Thirty years ago today a pop music album came out that, for those of us who can count ourselves as members of the Star Wars generation, was a lot like Star Wars. Meaning that it was so culturally dominant for a stretch of our formative years that it became a part of the way that we would think and talk and view the world for the rest of our lives. Regardless of whether or not we even liked it back then, or of how we have come to feel about since, Michael Jackson's Thriller is closer to something like an objective truth than anything else in music history: it [...]
The new Usher video is just like Michael Jackson's "Rock With You."
A few quick notes on Jacob Lusk's "American Idol" performance last night: I think we can collectively agree that what happens at 1'22" needn't be discussed. He's air-humping the lady who wrote "Man in the Mirror." But 1'34"-1'44"!
He starts with the classic Etta James move—close your eyes, lift your hand up near your head as the note fucks up the audience, and then get straight into the next move because fucking up the audience doesn't mean shit to you. X-Tina also does this pretty well, but the only young gun who really knows how to pull that move off right now is Adele. (Being overweight helps with this move. [...]
This is one of those news stories where the jokes practically write themselves. But we think this is a fantastic idea, to adapt Neverland Ranch into a park, because, I mean, what else would you do with it? The only other thing you could probably do is turn it into some kind of museum of insanity or maybe erect some kind of giant pillar covered in glitter as a memorial. Actually, a giant Washington Monument covered in glitter sounds kind of awesome. Why aren't all national monuments covered in glitter? Thoughts?
"Standing outside his bedroom was a wax figure of a queen's Household Cavalry guard. The bedroom itself was dark and quite plain, in tones of beige and brown, and, to be honest, a bit depressing. Adjacent to the bed was a huge, red, thronelike chair ornately trimmed in gilt. Above the mahogany four-poster was a painting of a blond Jesus." -November's Architectural Digest features a tribute to the late Michael Jackson. Everything about this confuses me.
You knew Mos Def could rap, and act, and argue foreign affairs with Christopher Hitchens and Salman Rushdie. (Did you know that? If not, check this clip from Real Time With Bill Maher.) And did you know he could sing? Here he is giving tribute to Michael Jackson-something Rap Radar's Elliott Wilson notes is currently "Mandatory. End of story."-on a cover of "Billie Jean." He's subtle in striking the iconic poses, and in his moonwalk, and he lets the crowd at Chicago's House of Blues take the high parts. And there's a real sadness in his reggae-tinged lilt. You can think of lots of way someone [...]
My Classy Linkbait Of The Day Award goes to Us, for this incredible bit of shameless traffic trawling: "Usmagazine.com has exclusive, never-before-seen footage of Michael Jackson's Pepsi commercial accident, filmed in L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium on Jan. 27, 1984." Points off for the headline ("How Michael Jackson's Pill Addiction Began") and its attempt to provide justification through context, but otherwise this is a sterling achievement for which everyone over there should feel proud.
1. Elizabeth Taylor as Helen Burns in the 1943 version of Jane Eyre.
The movie, which had Orson Wells as Mr. Rochester and Joan Fontaine as Jane Eyre, was made when Taylor was 11. It was filmed right before National Velvet made her famous. Just a year before, a casting director at another studio had complained, "Her eyes are too old, she doesn't have the face of a child." About this role, a biographer writes: "So tiny was her part, as one of the classmates of young Jane (Peggy Ann Garner), that she got no billing on the credits; and years later when she wanted her own [...]
In 2002, Corey Feldman was the canary in the reality-show coal mine. Before starring on the first season of VH1's "The Surreal Life," a show that spawned something like 16 spinoffs, the fallen star of Goonies and The Lost Boys produced an album which could stand as the unofficial soundtrack for the 00s' glut of celebrity reality shows. That Former Child Actor was going to be a wreck was evident before it even came out (maybe it was the promised cover of "Imagine" that tipped everyone off). But this series is dedicated to reassessing vanity projects past, no matter how unpromising, so let's do now what we [...]
Did you seen the video the activist hackers group Anonymous released yesterday to announce its cyber attacks on institutions it sees as infringing upon internet freedom by suspending WikiLeaks accounts? Have you seen the video for Michael Jackson's posthumous single, "Hold My Hand," featuring Akon? They're different, but also sort of the same. It's fun to do the thing where you cue them up and adjust the volume so that you're watching one with the sound from the other, and then switch. Well, "fun," might not be the word, exactly. But it's something!
Michael Jackson, who is still dead, is a trending topic on Twitter, but as "Micheal Jackson." And that's where we are here in June of 2010.
"Michael Jackson's death was a homicide caused by 'acute propofol intoxication,' the Los Angeles County coroner rules," says the CNN BREAKING ALERT. Didn't this already happen? Are we in some kind of terrible Groundhog Dayesque nightmare where this summer continues on infinite loop? Because I will not abide it.
Over at her delightful blog, Carrie Fisher muses on 'media melodrama': "I actually did this talk show to promote my show here & Berkeley, & ended up blathering on & on about Michael's last Christmas & whether or not Michael's DNA participated in the creation of his 3 children…….if u didn't see it, don't bother–but the clip of my Michael chat was identified as, 'Micheal's friend Princess Leia chokes up while talking about her famous dead friend'"
Even now, nineteen days on, I can remember where I was when I discovered that Michael Jackson had passed away: sitting in front of my laptop reading this very site. It seems like only yesterday that we all switched from not thinking about Michael Jackson unless we heard a song of his in a cab to sharing an endless celebration of his legacy. It seems like only yesterday, but no: It was almost three weeks ago. We live in a completely different world now. Still, while we may have moved on, it's not a terrible thing to look back every now and again. For instance, I just discovered musician [...]
If You Wanna Play Nina Simone In A Movie About Her Life, It Does Sorta Matter If You're Black Or White
"A large part of Nina Simone’s work and advocacy was prompted by the challenges she faced for having dark-skin and being rejected or criticized because of it. Nina was unapologetic about her brand of beauty and it was reflected in her demeanor and personal aesthetic." —Tiffani Jones, of Coffee Rhetoric, assails the choice of light-skinned, thin-nosed Zoe Saldana to play Nina Simone in Cynthia Mort's biopic Nina. (Too bad Mary J. Blige dropped out. That could have been great. Or terrible.) Jones is right, I think. Mort told the Times' Tanzina Vega that the movie she's making is not intended to be a strict biography, but rather [...]
Part of a series on collaborations that we now take for granted but initially made little sense.
In November of 1984, Band Aid, an impromptu UK super-group organized by former Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof and pop mercenary Midge Ure, released "Do They Know It's Christmas?" The charity single, intended to aid the famine in Ethiopia, sold 3.5 million copies, making it the biggest-selling UK single until "Candle in the Wind '97." The song's massive success showed that there were sound commercial reasons for marrying pop music to charity causes, a now-familiar union. In this, it preceded, but was ultimately eclipsed by, the American iteration: USA for Africa's "We Are the [...]
I have mixed feelings about Will.I.Am protesting Sony's release of Michael Jackson's unfinished work. The new single came out this weekend, with a new album (the first of many, apparently) due in December. Will says:
"Whoever put it out and is profiting off of it, I want to see how cold they are. He just wasn't any ordinary artist. He was a hands-on person. To me, it's disrespectful. There's no honoring. Michael Jackson songs are finished when Michael says they’re finished. Maybe if I never worked with him I wouldn’t have this perspective. He was very particular about how he wanted his vocals, the reverb he used … [...]
Oh, in case you were wondering of what Michael Jackson died, somehow, it was the drugs. Also his hands and feet were basically pincushions, it sounds like. Update: Oh and it is now called a homicide. Go read People if you want to know a LOT more; this is totally my station and I am getting off this train now.