The feeble connection with American Idol is, of course, the very first week of the finals of the past season. “Tonight, we’re celebrating the hits of Michael Jackson,” Ryan Seacrest said, before the Top 13 kicked off their trips to stardom singing songs from the so-called King of Pop. (That episode will be aired again this Monday from 8pm on Fox.) I’m just in my early 20s, and I’ll admit to being too young during his heyday, so watching that show was quite a revelation: “I didn’t know he sang that!” was my most prominent line, once song after song after song started to sound so familiar.
I suddenly remembered that when news of the musician’s death started filtering through. The sketchy details–of him suffering a heart attack, of being found not breathing in his home, of him being brought to a Los Angeles hospital–gave way to unconfirmed detail after unconfirmed detail after confirmed detail. And then, the tributes, in 140-character bursts, from celebrities to my friends who, for the most part, were too young to have a grasp of his hits.
The death is, of course, a shock. Save that retrospective on Idol, he’s been enjoying a comeback of sorts: just last year, he re-released his iconic album Thriller, 25 years after it was released. He was even preparing for a massive 50-date concert stretch in London, supposed to start next month.
Apart from his music, of course, were the controversies. After that episode of Idol wrapped up, I remember reading many comments on this website, from viewers furious because the show paid tribute to someone who has allegedly sexually abused children. Why glorify it, they say? There’s more, of course–the Neverland ranch, the baby on the hotel balcony, the years of plastic surgery, the trips to Bahrain. My mother, who has a thing for nostalgia, always recalled him when he was younger, from his years with the Jackson Five to his highly successful solo career, from “Bad” to “Thriller” to “Billie Jean” to “Beat It” to “Human Nature” to “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”…
Everybody’s probably said it at this point, but Michael Jackson’s some sort of an eccentric personality. Musically, he’s very talented; his songs are still being sampled to this day, if not being played on radio stations altogether. He’s put together many genres, throw in his lyrics, and made them truly his own–and arguably revolutionize pop music for the better. His performances are also much remembered; his choreography have inspired many dancers, and he (also) arguably turned the music video from just shots of the artist singing to an art form in itself.
Personally, I think my interests in the art of music would’ve been a lot more different–or non-existent–if not for him. And I believe everybody holds the same sentiments.
Sure, he’s had his own share of controversies, and I won’t be an apologist for it. He wasn’t like many of us: his childhood was, he admitted, very lonely, born down by stresses of performing as well as abuse. The accusations of sexual abuse changed him, or at least our perceptions of him. And then there are all of those other rumors and eccentricities. But we cannot deny his impact on the world. He isn’t just any other singer. I don’t think anyone can put a finger on everything he’s done, for the way he took the world by storm and got us dancing for five decades. I know I can’t. I guess it’s something we can’t exactly put into words–and yeah, this will sound like a mere excuse, but it’s something that you’ve got to experience rather than read or write. I may be too young, but his impact was so huge, I can still feel it.
Michael Joseph Jackson, born August 29, 1958; died June 25, 2009.
-Henrik Batallones, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of WENN)