The Groove Is Dead And Gone
The King of Pop died today. I wasn't a huge fan...didn't own any actual records, downloaded a few singles of my favorite tunes of his and the Jackson 5. But he was undeniably a masterful musician and performer, and since I'm at least tangentially in the same business as he was, I must pay my respects.
I grew up with Michael Jackson. He was 3 years older than me, so I was about seven when he hit the charts with the J5. "ABC" was my favorite at the time and remains so. Back then I liked the shout-out chorus, I guess. Nowadays I love the bass line and the exuberant groove.
I really started listening - as a musician - when "Off The Wall" came out in 1979. I was a junior at Mauston Area High School, and was way into The Cars, UFO, Van Halen and hard rock. But the radio played "Rock With You" and 'Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "She's Out of My Life" a lot and there was no denying the brilliant songs, performance and production. I really liked the vocal phrasing on "Rock With You", especially the way he says "girrrll" as an aside on the outchorus. It was cool.
Three years and a ton of awards later, we got "Thriller", the most succesfull album ever made, with estimates of world-wide sales to be between 47 and 100 million copies and 28 million in the U.S. alone. Seven Top Ten singles. "Billie Jean". "Thriller"."Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'". "The Girl Is Mine". "Beat It". "Human Nature". "P.Y.T."
He mastered the music video art form, ushered in the extended video re-mix with the title track, and became the King of Pop with that record. He never needed to do anything else.
But he did.
After that came "We Are The World", the re-united Jackson's massive "Victory" tour, and the Paul McCartney collaborations. The follow up album "Bad" (imagine the pressure!) had five number one singles on it. After that I lost interest and only heard bits and pieces of his output.
RIP, Michael. I hope you find the peace you sang about.