Posts Tagged ‘Michael Jackson’

An Angel And A King Forever

Thursday June 25, 2009.  Two iconic figures of pop culture; two tragic deaths.  One that will surely (and has already) overshadow the other.  Growing up, I did not really know Farrah Fawcett as her most famous role.  I remember her hyphenated moniker Fawcett-Majors.  I remember seeing reruns of the Six Million Dollar Man in which she co-starred with her then husband, Lee Majors.  I even believed that she was the actress who played the Bionic Woman.  I guess Charlie’s Angels was on after my bedtime.  Her bravery through suffering has been well documented and must have been heavy upon those who loved her.  She is definitely in a better place.

On the other hand, the weeks ahead will undoubtedly focus on the self-proclaimed King of Pop.  No matter what the last decade or so of Michael Jackson’s life may have brought the fact remains: the man had an extreme amount of talent musically, and performance wise.  I will not dwell on the tabloid details of his life but will say that I do remember his heyday in the early to mid 80s and was enthralled with his extreme talent.  I was with my family in Texas the summer of 1984 during the Jackson’s Victory tour and remember thinking how cool it would be to be able to get impossible tickets. I also remember the videos (when videos were actually shown on MTV) that were mini-movies.  Thriller is still a masterpiece aurally and visually.  Ironically, I just watched it via youtube earlier this week.  Nearly 15 minutes.  28 million copies of the album sold worldwide.  Experts are already speculating that the world will never again see the like.  His life may have been troublesome and strange.  I think being tossed into the spotlight at the age of 4 and continue for 4 decades would be difficult to say the least.

To say nothing of the passing of Johnny Carson’s second banana, Ed McMahon.  Not a good week for pop culture.  Peace and healing to all the families of these three icons.

Something (Truly) Evil’s Lurking In The Dark

So… what is a has been, reclusive, much ridiculed performer to do with any shred of dignity he has left to him? Revisit his heyday and make a Broadway musical of it, of course.  For the first time in a few years, Michael Jackson has reemerged (or at least given a statement) that he will be working with the prestigious  Nederlander Organization on a fully realized musical adaptation of the iconic tune and music video Thriller (Oh, help).  The tale of boy meets girl, boy and girl go to a scary movie, and boy has a big, dark, hairy secret.  Wacko Jacko will be involved in the entire production in what capacity has yet to be  released.  This will probably depend upon the performers willingness to come out of his plastic bubble (oops… that was another story).  Is it just me or does it seem that even Broadway is going back to the 80s along with all other forms of entertainment?  The British stage show, Thriller Live, (a musical based on the life of Jackson… HELP, AGAIN!) has been playing to audiences across the pond since 2006.  Let the bashing (or support… I do not wish to alienate any legitimate readers) begin.  I wonder how far into the story the British extravaganza goes.  I wonder if Thriller will come up with a clever way to resurrect Vincent Price (not only his voice)… that would be a thrill.

Happy 5-0, Jack-o

Today marks the half-century mark for one of the strangest, most celebrated (in his heyday), and most controversial performers ever to dance across a stage. At one time, the mere mention of Michael Jackson’s name sent teenage girl’s hearts a-flutter. Now, it seems that it sends chilling thoughts of child abuse charges, skin color changing, surgical mask wearing, and sleeping with chimpanzees. I do remember when he was rightfully given the moniker “The King of Pop,” but 1983-84 was some time ago and most people born just a few years after that would wonder what all the fuss was about. In fact, they frequently laugh at the mere mention of his name (as most people do… even most of his fans wonder what happened).

I remember vividly my experience with most things Thriller: the album itself (still the world’s largest selling of all time), the video, the sequined glove, the marketing, and the introduction of the Moonwalk during the 25th anniversary of Motown. I remember seeing the video while staying overnight with my cousin. My uncle stayed up with us as he was a fan going back to the Jackson 5 days. At the time, it was on of the scariest things I had ever seen. A tribute to the old creature features of the 50s and 60s. Zombies, werewolves, creatures rising from graves. Even Vincent Price’s voice made an eerie appearance in a “rap” toward the end of the 14-minute movie. Days later, the video was banned from network airwaves and was only allowed to be played on MTV after 10pm.

In 1984, the phenomenon sparked the “Victory” reunion tour of Michael and his brothers. While visiting our relatives in Texas that summer, the group was performing in Dallas. And not forgetting the hair-burning incident during the filming of a Pepsi commercial.

Although Wacko-Jacko is now almost in total seclusion, at one time he was a powerhouse of performing dominance seemingly invincible. However, his success with Thriller was never surpassed as rumors began to take control of his life just as its popularity was at its peak.

Baby You Can Drive My Car

Finally, after 7 seasons on the air, American Idol contestants can sing songs from the Lennon/McCartney songbook. Of course, what better way to celebrate the feat of convincing Michael Jackson to allow it (since he owns the rights to the Beatles works) then to have an all Fab Five show. Let me also point out that (IMHO) after seven seasons, the show has lost some of its luster. It is no longer the “must see show” of the week. It is becoming tedious watching Randy say: “It was just awiight fo’ me Dawg.” Or Paula exclaim: “You look beautiful” when what she really means is “That was really bad.” Or even Simon bashing the hopefuls. It has all become a bit formulaic.

Two of the performances stood out to me (one good; the other…. wellll). The first was a performance of “Let It Be” (the final single released by the Beatles in 1970). Brooke White chose to perform the song while accompanying herself on the piano. It was a truly heart-felt performance.

However, Kristy Lee Cook decided to change the classic “Eight Days a Week” and give it a country flavor. Not only did the judges totally dismiss the brave choice, she will probably be in the bottom three tomorrow night. I am not what one would call a country music aficionado, but it was just a strange rendition.

So while it is becoming a bit tedious, I still do try to catch American Idol when I can. I can actually say I know where Carrie Underwood came from… and she is a country singer.