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Thread started 02/17/17 10:55am

HAPPYPERSON

Michael Jackson: THe Musical Genius, Visionary & Pioneer

Michael Jackson's ‘Beat It’ forced radio stations to desegregate and demolish the gap between black & white music in the 1980s. #Pioneer

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Michael Jackson deliberately depicted Ancient Egypt with an all black cast in order to combat Hollywood whitewashing.

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The Guardian: “How ‘Billie Jean’ Changed The World”

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“The music video [Thriller] changed the way music was portrayed on film and established the music video

industry.” #HIStory

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MTV was 99% white until Michael Jackson forced his way on the air by making the best music videos anyone had ever seen.”

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Everyone wants to find the “new Michael Jackson”. He set the bar.

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Michael Jackson speaking about concept of the ‘Dangerous’ album:

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“Bring together supermodel Iman, comedy rockstar Eddie Murphy, The Pharcyde & Magic Johnson, & what do you get? Unapologetic Blackness.”

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Have you ever watched Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker? Odds are if you were born between 1975 and 1985, the VHS tape sat somewhere next to your equally worn copies of Back to the Future, E.T., and Star Wars. Anyways, if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and find it somewhere on YouTube as it’s worth a watch, if only for the captivating videos and the way it more or less bottles up the timeless magic and appeal of the King of Pop. The reason I’m bringing it up now is specifically for its opening segment, which captures Jackson singing “Man in the Mirror” during his colossal Bad Tour across Europe. For a good three or four minutes, you can watch everyone lose their shit as he triumphantly lifts up their spirits with arguably one of the greatest songs ever. But look closer: It’s people of all nationalities, united and feeling it together.

That was ultimately the power of Michael Jackson; he had the ability of stopping everyone in their tracks, both in life and death. Some might credit this to his unprecedented dance moves, and they’d be right. Some might say it was his masterful production, and they’d be right. Some might point to the archive of hooks that fueled each of his songs, and they’d be right. And some might say it was his voice … and they’d be right. He was the full package in a way we haven’t and probably never will see again — the greatest performer who ever lived. So, yes, you could sit here and make cogent arguments for any of the multifaceted reasons behind his undying legend, but really it starts and ends with his voice. It’s his voice that connected the world together, and it’s his voice that never wavered as he slid into every kind of genre imaginable, from disco to rock to pop to hip-hop to R&B.

What’s more, it’s his voice that keeps on giving: Name any groundbreaking artist of the last 30 years and they’ll all point to him as a major influence, whether it’s his work fronting The Jackson Five, his salad days in Motown, or the decade and a half he turned his music into both a lifestyle and a brand — doesn’t matter, it’s all in regular rotation. Even now, after all the dark and disturbing controversies that have surfaced over the last two decades, he remains an unstoppable, influential enigma. “One of the first times I ever performed in front of a big group of people was at my kindergarten graduation,” Chance the Rapper, then 20 years old, told XXL. “I did, like, a Michael Jackson impersonation as, like, a five-year-old. I had the suit and blazer, the glove and the fedora, and I just performed a whole Michael Jackson song. I’m sure it was ‘Smooth Criminal’.” Shit’s off the wall. –Michael Roffman

Michael's response to the criticism he received after the premiere of "Black or White" is very significant, especially in today's context.

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The backlash was "a symptom of how unprepared white critics were to confront the dreamscape of a Black Entertainer..

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The lyric "It don't matter if you're black or white" does not advocate colour blindness. Black Or White challenges a much darker history:

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Despite being released 37 years ago, "Off The Wall" continues to stand as the blueprint for countless artists today.

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If you haven't already, read the lyrics to this powerful song. Michael Jackson never failed to speak up.

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[Edited 3/4/17 10:14am]

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Reply #1 posted 02/17/17 11:01am

HAPPYPERSON

The Misunderstood Power of Michael Jackson's Music

His influence today proves him to be one of the greatest creators of all time, but Jackson's art--like that of many black artists--still doesn't get the full respect it deserves.

[img]https://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/culture_test/michael%20jackson%20ap%20images%20615.jpg[/img]

AP Images

More than two and a half years after his untimely death, Michael Jackson continues to entertain. Cirque du Soleil's crowd-pleasing Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour is currently crisscrossing North America, while a recent Jackson-themed episode of Glee earned the show a 16 percent jump in ratings and its highest music sales of the season. Even Madonna's halftime Super Bowl spectacle harkened back to a trend first initiated by Jackson.

But there is another crucial part of Jackson's legacy that deserves attention: his pioneering role as an African-American artist working in an industry still plagued by segregation, stereotypical representations, or little representation at all.

Jackson never made any qualms about his aspirations. He wanted to be the best. When his highly successful Off the Wall album (in 1981, the best-selling album ever by a black artist) was slighted at the Grammy Awards, it only fueled Jackson's resolve to create something better. His next album, Thriller, became the best-selling album by any artist of any race in the history of the music industry. It also won a record-setting seven Grammy awards, broke down color barriers on radio and TV, and redefined the possibilities of popular music on a global scale.

Yet among critics (predominantly white), skepticism and suspicion only grew. "He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables," predicted James Baldwin in 1985, "for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring, and the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo has nothing on Michael."

Baldwin proved prophetic. In addition to a flood of ridicule regarding his intelligence, race, sexuality, appearance, and behavior, even his success and ambition were used by critics as evidence that he lacked artistic seriousness. Reviews frequently described his work as "calculating," "slick," and "shallow." Establishment rock critics such as Dave Marsh and Greil Marcus notoriously dismissed Jackson as the first major popular music phenomenon whose impact was more commercial than cultural. Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Bruce Springsteen, they claimed, challenged and re-shaped society. Jackson simply sold records and entertained.

It shouldn't be much of a strain to hear the racial undertones in such an assertion. Historically, this dismissal of black artists (and black styles) as somehow lacking substance, depth and import is as old as America. It was the lie that constituted minstrelsy. It was a common criticism of spirituals (in relation to traditional hymns), of jazz in the '20s and '30s, of R&B in the '50s and '60s, of funk and disco in the '70s, and of hip-hop in the '80s and '90s (and still today). The cultural gatekeepers not only failed to initially recognize the legitimacy of these new musical styles and forms, they also tended to overlook or reduce the achievements of the African-American men and women who pioneered them. The King of Jazz, for white critics, wasn't Louis Armstrong, it was Paul Whiteman; the King of Swing wasn't Duke Ellington, it was Benny Goodman; the King of Rock wasn't Chuck Berry or Little Richard, it was Elvis Presley.

Given this history of white coronation, it is worth considering why the media took such issue with referring to Michael Jackson as the King of Pop. Certainly his achievements merited such a title. Yet up until his death in 2009, manyjournalists insisted on referring to him as the "self-proclaimed King of Pop." Indeed, in 2003, Rolling Stone went so far as to ridiculously re-assign the title to Justin Timberlake. (To keep with the historical pattern, just last year the magazine devised a formula that coronated Eminem--over Run DMC, Public Enemy, Tupac, Jay-Z, or Kanye West--as the King of Hip Hop).

Jackson was well-aware of this history and consistently pushed against it. In 1979, Rolling Stone passed on a cover story about the singer, saying that it didn't feel Jackson merited front cover status. "I've been told over and over again that black people on the covers of magazines don't sell copies," an exasperated Jackson told confidantes. "Just wait. Some day those magazines will come beggingfor an interview."

Jackson, of course, was right (Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner actually sent a self-deprecatory letter acknowledging the oversight in 1984). And during the 1980s, at least, Jackson's image seemed ubiquitous. Yet over the long haul, Jackson's initial concern seems legitimate. As shown in the breakdown below, his appearances on the front cover of Rolling Stone, the United States' most visible music publication, are far fewer than those of white artists:

  • John Lennon: 30
  • Mick Jagger: 29
  • Paul McCartney: 26
  • Bob Dylan: 22
  • Bono: 22
  • Bruce Springsteen: 22
  • Madonna: 20
  • Britney Spears: 13
  • Michael Jackson: 8 (two came after he died; one featured Paul McCartney as well)

Is it really possible that Michael Jackson, arguably the most influe...th century, merited less than half the coverage of Bono, Bruce Springsteen, and Madonna?

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/02/the-misunderstood-power-of-michael-jacksons-music/252751/


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Reply #2 posted 02/17/17 11:17am

HAPPYPERSON

One of the remarkable qualities of his life& work is that he refuses to compromise his "difference."

Blood on the Dance Floor. It was like he prophesied that record. He felt its mood.

In Jackson's case he literally embodied the music. It charged through him like an electric current.

Yet Michael Jackson worked as comfortably with Slash as he did the Andrae Crouch Singers Choir or Heavy D.

"He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables," predicted James Baldwin in 1985.

The biggest problem for critics was Michael Jackson himself. Journalists tried in vain to put him “back in his place”

In Earth Song he isn't merely representing himself. He is acting as the medium for a modern tragedy.

“Earth Song” is an excellent illustration of how versatile

Jackson is vocally

Language simply can't do justice to the pain and suffering he is trying to express

Michael will never lose the quality that separates the merely sentimental from the truly heartfelt.



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Reply #3 posted 02/17/17 11:29am

HAPPYPERSON

Earth Song was more epic, dramatic, & primal. It defied every expectations of a traditional anthem.

Scream is a statement song. This is Michael Jackson fighting back. Instead of being a victim, he is empowered.


For those who assume that every Michael Jackson song must be about Michael Jackson


They wanted the “old” Michael Jackson: the warm, breezy melodies, and dance-invoking lyrics.

Michael loved finding new sounds that the human ear had never heard. Jackson simply heard “music” in everything.

Speed Demon. Jackson seems to be hinting at an entire social system of constraint and limitation.

White critics resented his unparalleled success. Michael Jackson didn't fit the model for rock-critic idolatry.

He was the superstar who spoke from the margins, from the perspective of the wounded or forgotten.



Human Nature. His brilliant vocal interpretation, though, is what fully realized the song.

Any misconceptions that Jackson was simply a "singer" are quickly dispelled.

Yet in the eighties, Michael Jackson finally put that myth to rest. Bigger than Elvis. Bigger than the Beatles.

His voice is the music.

1 of the things that made him unique is that his influences were anything but hip & contemporary.



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Reply #4 posted 02/17/17 4:10pm

HAPPYPERSON

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Reply #5 posted 02/17/17 7:03pm

214

That's heavy, too much information to read it at once.

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Reply #6 posted 02/18/17 6:40am

purplethunder3
121

avatar

Why is the font so big?

nothing's forbidden... and nothing's taboo.
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Reply #7 posted 02/18/17 5:26pm

Goddess4Real

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Thanks for the great articles thumbs up!

Keep Calm & Listen To Prince
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Reply #8 posted 02/18/17 10:54pm

Free2BMe

Great articles and information. Thanks for posting.
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Reply #9 posted 02/19/17 9:41am

Germanegro

Michael Jackson elevated the art form of the music video to new potential heights of entertainment. As soon as he did that, he became a juggernaut! In doing so, he smashed the barriers to crossover appeal of Black artists to all of mankind.

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MJ was also more than a guitar-toting, hip-swinging musician, which was vexing for the White Rock music media establishment because that's their model for R&R, so his coverage in these outlets was downplayed (as much as they could, anyway). My take is that despite his successes, he did not fit the model that these organizations were willing to promote full-blast. Despite all of Jackson's trials, he did alright.

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Reply #10 posted 02/19/17 10:29am

mjscarousal

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Thanks for the articles. There will never another Michael Jackson. He broke down barriers, changed culture, changed music, united people and races through his music.

Stand, you`ve been sitting much too long, there`s a permanent crease in your right or wrong.~Sly Stone
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Reply #11 posted 02/20/17 9:01am

HAPPYPERSON

Dancing the Dream is, arguably, one of the best-kept “secrets” in Michael Jackson’s artistic back-catalogue. -Elizabeth Amisu

I try to write, put it in song. Put it in my art to teach the world. If politicians can’t do it, I want to do it. -Michael Jackson


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Reply #12 posted 02/20/17 9:44am

journalism16

He created so much and was/is a great artist. These articles show not only his ideas and music, but it shows how aware he was when it came to how society views the world. There will absolutely never be another Michael Jackson, and he is forever loved, forever missed.
Erin Smith
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Reply #13 posted 02/21/17 3:56pm

214

I have already read everything, great articles.

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Reply #14 posted 02/22/17 2:36pm

HAPPYPERSON

Who Is It’ is a powerful example of how brilliant Michael could be as both writer and producer. Just himself. His heart and his talent.

“I’ve spent a lifetime searching for someone”. It’s not just a throwaway line but a confession of his ongoing desire to be understood.


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Reply #15 posted 02/22/17 2:43pm

HAPPYPERSON

For those distracted by the tabloid fodder that littered his career, here is the real Michael Jackson. Raw. Honest. Human.

.it [Keep The Faith] doesn’t really take hold until Michael shifts from singer to preacher in the third chorus after the bridge.


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Reply #16 posted 02/22/17 4:43pm

StrangeButTrue

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He is super dead and I really miss the sticky. RIP MJ Sticky.
i am yours now and you are mine
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Reply #17 posted 02/22/17 4:44pm

Goddess4Real

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StrangeButTrue said:

He is super dead and I really miss the sticky. RIP MJ Sticky.

I miss the MJ Sticky too sad

Keep Calm & Listen To Prince
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Reply #18 posted 02/23/17 6:54am

RicoN

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I'm guessing Quincy Jones was responsible for the placnig of the guitar solo

Yes, I've probably made a spelling mistake, but I can't be arsed to go back and correc tit.
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Reply #19 posted 02/23/17 6:08pm

Cloudbuster

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kisses

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Reply #20 posted 02/23/17 6:36pm

214

Thank you so much, so interesting. Keep on please.

[Edited 2/24/17 12:14pm]

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Reply #21 posted 02/24/17 1:57am

bboy87

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"We may deify or demonize them but not ignore them. And we call them genius, because they are the people who change the world."
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Reply #22 posted 02/24/17 1:59am

bboy87

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Interview with Matt Forger by Mike Smallcombe (author of "Making Michael")
https://www.makingmichael.co.uk/single-post/2016/11/21/Full-interview-with-longtime-Michael-Jackson-collaborator-and-friend-Matt-Forger

"We may deify or demonize them but not ignore them. And we call them genius, because they are the people who change the world."
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Reply #23 posted 02/24/17 4:00am

MotownSubdivis
ion

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Goddess4Real said:



StrangeButTrue said:


He is super dead and I really miss the sticky. RIP MJ Sticky.


I miss the MJ Sticky too sad

I don't. Without it we can actually have topics dedicated to specific aspects of Mike without thwm all getting cut short and caught up within one another.
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Reply #24 posted 02/24/17 12:15pm

214

MotownSubdivision said:

Goddess4Real said:

I miss the MJ Sticky too sad

I don't. Without it we can actually have topics dedicated to specific aspects of Mike without thwm all getting cut short and caught up within one another.

I'm with you.

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Reply #25 posted 02/24/17 4:41pm

HAPPYPERSON

From the beginning, and throughout his life, Michael would train his body as hard as his voice.

From the moment he joined his brothers on stage, Michael’s powerful voice and diminutive dervish of a body dominated the group.

Michael Jackson was a stage magician. Others can sing and dance, but Michael knew what people really want to see is magic.



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Reply #26 posted 02/24/17 4:44pm

HAPPYPERSON

Michael Jackson started being labeled crazy when he began making business moves that no1 had been successful at doing


He was a flawless singer, flawless. We’re talking about 1 of the most brilliant singers who ever opened his mouth. -LA Reid

To reconnect with my spiritual and musical roots nothing could have been better than a Michael Jackson album -LA Reid



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Reply #27 posted 02/25/17 11:57am

HAPPYPERSON

Watch him dancing, silhouetted, alongside other men doing the same steps. U can’t see the faces, but u know which one he is.

Even if he wasn't doing it for the first time, he made it look brand new

At this point, Jackson has just about everything you would want in a dancer.

For Chin, the “Panther Dance” is a manifesto. “The dream Jackson presents is one of breaking free of the boundaries”


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Reply #28 posted 02/25/17 1:18pm

HAPPYPERSON

An Analysis of Michael Jackson's Artistry by Doggone City

  • MJ discography's so deep, so often sleep on Liberian Girl. Those closing harmonies. Like an Arab-Andalusian mawwal. And African to its core
  • They talk about the next Michael Jackson. Do three hiccups in crescendo on, 'She was more like a beauty queen.'

  • Michael Jackson. A hiccup can be an ornament to a melody, a rhythm track or a percussive line.

  • MJ as a dancer in his late 30s could express more in a single tight wrist flick than all the flamboyant flapping of his 20s circle glides

  • Wanna appreciate Michael Jackson's genius? Little Susie. Music hall, Victorian verses, French requiems, Austro-Germanic neo-expressionism.

  • 'Who'll dance on the floor in the round?' 'Annie are you OK?' 'How does it feel?' 'Have you seen my childhood?' Master of sardonic questions

  • What an amazing instrument, Michael Jackson's voice. Billie Jean in Yokohama '87 to Brunei in '96. From burnished bronze to quivering russet

  • Most important lyric in Billie Jean, "Hey hey hey". Try bridge to chorus without it. Musically psychologically it's an indispensable adjunct
  • All the pent up rage and lust comes out when he thrashes his legs to that one lyric. Hardest to sing, he does it even when out of breath.
  • How many emotional shadings on 'Not my lover'. Incredulous. Furious. Plangent. Wistful. 'Not my lover' eventually less refrain but regret.

  • The obsessiveness of 'Not my lover' on the fade-out almost like incantation. Because Billie Jean's the greatest love song MJ ever wrote.


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Reply #29 posted 02/25/17 2:04pm

heathilly

Genius and prodigy.

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