Saturday, 26 June 2010
It’s just over a year since Michael Jackson died, so I was wondering whether it is safe to talk about him yet. There are a lot of people out there who believe that he was some kind of messiah and won’t hear a word said against him.
Do you want my opinion?
I think that Michael Jackson was an absolute nutter ... and at the same time a genius.
I don’t want to dwell on his controversial life because I don’t know the detail – it is largely speculation anyway. I do know that he transmuted from a normal black guy into a weird caricature of his former self.
Ultimately I felt sorry for him – I still do. Why? Because he was such a talented artist, deserving the title “The King of Pop”. He could write, sing and was a terrific dancer.
This post is a sort of tribute to the best thing about Michael Jackson – his music. Like everybody my age or thereabouts, Michael’s songs pepper my life, the words and notes reminding me of key episodes in existence – particularly the early material.
I therefore present to you, dear reader, my favourite Michael Jackson songs, which may surprise those who think I am a blinkered heavy metal heathen with tunnel vision and dreadful taste in music.
I actually do like a fair few songs by the King of Pop.
(10) Bad – My wedding was a superb day but also an uncomfortable day. I was the centre of attention and way out of my comfort zone. Through the whole day, I was pursued, along with my ex-wife, by relatives, friends, strangers and a very dogged and determined video cameraman. Everywhere I turned there was a video lens poking in my face; at one point I tried to move away and hide at the edge of the dance floor, which was as stupid as it was pointless because lots of people wanted me to dance. The song blaring in the background at this point was “Bad” and when I look at the video now and see a very young Plastic Mancunian (aged 25) I can only laugh at my embarrassment and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I wasn’t “Bad” at all – just lost like a fish out of water.
(9) Leave Me Alone – There is something about this song that I really like and it is not just the funny self-deprecating video. At the time, the press was full of all sorts of bizarre stories about Michael Jackson and I applauded him for appearing to take on his critics, even if perhaps there was an element of truth in the weird accusations.
(8) Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough – Before I fell in love with heavy metal and rock music, I was a fan of seventies disco music (please don’t laugh – I am baring my soul here). My sister was a huge fan of “Off The Wall” and bought the album mainly to compete with my loud headbanging music – we had competitions with music played at increasing volumes in our respective rooms. We must have driven our parents nuts. However, when she played “Off The Wall” I used to turn the volume in my room down just to listen to “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough” because it reminded me of the music I liked a few years earlier. Please don’t tell my sister.
(7) Billie Jean – My university was dominated by superb pop music. I spent a lot of the time prowling around pubs and clubs in search of a girlfriend and became enthralled by the most popular music around. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was ubiquitous and top of the pile in terms of air play was “Billie Jean”. Every single night club and dance floor was serenaded by the cries of “Billie Jean’s not my lover” and, keen to attract the attention of fair maidens, I tried foolishly to moonwalk while singing the lyrics. Instead of looking like the King of Pop I was more like the King of Plop, resembling a total arse as I drunkenly wobbled around with a twisted impression of Michael Jackson that, I imagine, made women run a mile.
(6) The Way You Make Me Feel – I simply love this song and have made a complete arse of myself dancing to it on many occasions. It is a great pop song that makes my pathetic dancing feet twitch even today. You can imagine what I must look like these days trying to strut my funky stuff to this – that’s right – I look like a middle-aged bag of angry badgers. I must confess, though, that I love the woman in the video. Nice.
(5) Thriller - I will never forget the day I first saw the video for Thriller. We had been to the pub on a Friday night and had returned with fists full of fish and chips. As usual we congregated around the TV hoping to kill some time watching crap TV. We turned on Channel Four just in time to see the first showing of Thriller. For the first two minutes of the video we howled with laughter at Michael Jackson saying “you know I’m not like other guys”. We were merciless – “Yes we know that!” What wags we were. And then we all, as one, dropped our half-eaten chips on the floor, in total shock as the King of Pop turned into a monstrous werewolf. We paused only long enough to laugh when the werewolf knocked over a tree and watched the rest of the video in total silence, plucking our chips off the floor and eating them like popcorn. At the end of the video we applauded citing the video as the greatest music video we had ever seen. In fact, it still sends shivers down my spine today – the song’s pretty good too.
(4) Dirty Diana – Occasionally, Michael Jackson has produced a minor gem and in my opinion, “Dirty Diana” is just that because, not only is it a great pop song, it is tinged with menace and has a mean guitar to give it a harder and rockier edge. I have been known to play my air guitar to this song, again making myself look like a total pillock in front of friends and strangers, all of whom have subsequently denied all knowledge of knowing me.
(3) Can You Feel It – Can you feel it indeed. This song still gives me goosebumps, reminding me of when dance music was actually quite good and not the utter bilge it devolved into. Michael Jackson and his brothers produced a classic here and it still stands the test of time. And yes – you’ve guessed it – I have caused much amusement wobbling drunkenly in vague time to this song – too many times to mention.
(2) Beat It – Like “Dirty Diana”, this is a fabulous pop song with a terrific harder edge and featuring a wonderful bit of guitar work from Eddie Van Halen. During my early years at university, I played air guitar to this in my room, in the pub, in night clubs and on the street. Actually that last one isn’t true. “Beat It” represents my finest memories at university and whenever I hear it, my mind is transported back to those fabulous times, when I was a young buffoon fumbling his way through life (as opposed to the old buffoon I am now).
(1) Earth Song – Casting aside the messianic images in the video, and ignoring the fact that Michael Jackson at this point was becoming a bit of joke, I regard “Earth Song” as a musical masterpiece. When I first heard it I was dumbstruck. It is simply beautiful and is one of those few songs that brings tears to my eyes. This was the last great song he performed.
Well folks, that’s it. I hope you agree with my choices.
Farewell Michael – sorry its a year late.
I am certain that I will be embarrassing those around me, trying to emulate your fantastic dancing skills in future . Try not to laugh – I can’t help being a talentless, malcoordinated bucket of arse.