Michael Jackson

Introduction:

Music can be considered food for the soul, an outlet for self-expression, and a tool that inspires connection and community amongst individuals by conveying messages about changing times in society. There are people such as Michael Jackson who are born to create music. These individuals not only have a passion for music, but they identity music as a way of life. Through their passion, they share their musical talents with the world, ultimately creating a space of vulnerability by allowing others to see who they are as artists and human beings.

Thesis:

Michael Jackson holds the title of King of Pop because of his natural inclination for musical performance, ability to renovate an entire genre of music through his unique style, and long lasting legacy in the world of music beyond his death.

Early Beginnings:

The journey to fame for Michael Jackson began from humble beginnings. Michael was the eighth child of ten children born to Joseph and Katherine Jackson in the small town of Gary, Indiana. Michael’s talent would come to change the lives of the Jackson family forever. Joseph Jackson, Michael’s father, began a music group called the Jackson Brothers composed of his eldest sons. Michael soon began his career along his older brothers at the young age of eleven years old. From here on out, the Jackson Brothers became the Jackson 5. Fame became evident “from the moment he joined his brothers on stage, Michael’s powerful voice and diminutive dovish of a body dominated the group.” Not to say his brothers were not great performers, but Michael was special. He had an undeniable talent that made viewers want more of him. Michael’s father saw true talent in his son, thus leading him to be very abusive when it came to the singing group’s music rehearsals. Though abused, Michael gave credit to his father for his musical success. Jospeh Jackson was not the only one to see Michael’s talent. From a young age, Michael had the gift of captivating hearts through his music. Michael and his brothers began recording with Motown record and made many hits such as, “ABC” and “I Want You Back”. In addition, the Jackson 5 often made debuts on Soul Train and American Band Stand. Though the Jackson 5 achieved great success, this was just the beginning for Michael. The Jackson 5 laid the foundation for the future of Michael Jackson’s solo career. The exposure to the music industry as a child performer prepared him to grow into the mega pop star he was destined to be.

Solo Career:

Michael Jackson used his unique style to alter the genre of pop music. “For someone so squarely at the center of pop culture, Jackson was far ahead of his time in terms of how he negotiated and altered his identity on the fly.” Michael understood that there was not a correct or incorrect way to produce music. His originality stemmed from his willingness to step outside of the conventional process of making music by creating a sound that was out of the ordinary. His creativity and innovation is evident in his performance during “Thriller” which in return rewarded him with the greatest selling album worldwide. Mr. Mottola, who had the opportunity to work alongside Michael while he was with Sony said “he bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and pop music and made it into a global culture.” As Michael evolved, so did his music. Michael’s style received mixed reviews from the public. However, he found a way to make his unique style work for him. In the public eye, Michael was “often painted as resisting the cutting edge, [but he] was in fact borrowing some of hip-hop’s angst and reformatting it on his terms.” Through the merging of genres, Michael Jackson was able to break down barriers for future African American artists such as Usher, Jay-Z, and Kanye. Today, many rap and hip-hop songs incorporate style characteristics of pop music and vice versa. In addition, many artists have been able to cross over into multiple genres and become successful because Michael Jackson paved the way for artists to be diverse in their craft.

A Man of Many Talents:

In addition to singing, Michael was a spectacular dancer. His moves along with his music helped him to become set apart from other artists. “Mr. Jackson is one of those rare dancers with whom you feel you’d pay just to watch him walk.” Some of his most famous moves include the moonwalk, the crotch grab, and the anti-gravity lean. These moves ultimately aided him in becoming a pop icon. He is considered to be “a particular type of artist — a thoughtful, highly conscious perfectionists who never stopped honing his technique.” The reason Michael was a great artist and performer is based on the fact that he never stopped evolving. By never becoming complacent he was able to surpass his peers in the industry. Michael’s music is proof of the notion, practice makes perfect. As a celebrity, “he became more character than singer: his sequined glove, his whitened face, his moonwalk dance move became embedded in the cultural firmament.” As Michael kept improving and perfecting his natural talent, he was becoming one of the best artists in the industry.

Influence on Pop Industry:

Michael Jackson used his unique style to alter the genre of pop music. “For someone so squarely at the center of pop culture, Jackson was far ahead of his time in terms of how he negotiated and altered his identity on the fly.” Michael understood that there was not a correct or incorrect way to produce music. His originality stemmed from his willingness to step outside of the conventional process of making music by creating a sound that was out of the ordinary. His creativity and innovation is evident in his performance during “Thriller” which in return rewarded him with the greatest selling album worldwide. Mr. Mottola, who had the opportunity to work alongside Michael while he was with Sony said “he bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and pop music and made it into a global culture.” As Michael evolved, so did his music. Michael’s style received mixed reviews from the public. However, he found a way to make his unique style work for him. In the public eye, Michael was “often painted as resisting the cutting edge, [but he] was in fact borrowing some of hip-hop’s angst and reformatting it on his terms.” Through the merging of genres, Michael Jackson was able to break down barriers for future African American artists such as Usher, Jay-Z, and Kanye. Today, many rap and hip-hop songs incorporate style characteristics of pop music and vice versa. In addition, many artists have been able to cross over into multiple genres and become successful because Michael Jackson paved the way for artists to be diverse in their craft.

MJ: After Death

Today, Michael Jackson’s music is remembered and revered past his death. There is always a lingering thought of what will the world remember a person by after they have passed on. Michael left the world his music. Michael Jackson’s talent greatly impacted the music world, and as a result, “according to the Guinness Book of Records, [he is considered] one of the most successful entertainers of all time.” Michael Jackson was a trend setter through his music dance moves, and clothing style. Fans as well as other artists constantly imitated him by wearing similar styles of clothes or impersonating his musical style and dance moves. Lisa Campbell writes that “Michael Jackson is unquestionably the greatest entertainer in the world.” He is given a title of great magnitude because he performed not for the success and fame, but because he truly loved to sing and dance. In everything Michael did, it was obvious that he performed to the best of his ability.

Discography

Albums: 

  • Got to be There 
  • Ben 
  • Music & Me
  • Forever, Michael 
  • Off the Wall 
  • Thriller
  • Farewell My Summer Love 
  • Bad
  • Dangerous 
  • Blood on the Dancefloor
  • Invincible 
  • Michael 
  • Immortal 

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Works Cited

Barnes, Brooks. “A Star Idolized and Haunted, Michael Jackson Dies at 50.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 June 2009, www.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/arts/music/ 26jackson.html.

Blay, Zeba. “Why The Black Community Will Never Let Michael Jackson Go.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 28 June 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-the-black-community-will-never-let-michael-jackson-go_us_576997ebe4b065534f480702?utm_hp_ref=michael-jackson.

Campbell, Lisa D. Michael Jackson: the King of Pop’s Darkest Hour. Branden, 1994.

Caramanica, Jon. “Examining Michael Jackson Impersonators and ‘Dangerous.’” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Oct. 2014.

Hale, Mike. “Review: Michael Jackson, before He Was King.” New York Times, New York Times, 4 Feb. 2016.

Macaulay, Alastair. “His Moves Expressed as Much as His Music.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 June 2009, www.nytimes.com/2009/06/27/arts/music/27assess.html.

Martin, Sylvia J. “The Roots and Routes of Michael Jackson’s Global Identity.” Society, Springer , Nov. 2009, www.academia.edu/1499988/The_Roots_and_Routes_of_Michael_Jacksons_Global_Identity.

Neal , Mark Anthony. “Sampling Michael: Rhythm, Masculinity & Intellectual Property in The.” NewBlackMan (in Exile), 2012, www.newblackmaninexile.net/2012/08/sampling-michael-rhythm-masculinity.html.

Stern, Carrie. “Michael Jackson (1958-2009).” 2016.

Vogel, Joseph. “The Misunderstood Power of Michael Jackson’s Music.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 8 Feb. 2012, www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/02/the-misunderstood-power-of-michael-jacksons-music/252751/

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