Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is it better to burn out than to fade away?

You can't really go anywhere this weekend without running into wall to wall coverage of Michael Jackson's death. Some say it is tragic, but there was a certain inevitability to it. And it's a funny feeling really.

For me (and no jokes are intended) he was a symbol of my childhood. I think for anyone that was born between about 1970 and 1985 he was your first music idol. One of the first music video's I remember was Bad. One of the first Cd's I got was Dangerous, which got thrashed for a good period of time. I don't think people who were born after that period truly can imagine what a superstar he was at the time. I heard it said that imagine how much attention Britney spears gets. And now imagine she was talented. That was Micheal Jackson.

Of course not long after he was dogged by controversy of his private life. That's all been said and gone over a million times. I had serious doubts about him, but really we will never know. He was raised in the glare of stardom, and that he became one of the only child stars to actually become more famous is testament enough. But, again, it raises questions about the media and the notion of celebrity. It the end it seems as though he was a seriously talented but disturbed man.

And his music. I mentioned about loving his music as a child. Much of his music lost it's meaning for me when I became a teenager. Was his death as tragic as John Lennon? Not for me. Even though John Lennon died before I was born, his music has had much more of an effect on my life than Michael Jackson's. The Jackson Five had some classic Motown hits such as I want you back, and, in my opinion, two classic albums Off the Wall and Thriller. Bad was hit and miss, and by Dangerous (apart from being a personal childhood favourite), the rot had well and truly. He had fallen from being the epitome of cool, to being a bizarre, self promoting, demagogue sailing giant statues of himself down the Thames. By the mid nineties he was increasingly irrelevant, while a slew of younger RnB stars borrowed from him on their way to stardom (Justin Timberlake I am looking at you).

I have always thought that if Micheal Jackson had died after Thriller or Bad he would truly be remembered as the most famous musician of all time, leaving at the peak of his fame. But this was a human being and as much as we want to gloss over the subsequent bizarre behaviour, we cannot. So while, like Neil Young said, Its better to burn out than to fade away, unfortunately Micheal Jackson did fade away, but his music never will (unfortunately that means we will might have to hear Heal the World again.....)

So kids I present Micheal Jackson, when he was all that was cool.

So very cool

Should have kept the afro... and the nose... and the skin....

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