Monday, July 27, 2009

MJ: A Great Human Being. RIP

When MJ passed away, the blogging world went berserk writing everything that could be written about him. People who had never heard his music suddenly had very strong opinions about him. I didn’t mention him in my posts anywhere, not because he had not touched my life, but because there was too much being written about him, and I was a bit dazed and confused by it. Somehow in the entire furor that followed his death, everyone was too busy celebrating or desecrating MJ the star, nobody bothered about MJ the person. Hence this post comes a bit late, because it took me some time to come to terms with all the information overload that the media created, and to look a little bit deeper and understand that the MJ that I admired was not the MJ that the media and most (thankfully not all) bloggers were writing about.

I have been, as a kid, touched and bowled over by his music. Like most teenagers my age that time, I was at one time listening incessantly to all the songs in Bad and Dangerous over and over again, day and night, to the point where I was banned from going near the tape recorder (I know it sounds ancient, but that’s how we listened to music that time) for weeks. But as I grew up and started googling MJ on the net, I got to know stuff about him that made me admire MJ, the person. Most of the stuff has been written and talked about to the point where its common knowledge for any layman. But for some reason there has been little or no admiration for a guy who was a pioneer in things other than music. MJ was not just a successful singer, or a successful dancer, MJ was also a successful human being.

Few things that I admired about him:
1. MJ was a perfectionist. A meticulous planner. He planned his own shows, to the smallest of details. He heard the sound remixing and the instrument blending a hundred times, and did not settle for anything other than what he had exactly wanted. He would spend months trying to perfect a dance routine before performing it at a show. He would spend weeks synchronizing steps with a team before a dance performance. Ever noticed, that in any dance performance, somehow MJs dancing would be what caught your eye, with the perfect and most graceful moves, and how none of the troop dancers in the background even came close to the perfection MJ had?

2. MJ was a pioneer, he created and used sounds that had never been used in music before. And I am not just talking of the “glass-breaking” sound in BAD. Its there in all the music, he blended, mixed and remixed till he had something that had never been used before. Listen to all the music, most of the sounds you hear was not regular music “sounds” at that time.
The same applied to his dance style. He was an inventor, a creator. He wanted to do new things all the time. He has created and popularized more number of dance moves than any big pop star living or dead. He was also famous for the most innovative music videos.
He is credited with being the first to use the concept of music videos to popularize his songs. There were music videos where he invested more money than what he could make through the sale of the songs. But in the long run it paid off. The concept of spending effort and money into making innovative music videos to popularize music and brand artists caught on. Incidentally, he is also the first “African American” artist to be covered by MTV, the legend goes that MTV tried not giving coverage, but in the end had to give in to the huge popularity of his innovative music videos. A lot of his music videos were creative to the point of being controversial, some were even banned, the controversial ones being Black and White, Bad, They don’t really care about us, In the closet.
He is also one of the first, and perhaps the only person to use the most creative gigs on his shows. Simple stuff that caught the imagination of all his fans. His shadow dancing behind the curtain, strapping himself to a rocket launching himself off and a hundred other crazy things he did on stage made him the favorite of zillions of people.

3. The humanitarianism in MJ. He did not just talk about it, he lived it in his daily life. There are not a lot of stars that walk the talk like MJ did. Creating music for humanitarian and charity purposes is not something a lot of musicians risk. Sex sells, so does the hip and happening “bad” songs with dirty lyrics. MJ had been there and done that. But he took a pause, and created the likes of “Heal the World”, “We are the world”, “Man in the Mirror”, “Earth Song” which reached out to his audience for a cause other than to make money and create music. And I shall not even talk of him being in the Guinness Book for his charity.

4. But the thing I liked most about MJ was that he was an all-in-one, he was a master of all trades. One of the best musicians of the world, the best dancer who ever graced the stage, one of the most innovative choreographers, a heart-stealing song writer, the most fabulous singer, one of the most brave cinematographers, a near-perfect event planner, and most of all the kindest of humanitarians. Think about it, how many people in the history of mankind have achieved near perfection in so many fields.. simultaneously?

I do not know how true or false all his scandals were, and to be honest his personal life does not concern me. But it breaks my heart to ponder.. what if, just for a moment, I assume that all the accusations were lies. It breaks my heart to think what a man, who dedicated himself to giving the world so many new things, had to go through because of the selfish, money-driven motivations of a few people. He never really recovered emotionally from the second lawsuit, even though he fought it to the end and won the case. As for the other infamous rumors I will quote him from his Oprah interview “I admire Michelangelo and his art, and if I got to meet him, I would ask him what inspired him to create that art, not whom he went out with last night!” Bottom line, it doesn’t concern me as to how many cosmetic surgeries he did, or if he had an oxygen chamber in his mansion, its his life, his money, his body, and he can do what he wants with it. He is a star, and entitled to a stars life!

Here is an ode to a man who has been more than an ordinary pop star. Someone who has done and achieved more in his short lifetime than what races of people have been able to achieve over generations. To a person who has given us amazing music, introduced us to dancing as a way of life, and taught us some valuable lessons about giving back to the world what the world has given to us.

These JC quotes are sacred to me, and I don’t think I can use them for any person other than MJ.

“The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones”

For some reason scandal sells more than the noble things done by people, and MJ has been no exception to the rule. But I think for a moment we should separate the good from the bad, and appreciate the amount of good that MJ had in him.
Amidst all the numerous comments that people made in the zillion interviews that were aired on TV, the comment that caught my attention, and shall perhaps be my most memorable comment about MJ ever was something stated by a young girl who was in the troop of dancers who were practicing with MJ for his upcoming tour. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something like this “It was tough and complex dancing that we were doing, and even for us young professionals who do it on a regular basis, it was grueling work, that completely sapped all our energies. And to think that MJ, who was twice our age and hadn’t had the practice for years, was jumping from zero to a 100 mph and doing all the things that we were doing must have been crazy. I don’t think its humanly possible, but that guy just wouldn’t give up. He wanted to be there, practicing as much as any one of us”. That for me explains MJ in a nutshell “the-guy-who-wouldn’t-give-up”.

P.S. My apologies to those who are not interested in MJ or in music, and those who think that senti posts about celebrities on a blog suck. I do not usually write about celebrities because I think too much is already being written about them and they anyway do not deserve so much attention. But I let MJ be the only exception. Because I believe that he was more than just a celebrity.

Whether you are a MJ fan or not, do stop by to have a look at this 10 minute MJ video, which I believe is the perfect example of the perfection in the life of this man. I have been watching this video since I was a kid, and have seen it a zillion times, but I never get tired of watching it because it is so "Perfect". When you watch this video, think about how much of effort and dedication that has gone behind it all. Check out all the gimmicks, the dance moves and the choreography, and think about one man being behind it all. Make sure you watch his dance moves in the time bracket 4:20 to 5:30 and from 6:25 onwards. Believe me, one has to be a genius to be able to put together something like this!


  1. Love this post but then again I am a die hard MJ fan. I also wonder sometimes about the scandals and how much of truth is there but I agree that Michael Jackson the artist should be separated from Michael the man. He was eccentric no doubt but show me one "normal" genius.
    There will never be another one like him. The world did not appreciate him enough while he was alive but he will go down in history as one of a kind. His music is brilliant and his dancing, amazing.

  2. Brilliant post Merlin. A perfect tribute!
    Although Michael Jackson never ranked as my absolute favourite while I was growing up (probably because I wasn't even born when he shot to super success)...I started adoring his music when Heal the World and Earth Song came out.
    My brothers used to listen to his songs all the time but I never quite grasped the extent of their madness which sometimes bordered on fanaticism. They used to buy single-colour collarless T-shirts and cut them slightly at the neck and then pull to make a VEE...that was how crazy they were!! My mom has literally brought the house down on such occasions.

    I started loving his music probably a little later. Although I'm happy to say that in one of my needlework assignments in school, I did knit a silver glove for myself! :)

  3. You are simply genius.. very well written, well researched, well thought out post..

  4. Very well written. I didn't dedicate a post to MJ cuz somewhere I am still shocked about the whole thing. And I feel as if the more I will write, the more there will be to write about him. But this post is just too good :).

  5. @Priyanka: I always wanted to do the V on my T-shirt but feared being killed by my mom for it so never did it. LOL.

    @Rookie, Rhapsody, Pari: Thanks :) It comes from my heart, I dont think I will ever blog about any other celebrity again.. I was just a bit obsessive about MJ!

  6. Perfect!

    Such a loss...
    So talented...