30 June 2009

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

I'm just going to post this as it was in the conversation Richard and I had:

From: Richard
Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 9:49 AM
To: Nafa
Subject: more about MJ

Is it just me or did MTV ruin Michael?

The music on everything up to and including Thriller is stellar.

Once the video revolution took hold, it was all over.

What do you say?


From: Nafa
Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 10:42 AM
To: Richard
Subject: RE: more about MJ

Interesting thought. Part of the problem is that there was a 5 year gap between ‘Thriller’ and the follow up, ‘Bad’, and in that 5 years the popular bands went from being The Police, John Cougar, and the singer/songwriter to post-‘Boy Toy’ Madonna, Guns N Roses, and synth-pop. In that 5 years, Wham and The Police had broken up, Duran Duran splintered, Prince stopped talking to the press and started becoming an alien, Van Halen became Van Hagar, Big Country started to ‘rock’, and the world was on the verge of the pop-metal and suburban rap revolutions.

Music, as a whole, changed from 1982 to 1987, and it was a big drop in both quality and consumer defenses. In 1983 no one would have ever bought the faux funk, over produced ‘Notorious’ record with only 3 Durans on it, but in 1987 it was golden (like a shower). And yes, we knew it was an awful (w)rec(k)ord.

MTV’s part in the whole thing was that now kids didn’t have to use their brains (or mind expanding drugs) to visualize the music, the almighty television did that for them. With one less creativity outlet to tap into, there no longer was that filter to say this song is great and this song sucks that you got by listening to the radio. In 1982, you would turn on MTV and see REO Speedwagon, 70s Bob Dylan footage, Iron Maiden, and some really ugly mofos in videos; by 1987 that had been weeded out and all that was left were the pretty ones, Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley, Ready For The World. That beautification process sacrificed talent in lieu of poster sales and the music became a bland pabulum of formulaic putty.

And all us kids bought into it.

As for MJ, he was the unfortunate vanguard for the whole thing, and while he was shaping the sounds and images that we would follow, he was also crucified when ‘Bad’ wasn’t ‘Thriller II’. He’d been through a lot by that point—42 minutes of his music had sold over 100,000,000 units, he’d gone from star without a normal childhood into the biggest star since Elvis, exhausting tour and promotional schedules, video shoots, injuries, relationships, yes-men, plus the everyday things of being just a ‘person’, and everything all under the mega-scrutiny of not only the media but those who worshiped him. He would scratch his ass at lunch and it would be on a t-shirt by 3:00p. It’s incomprehensible this constant roar from people that accompanied him everywhere—like a mosquito in your ear, times millions. I would imagine that would be a huge distraction and would make his product suffer, especially compared to the relative silence and peace he had while making ‘Thriller’.

In the end, we all ruined Michael Jackson. Any of us who waited for his video premieres, bought the glove, tried to Moonwalk, etc. It makes me wonder if his life would have been different if he’d never done the solo set on the Motown 25 show. I’ve always remembered that show, not only for his unveiling the Moonwalk (which was the moment where EVERYTHING that followed was launched), but that Adam Ant sang ‘Where Did Our Love Go’ and then got totally forgotten after MJ. Just think, it all could have been Adam’s world.

Yeah, I guess I did have something to say about this.


The moment we should have been talking about the next day at school...

...and the one we ended up talking about.

Rest in peace, Michael.

No comments: