Michael Jackson: an old tribute i’ve nearly forgotten about

i was casually browsing through my files for some ol school Backstreet Boys songs to add in my music player, and i stumbled upon this old piece i wrote during my internship in 2012 that prolly never got published. but hey, who says i can’t publish it myself even if nobody’s there to read it?

believe me, i wrote this with enough knowledge that i have not just as a fan but (briefly) a researcher, since this was meant for a newspaper. there’s also some extra tidbit i added for extra improvement (kinda?), but i digress.

Long tribute post under the cut (with some edits here and there).

Who on earth has never heard of the legendary King of Pop? Even those who were born after the 90s should know Michael Jackson. His songs, his amazing dance moves and his charitable contributions were some of the things people remember most about him, besides tabloid reports and high-profile child molestation scandals.

I still remember the first time I listened to Jackson’s hits. The first song I heard was Billie Jean. I was only four years old, too young to know the lyrics. But I could remember the tunes. It became familiar to me the second time I heard it, and I fell in love with it.

Then my father bought a VHS cassette of Jackson’s “Video Greatest Hits: HIStory Vol.1”. That night the whole family actually sat down and watched the video from start to finish. It featured music videos from the “Off The Wall” era of the 80s till his “Black or White” era in the 90s.

The “Black or White” video was probably my most favorite, because of everything it had. The introduction (which featured then young Macaulay Culkin blasting his fictional father into space with epic loud guitar jam) was, to say the least, funny and amusing. The setup was creative, and the video was colorful in more ways than one, just like the message Jackson was trying to bring in that video: that we are all the same no matter what colour we are, and understanding of diversity is the key to world harmony.

There was also an additional “panther scene” where Jackson danced rather expressively (and near explicitly too) in a quiet street, which also caught headlines for implied explicit contents, which he later apologised. Being young as I was back in the day, I thought it was impressive, though I always did feel slightly bothered at his trademark crotch-grabbing stance. Only when I got older did I understand the whole thing. But I was still impressed nonetheless.

The real deal, though, was when I first watched the award-winning video “Thriller”. I remember taking cover in the first few minutes out of fear before looking up and watching the rest of the video. Some scenes creep me out, but none scared me more than a scene where Jackson transformed into a werewolf-like creature. It was only until I was old enough that I finally had the guts to watch the whole thing without flinching or covering my face.

Since that day, my love for everything Michael Jackson became stronger. You could say he was my first celebrity crush, before the likes of Nsync and Backstreet Boys came into the scene. Every chance I get, I would go to the music store with my father and see if there was any Jackson hits on sale, be it music albums or even music videos.

I would always play them on my walkman for my listening pleasure. Sometimes I would play the videos on our player and I would copy every dance move he made in his videos, or at least attempted to. I even went through a collection of old cassettes and found an old “Bad” cassette from my father’s younger days.

Even until today I would try and get my hands on his albums or any merchandises, finding the time and money for it. My interest sometimes drives my mother off the wall (pun intended), but to me, it’s worth it, because I know I would enjoy them all in the long run.

I’ll be honest; I thought to myself, if I ever had the chance to meet him or go to his concert, I would probably fall into a hysteric scream and most likely faint on the spot. The least would probably be me giving him a big hug and wouldn’t let go. If you see footages of his concerts and fans going wild to the point of hysteria, you can imagine how I would end up too if I was there.

I’m pretty sure the only time my mother didn’t mind my MJ interest as far as I could recall was the time I expressed my intent on going to his supposed final concert “This Is It” at O2 Arena, London. That was months before the news of his death hit worldwide coverage. As a fan, I was devastated to hear the passing of the King of Pop. To me, it was the worst wake-up call I ever got. I remember being stirred from my sleep by my mother on a Friday morning. She told me, “Wake up, Michael Jackson just passed away!”

I remember scrambling from my bed and saw the TV showing updates from CNN. My head was swarming with denial, MJ couldn’t be dead. I was so sure it was probably a sick joke. But as much as I wanted to deny it, the news was right in front of me, showing the awful truth: the King of Pop was no more.

I admit guilty to being easily stirred by emotions, and trust me when I say I cried like I just lost a dear friend. Fans all over the world mourned his death, and why wouldn’t they? He was irreplaceable. No one could fill in his shoes till this day. There are just so many things I could talk about this wonderful man. I love him so much, he was my focus for one of my term papers in university, no joke.

Jackson was a perfectionist, there was no doubt about it. He put every effort in his music videos and every one of his song so that his fans can enjoy them to the fullest. He aimed to please everyone, so much that I think he never once thought of rewarding himself for every job well done.

His story was that of fame, glory, and sacrifice. Hailed from Gary, Indiana, Michael Joseph Jackson was the eight out of ten children. He first made his name in stardom with his brothers Jermaine, Jackie, Tito and Marlon as the Jackson Five. After their hit “I Want You Back”, Jackson was a household name all over America, spawning album after album and even their own TV shows.

But with the popularity came the ultimate sacrifice: his childhood. While other children went to school and played with friends, Jackson had to work and rehearse, and endure his father’s rough upbringing. So intense the impact, that Jackson once quoted that he would feel sick at the sight of his father. Thus Neverland was established later in the late 80s, where he ‘lived’ his childhood dream alongside all the kids he would invite.

His inspirations were celebrities as popular as he was: James Brown, Diana Ross and Fred Astaire to name a few. In fact, his Smooth Criminal music video was inspired by one of many Fred Astaire videos. James Brown was his ’mentor’ in dancing. As a child he would watch Brown dance and learn from him, until he developed his own dancing style and, later on, came up with the ever popular move, the ‘moonwalk’. The moment it was debuted in 1983, people of all ages began imitating it till today.

Jackson’s songs were a diversity of self-expression, romance, daring creativity and making a stand on specific issues. He was all about versatility and precision, which earned him multiple awards and recognition in his lifetime as a music maker. He broke every barrier in the music world, raising the bar and breaking it again and came out on top with everyone else.

A philanthropist himself, Jackson strongly believed in the capability and potential of children, that they deserve the best the world has to offer. He believed children deserve to be children, enjoying their childhood and do the things he never had the chance to.
That was probably what touched me even more; his kindness knows no boundaries whatsoever, and I believe there aren’t many people out there who are as noble as he was.

Remembering what my lecturer once told us, there was a rumor, a conspiracy in fact, surrounding the cause of his death. It was the fact that near the end of his This Is It tour, he would perform with Yusuf Islam (also known as Cat Stevens before his change of faith) and finally announce to the world that he himself has converted to Islam; knowing his influence, some people out there are so sure this would change everything and they didn’t want that to happen. Whether this is true or not, who knows. What I do know is, Jackson was popular before my time, and became even more popular after my time.

I feel that everyone regardless of age can relate to being a fan or at least listening to one of his hits, especially those who lived through his early days as a child superstar and his glory days until his death in June 2009. Everyone has their own experience as a fan, some probably more interesting than mine.

Rest in peace, Michael Jackson. The world misses your presence in the music universe. You will always live on in our hearts forever as one of the best music maestros in the world.

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