Thursday, November 29, 2007

The "M" word

Followup to Even Stranger in Orange County and A man walks down the street, and it rains..

I was searching for relevant uses of the "M" word, and found this 1995 New York Times article:

MICHAEL JACKSON IS BACK, AND HE'S furious. On his new double album, "HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I," his rage keeps ripping through the sweet, uplifting facade he has clung to throughout his career.

He's not pretending to be normal any more. In his new songs, he is paranoid and cagey, messianic and petty, vindictive and maudlin. Comparing himself to John F. Kennedy and Jesus Christ, he's a megalomaniac who feels like a victim. Yet he remains one of the most gifted musicians alive....

Half of "HIStory," titled "HIStory Begins," is a sure thing, a collection of greatest hits from three of the best-selling albums of all time....The other half, "HIStory Continues," is a collection of meticulous, sumptuous, musically ingenious new songs, nearly all written by Jackson himself. But it's also the sound of bridges burning....

From its packaging to its songs, "HIStory" is a psychobiographer's playground. Everything is on a gargantuan scale. On May 22, MTV began showing a "trailer," presumably for the videos and hype to come. The trailer shows Jackson leading what looks like the Red Army down a broad boulevard, while workers ready the tombstone-white statue that appears on the CD cover: Jackson, with his fists clenched, in one of his paramilitary uniforms with a "police" insignia on one arm.

Then come noise and darkness. Black helicopters out of a far-right nightmare swoop over the city, shooting out lampposts. Children scream. The shrouded statue is raised, dwarfing the monumental buildings around it. A child shouts, "We love you, Michael!" as a commando team removes the shrouds. A helicopter flies out between the statue's legs. (Hello, Dr. Freud?)....

The ballads are lavishly melodic. "Stranger in Moscow," with odd lyrics like "Stalin's tomb won't let me be," has a gorgeous chorus for the repeated question "How does it feel?"

And then there's this comparison of Prince and Michael Jackson - which is saner?

Prince writes, produces, and plays his own music; Michael Jackson is a song and dance man. Prince is among our most prolific artists, responsible for a ridiculous amount of original music which has constantly kept his devoted fans on their toes; Jackson is a recluse who keeps his delusional army of sycophants waiting with bated breath for increasingly meager output. Prince’s eccentricity revels in art and sex; the sometimes horrifying details of Jackson’s life reveal megalomania and psychosis.

To use doppelgangers from American history, this is essentially a debate between music’s Howard Hughes and Hugh Hefner. Who would you rather planned your party?

But there's an opposing view:

And by the way, purple rain is the most boring and slow song this planet has ever heard. Listen to Michaels song Stranger in Moscow, and you will hear a song with real emotions and the most beautiful voice in the world.

Fast forward to a December 2005 blog post that referenced a story in the New York Daily News claiming a drug intervention.

After two decades of indescribably bizarre behavior from Michael Jackson, the former pop icon’s family has decided enough is enough. It seems the Jackson family is fine with Michael’s megalomania, Peter Pan syndrome, child molestation, completely ridiculous plastic surgery, baby dangling, sham marriages, terrible music, and high-voice-talking....

Obviously not a fan of the music. But here's a page that...well, let's start with the introduction:

Disclaimer: this page is not written from the point of view of a Michael Jackson fanatic and is not generally intended for narrow-perspective Michael Jackson fanatics. If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further.

Well, let's get on to the reviews (hmm...where's "Ben"?).

HIStory **1/2

Year Of Release: 1995

To be fair, the "new" half of this album isn't really that much worse than Dangerous. But I still lower the rating, because of (a) one of the worst cases of taste in album covers in HIStory, (b) one of the least adequate correlations of running time (seventy-six minutes) to actual quality in HIStory, and (c) some of the gloopiest, most pukedly-sacchariney ballads in HIStory....

It...sold a lot, but significantly less than any preceding Jacko record, and, together with the ridiculous self-idolizing album cover, the child molesting scandal, and the infamous awards ceremony where he impersonated Jesus and got publicly mocked by Jarvis Cocker, it pretty much sealed his status as the biggest running joke of the decade....

I confess that I somehow like the bombastic 'Earth Song' - I think that by avoiding the usual "we are the world" style sing-around-the-campfire cheesiness and turning the tune into more of a tense, dramatic performance, Jackson pretty much saved it, and I really like the way the tension slowly mounts on here, from the opening quiet pleading to all-out screaming in the climax. It would be tempting to diss the number as just another example of Michael's stale megalomania, but it's really got potential....

Regarding the Jesus/Jarvis incident at the 1996 Brits awards, here's how Jarvis Cocker described his actions:

My actions were are form of protest at the way Michael Jackson sees himself as some kind of Christ-like figure with the power of healing. The music industry allows him to indulge his fantasies because of his wealth and power. People go along with it even though they know it's a bit sick. I just couldn't go along with it anymore.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content