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Dangerous & BAD

Yahoo! stunned me this morning with the breaking news of Michael Jackson’s death at the age of 50. This was certainly a devastating development for his many fans all over the world.

Flashback. I was a kid and lived in Jamshedpur. Mom had run into serious trouble for losing a key. Months later, when I accidentally rediscovered it, she was ecstatic and promised to reward me with a music cassette. Since my taste was already inching towards the esoteric, a realm mom had no inkling of, she innocently bought an album by Michael Jackson called Thriller. I was less than thrilled and made no bones of my disappointment. I realized a lot later how rude I was to her.

That’s how Michael Jackson joined my tiny assortment of cassettes. It was an embarrassment, a complete misfit. I never added another of his albums. His hoots, shouts and screams never really impressed me. It was largely to his credit that music had become more of a video experience than audio, oddly enough. To me, the flamboyant MJ was a dancer, a performer, an entertainer, a superstar, but certainly not a singer nor a genuine artist. His onstage performances made crowds go wild with hysteria, he had built an empire worth millions and he even managed a cult following rivaling Elvis. His signature costumes gave rise to a whole crop of talentless impersonators. Money made him go wild and he did some pretty silly things.

However, it’s undeniably true that Michael Jackson will go down in history as the King of Pop. That title, in today’s culture, can’t have a more rightful claimant.


gurdas said…
I would like to disagree when you say "but certainly not a singer nor a genuine artist".
Singer, maybe no?
Artist, absolutely yes!

MJ's art was to perform and give his audience a high. And boy, did he deliver. I think you are stuck with the stereotype definition of an artist. The stereotype that recognizes only the moody, brilliant, classic arts, kind of artist. The stereotype that will call an oil painting as art, but a street painting as trash.

You know better, right?
Deepanjan said…
While people like MJ pushed the envelop of Pop culture...& I'm personally all for the evolution it brings in, I'm slightly conservative when it comes to accepting something into the fold of 'genuine' art.

MJ was an awesome package that thrived entirely on our craving for an intense explosion of pomp and show. The persona of an 'artist' like him is built on a steady stream of crazed antics to always be in the news, colored lights, megawatts of RMS, swanky video editing, human props trained to move in sync and a targeted but all-out hype before any live event. Is this entertainment? Maybe. Is this art? No way!

Oil painting produced someone like Salvador Dali. Street painting, if it has any artistic depth, will quickly move out of the streets. Trust me!

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