News & Views Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Musical Legacy of Michael Jackson Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael JacksonThe music industry lost a giant last Thursday with the death of Michael Jackson, “The King of Pop.”  His unexpected passing came as a shock to his fans across the globe.  From his early years as part of the Jackson 5 to his domination of the music scene as a solo artist in the 1980's, his imprint on the world of popular music is unparalleled.  Throughout his solo career, Jackson's versatility allowed him to experiment with various themes and musical genres, including Motown, rock, funk, techno, and (of course) pop.  His influence on the development of the music video is also remarkable, turning it into not only a promotional tool for musicians but also an art form and means of artistic expression.  One of his most significant contributions is his unique blend of music and dance – his songs may have climbed the charts, but his dancing is what made him a superstar.  The Moonwalk completely rewrote the book on dance in pop music, and the choreography from his “Thriller” video is iconic. 

Early in his solo career, Jackson battled to receive coverage on MTV because he was African-American.  His victory in this struggle led to a lengthy partnership with the network, while simultaneously paving the way for other black artists to gain recognition.  Released in 1982, Thriller is the best-selling album of all time.  Seven of the album's nine songs placed in the Billboard Top 10, including the huge hit songs “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” and “Thriller.”  One of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice (first in 1997 as a member of the Jackson 5, and again in 2001 as a solo artist), other career achievements include 13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one singles, and the sale of a staggering 750 million records worldwide. 

If you want to pay musical tribute to Michael, check out some of these arrangements:

The vocal folio from the blockbuster album Thriller contains the lyrics along with piano and chord arrangements for all of the songs on the record. 

Your marching band can honor the Jackson 5 with arrangements of I Want You Back, A B C and I'll Be There.  Remembering Michael as a young boy will remind your audience of their own carefree youth.

MJ's Man in the Mirror is a great feature for choral groups.  With its uplifting and hopeful lyrics, it's perfect for encouraging young singers to contribute to the world around them. 

Jackson is mourned by fans worldwide, and will always be remembered for his passionate contributions to the world of music.  If we take nothing else from Jackson's influential, high-profile and often controversial life, it should be this: “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, then make a change…”

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