It always happens around this time of year. We’re leaving the Australian winter behind and heading into spring, things are looking brighter, and more positive I guess you’d say. It’s around this time that my thoughts inevitably turn to Michael Jackson.
It was around this time when I was in High School that I really, like, really started to get into Michael’s music. It was the concert for MJ’s 25 Years as a performer or something and it was immense. Up until then I’d regarded him as nothing but a freak, a tabloid headline, distanced from any of his music. But the concert was a revelation. There were these huge tunes, with big, inescapable hooks and a dedication to the art of performance that’s hard to find in Canberra.
After the concert finished I went to Mum’s CD stack and found Thriller. And that was it. From then on I listened to all the MJ I could, starting with the impeccable glowing pop of Thriller, to the distinct late â€ 80s energy of Bad, to Dangerous, which was admittedly riddled with rough spots but still overall a great record. Moving past Blood On The Dancefloor straight to the Best Of comps I was entrenched in MJ. Beat It, Bad, Smooth Criminal, Rock With You, Jam, PYT, fuck even The Girl Is Mine was on repeat at my house. Such incredible songs, undeniable in their pop-brilliance, far removed from any media frenzy about Michael sleeping in a coffin/nailing kids/etc etc. It didn’t matter how big the story was, Michael was always bigger. He was a colossal star, who could pack out stadiums, have lunch with Presidents and marry Elvis’ daughter. He was so big he could get Martin Scorsese to direct a sixteen-minute clip of Bad without blinking an eye.
And the music is as close as it gets to being universal. You can put on HIStory on pretty much anywhere and people will sing along. Guaranteed.
Today, Michael is 50. And that seems crazy, because I’m pretty sure he’s still got it. Whether or not he releases a new album we don’t know right now, but it doesn’t really matter because we will always have the tunes.
Happy birthday Michael.
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