mile ‘I do not see God putting a gift like that in the hands of a man who could harm a child'”

    Oh, Christ all-fucking mighty. Are people actually trying to claim he couldn’t have molested someone because he could sing? You gotta be fucking joking me.

  129. “Compared to what was on MTV at the time, MJ was a God. Except maybe for Peter Gabriel.”

    Dude Flock of Seagulls was way fucking better than Jackson and Thriller. Now if you would have linked to a Men Without Hats video, it would be a different story.

  130. Oh, B. You did not just tucking dis Prince. You spawn of Satan.

  131. …”and B, you responded to a comment by “Lady Mondegreen.”

    What I wrote has to do entirely with the fact that she just happened to mention the one example that has been used in jokes by others before. Hence the Joe Rogan reference.

  132. You remember the pinnacle of his career from when you were three and four years old?

    Jenny said when she was just five years old
    There was nothin’ happenin’ at all
    Every time she puts on a radio
    There was nothin’ goin’ down at all,
    Not at all
    Then one fine mornin’ she puts on a New York station
    You know, she don’t believe what she heard at all
    She started shakin’ to that fine fine music
    You know her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll
    Despite all the amputations you know you could just go out
    And dance to the rock ‘n’ roll station.

  133. All of you people disgust me…a very talented man is dead. Have you no compassion, maybe someone will cry at your gravesites.

  134. Today is the day that Generation X realizes it is old.

    OLD.

    No. I realized that months ago, when I read that Winona Ryder had been cast as Mr. Spock’s mother.

  135. You still have my email address right?

    I’m sorry. I like you and all but I’m straight, dude.


  136. Oh, Christ all-fucking mighty. Are people actually trying to claim he couldn’t have molested someone because he could sing? You gotta be fucking joking me.

    Guilty of being naive and stupid, yes. Molestation? No.

    My reasoning is air type. Culkin was close to Jackson. Mila Kunis dated Culkin. Hot Ukrainian chicks don’t share junk space with Michael Jackson.

  137. “Are you a musician?”

    Yes.

  138. I don’t have the time to read this whole thread, but I warn you not to underestimate Michael. Thriller wasn’t entertainment…it was prophecy.

  139. buttons | June 25, 2009, 9:28pm | #

    All of you people disgust me…a very talented man is dead. Have you no compassion, maybe someone will cry at your gravesites.

    Since they all pretty much cry for me now, I’m sure their eyes will be dry long before then.

  140. I’m referring to the video, of course.

  141. Epi,

    You mean his bizarre look isn’t a herald of the future?

  142. It is widely recognized by most experts on the subject that George wrote Ringo’s two most famous songs “It Don’t Come Easy”

    The second verse is too gorgeous to be anyone other than GH.

  143. You mean his bizarre look isn’t a herald of the future?

    When he crawls out of his grave, his “bizarre look” will make sense now, won’t it?

    Q: Is Michael Jackson a fast zombie or slow zombie?

    A: Depends on the video.

  144. To be fair, Epi, Jackson can moonwalk faster than I can run. Years of practice, I suppose.

  145. Just finished a bar session with a bunch of fellow journalists. Consensus: Biggest celebrity death since Princess Di.

    Disagree. Biggest celebrity death since Anna Nicole Smith. Why ANS was so big? I don’t know, and I don’t understand. But that’s how I’d call it.

    However, on second thought, you might be right on a technicality. MJ will be a worldwide phenomenon, ANS was probably pretty much a USA thing.

  146. Does this mean Vincent Price will awaken first, to use his creepy voice to herald the coming dancing zombie apocalypse?

  147. Does this mean Vincent Price will awaken first, to use his creepy voice to herald the coming dancing zombie apocalypse?

    One can only hope.

  148. “Christ, anyone who thinks the man who conceived and wrote most of Abbey Road and some of the best of The Beatles’ work has failed in demonstrating he is a musical genius is unworthy of commenting on anything musical”

    What the bulk of Beatles fans forget is that a good deal of what you are hearing on a Beetle’s album is musicians like Eric Clapton and Billy Preston.

    If Eric Clapton and Billy Preston are in your band, you’ll likely sound good.

  149. And it wasn’t just those two. There were tons.

  150. “On the day of his death, I’ll ignore the weirdness and enjoy the music.”

    I’m with you. Yet…

    “You don’t have to be Learned Hand to realize something wasn’t fucking right at the Jackson Mansion.”

    poetry, pure poetry

  151. So, is it too soon to start the, “faked his own death,” rumours?

  152. In other news, Sky Saxon died today.

  153. Does this mean Vincent Price will awaken first, to use his creepy voice to herald the coming dancing zombie apocalypse?

    “So is he alive now, or not?”

  154. More importantly, will saying his name three times in a mirror cause him to appear and kill you whereupon he moonwalks over your corpse?

  155. I’ve been saying it for years, but it seems particularly appropriate today — if Michael Jackson had died immediately after releasing the album “Bad” he would be enshrined as a musical god.

  156. Dude Flock of Seagulls was way fucking better than Jackson and Thriller.

    You’d put a one hit wonder over multiple, multi platinum albums? Not that I own any, but I can appreciate the talent and production that went into his work. Oh, and John Landis did direct the video. You know, the Blues Brothers, Animal House, An American Werewolf in London, Trading Places, etc., etc., etc

  157. When I heard the news on the radio, I was shocked. Then I wondered if it was faked. Lots of bills. A lawsuit over the upcoming London concert series.

  158. It’s Jim Morrison all over again. Was the last person to see his body a junkie bitch named Pamela?

  159. McCartney had no talent? Billy Preston and Eric Clatpon are responsible for the Beatles’s studio output? Prince is not a great artist. Good stuff.

  160. “You’d put a one hit wonder over multiple, multi platinum albums.”

    Firstly, it was meant to be a bit of a joke. Secondly, yes I would because I think Jackson’s music fucking sucks. Thirdly, New Kids on the Block had multiple platinum albums. So has Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys etc. I think my point is obvious. Moreover I specifically mentioned Thriller, not his other albums. And I couldn’t care less about who directed Thriller; it still sucked. Stanley Kubrick directed Eyes Wide Shut and it is total shit.

  161. Paul is my least favorite, he’s got one a them german words for a punchable face, yadda yadda…

    Still, the man wrote “Fixin’ a Hole” and “For No One.” Your little kid can’t do that, I’m sorry.

  162. McCartney was the primary creative force in the band from 1966-1969. His solo career was uneven but Ram and Band on the Run are excellent platters.

    Billy Preston played “Get Back.” He may have played on one or two other songs, but that was hit. Clapton only played on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and that was just an ingenious ploy by Harrison to get Paul and John to play nice and take his song seriously.

    For a mainstream artist, Prince was quite adventuresome. He was unbelievably eclectic. His work synthesized the best of the ’60s (James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, the Beatles, and Hendrix) into something new and unique. Purple Rain and Sign o’ the Times are, hands down, two of the greatest albums ever made. He is a amazing live performer and an ace on several instruments.

  163. “What the bulk of Beatles fans forget is that a good deal of what you are hearing on a Beetle’s album is musicians like Eric Clapton and Billy Preston”.

    I am making a conscious decision to ignore people who spell Beatles with three e’s.

  164. I always said I wish someone shot him in 1989, so we’d remember him as a great singer instead of a freakish pedophile.

  165. “Purple Rain and Sign o’ the Times are, hands down, two of the greatest albums ever made.”

    Just a wee bit of hyperbole.

  166. Of Michael’s four main albums, I would say…
    Off The Wall: Overall, his best and most consistent. “Rock with You” is one of the dreamiest pop songs ever.

    Thriller: Several outstanding singles. “Billie Jean” is one of the top three or four singles of the decade. “Beat It” is a classic. “Human Nature” is a great ballad. “Thriller” is camp fun. “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” is a minor classic, but one hot jam. Non-singles are throwaways.

    Bad: Terrible album cuts. Title track is excellent. Several singles are subpar (especially “Dirty Diana” and “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”)

    Dangerous: Bloated. Terrible album cuts. Several overblown “We Are the World”-style anthems. Some good singles, especially “In the Closet,” “Who is it,” and “Remember the Time.”
    Still the best thing Michael ever did was sing “I Want You Back.”

  167. “Purple Rain and Sign o’ the Times are, hands down, two of the greatest albums ever made.”

    Just a wee bit of hyperbole.

    Not really. According to Acclaimed music.net, a list that compiles “best of” lists by music critics. Each album is ranked in the all-time top 100, with Sign of the Times in the top 30.

  168. Since the Beatles have found their way on to this thread, I’d like to say that Ray Davies is a better songwriter that John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

    Evidence:
    1) He wrote “Waterloo Sunset”, “Sunny Afternoon”, “Victoria”, “Celluloid Heroes”, “Uncle Son” and “Shangri-La”

    2) He did NOT write “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da”.

  169. “Paul is my least favorite, he’s got one a them german words for a punchable face, yadda yadda…

    Still, the man wrote “Fixin’ a Hole” and “For No One.” Your little kid can’t do that, I’m sorry.”

    And don’t forget the medley that comprises the second side of Abbey Road, particularly the Golden Slumbers-Carry That Weight-The End portion. That is one of the most brilliant pieces of music to ever appear on an album, in my opinion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYwvJbkaDs0

  170. Mister DNA,

    Neither Paul nor John wrote “Don’t Forget to Dance.”

    John wrote:

    “A Day in the Life” (Paul contributed some lines)
    “In My Life”
    “Revolution”
    “Help!”
    “Norwegian Wood”
    “Come Together”

    Those songs trump yours. Although “Waterloo Sunset” is admitedly one of the great pop songs of all time.

    For Paul,

    I would cite:

    “Hey Jude”
    “Yesterday”
    “Penny Lane”
    “Here, There, and Everywhere”
    “For No One”
    “Two of Us”

  171. Fascitis Necrotizante,

    German word for punchable face? Ah. You speak of backpfeifengesicht.

  172. What about “Eleanor Rigby” for Paul? That is considered one of his masterpieces.

  173. 178 comments and not one mention of his glove! FTW?

    If you or a gloved one is having a heart attack, a Bayer aspirin might just save your life.

  174. better check to see if he really is dead, it may just be a wardrobe malfunction….. this is it ….. irony and prophetic he’s gone parents everywhere are relieved.
    I’m glad he’s gone and no more “concerts” he was a shell he had no real person in him. That is what show business will make you if you allow them to and not ever allowed to get a self identity.

  175. Still the best thing Michael ever did was sing “I Want You Back.”

    Well, yeah.

    Ray Davies is a better songwriter that John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

    Again: Well, yeah. Though I like “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Dah.” For that matter, I like “Don’t Forget to Dance,” though the acoustic version on To the Bone is much better than the slick arrangement that was a minor hit in ’83.

    As far as the “Eleanor Rigby” goes: I was under the impression that the arrangement was all George Martin’s doing. But maybe that was “Yesterday.” Or both, or neither. Any Beatlesologist want to straighten me out?

  176. Five people were brutally murdered last time I had to listen to “Hey Jude.”

    And Naga, don’t tell me you could recall and spell backfloofenscheist or whatever without looking it up…

  177. “Purple Rain and Sign o’ the Times are, hands down, two of the greatest albums ever made.”

    …if you run out of clay pigeons.

  178. Mithras,

    I’ll take “Don’t Forget to Dance” over “Ob-La-Di” (and “Rocky Raccoon”, for that matter) any day. There are plenty of bad Kinks songs (“Phenomenal Cat” and pretty much anything recorded between ’73-’75), but there’s nothing that will make me reach for the “Skip” button like a bad Beatles song.

    Musical tastes being subjective and all, a discussion on who’s truly better would seem pointless. I just think because virtually every Beatles song has been thrown under a microscope and dissected, it’s strange that some of the real clunkers in their catalog aren’t recognized as such.

    It’s a lot like people who think The Division Bell is a great album simply because it’s a Pink Floyd album.

  179. Both, Jesse. Paul did have some contribution to the string arrangement of “Yesterday,” but the rest was still Martin’s.

  180. Fascitis Necrotizante,

    Actually I use the word in my everyday life. Sorry but I know greatness when it calls to me with a word like backpfeifengesicht. Do not call my love of words into question again, sir. 😉

  181. pretty much anything recorded between ’73-’75

    Boo boo boo. Preservation Act One is a near-great album, Act Two and Soap Opera have a lot of good stuff, and even Schoolboys in Disgrace has “The Hard Way” and “I’m in Disgrace.” Those rock operas might not stand up to the Kinks’ glory years of 1966-71, but they’re some of the most listenable Seventies Excess this side of P-Funk.

  182. Bad things come in threes: MJ dead, Farah dead, Joe back.

  183. For all his musical genius, John Lennon was an asshole to just about everyone in his personal life.

    Total. Asshole.

    And it takes real big stones to sing about a world with “no possessions” when you’re sitting on an estate valued at ?750 million.

    An asshole AND a hypocrite.

  184. Do not call my love of words into question again, sir.

    Naga, weren’t you on a thread earlier today admitting ignorance of the difference between “to” and “too”?

    I call thee into question, sir.

  185. Total. Asshole.

    Meh. It happens my friend. I was a barback during the Eagles final stop on their “last(for real this time!)” tour in 02′. Those dudes were great on stage. It’s what was going on behind the scenes that was great! They came in on four separate jets, took four separate limos to the coloseum, had four separate trailers that didn’t open up to the common space in between them, and didn’t speak to one another until they got back stage. To many big egos in the business, I suppose.

  186. OWNED!!!

    It simply shows that I’m human.

    *grins sheepishly*

  187. As with the Elvis passing (which I recall vividly), jarring as it was to hear about Jacko, there was also a terrible sense of the chickens coming home to roost. Deep down, I don’t think any of us really expected either of them to live to a ripe old age…

  188. That’s ashame. He had some good music. More and more people are dying young.

    May Michael Jackson rest in peace despite some of the negative things said about him.

  189. Boo boo boo. Preservation Act One is a near-great album, Act Two and Soap Opera have a lot of good stuff, and even Schoolboys in Disgrace has “The Hard Way” and “I’m in Disgrace.” Those rock operas might not stand up to the Kinks’ glory years of 1966-71, but they’re some of the most listenable Seventies Excess this side of P-Funk.

    I forgot about “The Hard Way”. Definitely a great song, and I’ll confess to liking “Jack The Idiot Dunce” from Schoolboys In Disgrace.

    I’m so in love with the Face to Face – Muswell Hillbilly-era Kinks that a lot of their later stuff – as good as it is – makes me want to listen to their glory days. Low Budget is a great album, but I don’t enjoy it as much as, say, Arthur or even the studio tracks from Everybody’s In Showbiz.

  190. Mister DNA,

    It is poitnless to argue about “who’s better,” but it is a fun exercise. You have inspired me to listen to some more Kinks. I do really like Something Else and Village Green Preservation Society, with which are the two albums I am most familiar.

    In terms of Michael, he has been, along with Madonna, the most important figure in pop music since 1980 (which as a Prince and R.E.M. fan) pains me a little to say, although I like MJ and Madonna).

    If anyone is looking for some lesser know Michael Jackson cuts, I would recommend: “I Can’t Help It, “Working Day and Night,” “Stranger in Moscow,” “Maybe Tomorrow,” and “Show You the Way to Go.”

  191. It’s aite, Naga. I’m no stranger to wordfail. With that German one, I love that word, but any time I try to use it I get about as far as “backfluhhawwfuckit.”

  192. Ok, here we go . . . And I Love Her, I Feel Fine, Help!, Norwegian Wood, Yesterday, Nowhere Man, In My Life, Michelle, We Can Work It Out, Day Tripper, Paperback Writer, Rain, Eleanor Rigby, Good Day Sunshine, Tomorrow Never Knows, Taxman, Strawberry Fields Forever, Penny Lane, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, With a Little Help From My Friends, A Day In The Life, All You Need Is Love, I Am The Walrus, Lady Madonna, Revolution, Hey Jude, Back In The USSR, Dear Prudence, Blackbird, Happiness Is A Warm Gun, Birthday, Helter Skelter, Get Back, The Ballad Of John and Yoko, Come Together, Something, Here Comes The Sun and the full second side of Abbey Road.

    Any Questions?

  193. Any Questions?

    Any of those songs appear on ?nema?

    Oh, I wont disparage the accomplishments of the boomer generation, even when the predictable tendency to smother everything else rears its ugly head. I showed the love for G Harrison, and Velvet Underground earlier, so I guess I’m Stuck On You as well.

    Add to that, early Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple (Machine Head, fuck yeah!) don’t even fit the complaint I’m going to make next. Despite the grab bag of goodies described above, you never quite entirely shaked the pansy ass, sissy taste of ‘The Greatest Generation’ which was a bit of an aberration in the American Song Book. Hell, you gave it your best shot, did as well as anyone could, and we owe you one for leading the way, but still, when I’m really feeling it, and the pop tunes don’t fill the void, I have to have some NIN and Tool.

  194. one, I am not a boomer . . . I am GenX. Two, I own the Downward Spiral, Nevermind, Enema, Ten, the entire Zeppelin catalogue, most Sabbath albums, etc. I like music of all shapes and styles, genres and from all ages.
    I am simply arguing that the greatest assemblage of simply great songs made my people playing their own instruments in the field of rock was made by the Beatles.

  195. Thriller was the first tape cassette I ever bought. I will never forget the day because I “worked” up some money, (I was I believe three or four. I did dishes for a week and my parents “paid” me $30.) and bought Thriller, Pyromania, and Optimus Prime all from a Jewel-Osco here. It was a Saturday morning at about 10:00 because we were going to go to the mall but my dad found Optimus at the Osco and my cousin found the tapes near the video rental section.

    I used to carry a little radio and I was never without Thriller and Pyromania. I added High n’ Dry later. Great memories.

    RIP Michael.

  196. The only good thing that came out of MJ’s career was Weird Al.

  197. I tune in, turn out for like 20 hours and MJ and Farrah Fawcett die and joe returns from the abyss?

    Man…

    Welcome back, joe…I think 😉

  198. Or is that turn in, tune out…whoops

  199. John Lennon was an asshole to just about everyone in his personal life.

    It was the reefers, I tell you! He was a drug fiend! J. Edgar Hoover told me so!

    -jcr

  200. On a more serious note, any chance the same thing happened with MJ as happened with Superman? You know, multiple versions of him appear, followed by an “electric” phase?

  201. s/ happens for happened

  202. One half black celebrity with zombie worshippers down, one to go.

  203. Now who ownes The Beatles catalog?

  204. Or owns for that matter. One of his children? His surrogate wife?

  205. It’s hard to watch so many so-called libertarians call this guy a pedophile because he was convicted in the press. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? I understand juries can sometimes get it wrong, but I think I’d be hard to find 12 people who unanimously agree that he was not guilty.

    I know I’ll never convince anybody who doesn’t get it – but it’s funny how EVERYONE who knew him said he was innocent. You can’t be rich and weird, they’ll come after you.

  206. Am I the only 40+ poster who is looking at this story and selfishly thinking: the dude died at 50? 50? Holy shit, time to start jogging and eating right!

  207. Speaking of speaking ill of the dead, I gotta chime in to say I don’t get the famous poster at all. The smile is creepily fake. The suit is boring as hell: is she trying out from the college swim team? The famous pinups of the forties had a real sense of sexual allure. Compared to them, it looks like a cheap dental ad.

  208. “whole generation out there for whom the man was never anything but a tabloid headline”

    More than one generation. At least mine and everybody younger than me.

  209. “Generation” is a collectivist term.

  210. Hell, the only reason I know Michael Jackson exists is because of Weird Al and “Eat It.” And later “Fat.”

  211. Well, I suppose “existed” would be a better choice of word.

  212. Now who ownes The Beatles catalog?

    There’s a rumor that he willed it back to Paul McCartney.

    George was the best Beatle. If you disagree, you’re wrong.

  213. The Beatles were greater than the sum of their parts. Trying to separate the parts and figuring out which one is best is kinda silly.

    That being said, GH was a beast!

  214. Trying to separate the parts and figuring out which one is best is kinda silly.

    Yeah, but it’s still George.

  215. The dude was the biggest pop star in the world and his date to the Grammies that year was Emmanuel Lewis. No kidding. You can look it up. Jackson was mentally ill. He mutalated himself through numerous plastic surgeries and he was a pedifile. His childhood had nothing to do with it. Lots of kids have grown up as stars and not ended up as wierd as Jackson. He was a sad sick individual.

    As far as the music goes, I never got it. It seemed like after he hit puberty he was never able to carry off the range and clarity he had with the Jackson Five. He never had a true adult voice and smooth vocal range the way say Marvin Gaye or Sam Cooke had. To overcome this, Quincy Jones brought his range down a bit and had him grunt in lieu of singing. His music was never as interesting or inventive as Prince. And his singing was never in the league of the great Motown stars. His success was the product of image and ability to do just the right dance (the Moonwalk) at just the right time (the Motown 25 special). The further we are removed from his freakdom and celbrity the more obvious it will become that the music just wasn’t that great.

  216. “Today is the day that Generation X realizes it is old.”

    Since Billy Idol is like 50, I’m guessing they already knew.

  217. “Ray Davies is a better songwriter that John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.

    Again: Well, yeah. Though I like “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Dah.” For that matter, I like “Don’t Forget to Dance,” though the acoustic version on To the Bone is much better than the slick arrangement that was a minor hit in ’83.

    As far as the “Eleanor Rigby” goes: I was under the impression that the arrangement was all George Martin’s doing. But maybe that was “Yesterday.” Or both, or neither. Any Beatlesologist want to straighten me out?”

    Jesse I know you link the Kinks but lets not get out of control. As a matter of taste, I can see how it is you like the Kinks better than the Beatles. But, by any standard beyond “I like this one better”, you have to give Lennon and McCartney their due. They not only sold a gazillion records, now almost 50 years on, their music is beloved by millions. Right now the Beatles catalog is older than the Louis Armstrong Hot Five recordings were when the Beatles were together. That is a long time of sustained popularity. In the end, the ability to appeal to multiple generations over multiple decades is really the only way we have to judge art. And it is a pretty good way. The fadish crap tends to fall away through the years.

  218. he was a pedifile

    He was used to eliminate calluses and corns?

  219. Everything he did with Slash was perfect.

  220. Who’s bad?

  221. John: I like the Beatles. I just think there’s more wit and power in Ray Davies’ best songs than in the Beatles’ best songs. And I like his simple head-banging rock’n’roll songs better than the Beatles’ simple head-banging rock’n’roll songs, too.

    But yes, I give the Beatles their due. Revolver and the White Album are two of my favorite records.

  222. My favorite MJ tune is “She’s outta my life.”

    Fave George Harrison tune, “Crackerbox Palace.”

    I guess my biggest sadness at Jackson’s death is that teevee the next few decades is gonna be all Michael all the time.

  223. My girlfriend, while we were watching the news this morning: “Does this mean that Jermaine is now the King Of Pop?”

    It’s hard to say at this juncture, but an anxious nation waits and prays for an orderly succession.

    My proposed tabloid hed:

    “Wacko Jacko Gacko In Cardiacko Attacko”

  224. I did not release that “Photograph” was secretly written by George. That information, if true, would cause me to raise George and lower Ringo in the solo work category.

    And someone above gave Paul credit for “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End” and one of the reasons I think John was a dick is that I heard an interview he did where he was trying to deny Paul any credit for that. He claimed that all Paul did was write the couple of lines of lyrics for “The End”. And then he did a typically John thing – he said that those lyrics proved that Paul “actually could think, when he tried to” and that kind of condescension to the guy who made you rich is a little annoying.

  225. “Revolver and the White Album are two of my favorite records.”

    Evertying from Hard Day’s Night until Magical Mystery Tour was fantastic. The shere volume of work they did is astounding. They recorded their first hits “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” “Please Please Me” and the like in the summer of 1963 and they were done recording by the summer of 1969. They did that entire catalog in six years. In a day and age in which big acts are lucky to make a record every two or three years, the Beatles productivety stands like Cy Young’s 511 wins does in baseball; untouchable.

  226. Oh, and is Ray Davies responsible for “Calling All Citizens” and “Destroyer”? If so, he’s pretty cool too.

  227. He was irrelevant as an artist for over 20 years. All the public rending of garments is for the death of a celebrity freak show.

    Of course, I feel bad for his kids. Losing even the nuttiest parent has got to be hard. For the crowd of sycophants, hangers-on, leeches and vampires (which includes most of the rest of his family) now clogging the airwaves, I feel nothing but contempt.

  228. Fluffy,

    John also never gave Paul credit for coming up with the tempo and baseline for Come Together. John originally wrote it at the tempo of Chuck Berry’s Maybelline. It was Paul who slowed it down and gave it that funky baseline. It was still John’s idea for the song. But it was Paul’s contribution that made it a classic.

    BTW, there is a scene in Imagine where John is talking to some crazy hippie that showed up at his door. The guy starts talking about how inspired he was by Carry That Weight and The End. And John tells him that those lines were not his, they were Paul’s.

  229. Then came Thriller in 1982, which was so enormously popular — and broke through so many racial barriers — that I hate to admit that aside from the spare and infectious “Billie Jean,” I never really warmed to it.

    *snicker*

    Is this guy a typical liberal, or what?

  230. “Then came Thriller in 1982, which was so enormously popular — and broke through so many racial barriers — that I hate to admit that aside from the spare and infectious “Billie Jean,” I never really warmed to it.”

    What fucking racial bariers? That is the stupidist thing I have ever read. Black musicians have been enormously popular with white audiences since like maybe Nat King Cole. I hate the way liberals think everything any black person does “breaks racial barriers”. There had been a ton of hugely popular black performers before Michael Jackson. Black music and white interpretations of it was pretty much the sound track of the last half of the 20th Century. How does this shit get put out as thought?

  231. Is this guy a typical liberal, or what?

    Not really. I remember MTV before Michael Jackson, and they deliberately avoided giving black artists significant airplay. They officially stated that they wanted MTV to be about “Album-Oriented Rock” as it used to be known, i.e. white music. Jackson’s success pretty much smashed that right down. If MTV was a major cultural force in the 80’s and 90’s, and helped to create a sort of post-racial youth culture [or even a faux Benetton youth culture], Jackson had a lot to do with what that ended up looking like.

    It’s not earth-shattering influence, but it’s something – and in the beginning there was definitely a racial element to what was going on.

  232. John: As Fluffy said, Thriller broke the color barrier on MTV. It also — partly by giving prominent guest spots to Eddie Van Halen and Paul McCartney — reintegrated radio stations whose playlists had been getting more segregated since the days when you could hear CCR and Stevie Wonder cheek by jowl.

  233. “Not really. I remember MTV before Michael Jackson, and they deliberately avoided giving black artists significant airplay. They officially stated that they wanted MTV to be about “Album-Oriented Rock” as it used to be known, i.e. white music. Jackson’s success pretty much smashed that right down. If MTV was a major cultural force in the 80’s and 90’s, and helped to create a sort of post-racial youth culture [or even a faux Benetton youth culture], Jackson had a lot to do with what that ended up looking like.”

    I think that is a total rewrite of history. Yes, MTV didn’t play a lot of black artists before Micheal Jackson. But MTV wasn’t all of music either. Black artists had been enormously popular with white kids forever. If anything the 70s were more enlightened than the 80s because in the 70s black people actually listened to white acts as opposed to white people listening to black acts.

    Further, I would argue that the Run DMC Aerosmith video was more influential in creating the monoracial youth culture you speak of than Michael Jackson ever was. Before Walk This Way, MTV would not play rap videos. After that video, rap exploded and killed Heavy Metal as the dominant music among teenagers. That was a much bigger deal than anything Michael Jackson ever did.

  234. All this MJ and Paul and not a mention of Ebony and Ivory?

  235. Jesse,

    See my above response. You guys are rewriting history. That is not exactly how it happened. Also, Michael Jackson broke in 1983, but Prince, who was a much more in your face and dangerous performer broke in 1984. Purple Rain was I think a bigger cultural earthquake than Thriller. In the end though, black artists in the 70s managed to sell huge numbers of records to white audiences without MTV. You guys act like no white kid ever bought a black record until he saw it on MTV.

  236. You guys act like no white kid ever bought a black record until he saw it on MTV.

    No, we aren’t. That’s your weird misreading of a line in my post. “Breaking racial barriers” does not mean “presenting black music to white teenagers for the first time ever.”

    This isn’t about whether white kids listened to black artists. As you said, they’ve been doing that for decades. It’s about some particular commercial institutions, especially MTV, that were resisting black music at that point in time.

  237. Let’s remember the timeline. When did MTV first air? 1980? The earliest would be 1979?
    I distinctly remember MTV playing On the Wings of Love, by Providence, RIs own Jeffrey Osborne. Said tune was released prior to Thrilla in 1982.

  238. John,

    Absolutely, Run DMC was extremely important. I would say that Jackson integrated MTV, but Run DMC hip-hop-ified MTV, but the latter change may have been even more important. But in terms of who came first, Jackson came first.

    I think that is a total rewrite of history. Yes, MTV didn’t play a lot of black artists before Micheal Jackson. But MTV wasn’t all of music either.

    I didn’t say MTV was all of music. But MTV did pretty much dictate the content of Top 40 for a couple of decades, so their playlist at least had a lot of broader pop culture influence.

    And I don’t think I’m rewriting history, because I followed this shit in real-time as it happened. I can remember reading articles in Time where black artists and producers bitched that they couldn’t get on MTV. I also remember reading articles about Jackson’s success while “Billie Jean” was still a single where black artists and producers said, “Woo hoo, now we’ll have a chance to get played on MTV!” The artists themselves thought Jackson was breaking down a barrier for them.

    And absolutely, there had been hugely successful and popular black musicians before that. No doubt. I’m just talking about this one subsection of what was going on in music at the time.

  239. M. Jackson had two down falls, LITTLE BOYS and LITTLE BOYS how soon we forget.

  240. MTV was launched in 1981. “On the Wings of Love” was released in 1982, the same year as Thriller. I doubt its video was aired on the channel before Jackson’s videos were.

  241. Not really. I remember MTV before Michael Jackson, and they deliberately avoided giving black artists significant airplay. They officially stated that they wanted MTV to be about “Album-Oriented Rock” as it used to be known, i.e. white music. Jackson’s success pretty much smashed that right down. If MTV was a major cultural force in the 80’s and 90’s, and helped to create a sort of post-racial youth culture [or even a faux Benetton youth culture], Jackson had a lot to do with what that ended up looking like.

    The point is, who really gives a flying fuck? Since when is “broke through so many racial barriers” any kind of a musical critique? I mean, were the tunes catchy? Can you dance to it? Did the like the lyrics? But outside of Rolling Stone, what kind of a pretentious bozo rates an album by “broke through so many racial barriers”?

    You can just picture some spaced-out looking teenager on American Bandstand – “I give it a 7 – you can dance to it and it really breaks through so many racial barriers”.

    I tell ya… some people are just unintentionally hilarious.

  242. MTV debut 8/1/1981. With J. J. Jackson as one of the original DJs.

  243. “It’s about some particular commercial institutions, especially MTV, that were resisting black music at that point in time.”

    Again, looking at it that way Run DMC/Aerosmith was a bigger deal. MTV refused to play rap. In retrospect, rap replacing heavy metal as the white teenager music of choice was really the creation of the monoracial youth culture you and Fuffy are talking about. And that had nothing to do with Michael Jackson.

  244. Jesse, is it your claim that Michael Jackson was the first black artist to ever appear on MTV? If he was, then it was with Paul McCartney, earlier in 1982, in Ebony and Ivory. Osborne’s hit was released in the summer, late summer of 1982, absolutley before the rlease of Thrilla, whereas Ebony and Ivory was released in the spring of 1982.

    I can’t in all honestly absolutely state that I remember watching any black artists on MTV in 1981-but I would bet against the proposition that no black artists were featured in 1981.

  245. All this MJ and Paul and not a mention of Ebony and Ivory?

    That was Stevie Wonder… I think you mean, “Say,Say,Say”

    (pretty lame tune, though.)

  246. “MTV debut 8/1/1981. With J. J. Jackson as one of the original DJs.”

    It was all about Martha Quinn. Who aged incredible well. As opposed to that bimbo Nina Blackwood who turned into a blond version of hte fat Wilson sister after she hit 35.

  247. The color barrier was really more of a format barrier.

    If you had a Rock and New Wave dominated format in 1981-82 you didn’t have a lot of black artists to choose from. R&B disco didn’t get played much, but a firmly New Wave act like Eddy Grant was in heavy rotation.

    Not everything is racism. But claiming it got more black artists on MTV.

  248. Slap: I wrote that the album broke racial barriers but that I never really warmed to most of it muscially. You interpret this as me rating the album musically by how many racial barriers it broke. Um…OK.

    SugarFree: The issue is whether MTV played black musicians, not whether it had black faces in its VJ lineup. J.J. Jackson was a rock DJ who got a gig introducing clips on a video channel. As far as I know, he didn’t champion black musicians (nor, of course, was he obliged to do so).

    As for Eddy Grant, his breakthrough hit in America was “Electric Avenue,” and that was 1983. It’s possible that he got more airplay on MTV before then; as you said, the issue was format, not race per se. But for American black musicians, “format” came predefined.

    Libertymike: Songs didn’t necessarily appear on MTV as soon as they were released. I doubt that Osborne got airplay on TV before Jackson showed the way, even if his record came out a few months earlier. It’s more likely that “Ebony and Ivory” got airplay before the Thriller videos did — it was a Paul McCartney song as well as a Stevie Wonder song, after all — but even then, it wasn’t the same as a solo black artist singing a funk-derived song like “Billie Jean.”

    John: Run-DMC was important, too. These things don’t all happen at once.

  249. I doubt that Osborne got airplay on TV

    Sorry, that should have been “MTV,” not “TV.” For all I know they played it all the time on Friday Night Videos

  250. a quick search revealed:

    March 31st 1983, Michael Jackson becomes the first black artist with a video on MTV with “Beat It.”

  251. FWIW, Wikipedia says that Eddy Grant and a few others had videos in rotation but Michael Jackson is the one who transformed the channel’s approach.

  252. alan | June 26, 2009, 2:11am | #

    one, I am not a boomer . . . I am GenX. Two, I own the Downward Spiral, Nevermind, Enema, Ten, the entire Zeppelin catalogue, most Sabbath albums, etc. I like music of all shapes and styles, genres and from all ages.
    I am simply arguing that the greatest assemblage of simply great songs made my people playing their own instruments in the field of rock was made by the Beatles.

    It took a second to realize that this was in answer to me, and not a forgotten post from me. Your claim though, isn’t it almost too easy an argument to make? How about the challenge of attempting to back of the claim that, say, It’s a Beautiful Day was the best band to come out of the 60’s? With the Beatles all you have to do is list there tunes and ask, any questions. Where is the fun in that.

    Sorry, to assume you were a boomer. There was a bit of, kids get off my lawn! The Beatles, you drunk orgy of heathens there.

  253. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1355/is_14_110/ai_n16807343/

    This is informative abouy black artists on MTV. sorry, I suck at making the links work.

  254. As a perquisite for any mention of MTV:

    And so it was
    Our beloved corporate gods
    Claimed they created rock video
    Allowing it to sink as low in one year
    As commercial TV has in 25
    “It’s the new frontier,” they say
    It’s wide open, anything can happen
    But you’ve got a lot of nerve
    To call yourself a pioneer
    When you’re too god-damn conservative
    To take real chances.

    Tin-eared
    Graph-paper brained accountants
    Instead of music fans
    Call all the shots at giant record companies now

    The lowest common denominator rules
    Forget honesty
    Forget creativity
    The dumbest buy the mostest
    That’s the name of the game

    But sales are slumping
    And no one will say why
    Could it be they put out one too many lousy records?!?

    M.T.V.-Get off the air!

  255. Thanks, brotherben. For those who didn’t read the piece, it says (among other things) that the small handful of black artists who got some MTV airplay before Thriller included “Eddy Grant, Joan Armatrading, Musical Youth, Tina Turner, Donna Summer, The Bus Boys and Jon Butcher Axis.” I assume Summer was singing her new wave stuff, not the disco songs that made her famous.

  256. I will never be convinced that “Pass The Dutchie” was about anything other than pot.

  257. rip michael you’ll be missed

  258. “I will never be convinced that “Pass The Dutchie” was about anything other than pot.”

    Who ever said it was about anything else?

  259. Hey SugarFree,

    As those lyrics well demonstrate, you couldn’t provide a rat substenance with Jello Biafra’s mental acumen.

  260. Musical Youth claims it was about sharing dinner, or some such nonsense…

  261. I suppose I’m on the early end of Gen X; and I admit enjoying the Jackson’s Saturday morning cartoon when I was young. I listened to far more punk than pop later, but I can’t deny the guy’s production values. Thriller was a refreshing break from the boy-girl-ballad pablum on most radio, and Ola Ray was smokinl in the video. Vincent Price of course brought gravitas.

    As for Farrah, I think she probably graced my wall for a few years. If you haven’t seen it, CMT recently aired a pretty darn good movie drama about the making of Charlie’s Angels. It’s worth watching as they did a GREAT job of depicting the principals, right down to inflections and accents – even the “Lee Majors.”

    Note to prospective viewers: Tricia Helfer reprised the red swimsuit poster.

    She’s no Farrah, but it’s about as well as this century could do to date.

  262. Who ever said it was about anything else?

    Background here.

  263. Isn’t herbie hancock black? He got mtv play with robots and stuff, right?

  264. alan,

    There are times that I’m fine with vitriol over lyricism.

  265. MJ,

    “Rockit” was released six months after “Billie Jean.”

  266. SugarFree | June 26, 2009, 11:52am | #

    alan,

    There are times that I’m fine with vitriol over lyricism.

    Oh, I’m all about the vitriol. My complaint is the vitriol is third rate.

  267. alan,

    I will readily admit that it was all a steep downhill after Plastic Surgery Disasters

    See what I did there? I brought the thread back on topic.

  268. @Libertarian frown:

    “It’s hard to watch so many so-called libertarians call this guy a pedophile because he was convicted in the press. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? I understand juries can sometimes get it wrong, but I think I’d be hard to find 12 people who unanimously agree that he was not guilty.”

    I’ll bet you also believe O.J. *didn’t* kill Nicole and Ron, right? After all, he was found not guilty, and it would be hard to find 12 people…oh, whatever.

    Affidavits on Michael Jackson’s classic pedophile behavior available at The Smoking Gun.

  269. Compare Jello Biafra vitriol to a ‘damn it, can’t find my cigarettes this morning, some piece of shit politician is going to pay’ rant from Gillespie.

    Jello might as well be singing for the Jellybugs.

  270. Leaving aside the issues about character and sanity, a name was mentioned above of someone who has been far more influential and much more talented than Michael Jackson: Stevie Wonder.

  271. “Leaving aside the issues about character and sanity, a name was mentioned above of someone who has been far more influential and much more talented than Michael Jackson: Stevie Wonder.”

    Amen. I don’t think Jackson makes the top 7 of most talented and influential black artists of the last 40 years. In no particular order these guys easily beat Jackson

    Marvin Gaye
    Stevie Wonder
    Prince
    Dr. Dre (I loath rap, but you can’t deny its popularity and influence and Dre pretty much wrote the book on it in the 90s, although I will defer to someone who knows more about rap than I do if they think someone else belongs in the slot)
    George Clinton
    Bob Marley
    James Brown

    All had more creative mojo than Jackson.

  272. mtv makes me wanna smoke crack
    fall out of the window and I’m never comin back
    mtv makes me wanna get high
    can’t get a ride no matter how I try
    and everything’s perfect
    and everything’s bright
    and everyone’s perky
    and everyone’s uptight
    I love those videos
    I watch ’em all day……..

    mtv whoa! makes me wanna smoke crack
    fly out the window and I’m never comin’ back
    mtv makes me wanna get high as the moon
    like a rubber balloon
    aww get that squeegee
    everything’s wonderful
    everything’s grand
    everything’s swinging
    all across the land you know it
    bust out the biscuits
    strike up the band
    play those videos
    every woman and man

  273. Nuts to you haters!

    Michael was a huge talent. I’d say his career average is significantly higher than Stevie Wonder’s.

    Not to mention that he was a far better dancer.

  274. “Michael was a huge talent. I’d say his career average is significantly higher than Stevie Wonder’s.”

    No way. Wonder’s bad 80s stuff was no worse than Jackson’s output in the last 15 years. And nothing Jackson did compares to Wonder’s work in the 70s. Hell Stevie Wonder was a better child star. I will take “Up Tight and All Right” over any Jackson Five song.

  275. Yes, I goofed. Ebony and Ivory was Stevie and Paul. I agree with Jesse’s distinction regarding Ebony and Ivory and a tune performed just by a black artist.

  276. Michael and Paul was “Say Say Say” which was an ever worse song than Ebony and Ivory.

  277. highnumber,

    Are you insane? I’m not running down Jackson, who I think was very talented, but Wonder is miles ahead of him in musical talent.

    By the way, the correct duet to cite is “State of Shock.”

  278. I’m not knocking Stevie (in fact, I hate “so&so was better than so&so comparisons” – they’re never valid), but as an influence and as a singles artist, that is to say as a hit machine, Michael might stand alone in stature.

    And Stevie can’t dance.

  279. Stevie Wonder was a colossus in the 70s. I think his influence was profound on music, cross genre. Jackson was important and, of course, a gigantic popular success, but I don’t think he had the musical influence of Wonder.

    No, Stevie can’t dance. But he can play the piano like crazy.

  280. I’m not huge on making these kinds of comparisons, either, especially when they get to the point of saying someone or something is the “best ever.” I’m a huge reader, but I couldn’t even begin to name my favorite book.

  281. By popularizing MTV, Michael Jackson ultimately helped kill the music industry.

  282. Who killed MTV then?

  283. MTV.

  284. And, of course, Video Killed the Radio Star.

  285. “I’m a huge reader, but I couldn’t even begin to name my favorite book.”

    Neither could I. And if you forced me to, it would be some huge Russian novel that would sound cliche to say. I can’t name my favorite music either in any definitive way. But you can say that this or that music is well done for its genra. In that sense, Jackson’s music is really well done 80s pop, no doubt. But I don’t see how it compares favorably to Prince in his own decade or Wonder in the 70s. I listen to Prince or Wonder and even if I don’t like the song I think “how the hell did anyone think of doing this?”. I never get that feeling while listening to Jackson.

  286. I got that feeling when I listened to Krazy Korn Syrup Dave’s music. I thought, “How the hell did anyone think of doing this?” Then I thought, “Why? Dear lord, why?!” Then I thought, “Will this headache ever go away?” Stevie Wonder never made me feel like that.

  287. I thought that Dave now accepted corn syrup.

    What’s interesting to me is how important Wonder is to musicians. He gets mentioned all the time by musicians as an influence.

    I think the appellation “King of Pop” explains it all with Jackson. What he was great at was performing. To the extent that he wrote his own music (I have no idea), he definitely had the concept of “catchy beat” down to a science. I don’t care much for his kind of music, but I like several of his songs, despite that.

    By the way, Prince is a huge talent. Again, I don’t necessarily love his work, but I respect what he brings to the table. Especially his pancakes.

  288. Listen to any R&B or dance-pop on the radio today, and you can hear Michael Jackson. It doesn’t matter who cites him explicitly as an influence. He is pervasive.

    And I miss Chapelle’s show.

    And I could totally school Stevie Wonder in basketball, darts, and naming colors.
    Not dancing, though.

  289. “Listen to any R&B or dance-pop on the radio today, and you can hear Michael Jackson. It doesn’t matter who cites him explicitly as an influence. He is pervasive.”

    Are you hearing Michael Jackson or are you hearing Quincy Jones?

  290. Really? I must be listening to the wrong music.

    Stevie Wonder might be able to play darts. My grandfather used to bowl with a blind guy, and I think the blind guy averaged 160+.

  291. I didn’t say bowling.

    John,
    Are we talking about the man or his artistic legacy?

  292. Rashida Jones (Quincy’s daughter) makes me gooey and tingly in my special places.

  293. Michael Jackson was important because of his commercial success, his wooing-of-conservative-American success and his critical success (at least for his work up to say ‘Bad’).

    I fully wouldn’t expect a love-fest for his work here at Hit n’ Run. Someone posted the top sellers of all time and I doubt most of the H & R commentariat would announce endearment to much of what Celine Dion, Meatloaf, Santana, Iron Butterfly, The Backstreet Boys, Madonna or any of those big sellers produced.

    Michael Jackson is interesting to me because he was clearly embraced by the Right after ‘Thriller’ but made the Right wince after the crotch-grabbing.

    The freak-show circus afterwards exposed the hypocrisy of the NAACP who awarded him an award for his African-Americanism. It exposed the hypocrisy of much of ‘white’ America, that didn’t see that some of their fellow ‘white’ scum were offering their children to the altar of lawsuits (by putting their offspring within stroking distance of someone at least with a distorted view of propriety.

    Michael, to me, will always be more interesting as the boy-man that exposed a soft-underbelly that the ass-hole press refuses to visit in its awkward paeans to a distorted fucked-up persona.

  294. BTW, Michael didn’t sleep on the floor. It is not okay for a grown man to share his bed with small boys.

    Has anyone asked this question? If it was all so innocent Why weren’t little girls in his bed?

    Michael Jackson’s work as a singing artist should be separate from his personal life agreed. I don’t own a William Gacy Jr. clown painting, but if someone wants one they should be able to buy it.

  295. The music industry is alive and well. It is simply in way more people’s hands.

    if you long for the day when you only had to buy maybe 10 records a year to own all the latest and greatest, well, then yes, blame Michael for ruining that through MTV.

  296. MJ was a steaming pile of shit.

  297. That ignoring part is what is so perplexing to me. American social selective memory is astounding. I don’t see how so much praise can be heaped upon a man who was so profoundly disturbed and more than likely a predator of children. I just don’t get it, but everybody is giving him allowances because he could sing and dance. Very disturbing

  298. fuck everyone who hates michael i’ll laugh at everyone when u burn in the hounds of hell,assholes michael wuz da best dancer and performer i’ve ever met[yes i’ve met him]he wuz not gay or a child rapest he wuz the most coolest fucking dude alive black or white

  299. With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

  300. hi,
    everybody, take your time and a little bit.mmdgy

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