The shocking and untimely death of Michael Jackson yesterday afternoon has left the entire world buzzing. People all across the globe have been voicing their reactions, his music has once again dominated the airwaves, and many Internet sites — including CNN, Google, and Wikipedia — completely crashed yesterday afternoon as millions across the world tried to gather information about this breaking story.
Michael Jackson certainly had a roller coaster career, achieving heights equaled by only a select few artists and lows that go unrivaled by his peers in the entertainment industry. Sadly, in recent years he has become known more for his eccentric behavior and plastic surgery
nightmares than for his enduring contributions to music. Between his myriad nose jobs, facelifts, and skin bleaching procedures, the King of Pop has also earned the moniker, the King of Bad Plastic Surgery.
Unfortunately, many of the articles reporting his death speak of these forgettable moments. Hopefully, as he is remembered in the weeks to come, people will focus on the positives of his legacy, because it is undeniable that his contributions to the world of music and entertainment rank among the greatest of all time.
In the 1980s, the world of pop music was dominated by Michael Jackson. His Thriller album shattered sales records for the time, selling almost 50 million copies worldwide and holding the number 1 spot for 37 weeks. I was about 7 or 8 years old when the album took the world by storm. I remember it very well. It was one of the first albums that ever had a major impact on me, and probably contributed to my burgeoning interest in music.
Jackson also helped launch MTV into the juggernaut it became during the 80s. His elaborately choreographed music videos became the gold standard for which others aspired to achieve, and his extended-length video for the song “Thriller” has arguably never been paralleled since.
But most important to Jackson’s legacy is undoubtedly the doors he opened for other black artists. In his heyday, he was as iconic as the Beatles were in the mid 60s. While there were many black artists before him to achieve widespread success, none reached the levels of Michael Jackson. For the better part of a decade, he was the biggest pop star in the world (hence his nickname), and his style, music, and dance moves were imitated by many others trying to emulate his model of success.
Hopefully, this will be his enduring legacy, and people will forget about the eccentricities that have marred his life and career over the past 15 years. There are hundreds of black musicians, actors, artists, athletes, and politicians who owe a huge debt of gratitude to Michael Jackson. They all benefited by being able to walk through the huge doors opened by Jackson in the early part of his career. Without a doubt, the massive levels of success experienced by many hip hop and R&B; artists over the past two decades was largely made possible by the path blazed by Michael Jackson in the early 80s. In many ways, he is the entertainment equivalent of Jackie Robinson or Martin Luther King Jr.
Michael Jackson’s death has left a huge void in the music and entertainment world. It is uncertain if we will ever see another entertainer reach his heights and accomplish as much as he did in our lifetime. Hopefully we will, but if we do not, it will only further add to his lofty legacy.