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09 Feb 21:10

Dr. Andrew Greene: The One-Trick Pony

by andrewgreene11

Michael Joseph Jackson [2] [3] (born August 29, 1958 in Gary , died June 25, 2009 in Los Angeles ) – American pop , R&B , soul , rock and funk singer , songwriter, entertainer, dancer , actor , composer and philanthropist [4] , whose career and personal life have become an important part of mass culture. Counted among the greatest performers, composers and most popular artists in history, the best-selling solo artist of all time and the most awarded and most frequently introduced to the hall of fame, the greatest artist of all time among the living and the dead [5] , and due to his achievements in the music industry, “King of Pop” [6] [7] .

He began his musical career at the age of six, being the lead singer of the family band The Jackson 5 . The first solo album Got to Be There was released in 1971, while still being a member of the group [8] , with which he finally parted in 1984 [9] . He began his full solo career in 1979, and its peak came at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, after the release of the albums Thriller , which sold over 100 million copies worldwide [10] [11] , and Bad . After Thriller and Bad Jackson, he released more albums reaching high positions in the charts and sales: Dangerous (1991),HIStory (1995) and Invincible (2001). The estimated circulation of his albums and singles worldwide is over 750 million copies [12] . His achievements in the music industry include, among others a revolutionary approach to music videos [5] (started by the music video for the song ” Thriller ” from 1983) and dominating the popular music market in the 1980s [13] . He was the first black artist to gain strong support on television, in particular MTV , which mutually benefited from promoting his pioneering music videos for the songs “Thriller” and ” Billie Jean ” [14]. He also popularized complex dance moves such as moonwalk and robot dance [15] .

Winner of hundreds of awards, including 14 Grammy Awards [16] (as well as the Grammy Legend Award and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award ) making him the most awarded artist in popular music history [17] , with 13 of his singles reaching the top of the charts. in the United States [18] . He had a huge impact on mass culture, breaking many stereotypes, including racial prejudices. His work inspired masses of artists of various musical genres – from pop, soul, through R&B to hip hop [19] .

From 1988 to 2005, he lived in his California estate , called Neverland Ranch , where he built an amusement park, private zoo , cinema, theater and dance hall, computer games room, Indian village, 19th century Wild West, famous flower clock, train station, often visited by children. In 1993, he was charged with sexual harassment of minors. The plot of his inadequate relationship with the children reappeared in 2003 after the documentary ” Living with Michael Jackson ” was broadcast, however, in 2005, he was acquitted of all charges. He had three children: Michael Joseph Junior (known as “Prince”), Paris Michael Katherine and Prince Michael (known as “Blanket”). He died on June 25, 2009, at the age of 50, as a result of “sudden cardiac arrest” [20] .

In 2020, for the ninth time in a row, he topped Forbes’ list as the highest-paid late artist, generating $ 400 million in profits. Thus, setting the record, over 2 billion dollars earned in 11 years from death [21] .

1958–1977: Childhood and the beginning of a career

Michael Jackson was born in Gary , Indiana [22] [23] . He was the seventh of nine children and the fifth of six sons in the working-class family of Joseph (1928-2018) and Katherine Jackson (born 1930). Katherine, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses , raised her children in her faith without the participation of a father. At the age of 17, Michael Jackson became a baptized Jehovah’s Witness (but was later expelled from the community [24]). According to interviews given years later by Michael himself, the father, who would later be the manager of their musical band, was able to be ruthless in the discipline imposed on children and did not refrain from physical violence against them. Jackson’s father himself, Joe, admitted in 2003 that he regularly beat Michael [25] .

Michael revealed his musical talent at a very early age. In 1964, along with his brother Marlon, he joined the newly founded band The Jackson Brothers by brothers Jackie, Tito and Jermaine . Initially, Michael supported the musicians by playing congas and tambourine , and later, together with Jermain, he used his vocal skills. During this period, the boys gave many concerts in Indiana, and after winning a local youth talent competition in 1966 (performing a song by The Temptations – “My Girl”, sung by Michael), they began playing professional concerts in Chicago and the Midwest .) Of the United States. Many of these concerts took place at notorious black nightclubs at places called the ” Chitlin ‘Circuit ” where young boys had to play before the strippers performed . [26]

When the group changed its name from The Jackson Brothers to The Jackson 5 in 1966, young Michael shared the singer’s duties with his brother Jermain. In 1968, the band signed a contract with Motown Records [27] . Shortly after signing the contract, the band gained star status thanks to the hits from the first four singles: ” I Want You Back “, ” ABC “, ” The Love You Save ” and ” I’ll Be There “, which were at the top of the Billboard charts . At that time, young Jackson began his career as a solo artist with the albums Got to Be There (1972) and Ben(1972). These CDs, recorded with The Jackson 5, were released under the band’s label; They included the successful singles “Got to Be There”, “Ben” and a new arrangement of the song “Rockin ‘Robin”.

After 1973, sales of the group’s albums began to decline, and the band began to complain about their work being controlled by Motown. As a result of disputes, in 1976 the group signed a new contract with CBS Records [28] . In response, Motown Records brought a series of lawsuits against the group for breach of contract, as a result of which the Jacksons forfeited their rights to use the The Jackson 5 name and logo. Jermaine Jackson also said goodbye to the band. ‘ego Gordy, he preferred to tie up with his label [29]. In this situation, the band changed its name to The Jacksons, including – in place of Jermaine – the youngest brother of Randy Jackson. In this line-up, the brothers continued their careers, touring the United States and abroad. Between 1976 and 1984 they released another six albums, from 1983 acting as a sextet again with Jermain. From 1976 to 1984, Michael Jackson was the main composer for the band, producing hits such as ” Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) “, ” This Place Hotel ” (originally “Heartbreak Hotel”) and ” Can You Feel It “.

In 1978, Jackson played a scarecrow in the movie ” The Wizard of Oz ,” with friend Diana Ross as Dorothy [30] . The songs from the musical were arranged by Quincy Jones , who, having established an acquaintance with Jackson during the production of the film, decided to produce his next albums, including – as it turned out – the breakthrough Thriller.

1979–1981: Period Off the Wall

Off the Wall , released in 1979 as the artist’s fifth solo album , featured songs such as ” Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough ” and ” Rock with You ” [8] , which soon took the charts. The album reached number three on the Billboard album chart, remaining in the top 20 for 48 weeks. The publishing house was produced jointly by Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson, while the music and lyrics, along with Jackson himself, were handled by Rod Temperton , Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney . The album was a signal of the arrival of a new Michael Jackson, independent of his brothers in his later career [31], which over time was also confirmed by the number of albums sold – the world circulation reached 20 million copies [32] .

In January 1980, Jackson won the first American Music Awards for his solo work in the categories “Best Soul / R & B Album” (for Off the Wall ), “Best Male Soul / R & B Performer” and “Best Soul / R & B Single” (for ” Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough ”) [8] . He also soon won two Billboard Awards (for “Best Black Artist” and “Best Black Artist Album”) [8] , and his star status was further confirmed by the Grammy Award for “Best Male Performance” of the song ” Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get.” Enough ” [8] .

More than twenty-five years after its premiere, Off the Wall remains one of the most important moments in Jackson’s musical career, which began his dominance in the pop music market. In 2003, VH1 ranked Off the Wall ranked thirty-six on the All-Time Album Chart; on the list of 500 albums of all time of the biweekly “Rolling Stone” , it was placed 68th.

1982–1986: The Thriller Period

The year 1982 brought two premiere releases with the participation of Jackson. The first is an audiobook with fairy tales released together with the soundtrack to Steven Spielberg’s film E.T. It included a recording of Michael Jackson reading a fairy tale and a new song “Someone in the Dark”. Soon ET was awarded a Grammy for “Best Children’s Album”.

The second, this time the artist’s own release, was the album Thriller , released in December . It was Jackson ‘s second LP released on Epic Records . Thriller turned out to be the best-selling album in the history of phonography – according to data from January 2009, it sold 109 million copies [33] . The album also became the first-ever with seven singles reaching the Billboard Top 10, including ” Billie Jean “, ” Beat It ” and the title song ” Thriller “.

The music videos for the singles that accompanied the album also turned out to be an important event. The thirteen-minute long music video for the song ” Thriller ” was very well received by critics, and the mass broadcast and high popularity of the clip led to the release of the short film Making Michael Jackson’s Thriller on videotape, which became the best-selling home video cassette in history [34] . Another major music video was ” Billie Jean ,” which was the first music video of an African-American performer to be regularly broadcast on MTV . This song is also related to the development by Jackson of a specific way of moving around the stage, the so-called. moonwalk, which became the trademark of the singer and which Jackson first presented at the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever concert in 1983 [34] . Moonwalk initiated a new wave of interest in Thriller .

Thriller remained on the Billboard album chart for 122 weeks, 37 of them at number one . The thriller proved to be a huge commercial and artistic success; so far (until June 2009) in the United States alone, he was awarded a platinum title 28 times [35] . This album made Michael Jackson an icon of world pop culture. Time magazine in 1984 estimated the revenue obtained from the sale of the album at 4.1 billion dollars [36] . Thriller also helped black musicians to re-present their songs on major radio stations, from which they disappeared in the mid-1970s. [36]At the time of its greatest popularity, the album was enthusiastically received by listeners all over the world; as one Soviet high school student put it: “His (Michael Jackson’s) music is incredibly exciting. His pulse is the music of our times ” [36] .

In 1983, Jackson signed an advertising deal with Pepsi , which led to a serious accident. During the filming of the advertising film, in front of approx. 3 thousand. fans, an explosion of sparks from a specialized device caused the singer’s hair to catch fire. As a result of the accident, the artist suffered second degree burns and the hair did not grow back at the burn site.

In February 1984, Jackson was nominated for a Grammy in twelve categories and won eight statuettes [34] , thus breaking the record for the highest number of awards won in one year [37] . Seven was won by Thriller , eight was awarded to ET . In 1984, he also won eight American Music Awards, including the “Special Award of Merit” and three MTV Video Music Awards .

In May 1984, stores all over the United States began selling the star dolls, which have become a kind of sex symbol, as Time magazine described them : “Incredibly sexy. Completely safe. Eroticism at your fingertips ” [36] . In addition, Michael Jackson’s glove made of rock crystal and the costume in which he appeared in the video for “Thriller” became the hallmarks of his style, which began to be copied by American youth.

In 1984, Jackson sang with his brothers again. First, he helped them work on the Victory album , then on July 6, 1984, he went with them as the main star on the five-month ” Victory Tour “. In 1985, Jackson was invited to the White House by then-President Ronald Reagan , who thanked him for lending the song ” Beat It ” in the campaign against drunk drivers on TV and radio [38] . Jackson continued his charity work. In 1985, together with Lionel Richie , he created the hit ” We Are the World”. The single, the proceeds from which they were donated to charity, drew public attention to the problem of hunger in East Africa and helped raise funds to fight it. The single was also one of the first examples of Michael Jackson’s activity as a philanthropist. The song won a Grammy in the category “Song of the Year” [34] . We Are the World has become one of the top five best-selling singles of all time, selling over 20 million copies.

The post-release period of Thriller is also associated with controversy over Jackson’s acquisition of a majority stake in ATV Music Publishing , which owned the rights to most of The Beatles’ songs . The move upset his close friend and musician Paul McCartney , who also introduced the concern to his offer. The irony of this was that it was McCartney who first drew Jackson’s attention to the profits that could come from owning the rights to the Beatles songs, prompting Jackson to buy them [39]. This marked a definitive end to the artistic collaboration between Jackson and McCartney. This controversial deal, as well as reports from the tabloid press that Jackson slept in a pressurized oxygen chamber (to stop the aging process) and that the artist had bought Joseph Merrick’s bones , severely tarnished Jackson’s image and caused the press to give him his hated the pejorative nickname “Wacko Jacko” (“crazy Jackson”) [40] .

In 1986, Jackson starred in a three-dimensional film produced by George Lucas , directed by Francis Ford Coppola , called Captain EO . The film ran for 17 minutes and cost $ 17 million [41] , making it the most expensive short film at the time . At Disneyland , the film was shown from September 18, 1986 to April 7, 1997. Two new Jackson songs appeared in the film, they were ” Another Part Of Me ” (later it appeared on the album Bad) and “We Are Here To Change The World”, which was officially only released in Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection in 2004.