I loved the Thriller album. We had that on vinyl and cassette, and I eventually had to get a second cassette because it got played so often. Thriller was one of my first favourite albums. To this day I'll put on "Billie Jean" or "Human Nature", the two tracks from that album that stayed most relevant to my ears. Without a doubt, Michael Jackson was an exceptional pop singer who could dance up a storm.
By the time Bad came out, I was digging the singles but questioning the man behind the artist. "Man in the Mirror" was a stunning song, but Jacko seemed lost in his celebrity. The man's songs were always supported by amazing videos, and we anxiously waited for their premieres, but meanwhile we watched his skin lighten, his nose disappear and his Neverland Ranch eccentricities escalate. Wacko Jacko's strangeness, his Jesus Christ posing and the accusations against him shone brighter than his dwindling talent. He had peaked creatively and his crazy behaviour turned me off that awesome Thriller album for years.
Today, as I drove to a softball game, I learnt he was dead. Dead at 50 from cardiac arrest. I keep wondering what could have been. What if Michael Jackson was "normal", for lack of a better word. What if he didn't have that creepy Peter Pan complex, didn't overfeed the tabloids and didn't spend the last 25 years of his life as a punch line. What if he was just a crazy talented pop singer and performer? That would have been an artist I could get behind. Instead, we lost Michael Jackson long before today.
As it is, the man gave us a killer album and several other great singles. He also gave us The Simpson's Stark Raving Dad and this song that brought my son a great deal of joy as a toddler. Thanks for that, Michael.