Friday, June 26, 2009

on mj

I mean, what does it say about dance music that the biggest-selling studio album of all time (Thriller) was a dance music record? (I was more of an Off The Wall guy myself, but still). Was MJ influential on our scene? Sure. I seem to recall DJ Spinna once playing all MJ and Prince set that was kind of jaw dropping for its pre-mash-up time. It would be hard to imagine the loopy, disco-cut-ups of house music in the 1990s, tracks that made way for mash-ups and Daft Punk, with out MJ's first two albums. And it says volumes that the king of pop was planning his comeback in the dance music capital of London, where his 50-concert series at 02 Arena, set to begin July 7, sold out.

Robert Hilburn, the Los Angeles Times pop music critic from 1970 to 2005 (and my sometime pop writing mentor during my tenure there in the 1990s), has a moving piece about the Michael Jackson he know from several meetings and one harrowing phone call.

Current Times critic Ann Powers weighs in too, noting that Jackson hailed a post-rock era for popular music: In the wake of the unkempt "real life" stars of classic rock, Jackson and his partner in glamour, Madonna, brought back the razzle-dazzle of show biz. (Both artists borrowed from disco, which never gave up on glitz.) Using the new form of music videos to plunder images from throughout the history of entertainment -- from minstrelsy to space operas -- Jackson created an archive of our pop subconscious.

On the Times' music blog August Brown looks at Jacksons' "dance-centric legacy," citing YouTube video of artists through the years who have soaked up Jackson's style.

What took me so long? I was on assignment as things were breaking.


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