I left to take a shower yesterday afternoon at 4:45 pm. I returned to my room 12 minutes later to a bundle of voicemails and text messages. One of my favorite artists, the greatest entertainer ever was dead.
I don't know what stage denial is on the coping scale, but I'm stuck there and will remain there indefinitely. Now I understand what early Christians felt like when Jesus got crucified, what comic junkies felt when Superman died the first time. This is earth-shattering, humongous. Michael Jackson. Gone at 50.
I don't know where to really start or where to end. I was literally raised on Michael Jackson. My mom would play and sing Jackson 5 songs during Christmas time and on Sundays instead of gospel. I had all the music video tapes, all the CDs; knew all the moves, all the words. My childhood was Mike Jordan, Mike Jackson, Santa, and Iron Man, in that order. Michael Jackson seemed superhuman to me as a kid, and even as I grew older. The ability to bring 100,000 people to tears with music blew my mind, the pandemonium that followed him if he even took a single step out in public was astounding. He was literally a god. People worshipped him.
MJ took popular music and popular culture into uncharted territory. The moves, Jesus Christ the moves were pure art. Everybody has tried to moonwalk at least once in their life. I challenge any of you to say, genuinely, that you haven't tried to do this at least once. Mike coulda done a 200-city tour without singing a word. All he had to do was dance.
But when he sang, boy did he sang. Off The Wall, Thriller (Thriller!!!!), Bad, Dangerous. Mike's discography is unmatched. I don't care what anybody says. Mike was the biggest thing to ever happen to music. Ever. Bigger than The Beatles, bigger than Elvis, bigger than damn Beethoven, bigger than everybody. Combined. 18 Grammys, over 500 million records sold. Thriller sold 70 million alone. Crazy numbers. Thriller only had 9 tracks, but everybody knows each one verbatim. Every single song on the album reached the Billboard Top 10, 7 of the tracks hit number 1.
Aside from simply audio, Mike was a master of the visual. He combined his otherworldly dance moves with fearless vision for his music videos. Mike was putting out 13 minute long videos, and you'd watch them every time they came on.
Every R&B singer in the 90s and 2000s has bitten Mike's moves, voice, and image. Usher made a career out of doing it, Chris Brown is trying to, Bobby Brown, Justin Timberlake, R. Kelly, Ginuwine. Name a male pop artist now, he's taking from Mike. MJ was influenced by James Brown and Chuck Berry, but it stopped at influence. He took their work and went to a whole new level.
Like I said, I don't really know when or how to end this. I still kind of refuse to believe Mike's gone. I never thought he'd ever actually die. The suddenness of it adds to the shock, but I would've been crushed if I'd seen this coming.
Mike had his problems, but if you were ultra-famous since kindergarten you'd have some quirks too. He was never convicted of anything, and in a weird way, I wouldn't have cared if he was. It sounds sick and twisted, but I'm just being honest. I couldn't remember Mike for molestation, baby shaking, and skin bleaching. I just couldn't.
I'll try to stop here, b/c at this rate I'll never end it. I hope people can start to realize how big of an impact Michael Jackson had on pop culture. And not even just in the US, MJ was probably more beloved in Europe in Asia than he was here. Mike was pop culture. The purest definition of an icon.
Long live the true King.