Michael Jackson: 1958 -2009

I was quite happily minding my own business last night, I was watching Sky Sports News getting the latest on what the British and Irish Lions were doing and how they were going to avenge their defeat to South Africa last weekend in the first of three tests.

Then I get a text, "Mate, turn on Sky News." and almost simultaneously my friend sends me a link to the Sky News website on MSN. Neither people are aspiring journalists so I thought it must be quite important.

It was, Michael Jackson, the self proclaimed 'King of Pop' had died. However, at the time of switching on Sky, the reports were unconfirmed. The Telegraph details how the story broke and when his death was announced officially. The Mirror provides an easy to read timeline of events.

I sat up, for about three hours, watching the coverage on Sky News. Uri Gellar gave this interview after he cut off an earlier phone call because he felt he needed to get in touch with Jackson's family. The site is awash with articles, pictures and videoes on what has become a memorable day.

Predicatbly, we woke to the site of newstands being dominated by Michael Jackson. Of course the details are definate. Michael Jackson died after going into cardiac arrest. But editors still had the job of making their coverage stand out.

The Sun has a page full of celebrity tributes. Including, Gordon Brown, Stephen Fry and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but to name a few.

Michael Jackson had money problems, that was no secret. He had debts of around $400 million. The Telegraph has a page dedictaed to 'conspiracy theories and unanswered questions' surrounding the music megastar's life and death.

Oliver Burkeman and Esther Addley in the Guardian took an extensive look at his life. From child star to King of Pop and how dealing with fame from an early age affected his life.

"If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same", he once said, "then everything that happens in between can be dealt with." - The Guardian. 

My go-to paper, the Times dedicated 7 pages to the tragedy. Talking about a variety of subjects, they assess the cost to the O2 Arena now they are facing 50 empty nights. A popular story is the affect on the internet (mainly twitter) with the dramatic increase in traffic and the largest number 'tweets' per second since the election of Barack Obama. They also, like most other newspapers have an obiturary on their site.  However the piece that caught my attention this morning was a commentary by Ben Macintyre. He speaks about the famous names that died young and compares those sudden and iconic deaths with Jackson's very public deterioration and somewhat, plain, end.

"So much in Jackson’s life was lurid, embarrassing, and strange. Yet his death was none of these. A brilliant artist passed in a way that was, by contrast with his prematurely dead peers in the pop trade, almost mundane, an ordinary death from a common disease. Perhaps, in a way, that was Jackson’s vindication." - Ben Macintyre

Radio stations up and down the country are dedicating song after song to Michael Jackson. Almost everybody could probably find a Michael Jackson song in their music collection. The first ever single I bought was Earth Song. With album sales going through the roof, 'Thriller' remains the biggest selling album of all time, topping 100 million copies sold. His following album, 'Bad', was considered to be somewhat of a failure after only selling 30 million.

Court cases, plastic surgery and dangling babies aside. Michael Jackson ought to be remembered for his musical genius and unrivalled dancing ability. You cannot ignore all the controversy that followed him ultimately to his grave, but you also cannot deny that he was and probably always will be, the 'King of Pop'

Comments

A very good post Rob, I opted (shock horror) for the Guardian today and the paper did have some well written pieces on the story, including the article written by Oliver Burkemann and Esther Addley that you mention. There was also a great piece from Richard Williams:

"Michael Jackson may have spent his last years mutating into an ever more freakish version of himself, eventually becoming a prize exhibit in the celebrity zoo, but under the outlandish surface was a singer who had come by his fame not via mere eccentricity or a stroke of luck, but through a genuinely remarkable talent that deserved to conquer the world.

"For all his tragic flaws as a human being, Jackson could legitimately be seen as the greatest entertainer of his generation, the natural successor to Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley."

I think one of the most notable features of his death is the role of the internet in it all - especially Twitter: Celebrities have been reacting through Twitter, and the top topics are dominated by the 'KIng of Pop'.

 

Again Rob, a very good and informative post.

Michael Jackson and his troubles as you say, should hopefully be consumed to the grave really, rather than fussed over by an eager tabloid press adamant on gaining numerous stellar front-page headlines for the sake of increasing its readership.

But what happens now in music? Will there be a new King of Pop? Who can take this title, or will it be reserved and retired for Michael Jackson only?

Thriller, like Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, or Dark Side of The Moon by Pink Floyd, will remain an extraordinary album for the fact it spent - like Rumours and Dark Side Of The Moon - more than 100 weeks in the UK albums chart alone and unified a nation of music lovers of somewhat eclectic musical taste, to embracing a particular artist's work, whilst selling millions of copies simultaneously. I doubt even the effervescent and innovative experimentalism of Radiohead or the revenue generated from an easy-to-please Black Eyed Peas album could ever rival Thriller and such albums in the modern era.

That is why, it seems Jackson will be remembered as a legend. As you say, an entertainer with many failings, but this is not to be overshadowed in remembering his talents.

An unfillable void has been left as pop music loses its King.