In case you were in a cave for the last five years I have a news flash for you: Michael Jackson is still dead.
Michael Jackson’s death sparked different reactions for different people, but for myself I choose to remember the good times and not the ones where he had a pet monkey, or hung that kid Blanket over the fire escape, or bleached his skin or slept in an air chamber, or…you get the point.
The first cassette I ever owned was the Thriller album. I listened to it so much that I literally wore out the tape. I brought it to school almost every day in third grade and jammed out to P.Y.T. with this Asian girl in my class. During the chorus I would go “Duh nuh nuh nuh” and she would finish it off with a “UH!” and we would laugh because it sounded like MJ was taking a massive deuce.
Years later someone invented CDs and I bought the anniversary edition -- you know, where all the tracks are “remastered.” But they didn’t need to be — the songs were already perfect.
I first saw the Thriller music video when I was nine. We didn’t have MTV, cable or a VCR back then, so I had to stay up until midnight to watch Friday Night Videos on NBC. Uhhhh, BIG mistake. And you all know the part I’m talking about: at the beginning when Michael’s like half werewolf and yells at his girlfriend. “GO AWAY!” and then chases her through the woods.
Here’s some math for you: Watching that scene + after midnight = pee entering pants. It wasn’t until years later that a family friend (who shall remain nameless) danced to Thriller in a black leotard that I overcame my fear of the song. Of course, that then sparked a new fear of men in black leotards, which is why I could never join an adult jazz class.
I know a lot of peeps like the Thriller dance by those inmates in the Phillipines, but my favorite parody of the Thriller video was done Bollywood style by a bunch of crazy dancers from India.
We all know that Michael didn’t have the best childhood, but if you had a litter of kids who could sing and dance like Joe Jackson did wouldn’t you put them in show business too? I mean, it’s either that or you become a farmer. Isn’t that why they make those huge vans?
One of the best memories was Michael Jackson’s performance of Billie Jean at the Motown 25 show. It was sort of reunion for the Jackson 5.
He premiered the moonwalk and every day after that I practiced it on my kitchen floor. I even signed up for breakdancing classes at the local YMCA, but that was mostly because that movie Breakin’ came out and I wanted to be like Ozone and Turbo.
I tried to boycott Pepsi in 1984 when his hair caught on fire while filming a commercial for them. But man, Cherry Pepsi is sooooo good. Plus, his hair grew back.
The next epic event was in ’85 when “We Are the World” dropped. Michael co-wrote the song with Lionel Richie to save all the kids in Africa. I’m not sure how many starving children it really saved, but my sisters and I had every part memorized and we could even impersonate the voices for most of the celebrities who sang on it. I always did the parts for Michael (because of my
girl soprano voice), Bob Dylan, Steve Perry and Hall and Oates. My sister did a spot on Bruce Springsteen and Cyndi Lauper. My other sister, wellll…she was a backup singer.
One of my childhood trips to Disneyland included the premier of Captain EO. It was a 3-D movie they used to show in Tomorrowland where Michael saves the universe by – you guessed it – dancing and singing away everything evil. I’m sure this approach worked, but his usual crotch-grabbing probably would have been more effective. That would keep most people at a safe distance, including evil people who wanted to destroy the universe.
We didn’t really have a “couple song” so my wife and I danced to “You Are Not Alone” for our first dance together at our wedding reception. The other Michael Jackson tie-in at my wedding came when I heard several people say they “thought this wouldn’t last” – similar to what MJ said before he presented Lisa Marie with the most awkward kiss ever at the MTV Awards. They split in 1996 … so who’s laughing now?
One of his best videos was “Scream” with his sister, Janet Jackson. It still holds the record for most expensive video ever at $7 million, which is ironic considering it’s in black and white and they play an animated game of PONG together. I’m still not sure where the budget went to produce the video unless they actually went to space to film it.
But Scream is not my favorite Michael Jackson video. That honor belongs to “Can You Feel It” – the one he made with his brothers back in 1980, when they had gone well past their cute, cuddly Jackson 5 era and it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Michael blew up on his own.
The most important thing to remember is that Michael’s life had a purpose. He inspired millions across the world, could dance like nobody’s business, and transformed the art form of the “music video” to something no one else has come close to doing.
So here’s to you, MJ. I know you’re still moonwalking in heaven.