I’ll admit it: I was never a huge Michael Jackson fan. Thriller didn’t thrill me, like it did the millions who made it one of the best-selling albums of all time.
So Thursday’s news of MJ’s death at age 50 didn’t affect me in the same way as, say, the 2002 death of the Clash’s Joe Strummer, who also had heart failure at age 50. (I even went so far as to write a tribute to Joe, who was one of my musical heroes.)
But I came of age in the ’70s and ’80s, and unless you were confined to a gulag in Siberia, you knew about Michael Jackson.
You knew his music. You tried to moonwalk. You sang along with “Billie Jean” or “Bad.” You learned to dance the “Thriller” dance. You watched from the sidelines as the media chronicled his devolution from artistic genius to one-man walking tabloid freak show.
I prefer to remember Michael as the musician who performed some truly terrific pop tunes — first with his brothers in the Jackson 5, then as a solo artist. In his prime, he fused funk, R&B, disco and rock influences and churned out some great music.
I may not have been Michael’s biggest fan, but I did appreciate some of his work. Let’s remember him for his great contribution to the world of pop music.
Here is my personal Jackson 5 — my favorite songs from the King of Pop himself. Enjoy.
- I Want You Back – The Jackson 5. With a young Michael singing lead vocals.
- Rock With You. A classic from MJ’s disco/funk phase.
- Wanna Be Startin’ Something. My all-time favorite MJ tune. Danceable, infectious beat, horns, funky rhythm. Listen to it loud and try to keep your foot from tapping.
- Billie Jean. You know I had to include this. Get your moonwalk on.
- Man in the Mirror. If we remember nothing else about MJ, maybe we can remember this call for compassion and positive change. No message could have been any clearer.
If you wanna make the world a better place/take a look at yourself and make a change.
Rest in Eternal Peace, Gloved One. And thanks for the music.