Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Once and Future King

Hey again, Blogworld!

So it's taken me a few days, but I figured, sure, I'll post about Michael Jackson. As we know, I was born too late to experience Michael Jackson as a pop cultural phenomenon. I just knew the music. And I really liked the music.

I mean, Good Grief:

But here's the deal. A month ago, people would've rightly remembered Jackson as a past pop icon and present weirdo. In the absence of contemporary musical greatness to point to, they would've possibly underrated his past music and overrated his present weirdness. This is normal. We tend to underrate/forget things as time passes, as its initial impact lessens gradually. Time and pop culture work together like ripples on the pond.

Now, though, there's a predictable swell of MJ-adoration. Thriller has re-entered our mainstream in June 2009 like it first entered in the 80's. People re-evaluate their connection to it. People spin it constantly. It's a phenomenon Chuck Klosterman and Bill Simmons talk about on the latest Sports Guy Podcast.

They ask a key question, though, without answering it:
Is Michael Jackson at this moment underrated, overrated, or properly rated?

Did his death and its subsequent artistic renaissance simply remind us all of what was already there? Or has the reaction been disproportionate and, to a degree, dishonest? Or is he still underrated as a musician because people are unable--or unwilling--to separate the appeal of his music from the weirdness of his persona?

What do you think?

1 comment:

ross k. said...

I'll be a Jackson booster and vote properly rated. He did several smash albums worth of totally danceable music that makes you feel good. They're also full of heavyweight studio musicians, great producers, and killer singing. Ever tried to sing a Jackson tune, for real? Also check out Youtube montages of the cat's dance moves. He was unreal. He was also one of the last links to the old Motown Records gang, and we shouldn't dismiss that.

I don't know how much of the bad press about him was true. As usual, I try not to focus on that. There may be press canonizing him right now, but I think mostly we should be reminded of what was already there, the one-of-a-kind music and entertainment career that was there before it turned into a circus.

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