Well, I was preparing to write something sassy (a new column, in fact, criticizing something instead of gushing, for once), and then I heard the news which you’ve all heard by now (and if you haven’t…now you have): the King of Pop, the man who has had a gloved hand in making 21st century pop music as we know it, has died. Michael Jackson, our beloved iconic musician, was not supposed to die, at least not until our generation could die along with him, and so to us he will remain immortal, much like Tupac…not in a thugz mansion, but on Bourbon Street, New Orleans or on a private island in the Caribbean. And if you’re thinking anything like, “what does this have to do with indie music?” I will literally come find you and kick you in the shins.
After 50 years of sharing his talent with the world (I mean, he basically emerged from the womb singing with the Jackson 5), of beautiful falsetto, of classic and progressive dance moves, and of media absurdity, how can we honor him accordingly? Well, we can’t, really, can we? So instead of trying to achieve the impossible and making pretentious bastards out of ourselves, we’re going to leave you with a tiny piece of his colossal legacy. The following is a list of (with some links to) our MJ faves–our collectively and classically favorites of Jackson’s original tunes, and some fabulous covers, which demonstrate that not only will Jackson’s music continue to thrive in its influence on literally every single talented musican (and probably the untalented ones too) performing today, but in its evolution.
A Toast to Michael. In no particular order. Enjoy.
“Thriller” (Thriller, 1982) It doesn’t get more obvious than this, folks. William & Mary recently broke the world record for the most number of people doing the Thriller dance at the same place, at the same time.
“Man in the Mirror”, cover by James Morrison (Bad, 1988)
“Billie Jean” (Thriller, 1982)
“Billie Jean”, cover by Snowsera (Thriller, 1982)
“Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough” (Off the Wall, 1979)
“The Girl Is Mine”, cover by John Legend and Stephen Colbert (Thriller, 1982)
“Ben” (Ben, 1972)
“I’ll Be There” (Jackson 5, Third Album, 1970) I’m peeing my pants because listening to little Michael doing this a cappella is so precious and beautiful.
“Beat It”, cover by Fall Out Boy (Thriller, 1982) Not bad for Fall Out Boy, I must admit.
“I Want You Back”, cover by Nickel Creek (Jackson 5, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, 1969)
And finally, Eric really likes the video to Smooth Criminal.