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As I'm sure just about everyone has heard, the music community has lost one of the most well known, most influential artists of all time: Michael Jackson. Jackson died at the age of 50 yesterday after being rushed to the hospital.
In recent years it seems that Michael Jackson has been discussed more for the controversies surrounding his personal life, and celebrity status than for his music. In tribute, I think it's important to put all of the celebrity gossip aside and remember just exactly how talented and how influential Jackson was on the music scene going all the way back his youth.
Album's like Thriller will remain as something of crowning achievements for Jackson... and with good reason. Not only did this work earn the label of the "best selling album of all time" and garner Jackson some 8 Grammy's, it is also just an incredible musical work from start to finish... something of a pop/R&B masterpiece. It's easy to forget though that Jackson was having an impact going all the way back to his childhood working with the Jackson 5 on Motown with hits like "ABC" and "I Want You Back". They were the first pop band in history to have their first 4 consecutive singles hit number one. It would be of course as a solo artist that he would become a cultural icon though and a house hold name though.
Jackson virtually revolutionized the pop music industry during the early 80s both musically and aesthetically. Not only is his music a unique blend of R&B, funk, dance and urban styles, his choreography changed everything and made moves like the "Moonwalk" a permanent part of pop culture. Along with that, his innovative and revolutionary music videos broke new ground in terms of what a music video could be, as well as what could be done in terms of video special effects. Without Michael Jackson, certainly the MTV and music video scenes would have taken an entirely different route. To this day Jackson's videos remain some of the greatest ever made. They drove the early MTV era and certainly inspired countless other artists to push for greater artistic expression within their own videos. Jackson also had a strong social impact on the social aspects of the MTV, becoming the first African American artist to really be accepted and receive significant airplay on the new station, breaking down significant racial barriers.
I've never really been a big Michael Jackson fan to be honest... at least outside of the Thriller album, which as I've said, is something of a masterpiece. Still I cannot and would not think of denying the fact that his influence on the pop music scene, and on pop culture as a whole has been tremendous; far greater than anyone can possibly imagine. Artists from across the entire spectrum owe at least part of their success to Michael Jackson. Although the later years of his career were plagued more with celebrity gossip and scandal than anything else, his accomplishments and lasting influence cannot be tarnished. Jackson's talent, his accomplishments and his music are what he should be remembered by and surely what he WILL be remembered by for musicians across the globe for generations to come.
On this sad occasion I offer my condolences to all the friends and family of Michael Jackson, and especially all of his fans across the globe. Let's take this time to take a listen to Thriller and pay tribute to the King of Pop, his talent and his music.