Justin – I mean, you know is the thing about Michael is the memories, I’m lucky enough to have memories actually physically with him on stage and off. But I think, you know, it’s a testament to how big of a deal it is obviously because, you know, he’s created so many cultural photos in peoples minds with his music, that, he really was and always will be the King of Pop.
I mean he’s, to create things that he created with his music it’s really untouchable. It really is untouchable. He opened the minds of the world and to be able to do that through one piece, one medium of art is a feat not accomplished by many people maybe only a handful of people. Even in that handful of people I don’t think anyone ever did it like him.
No one presented a song on stage like Michael. There are many songs that have been written since the beginning of time that are timeless, but there aren’t as many performances that are timeless and you know I would say of the top ten of those performances, probably seven or eight of them go to Michael Jackson.
I think it’s a testament to him as an artist and more so as a performer and someone who understood through the medium of art that he was gifted, that he could change the world. And he really did. He opened the minds of people about music, he opened the minds of people about culture. Even if it was only this much in your conscience, he helped with segregation. And his music did that and not a lot of people can say that. Elvis did that. But I don’t know man, Michael. Michael was the baddest.
I think Michael Jackson in the way in which he came onto the scene through the Jackson 5 which was a little early for me when I was growing up because I was born in 81 so I really knew Michael Jackson as like the solo artist and I think it was just like the magnitude of him being able to have this such tight choreograph dance routines which was taking everything out of the street dancing that you would have seen if you knew your break dancing you would have seen some of the elements he took and utilized and then the way he sang.
I mean I don’t think there’s anyone who has a voice like Michael Jackson. I mean actually closest person would be Janet Jackson funnily enough, when you hear her there is close similarities but Michael Jackson’s vocals were incredible so when you put the 2 together with the great stage presence he became this phenomenon and I don’t know if there’s anyone in my lifetime that I could look back and say you know what there’s anyone like Michael Jackson, you know what I mean? He was an incredible, incredible performer.
I think that not only being able to especially like on MTV being like one of the first black male solo artists to come on and his video shown on TV amongst so many different genres of music that were being played so he kind of very much was ground breaking in that sense. I think Michael Jackson just had the ability to influence everybody with what he did. It didn’t matter what kind of music you were into. He just seemed to have this very, I think because it was very much contemporary pop music, it was music that it defined great melodies, it was good lyrics, it had a powerful vocal and he had a great stage presence so it didn’t matter if you were into rock, pop, soul he represented that era you know.
: Videos were great because he was at the time when people could spend money on videos. There was this, I mean this was the generation, it was all about TV, it was all about seeing the new video so there was a lot of money to be spent but the one thing with Michael is that he didn’t necessarily need the money. I mean I’m still quite dazzled by Smooth Criminal and the leaning over and thinking yo how did you and I don’t even really wanna know how he did do it. Plus some people sit down and say yeah it was this, it was trickery and that but yo that was incredible and it was the way in which he tried to almost take it as if it was a feature film and break it down and you get an extended version. It could be like 10 minutes long but when you saw it you just thought wow this is like watching a film and I want to watch this again and again. So for me growing up that was quite extraordinary because I don’t think anyone else was really doing videos like him. He was very much the cutting edge of that. So Smooth Criminal was definitely one of the most exciting videos that I saw from him.
: Smooth Criminal was one of but I guess it had to be Thriller. I mean Thriller was scared me as a kid growing up. I mean I used to think what is this, this sort of werewolf thing and changing up and it was like the early days of special affects which at the time was like that’s pretty cool. I mean when you look at it now in the light of day you’re sort of thinking not really, it wasn’t as scary as I thought but in terms of choreograph dance routines and having that swagger that Michael Jackson had, again it was all about the creative with him. It was what was behind making those videos as opposed to we can just throw money at this cos obviously the stage set ups were cool but it was like being in the studio and choreographing the dance routine and getting it tight enough that when you film this we can’t be here all day, we gotta capture this and he was very much that man who can get it when the camera goes, bang, lights on, he can make it happen so.
Songwriter, he was an amazing songwriter but funnily enough even I got taken back by the way in which how powerful other people were playing the mix of things and when you saw Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson you just established that Quincy Jones was mainly involved but then Ron Temperton being involved and actually being Mr songwriter you’d say what he was the guy writing the songs but little did people know that Michael Jackson was involved in a hell of a lot of his songs that he wrote. So to be honest, it was one of those things that was a bit of a, it was a pushed a little to the side because he was such a great performer. It was like he can’t just do everything, this guy can’t be he wrote that song and he performs like that and he sings that way but yeah he could.
One of the songs that really connected with me growing up was Leave me Alone. I can remember I think Bubbles was in the video and it was kind of like this sort of, sort of mosaic cartoonish kind of thing, he was in some boat that was kind of going through the river and it was this pop up kind of video but it was the first sort of 7 inch that I actually bought. This was when I was slowly getting into my dj-ing and it was like, well I wasn’t getting into my dj-ing cos I didn’t even have a record then but mum can I buy this 7 inch, I have nowhere to play it but we’ll work it out later. I think it was the going in and buying a 7 inch piece of vinyl and Michael Jackson having this tiny little box. Some very colorful little record box that I had and it just brings back the moments. It was like the first record I actually bought so an important record as an inspiration for me growing up as being a musician so.
I think the way in which Michael Jackson was able to, I think the casting for his videos was great. I mean he always had good dancers around him but for some reason he still always shone through. It was like you could pick out the best dancers who all they did was dance, focused on that but still he was the one that had that flare and something about him so when you saw the thriller video your eyes were still set on him. I think the styling at the time was great and even if you look back you sort of think you could kind of get away with that stage, I mean I was thinking for the shows that he was about to do: I want to see you rock up in that red little number and do your thing. So I think for me the styling was great, I think the dancers that he used were wonderful. I think when you put that all in the theme of what he was trying to achieve again that sort of Teen Wolf kind of Streets of London kind of Wolf, can’t remember what it’s called but wolfs. Werewolf in London there we go. He was just trying to encapsulate all that and giving it something that was a bit cutting edge cos like I said at the time those kind of special affects and trying having things morphing into another. To be honest even at the cinema there wasn’t many things that were going on like that so again his videos were again very much breaking and cutting edge and I mean but the song I think one thing I’ve learnt with music is that even if it was a blank screen and no disrespect to the video thriller was just an incredible song. You’d hear it and you’d just want to keep requesting that song again and again even if it was a blank screen but the fact that you had a cutting video at the same time, it just sort of again encapsulated what Michael Jackson was about. He gave you everything when he came and he delivered which is why I think everyone is so disappointed and so kind of like taken back by the whole fact that someone like that is no longer with us. He was invincible in that sense. We never thought he could ever, ever pass away in my lifetime that’s the craziness about it. He was almost like, I don’t know, he was immortal. He really was. I’m trying to find the actual character, the character I’m looking for. Peter Pan: all I could think of was Robin Hood but I was thinking he wasn’t stealing from any one or given to anybody.
Michael Jackson for me was one of the best dancers I’ve seen grace the stage and I think since you’ve seen Michael Jackson there’s been a lot of people who have tried to take a little bit of his style and kind of emulate what he did. You’ve seen the Ushers of this world, you’ve seen the Justin Timberlake’s of this world but Michael Jackson had his own thing going on and I mean the Moonwalk was one thing. I mean it was an incredible dance. I mean again it was something that if you knew your break dancing, if you knew your stuff you know where that technique had come from and again he took elements and made it his own. But to have the confidence to do it and pull it off on stage that’s the thing, I mean he was doing that, there was no other, no other dancer who was out there like and I’m gonna sing, and I’m gonna Moonwalk. When I saw him do that I was like who are you, what are you about? It’s one of those things that I thought that’s what you got from Michael; it’s just like where did you, where did you get the confidence to come out and do that but again when you’re a child prodigy in the way that he has, I mean he had been like an entertainer from such a young age, by the time he had hit the stage as a solo artist he was like a veteran you know what I mean. But I think when he did that thing with his leg which I’m trying to show you but the camera was too, I did it so sickly then you couldn’t even like appreciate what I was doing, that and there’s one other I do pretty well on stage, on the dance floor when I’ve had a few shots which is probably again another iconic move from him which is or it’s the kind of the tipping of the cap, and it’s the kind of the shuffling when he’s doing a little shuffle that he did in Smooth Criminal. There’s a few moves that were much you knew were Michael Jackson yeah.
Jackson 5 were early, early times. I mean for me it was I delved back and would catch them and stuff but to be honest the Michael Jackson that I knew wasn’t the Michael Jackson necessarily who was the young kid doing his thing with the Jackson 5. It was the Michael Jackson who’d come to his own you know, young man. So Jackson 5 was a bit too early for me when I was growing up.
I think Michael Jackson inspired me in general. It was like you couldn’t help but if you loved music then you can’t help but love Michael Jackson and the music that he was creating. I mean he had a chemistry with Quincy and even going on from then his sound I mean it was so unique and I was like, when you listen to someone, I’m very kind of, I listen to every kind of run of someone and see if are you really doing it? Are you serious? Or are you kind of like, your kind of get it but you’re not quite on it. It’s kind of like Boyz II Men when they sing you know they’re singing you know and Michael Jackson he had that. It was like he could rif all day if he really wanted to but again it was so unique and I think that for me what told me to not try and bite anyone else’s style, just have your own sound and roll with it and hopefully that’s what people will love about you. That’s what I liked about him.
Michelle Williams FROM DESTINY’S CHILD
Michael Jackson has undoubtedly left a huge legacy to the world, to entertainers to a doctor or a student or a teacher, although I’m not his child at all but I feel like you know how somebody leaves but they still leave something, something’s here that he left for us and I think it’s our duty to pick up where he left off whether that be philanthropy, whether that be through how he was just full out in rehearsals, on stage he would go for it so I think for me that’s what he left for me, it’s like I’ve changed my daily motto of just going for it.
I remember Destiny’s Child performing for him for his 30th anniversary. We performed for him at Madison Square Garden in 2001, we performed ‘Bootylicious’ and we did that song because even in 0our original song in the original video we did a Michael Jackson tribute sort of things, we had the hats we had the high water pants so that was a lot of fun – but in the performance we didn’t have on pants we had on skirts and what not but it was still a great performance and when we got through he stood up and he was doing this (thumbs up) and he was vibing with the performance and we took a picture with him and went to the after reception and I got a chance to actually sit and watch him perform and that’s where I just turned in to a little girl who got ice cream for behaving good or something. It was an absolute dream come true, my heart is defiantly hurting because of his passing, it defiantly hurts too because of the fact that I am here in London as well and he was going to be here to do shows I was just wanting to plan to see him, but that just means that God’s plan supersedes ours.
The impact that Michael had on pop culture, music period – I don’t know if anybody is going to make that impact again. Ones now will come close but that’s because of what he left and it’s kind of like – man do we now step up the game? But there are some great talented entertainers out there, some great musicians, I just don’t know if it will be the same – it will not be the same.
Well what was so great about Michael if I’m not mistaken he was hands on in the beginning process, writing the treatments it looked like he brought us in to his world, it didn’t looked contrived it didn’t look like somebody else just wrote the treatment and he just showed up to the video. Even in his last few days of life we saw pictures of him in rehearsal and I saw a picture of him at the camera where I know when people tour and they film their concerts every night and I just know there are cameras everywhere so it looked like he was at one of those cameras probably trying to make sure the shot is right, trying to make sure I’m standing in the right spot to be in the shot maybe telling the dancers you got to be over here if you want to be seen – it just looked like he was directing too and I think that’s the influence he also had. I know on Destiny’s Child we were very much involved in treatments and being hands on – you don’t want to go through life and be like – man I didn’t put any of myself in to anything I did, and I appreciate that.
Favourite Michael Jackson video? Ok I’ll go from something recent I love ‘You Rock My World’ there’s a part in the video where his shoulders are hunched up and his hat is down – to me Michael just had a way of hand placement, the hat, the way he would just stand straight but that leg would be cocked in, it was just little swag movements were so hot – you know I had a crush on Michael Jackson – it was just little swag movements like that that were just so hot- did I just reveal that darn it. Let me tell you something men have a way when you could just do the slightest movement and it’s not necessarily raunchy, he doesn’t have to do all that you know, Michael would just freaking stand there and you would just want to take off your clothes, I’m serious, not that I was eight years old wanting to take off my clothes, when I got older and realized.
Michael Jackson just had a w ay of, even when he just stood on the stage and would look across the room he just oozed ‘I am the man’ ‘I am the bomb everybody yell, I am here’. He was just excellent and I find myself even if I’m tuning him to him I’m paying attention even more and just like what he him so awesome?
As a songwriter they were deep but for me personally it wasn’t to the point where it went over your head he just wrote from the heart, he wasn’t trying to be philosophical even though some of the songs were, but a simple song like one of my favourite songs ‘Will You Be There’ ‘Will you carry me, hold me like a mother, be like my brother, will you still care’ that’s just like in conversation ‘I’m bad’ I think that was really like ‘I’m bad sha’mon’ I think ‘Sha’mon’ meant ‘come on’.
Earliest memory of Michael Jackson – being scared of the ‘Thriller’ video, I don’t know why and then I felt so scared for the woman in the video – I didn’t know that stuff was fake so I’m like scared for the woman every time I see the video, even though I know the woman’s alive at the end of the video – every time I’m like ‘Oh my God he’s gonna get her’. But I hope we really pay attention not only to…Janet said something so fabulous on the BET awards when she said ‘To you Michael is an icon, to us Michael is family’ and that’s what I don’t want us to forget that Michael did have a heart, Michael did have a soul some people thought he was so divine like that nothing would touch him, he would just walk around without a feeling or care in the world but he did, Michael felt, he hurt like we hurt, he smiled when something was funny, he frowned when something wasn’t funny, people should not forget when you become so great don’t forget that person has a soul.
A dance move that’s more iconic than the moonwalk? Well like I said just placements of hands, I know with what I’m doing in Chicago – I know we’ll touch on that later, but I’m noticing Michael did pay attention to Bob Fossey because that hand on the hat – he always made sure his fingers were like this, from down when he pointed his hands down, it’s little things like that that are so important, I wouldn’t say much more important than moves – oh he could do that one thing, I want to figure out how he could stand up and come back like that – I’m a little upset he didn’t give me that secret.
I think Jackson 5, ‘ABC’ and then of course the cartoon that was cool too, top see every now and then we could catch the cartoon if the channel was playing it.
Michael Jackson to me musically was probably as close to perfection as one could get. Michael Jackson to me meant hard worker – he could not get to where he was able to get without working hard, I’m sure even on a daily basis he had to exercise that instrument, singing, dancing. I was told by producers when they would work with him that even when he was in his performing and it’s like when you hear some of his music you knew he was cutting a step at the point because it makes sense because you eventually have to perform that stuff live and if you’re in the booth like ‘la la la’ and you’re not maybe dancing with it – it kind of makes sense to see if I can dance and sing with this song at the same time. Michael Jackson just meant an angel even as far as how he cared about people that were less fortunate than he was that really, really goes a long way because you can get so big in the world that you really aren’t obligated to help but he just felt obligated.
Source: MTV Base Blog