Michael Jackson, R.I.P.

Jun 25th, 2009 // 13 Comments

Michael Jackson’s death at age 50 this afternoon came as a shock, despite his obviously frail condition and the constant rumors that his health was even worse than it seemed. “I’ve never known a world without Michael Jackson,” a socially networked friend of mine managed to get out through those sites’ seeming paralysis over the news, and I could say the same thing. It’s very tempting to say that Jackson was something of a mirror of the past 40-ish years of popular culture, from his family’s band’s beloved singles in the ’60s and ’70s to his boundary-breaking solo career that followed to the celebrity-spectre existence, which started off as funny stories about chimps and hyperbaric chambers before snowballing into scurrilous details about lawsuits and breathless tabloid reports, that threatened to define his final days. Jackson’s voice was a technical marvel that caused the admittedly stellar material he often had to work with to soar, to become indelible in the minds of pop fans all around the world, to inspire them to sing along.


MTV is actually breaking from its all-self-degradation-all-the-time playlist to show videos from Jackson’s body of work, and what with him being an artist who helped define the earliest parts of the music-video era–he did, remember, represent the breaking down of the color barrier on the formerly AOR-heavy channel thanks to the power of the sinuous “Billie Jean”–I think it’s more than fitting for us to do the same. This is hardly all of his body of work; every time I think I’m about to hit “publish,” I think of another video to add. Feel free to fill in any gaps in the comment section.


“I Want You Back”/”ABC”



“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”



“Billie Jean”



“Billie Jean” (Moonwalk-introduction)




“Beat It”



“Bad”



“Smooth Criminal”




“Give In To Me”



“Remember The Time”



“The Way You Make Me Feel”

This may be one of my favorite songs of all time. Top three, for sure.


I don’t really know what else to say. I certainly wasn’t a superfan, but you didn’t really have to be to know Jackson’s body of work inside-out–I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people reading this can still rattle off at least 50% of Thriller by memory. As you might expect from the throttled traffic everywhere, the Internet has been wall-to-wall with MJ memories. ?uestlove has been throwing down on Twitter; “Weird Al” Yankovic’s shocked reply to the news Jackson had passed away made me get a lump in my throat. I’ll just close this out by saying that I feel like the term “rest in peace” really applies to Michael, who always seemed happiest when he was thrilling audiences.


Pop star Michael Jackson is dead at 50 [LA Times]
#25: Michael Jackson [RS]

  1. There was a 2 year period when I was growing up that I listened to nothing but Off The Wall and Thriller. I then gravitated towards Prince, but he won me back with Dangerous(probably his most underrated album). I love “Give Into Me”. But here’s another good one, “In The Closet”.

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

  2. How about the rad Jacksons stuff like “Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)”?

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

    The J5 could nail a cover as these versions of “It’s Your Thing” can attest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmv9SUN16L8 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_7GsTQfoe4

  3. I put “Thriller” in my CD changer today (it replaces the new Dinosaur Jr.) and came close to tears that Michael Jackson won’t release another album. Even though “Invincible” was not a very good album, it still had a handful of pop nuggets on it. It’s a shame that it’s going to be his last album.

    Earlier in the day I was already saddened by the death of Sky Saxon of the Seeds, and then this happens.

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