Five years ago today, pop superstar Michael Jackson left this earth at just 50.
Some people said, “Good riddance! He was a ___ and a _____!”
But if, like me, you revered him, and grew up with him, and marveled at his extraordinary talent, then you gasped, shook your head, and lit a candle.
As Michael Jackson transformed himself from an afro-topped black kid singing with his brothers, into a chisel-chinned, almost white, slick-limbed adult who looked an awful lot like Diana Ross, we wondered, with not a small modicum of horror, what on earth he was doing to himself!
But then there was that talent; that undeniable and mesmerizing talent. There were the songs that transported us, and a body that moved as well as Michael’s own idol, Fred Astaire.
I adored little Michael from the get-go. I watched their Jackson 5 Saturday morning cartoon and cheered for all their other television specials growing up.
When I hear one of my Jackson 5 faves come on now, all bets are off. I still tear up at “Ben,” and it’s impossible for me not to get up and dance when that “I Want You Back” groove gets going!
Of course, when Michael grew up, he kept on shining. I still smile from the second that signature violin hook comes in on “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” It was definitely one of the best things to come out of the disco era. His fifth studio album, Michael was only 20 when it came out. Talk about feeling like a slacker! I was just figuring myself out at 20!! Then again, maybe so was he.
And then came Thriller. Aside from the video for its revolutionary title track, theThriller album hosted two of the best dance gems ever: “P.Y.T.” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Something.”
“Wanna Be Startin’ Something” has so many exciting, fun things going on that I actually often think it’s two different songs!
I didn’t think it could get any better, but he followed up with Bad, and Man in the Mirror, a power ballad that expressed his softer side. Who didn’t want to get up, “make that change” and help the world when Michael asked?!
I can’t leave out Billie Jean (even though I still don’t know what that song is about) and I can’t leave out Black or White. I can’t leave out the amazing documentary This Is It made about the Michael Jackson tour that never happened.
Gulp. Gulp. Tear. Tear.
Now that I’ve opened up my heart to you, I’d love to know about YOUR favorite Michael Jackson songs. Comment away!