A little over 24 hours ago we were shocked as tweets, updates and queries overloaded Twitter, Facebook and Google with the King of Pop’s death. It was sort of surreal when I first read it in my Twitter timeline. Like many, I couldn't keep up with the "updates." I had heard he suffered a heart attack... and then was in a coma... and couldn’t believe it when the news broke that he had passed. I refused to believe it until CNN or NPR made an official statement and even then it seemed unreal. At the age of 50, the international superstar passed away after suspected cardiac arrest in his Los Angeles home.
24 hours later, the news is just now starting to sink in for me. It’s hard to explain, but in my mind it just didn’t seem possible that THE Michael Jackson could die. I had grown up listening to Michael. He sang the soundtrack of my childhood and adolescent life and in my twenties it’s his songs that get me on the dance floor every time at any club (you can’t tell me you don’t get the urge whenever you hear a hint of “Beat It” or my all time fave, “PYT”). I guarantee that we’ve all got some memory that involves a Michael Jackson hit (my memory? My very first junior high slow dance was to “You Are Not Alone” lol!).
Love him or hate him, you can’t deny his talent and the timeless influence he’s had on the music industry. The youngest member of the Jackson 5, he quickly out-shined his siblings at an early age. During his solo career, he went on to earn 13 Grammy awards, 13 #1 singles, and sell over 750 million records... tell me that don’t give the man some braggin’ rights!
In the early 80s he became a dominant figure in the pop world after his breakthrough album, Off the Wall, and the world's best-selling record of all time, Thriller. And who could forget his "mini-film" for "Thriller" that forever set the bar for subsequent music videos? Oh, and his dance moves? They've influenced everyone from Chris Brown to Usher, and even inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines.
But, as we all know, behind most musical geniuses is often a troubled soul. Michael Jackson, with his unorthodox lifestyle, was no exception. He was by no means a role model and for the last decade of his life, was the center of controversy and scandal. Anyone with his level of stardom would clearly have to battle some personal demons during his/her lifetime, which without a doubt would effect one's professional life and image too. Out of respect, I won't go into those details here. Besides, I'm sure all that-- and more-- will resurface elsewhere as the days go by...
However, despite all that, as we found out about his death, people of all ages everywhere flocked to music stores to complete their MJ collections, hundreds gathered in the streets to celebrate his legacy, and DJs played tribute to him all night long. And if you ask me, that’s a testament to his musical greatness. Although many may try, his legacy is unlikely to be surpassed (or forgotten).
May you rest in Peace, Power and Paradise, Michael Jackson. No matter what, we never can say goodbye.