One of music greatest living legends, Michael Jackson suffered cardiac arrest, fell into a deep coma and was pronounced dead at around 5:15 pm Chicago time at UCLA Medical Center. With that, we will never know if the King of Pop would have made the comeback of all comebacks. The singer was ready to embark on an ambitious 50 city tour that would spawn a potential comeback album and with the perks that would have come with such a huge undertaking, the reward at the end would be a debt-free Jackson and put the King back in his rightful throne, a throne that had been troubled since the late 90s with his bizarre behavior, lawsuits, legal troubles and deep financial stress. But the biggest reward would be to reinforce the love many people across many generations had for him, despite all his troubles.
Look, ignore the baggage he carried out in the open since the late 90s. Forget all the weird behavior that eventually gave him the terrible nickname ‘Wacko Jacko’ and focus on the great things he has done not just for pop music, but music in general. He turned the music video into an art form and thus made MTV what it once was. He gave future generations of musicians and even bands the impetus to take risks creatively when people around them would say no, like the risks he took creatively in 1979’s aptly named ‘Off The Wall’. And who can forget the pop mastery in 1984’s ‘Thriller’, an album that will still be debated on whether or not it is the greatest pop album ever. It is that album that has influenced many of today’s pop artists and bands like the Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees and countless others. And for the genre of dance-driven R&B, his biggest impact was the intricate choreography and showmanship that has influenced artists like Usher and Ne-Yo and Chris Brown and Justin Timberlake. His greatest songs are timeless and flexible, having been covered not only by pop and R&B artists but also rock and alternative bands like Chris Cornell, Fall Out Boy and others. Finally, his personality, no matter how off-color, off-beat, eccentric, what have you not, he wasn’t afraid of showing it all for the world to see and thus influenced future generations of equally eccentric acts to also not be afraid, especially in today’s twittered-up world.
My friends, whether or not you were or are a fan of Michael, you know the kind of legacy he has left behind. There are very few artists out there in music that can transcend several generations and even stay relevant in a time when the prototypical music fan has a very short attention span. The very fact that a lot of young people out there that know the kind of impact he has made on music is astounding. Like I said, very few artists and bands have that kind of staying power.
Here’s to you, Michael Jackson and heaven has already erected a larger than life stage for you. May you rest in peace.