There has been a lot of comparisons to the Late Michael Jackson since his untimely passing back in 2009. Comparisons that didn’t have a leg to stand on beforehand. A lot of artists are being called the “New” King of Pop” or even the “Next Michael Jackson“, and I know a lot of fans would agree when I say, “THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER MICHAEL JACKSON.” There are a number of influential musicians who have passed before and since MJ who have not been disrespectfully stripped of their musical title. So why MJ? Why now?
I recently read an article from Jon Bream on StarTribune, making a number of weak comparisons between Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to Taylor Swift’s “1989” album. Jon wanted to prove that Taylor’s “1989” album was having the biggest impact on pop culture landscrape since Michael’s “Thriller“.
A bit of a reach, Jon.
He started his comparisons by stating that they both released these landmarks albums at the tender age of 24.
At the release of “1989“, Taylor had sold 40 million albums – including 27.1 million (united states) and 130 million single downloads with four prior solo albums. By the time Michael had released “Thriller“, he had five solo albums to his name and 97 million albums sold, pre-Digital music era.
Jon further explains that both Michael and Taylor were savvy enough to pull in unexpected collaborators, with Kendrick Lamar on “Bad Blood” and Eddie Van Halen on “Beat It“. Of course, Taylor was not the first pop artist to feature a Rapper on her single with Snoop Dogg on Britney Spears’ “Outrageous“, Kanye West on “ET“, Heavy D on Michael’s “Jam” and even Aerosmith and Run DMC on “Walk this way“.
Back in November of 2012, Eddie Van Halen did a interview with CNN discussing just how the hit “Beat It” came about. When asked, “Is there an album since then that has shaken things up in the same way?” Van Halen responded, “Not that crossed over to such a mass audience. Nirvana was huge, but it didn’t appeal to everyone.” This is a three year old interview, but if you ask him the same question, I am pretty sure his answer will remain the same.
Somewhere in the article, however, Jon goes from making insignificant and unimpressive comparisons to disparaging remarks by referring Michael as mysterious, reclusive and strange. Whereas, Taylor is open, accessible and “about as normal as any major pop star has ever been.” Some people may not feel that having six high profiled boyfriends in a five year period is a sign of normalcy, but to each it’s own. For reasons made clear in several outlets by family members and journalists, Michael became reclusive in his later years because of the on-going torment and public humiliation he was enduring. It was a choice he made in order to protect the livelihood of his three children.
In conclusion, Jon wraps up his article by stating that although Taylor’s music may be “consistently emotional and sometimes exciting, she is still no Thriller.”
We know, Jon. We know.
The comparisons doesn’t start with Taylor Swift, however. Singers such as Usher, Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake and Justin Bieber has been called the New King Of Pop before Michael could even be laid to rest. Six years later, the comparisons has seized to stop. Nowadays, musicians are molded and sculpted to be huge Pop Stars and only a small margin is naturally born a superstar. With reality TV shows like, “American Idol”, “The Voice”and “The X Factor“, music execs are having a field day “discovering talent” and “exposing natural musical gifts”.
But fifty years ago, a group of five young black boys from Gary, Indiana, was discovered by their father who went through great lengths to make them who they are today. And out of the five of them, one became the KING OF POP. How many of today’s artists can say they have been in the business since they were five years old? Singlehandedly change the color barrier on MTV? How many can say they have worked with musical legends like Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross and Paul McCartney? How many can say they have worked with the likes of John Landis, Marlon Brando, Martin Scorsese and Vincent Price? Not many, if any at all. Michael created opportunities for a lot of musicians today, and there are times when he is not fully appreciated for that.
Popularity do not last long. New trends will come up and new artists will surface from them. The marketing strategies of today artists is “WE HAVE THE NEW MICHAEL JACKSON, WE DISCOVERED THE NEW KING OF POP” but Michael’s strategy all along, was just to be the ONLY MICHAEL JACKSON.