Friday, June 26, 2009

Song of the Day: Billie Jean

Ok, ok. We have to do something with Micheal Jackson. He was tremendously, unbelievably, extraordinarily remarkably creepy, but he was quite the entertainer as well.

This was the performance put Micheal Jackson on the path from superstar to biggest star on the planet. He had hits before and would have huge videos after, but this is the thing that lit the spark.

During a celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Motown, Jackson performed Billie Jean. The buzz about it afterward was unbelievable. Watching it again now, it's really doesn't seem that remarkable. He's lip synching and spends most of the song standing in one spot doing little more than twisting his ankles.

But doing the moonwalk twice and standing on his toes really blew people's minds. It's impossible to understate what a big deal those two things were. Every kid in America--EVERY kid--tried to do the moonwalk and stand on their toes. Everyone knew who you were imitating if you lifted one knee to waist height and swung your foot back and forth.

The guy turned into a super freaky character and it's easy to understand why. From the time he was 5 years old until his death he had almost no way to comprehend what "normal" is on this planet. Neither he nor anyone else ever exerted much control over his behavior. With that much fame and power from such an early age, how could they?

I'm not sure how the big comeback would've gone next month, but it would've been nicer for Micheal Jackson to have died ten yeas ago or ten years into the future. He hasn't released a recognizable or popular song in more than 12 years. Think about that. Elvis died in 1977, only nine years after his massively successful "comeback" special, only four years after his last #1 album, "Aloha from Hawaii." His decline and embarrassment was much quicker (and creepy) than Jacksons.

The last ten or twelve years have been perhaps the biggest shame in celebrity history. Has anyone ever pissed away so much? Was it ever going to be possible for him to regain a measure of respectability?

But, life being what it is, we'll never know. There are a lot of things I'm sure we'll never know about Micheal Jackson. When you get into people this rich and famous and this odd, it's tough to differentiate what's believable and what's not, anyway.

I'd say RIP, but I'm not sure he's not going to freeze himself or have himself mummified and put on display. So I'll just say: He Hee!

1 comment:

Quriltai said...

Landmark performances never seem that unbelievable to me after the fact. Tina doing "What's Love Got to Do With It?" or Madonna's "Like a Virgin" seem ho-hum, but that's the advantage of hind sight. What was amazing, I guess, was how new it all was.