Saturday, 4 July, 2009

Music Videos - The Temple of the King

Disclaimer : This post is exclusively about pop music, music videos, and the sultan of the dance floor. and it stops there. this post does not talk about the personal issues in the lives of the artist in question.

Ah the music video. What would MTV be without it! Rewind to the early 80s, when the world of music was facing a transition from more rock oriented acts to popular music. The fact that many of the classic rock acts of the 60s 70s and 80s only live on in the minds of rock buffs of today, should be attributed to the media shifting attention to the world of pop, hip hop and all the sissy acts around us presently. But there was a time, when music videos paved the way for really talented artists to showcase their stuff in a way that was never possible for many of their predecessors. Leading the music video revolution, was MTV.

As if by a twist of fate, the launch and establishment of MTV as a mainstream music channel, also happened to coincide with the rise of one of the greatest ever entertainers of all time (THE greatest, in my book), Michael Joseph Jackson. This young African American, was making waves with his extremely refreshing style of music and his groovy moves. And so it came to pass, by the end of the year 1982, the world of music was about to witness an act that would not be eclipsed for more than 25 years since it's debut (27 years and still going strong) . 109 million albums world wide , selling a millioin copies a week while at it's peak, a record breaking 8 grammys, with seven of the ten songs in the album making it to the topp 10, Thriller took music to levels never dreamed of , before.

The picture says it all

But it doesnt stop there. Jackson was no mere musician. He was a true entertainer at heart. What others saw as a mere tool to market their music, Jackson envisioned a whole new art form. The music video was to Michael Jackson, a huge white canvas, where he let loose his arsenal of amazing moves to come to the fore. MTV, which was previously not that open to black american artists, had no choice but to cash in on Jackson's genius, as Thriller took the world by storm. To this day, "Beat it" remains my favorite music video. The verses venomously pouted out, the gang war, the choreographed dance sequences (which is now common place in almost every music video), and the insane guitar solo by Eddie Van Halen! What more can one ask for!

While thriller was shattering world records in every which way imaginable, Jackson was busy working on his next project - Bad. This album, on it's release, debuted at number 1 !!! Number 1 on the day of release. I mean, man, there are people who call the Backstreet Boys and Justin Timberlake - the princes of pop!! I am already ruing the fact that I mention such names in this article! 5 songs from Bad in the Billboard top 10. The music videos of the singles making waves everywhere! The world of popular music now, officially had a King.

With Bad, MJ had produced a musically better album than his previous ones. While the title track was a smash hit, the shuffling "The Way you make me feel" , the rock track - Dirty Diana with a guitar solo by Steve Stevens, Speed Demon, Liberian girl , featuring a host of celebrities and my favorite, from this album - Smooth Criminal, were also fantastic numbers, with almost everyone of them making the BillBoard top ten, their home for many a week. The anti - gravitiy lean in Smooth Criminal , is almost a legendary move today! Bad brought to the fore, Jackson's song writing abilities, his diverse musical tastes, and it unleashed a whole new world of dance moves. Following this, Dangerous, History and Invincible were also extremely good albums, but never measured up to the success of their predecessors. Those albums did yield such wonderful tracks like Black or white, Stranger in Moscow, They don't care about us, Scream, You Rock My World and Earth Song among many others.

Another thing which stand out, in Jackson's videos , is that there is usually a theme, such as racial themes (black or white) gang violence (Beat It, Bad) and you will almost get the feeling of watching a mini movie, something artists of today can learn, as more and more videos look exactly like any other music video. To the new world of pop music, Michael Jackson was a true messiah, as he took the industry, and the music, to dizzying heights, which he himself was not able to reach in the later parts of his career. And it is truly a great loss that the world has lost such an amazing talent. Pop will never see the likes of another Michael Jackson again!!

And to quote B.B.King, the Thrill, is gone.

RIP Michael, forever, The King of Pop!!