When it is 10 years since the death of the “king of pop”, at a time when his figure is still tarnished by scandals related to his private side, it is worth remembering how different the world and the industry would have been without Michael Jackson. who gave his life and his soul.
Awarded with 15 Grammy awards, along with the Grammy Legend and Grammy Lifetime special prizes, 26 American Music Awards, 16 World Music Awards, the genius of Indiana (USA) is still considered one of the greatest figures in history of universal music, with 350 million records sold worldwide.
Much of these scandal figures began with the phenomenon of “Thriller” (1982), which, according to the Guinness Book of Records, continues to be the best-selling record in history and the first that managed to exceed more than 100 million dollars. copies around the world.
But Jackson’s shadow extends far beyond the cold data. Musically, without going any further, with the release of “Do not Stop ’til You Get Enough” in 1980 was one of the great modernizers of funk and disco at a time when both styles seemed exhausted.
That song, one of the three that he composed for his fifth solo album, “Off the wall” (1979), represented his leap to maturity, the real proof that there was a future for him outside of the Jackson Five, not only as an interpreter, but also as an author.
“It was the record that turned black music into music for everyone,” recalled Pharrell Williams.
The hopes placed in him were confirmed with the aforementioned “Thriller”, which contained the contagious theme of the same name, driven by a video directed by John Landis that completely reformulated this genre: it had spectacular special effects, a choreography imitated to the satiety and a development narrative that paid homage to horror films throughout … 12 minutes!
Included in the National Film Registry of the US Library of Congress. as “the most famous music video”, its premiere on the MTV network changed the ways of promoting music, which were no longer purely focused on the radio formula. For him it certainly had a vital importance and in 1987 he launched another audiovisual milestone, the clip of “Bad”, directed by Martin Scorsese.
As it has been indicated, part of the secret of the success of “Thriller” was in its choreography. Jackson became one of the best dancers in the music industry, if not the best, and coined his own movements, such as the “moonwalk”, which appeared for the first time in the “Billie Jean” video ( 1983).
Along the same lines and following in the footsteps of David Bowie, he created a very recognizable personal iconography, not only through a wardrobe that often drank from martial aesthetics and that mutated according to the album he promoted.
“He always offered a message of celebration, hope and change,” said Olivier Rousteing, paying homage to Balmain for the famous sequins, black moccasins and white socks in a parade and how, in his youth, Jackson represented the door to culture U.S.
Over time he not only mutated his clothing, but also his physique, subjected to extreme surgical interventions that led him from being an African-American child with chubby cheeks to a symbol of sexual and racial ambiguity.
“I think the Jacksons represented the possibility that blacks could be beautiful,” author Zadie Smith wrote in an essay.
The author of “In the Closet” amplified the narrow margins of black masculinity and, with its success, it became a symbol of African empowerment, not only in American society but throughout the world, by claiming its roots in songs like “Liberian girl”.
In spite of its progressive corporal whitening, attributed by the singer and composer to an illness, or precisely for that reason, it also rose as a metaphor of racial union, reiterative message in courts such as “Black or white”.
It was the same spirit that overflowed “We are the world”, song co-written with Lionel Richie that brought together about fifty stars, from Ray Charles to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, and that became the greatest charitable success in history. raise 75 million dollars (66 million euros) for the fight against poverty in Africa.
That philanthropic facet found wide echo not only in its race, but in the musical industry, because only a year later it was replicated in the United Kingdom, under the controls of Bob Geldof, with “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”.
When he published “Bad” (1987), Jackson also became one of the great giants of live music with Pink Floyd and U2 and contributed greatly to the globalization of gigantic “tours”.
That tour raised 125 million dollars (110 million euros) and came to the Guinness Book