The King Of Pop Is Dead

RIP Michael Jackson. Believe it or not, as a kid I was a big fan of his music. Billy Jean! Beat it! Thriller! Regardless of the wacky behavior he displayed in later years, this is a sad day for pop music… Take it away Mikey!

63 Responses to “The King Of Pop Is Dead”

  1. Sharleena says:

    I wasn’t *a fan* but I liked some of his songs: Black & White, Say Say Say, Man In The Mirror…
    Sad day indeed, specially considering he was, what, fifty, fifty something years old? Rather shocking.

  2. Bálint says:

    I was not a fan at all, only heard hios music on the radio (if it was turned on), but still remember what Imogen Heap (whom I really love) said once about his singing stile, and about the what that he even makes his breathtaking and breathing an inherent part of his music. And so did Miss Heap. I like that, a lot.

  3. the effervescing elephant says:

    i was not a fan, but if you sell over 700 Million records, you deserve to be called the king of pop. respect for that.
    But as he turned whiter and did stuff with kids, he lost my respect.
    Nevertheless, an icon has died.

  4. Tjodolf says:

    I wasn’t a fan, but some other people were.

  5. pierre says:

    I wasn ‘t a fan but I like the cowbells in “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”

  6. Justin says:

    It’s so sad to hear about Michael Jackson. As a dancer, I’m performed almost every one of his hits in some form or another. A lot of celebrities have died recently, but he’s the first one that had a big impact on my life personally. It’s a really weird feeling. Anyway, nice post. 😉

  7. urbangraffito says:


    Michael Jackson in Disneyland
    Don’t have to share it with nobody else
    Lock the gates, Goofy, take my hand
    And lead me through the World of Self

    Warren Zevon said it best in Splendid Isolation…

  8. King of Flop says:

    Michael Jackson was one of the first real big “name” people that I remember during childhood… many of us want to be somebody or make a name for ourselves… not a good idea, that Ego is pretty ridiculous

  9. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    A quote from Sharleena:

    I wasn’t *a fan*

    A quote from Bálint:

    I was not a fan at all

    A quote from the effervescing elephant:

    i was not a fan

    A quote from Tjodolf:

    I wasn’t a fan

    A quote from pierre:

    I wasn’t a fan

    Demographics at work! I can only guess, but I reckon all you guys (‘n gals) are older than me, and had all evolved into digging Serious Prog Rock by the time MJ released Off The Wall back in ’79. For me, or rather my 8-to-12 year old self, his music is part of my youth… Does this mean I’m to be ostracized from the Zappa community? 😐

  10. Tim says:

    It’s pretty difficult to have grown up in the 80s and not find myself influenced, at least in part, by his music. Sure, his personal life was very eccentric and controversial, but so were lots of other incredible music-makers. Phil Spector and James Brown come to mind. I try to keep my appreciation for their musical contributions separate from my judgements of their lives.

    And come on – if “Rock With You” or “I Want You Back” doesn’t get you dancing, you probably don’t have a pulse.

  11. Paul Sempschi says:

    The “Thriller” video and that Simpsons episode were quite well done on his part, though I can understand Frank’s disdain of him in the 80’s. However, when the child molestation charges kept coming up, I had nothing but sympathy for him. It was just black-mail turned smear campaign and sick high schoolesque jocks like Jay Leno turned it into a career for a cheap (verrry CHEEP) laugh.

    I’d be curious to see if any of those Tv hosts have the balls to come out against him now.

  12. Grafitti On The Wall says:

    I have no reason to celebrate, feel remorse or devote too much energy into this whole mass media life and death analysis of Michael Jackson.

    Yesterday afternoon someone here in NYC was telling me
    the early news of cardiac arrest was a publicity stunt.

    My response “I would not be surprised if it was but it was common knowledge that Michael Jackson’s time here on earth was going to be limited by his lifestyle. When his time comes which very well could be at any moment, his magic glove is not going to solve his extreme troubles.”

    Goodnight Michael Jackson wherever you are.

    I

  13. Plooker says:

    Your right Barry, I did not know that Zappa fans were so cool(old)! Disco Sucks?? I’m with Tim,

    “come on – if “Rock With You” or “I Want You Back” doesn’t get you dancing, you probably don’t have a pulse.”

  14. Bálint says:

    Well, with me I don’t think it’s because of the age, but I was simply into other things. I did not listen too much to the radio, and was crazy about Iron Maiden and Judas Priest (I remember Saxon coming into our tiny town in 1986…). 🙂 I don’t think I ‘ve ever heard “Thriller” in its entirety, and I did not really know about Jackson Five at all. So.. that’s it.

  15. Mike says:

    I think 400 years from now Zappa will be more famous than Jackson.

  16. urbangraffito says:

    Having hit my teen years in the 1970s, Barry, my memory of MJ is of this little boy that fronted the Jackson 5 (and whose hits were to be found on any K-Tel Record of the era). Even then, neither he or the J5 were nearly as funky as, say, Mothership Connection, or Curtis Mayfield (now there were some radical funksters). If MJ had one real talent, it was capturing the pop hook in his music: it was neither deep, or tremendously brilliant, but it got people dancing, and it was pleasant enough sounding, and it was fun — so was the formula for much of the rest of his catalogue (which is why he never really got out of the eighties, musically, and the seventies, emotionally). In the end, he was little more than a caricature of himself (something FZ saw all too well when he penned, “Why Don’t You Like Me?”).

  17. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    There’s a community?

    Oh yes! First on your left. Be on the look out for barbed wire. You’ll hear frantic cries such as “Roxy!” and “Rage And The Fury!”. If you’re lucky, you might even hear “Zoogz Rift! I am Zoogz Rift! Why do people ignore me on usenet when I have a wikipedia page dedicated to me!”. You’ll want to not pay much attention to that though. Oh, and: beware the guards. They are easy to spot as they tend to have a monkey on their back, and have been known to sport a T-shirt that has the following letters printed on them:

    “C & D”.

    Good luck, and do report back.

  18. profusion says:

    A quote from Bálint:

    Well, with me I don’t think it’s because of the age, but I was simply into other things. I did not listen too much to the radio, and was crazy about Iron Maiden and Judas Priest (I remember Saxon coming into our tiny town in 1986…). 🙂 I don’t think I ‘ve ever heard “Thriller” in its entirety, and I did not really know about Jackson Five at all. So.. that’s it.

    That was my experience, also. When Thriller came out, I was 15 years old and far more interested in Black Sabbath and Judas Priest than in anything to do with the “King of Pop.” “Billie Jean” was very catchy, and also an innovative video, but I thought the rest of Thriller was simply bland. Off the Wall has aged a lot better, I’d say. Much better grooves.

  19. xorg says:

    MJ was not the first pop star/musician/composer/author or whatever who turned out to be somewhat weird, nor will he be the last. However, it’s a shame whenever anyone dies early.

    He was a genuine talent though and had a major influence on pop music and pop culture. I liked most of the Jackson Five stuff and Off The Wall but lost interest after that. My kids liked him a lot and his music was a big factor in their childhood. They’ve moved on – it’s a pity MJ couldn’t.

  20. Robert says:

    I think that Michael Jackson has been dead already since several decades and has been walking this earth as a white-skinned zombie. Or the *actual* Michael was abducted ages ago by aliens and they left some replacement robot whose juice now has simply run out.

  21. Bob says:

    A quote from Barry’s Imaginary Publisher:

    Good luck, and do report back.

    been there…it’s an awful place, a ghetto, really.

    ps – how do I get italics? does it involve a rabi? will it hurt???

  22. Alex says:

    A quote from Mike:

    I think 400 years from now Zappa will be more famous than Jackson.

    We won’t know, because we will be dead – just like they both are.

    I’m not one to get hung up on other people’s deaths. If he believed in something, I hope he had everything squared away with his creator. And if not, he made some great records. ‘Thriller’ stands out for me as one of the best-sounding records of the 1980’s. That thing is so well-produced and slick, a fly could land on it and bust its ass.

    But anyway, he’ll be missed. I just hope his contributions to society/music are more enduring than his public image since the early 1990’s as this pasty-white baby-dangling maybe-a-child-molester creepo.

  23. Hugh says:

    There was a time when Michael & The Jackson 5 could get me on a dance floor. And those are treasured memories for me.
    But then it got weird. Really weird and sick.
    And now it’s just sad.
    My wish is that his three kids can overcome all this and begin some kind of a normal life.

  24. Paul Sempschi says:

    A quote from Mike:

    I think 400 years from now Zappa will be more famous than Jackson.

    I have my doubts Frank’s music will survive 3 more generations, given the ZFT’s strangle hold over his legacy and the generally poison atmosphere created by the two camp split. I believe we’ve had this discussion before about his relevancy to the current musical climate, which is arguable.

    It would seem that the Velvet Undergroundesque minimalists have won out over the densely layered New Wave fusion sounds the Mothers pumped through. The musical split can be seen, aesthetically, as the combat between the Mensch’s and the Bolsheviks in Russia during the early part of the Revolution. Now it doesnt matter, Russian Communism’s dead.

    Once the notion of popular music becomes out moded, Frank may not even survive as a footnote.

    Michael’s legacy will survive, if only as a perverse curiosity. Like Houdini or, more apropo, the Elephant Man, there will be urban legends, trivia and disbelief about this man for the next 200 years. After that, people may even doubt his existence, I mean, they doubt him now!

  25. Just Found Alive says:

    A quote from Hugh:

    There was a time when Michael & The Jackson 5 could get me on a dance floor. And those are treasured memories for me.
    But then it got weird. Really weird and sick.
    And now it’s just sad.
    My wish is that his three kids can overcome all this and begin some kind of a normal life.

    Jackson play Jackson ?

  26. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Alex:

    A quote from Mike:

    I think 400 years from now Zappa will be more famous than Jackson.

    We won’t know, because we will be dead – just like they both are.

    I’m not one to get hung up on other people’s deaths. If he believed in something, I hope he had everything squared away with his creator. And if not, he made some great records. ‘Thriller’ stands out for me as one of the best-sounding records of the 1980’s. That thing is so well-produced and slick, a fly could land on it and bust its ass.

    But anyway, he’ll be missed. I just hope his contributions to society/music are more enduring than his public image since the early 1990’s as this pasty-white baby-dangling maybe-a-child-molester creepo.

    Just because Thriller sold 50 million copies worldwide doesn’t mean it was good, just popular. In fact, the one 80s album that sticks in my mind above and beyond Thriller was The Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense.

    Who cares who’ll still be heard in 400 years? And does it really matter? Every generation throws their own hero up the pop charts anyway. Enjoy whatever music entertains you. I’m just happy that FZ was such a unique and creative composer, never satisfied to remain at any one particular stage for very long (uunlike much of popular music which sounds like the same songs rehashed and repackaged again and again for mass consumption).

  27. Chuck says:

    In my head there are two Michael Jacksons… the kid to the young funky guy who did the brilliant “Off The Wall” album…

    Then there is the nutty one that came… stiff 80s overblown production with plastic surgery and weirdness….

    We lost the first Michael Jackson years ago and that was a real shame.

  28. tim says:

    “my dinner with jimi”, speaking of dead pop stars, jimi hendrix, cass elliot, brian jones, jim morrison, lennon, harrison & of course fz, (who’d i miss?), are all portrayed in the movie of howard kaylan’s remembrance of his couple years surrounding his #1 hit (with a bullet!) now out on dvd & worth a look. i’ve never cared for the turtles, flo & eddie or that version of the mothers so i don’t know why i liked this at all, but it was ok. once you can get past the wigs. the zappa appearance is limited to one scene sitting at a table in cantor’s deli. his portrayal gets my approval, (like i know frank zappa!) but at least it seems that he probably could have been this way (& his wig ain’t that bad!). oh yeah, herb cohen’s in it too. played by the actor who was “booger”, in “revenge of the nerds”.

  29. vince says:

    Didn’t like “South Park”, until I saw the one with Michael Jackson!

  30. urbangraffito says:

    Oh, Barry, when will the dead celebrity feeding frenzy end? In the media, you’d think he was the second coming of the messiah! The crowds of maudlin fans lamenting: “On the third day, Billie Jean will rise, and the world will ‘Beat It’!”

  31. Tjodolf says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    Just because Thriller sold 50 million copies worldwide doesn’t mean it was good, just popular.

    And just that brings back memories of a better time. Michael Jackson was, in fact, popular. People did, undeniably, enjoy Michael Jackson’s records, concerts and music videos. Back then, popular culture was much more audience-driven; for instance, the charts were based both on sales and airplay, and airplay was based on chart action and audience requests. Today, the music industry sends playlists to Clear Channel, and radio stations, DJ’s and the audience has little if any influence on what gets played, and sales are relegated to the “sales charts” – The Cure have a string of number ones in the sales chart, but you won’t hear them on American radio!

  32. SOFA - Philostopher/Chef says:

    (Sigh) It’s tough to be a fan of debatable talent… Been a tough few weeks for us.
    First Ed McMahon, then Farrah, then Michael – and today, Billy Mays…
    Ed told me for years that I could be a winner (and I believed him). Farrah fueled a LOT of fun fantasies over the years, but her performance in “The Burning Bed” gave me pause (she was awesome). Michael was the ONLY black artist to ever share the locker space of white teen-age girls with David Cassidy, Bobby Sherman, Donny Osmond (no mean fete). And Billy Mays is the only pitch artist who ever made me really want to try a product (not necessarily buy a product, but try it – to see if it did what he said).

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    Just because Thriller sold 50 million copies worldwide doesn’t mean it was good, just popular. In fact, the one 80s album that sticks in my mind above and beyond Thriller was The Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense.

    The fact that Thriller was popular doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good… I spent the big bucks (at the time) and bought a ‘half-speed’ master pressing of the LP because – IMO – it was a great sounding album. Only other HS Master pressing I owned was Dark Side of the Moon… And I must say that Stop Making Sense required more than 1 purchase, due to obsessive wear & tear.
    It was ALL good!
    Even OxyClean…

  33. profusion says:

    Popular culture has very little to do with music at all, anymore. Music is just the background noise for video games, movies, YouTube clips, and preening teenage pop stars. In retrospect, Michael Jackson’s highly popular videos helped bring about this development–in effect, starting the slow death of the music industry and music as a cultural force.

  34. Hugh says:

    A quote from Just Found Alive:

    A quote from Hugh:

    . . . that his three kids can overcome all this and begin some kind of a normal life.

    Jackson play Jackson ?

    JPJ? Ha!
    No, that would really fuck up there heads. These kids have seen enough lawyers in their short lives. Think of all the new legal eagles they’d meet, sending out those eventual ZFT like C&D letters.

  35. Thinman says:

    A quote from profusion:

    Popular culture has very little to do with music at all, anymore. Music is just the background noise for video games, movies, YouTube clips, and preening teenage pop stars. In retrospect, Michael Jackson’s highly popular videos helped bring about this development–in effect, starting the slow death of the music industry and music as a cultural force.

    There are a few examples of mega-popstars, dead or alive, where the music leaves me completely cold: Elvis, Abba, Michael Jackson, Robbie Williams. No matter how many records they sold or still sell.

    I still consider music as art and don’t find that in those people’s work. It’s just product.

    Th.

  36. Paul Sempschi says:

    A quote from Thinman:

    I still consider music as art and don’t find that in those people’s work. It’s just product.

    Th.

    And how do you feel about pop art?

  37. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    A quote from SOFA – Philostopher/Chef:

    The fact that Thriller was popular doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good…

    … and that, ladies & gentlemen, is the Crux of the Biscuit. I bring to the table exhibit one: the entire Beatles catalogue.

  38. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Thinman:

    A quote from profusion:

    Popular culture has very little to do with music at all, anymore. Music is just the background noise for video games, movies, YouTube clips, and preening teenage pop stars. In retrospect, Michael Jackson’s highly popular videos helped bring about this development–in effect, starting the slow death of the music industry and music as a cultural force.

    There are a few examples of mega-popstars, dead or alive, where the music leaves me completely cold: Elvis, Abba, Michael Jackson, Robbie Williams. No matter how many records they sold or still sell.

    I still consider music as art and don’t find that in those people’s work. It’s just product.

    Th.

    I really have to agree with Thinman on this one. I may be in the minority, but with very few exceptions, at least in my observation, the 80s were the death-knell for music as an artform (from which it really hasn’t recovered, either). When was the last great “artful” album like Pink Floyd’s The Wall released? Thinman is absolutely correct, it’s just product now. Sure, there are those niche releases that are worth buying, but unfortunately, I fear the day of the great album release is in the past. The consuming public has been so dumbed down they think of the music of the 1980s as the height of musical creativity. Sad, sad, sad. We are, indeed, dancing to the music of the white zone…

  39. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Barry’s Imaginary Publisher:

    A quote from SOFA – Philostopher/Chef:

    The fact that Thriller was popular doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good…

    … and that, ladies & gentlemen, is the Crux of the Biscuit. I bring to the table exhibit one: the entire Beatles catalogue.

    I think this is where the debate about “artfulness” and “product” probably depart, Barry. Unlike the Jackson catalogue, which was never more than highly entertaining pop/dance music (and if you think about his video for Thriller, for a moment, was really just a very well realized advertisement for the album, nothing more, nothing less), the Beatles endeavoured to innovate in their own way: their music grew from their pop-ish beginnings to play both a part in the psychedelia and progressive music movements of their time (what long lasting effect has MJ tunes had?).

    Perhaps what is truly sad about MJ is his unrealized potential. In his short 50 years he was capable of so much, and what did he do? Look at John Lennon did with 40? Frank Zappa with 52? Certainly, when musical historians write about our century, MJ’s contribution will be noted, but in my opinion, he squandered his talent. He could have been of the calibre of a Quincy Jones or a Miles Davis.

    What did he choose instead?

  40. tim says: