The passing of Michael Jackson. It didn’t really hit me much when I heard this news- I was driving to work in traffic when it came on the radio. After all he’s been out of the limelight in recent years, only within the last few months that he’d announced a comeback with (kick-off?) concerts in London.
It only hit me when the radio stations started playing tribute to him by airing a lot of his music.
When Beat It and Biliie Jean was all the rage, I remember it was also the time when there was this controversy over the song Maniac from Flashdance’s soundtrack, and my introduction to the word “lucah” (obscene). Being the young’un I was then, I was more fascinated / engrossed in MJ’s music and his wow-ness and not really understanding / didn’t yet have the hormones over what the fuss was about with that other discussion in the local media.
I recall there being a behind-the-scenes show as a run up to that year’s (was it 1983?) Grammy Awards where it also included the full clips of Billie Jean and Beat It, Every Breath You Take, and Maniac too; and where the tv station “apologised” over the obscenity of that Maniac song by re-airing that program censoring Maniac. I also remember reading a letter-to-the-editor citing the lyrics being so inappropriate, in a local newspaper.
How times have changed.
Being the only child left at home with all older siblings overseas, and that there was no real entertainment at home after school (local programs stank), that run up show was all I watched, on tape. I was never into the Chinese serials that my parents watched; nor were they the type that “chased” new episodes as soon as they arrive on our shores.
I made my group of friends in very junior local high school learn the Thriller dance moves because I wanted to perform at the school concert / dance. It never happened, because the teachers couldn’t (wouldn’t?) fit me in on their program for the night. Nonetheless, I had already studied and coached the guys the whole music video’s moves.
I would be so embarrassed of myself now, about myself then…
I also recall how the media and industry were pitching MJ against Prince and the Revolution; the same time when DeBarge and other high pitched wannabe’s came on the music scene. MJ was still the man though, even with high pitch he had gusto in his voice. The others were just “soft” singing.
I never liked Prince. Mainly cos he was the bad boy and I had always wanted to be the good boy in the adults’ eyes. His image was also kinda weird for me; puffy shirts and floral references. The girls in school loved him though, as girls do with badboys- it’s probably because I didnt like him that the girl whom I had a crush on didn’t like me.
I also recall how my Bahasa teacher said MJ was a pondan, and how I felt like there were ants in my pants then, because I liked MJ EXCUSE ME HE’S DE MAN YA BALDING OLD MAN WHO DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT MUSIC.
I was already in a boarding school in Australia when Bad came out…. “.. Your butt is mine..”?? Huh?
Wait a sec, is that MJ?? But this guy’s white! It’s from here on that I wasn’t into him anymore.
But the memories of Ben, Off the wall, “I say you wanna be startin’ somethin'”, human nature all bring back childhood memories. We used to huddle around sitting on the floor of our old house watching the Jackson 5.
“.. just call my name, and I’ll be there….”
Oh, and not forgetting “We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving….”