Michael Jackson, King of Pop - RIP (1958-2009)

26 Jun 2009

a celebratory glance at michael jackson: the world's greatest ever pop artist.

Michael Jackson - RIP

Before I'd heard Slint, before I got into the Clash, before I'd stolen my parents' Rolling Stones records. The first time music moved me; the very thing that started this f**king revolution inside my heart that has lead to me dedicating every single day of my life to abstract noises that exist in a world outside of what we understand; the first time I heard 'Thriller'.

Like any child of the '80s Michael Jackson was inescapable. Here are some personal memories:

- Watching 'Moonwalker' for the first time and shitting myself at the spider-man, realising that anything was possible in a dream-logic art-film for the first time.

- Watching MJ dance. Spending years jittering in front of the mirror like a demented chicken imitating his moves.

- Having my heart broken when he didn't show when I had tickets for the 'Dangerous' tour. I didn't cry until I got home.

- Having my heart broken now. That my tickets for "This is It" are no longer valid.

- The exhilaration of every Friday night around the world when you hear that bassline.

- The alien nature of Oxygen Tents, Pyrotechnics, Presley jnr, Neverland.

Complex as an individual, a unique story, but also the writer of the greatest songs of all time. Here's a chronological playlist. The facts exist elsewhere. Let's exist together in that space that we cannot hold; in music:

I Want You Back

For being the perfect pop song. For every song that's sampled it. For, quite simply, making the world a better place.


For schoolyard dancing and girls girls girls.

Can You Feel It?

You seen the video? When a smile opens up a serotonin world and everything feels alright.

Don't Stop Till You Get Enough

For indecipherable lyrical brilliance. And being the best-looking, smoothest dancer ever.

Off The Wall

Ok. Rock With You should be here too. Buy the album. The whole album. It's the best record Motown never released.

She's Out Of My Life

For crying in song. A man who could feel someone else's words so much, that he could translate a beautifully simple sentiment to the whole world.

It's The Falling in Love

It's the joy of listening to an album afresh and realising that the latter tracks can become your new favourites.... an undiscovered gem.

Wanna Be Starting Something

For the years I tried to work out the lyrics (I initially had this on pirate cassette and no lyric book...) and the sheer excitement that this gives when you realise you're just on track one and have the complete pleasure of ANOTHER PERFECT ALBUM ahead of you.


For the video. And the spoken word. Another life changing dance. Getting me into horror films. Scaring the shit out of me. Being damned funky.

Beat It

For the Van Halen Solo. For appearing dangerous and filmic and fantastical in music.

Billie Jean

For being arguably the greatest song ever. For the hours spent listening to it on endless car journeys as an 8 year old, trying to work out what life changing event had taken place. For the power as its sentiment hit me in adulthood and breathed new life into a song.

Human Nature

For the visuality of the lyric, the poetry of electric eyes everywhere.



The Lady in My Life

For his stunning vocal in the outro.



The Way You Make Me Feel

For being the sexiest song and capturing that summer abandon.

Speed Demon

For making a rhythm out of a sneeze.

Liberian Girl

Somewhat randomly, this may be my favourite MJ song ever. The video is dire, but has the audacity to feature every famous person in the world hanging out at a shoot with the music fading in and out of the background. To me, it was a mishearing that created a life long fantasy about librarians.

Man In The Mirror

For the gospel outro... for rain falling on your face... for the sentiment without sentimentality...

Dirty Diana

For being the best song ever about groupies. For being dirty.

Smooth Criminal

For the sound of breaking glass. And the emotion conveyed from ahhs and ooos.

Leave Me Alone

For the production. For the balls to strip it all out and have a near-a cappella chorus.

Why You Wanna Trip on Me?

A home rebellion song.

Black Or White

For the ridiculous intro solo. For home alone. For the rap solo that brought a new spin to pop music (again).

Who Is It?

Perhaps the best song on 'Dangerous', and another lost gem about betrayal.

Give In To Me



ZERO GRAVITY. Oooh yeah...

You Rock My World

His last great single. It takes a few listens but when it gets under your skin: it's irrepressible.

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