Sunday, October 30, 2011

No One Matched the Success of "Thriller"! (Part 2 of 2)

In the previous installment I went into how Bob Jones book:  "Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask", implied that because Michael Jackson never matched the success of his "Thriller' album, that he had fizzled out. I went onto begin to discuss the other albums of Michael Jackson's solo career that were successes in their own right. I covered "Off The Wall" and "Bad", as well as what each album achieved.

So let's continue with this list of albums by Michael Jackson that weren't as big as "Thriller", but were still popular and successful by the music industry standards.

·         Dangerous: Released in 1991' this album became Michael Jackson's second solo album to debut at number one. The album sold 34 million copies worldwide and is considered the most successful new jack swing album ever done.
·         History: Released in 1995' and to this day remains the most popular and best selling multiple disc CD ever released by a solo artist. The album sold 40 million copies worldwide.
·         Blood on the Dance Floor ( History in the Mix): 1997' was a remix album taken from his previous History album.  It had eight remixes and five new songs.  Most notably was the song: "Blood on the Dance Floor". The album dealt with drug addiction, women, and paranoia.  The album got mixed reviews.  Worldwide sales stood at about six million copies sold as of 2009', which made it at that time the best selling remix album ever released.
·         Invincible: 2001' was sadly considered by many to be Michael Jackson's biggest commercial flop. I say sadly because this album as far as I'm concerned has to be some of his best work. "Invincible" did sell over 13 million copies worldwide. The reason why "Invincible" didn't live up to the standards of his previous works really doesn't lie with Jackson as much as Sony Records, who due to their parting of ways with Michael, chose not to properly promote the album. Also, the time in which this album was brought out was terrible, (October of 2001'). Anyone can tell you that it took not just the United States, but most of the world quite awhile to get over the events of September 11, 2001' terrorist attack, and because of this the entertainment industry took a hit financially.
There were several more albums that found success through remakes:  "The 25th Anniversary Thriller Album", and "Number Ones".

So there you have it, a listing of some of Michael Jackson's albums that weren't "Thriller", but were still great successes in their own right. Great successes that can stand on their own merit, and not have to be compared to "Thriller".

Then since Michael's death we have a posthumus album entitled: "Michael".  So it's obvious that his music will live on from one of the greatest artists of our times.

Also, just one last thing to hit the statement home to Bob Jones, and that was no one matched the success of "Thriller".  I repeat no one!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

No One Matched the Success of "Thriller"! (Part 1 of 2)

Bob Jones
In his book called "Michael Jackson:  The Man behind the Mask", author Bob Jones and Stacy Brown referenced several times  that since Michael couldn't equal or succeed his "Thriller" album that he had somehow become a has been. Now I have made it clear what I think of this book throughout some of my previous blog entries. Although, I will admit that there is some information that is based on fact.  I do, although after reading the book feel strongly that it is written by what I would classify as a disgruntled ex-employee who was getting back at his former employer plain and simple for being dismissed from his position in public relations at MJJ Productions. One of the areas where Jones attacked Michael Jackson constantly in his book as I stated above, and I felt it was totally unjust was by making snide remarks that, although "Thriller" was a huge success Michael Jackson was never able to match it, so he more or less fizzled out after that. Huh, say what? All right, so even I will admit that Michael Jackson never did match the album sales of "Thriller", but here's a bit of trivia for all of you trivia buffs, what singing artist has ever matched the success of "Thriller? (I'm sure there is silence and sounds of crickets, right), exactly no one and I mean no one has ever matched "Thriller's success. So does this mean that every recording artist out there is a failure? I don't think so.  It's just that "Thriller" was so huge that it was just too hard to match or surpass for anyone as of this date and the writing of this blog, including Michael Jackson who set the precedent and bar pretty high.

So did this mean that Michael Jackson had fizzled out after "Thriller"? Far from it, just because the albums that followed or preceded, "Thriller" weren't as big as it was doesn't mean they weren't successful in their own right. Here is a list of some of Michael's most notable albums, what they each achieved, and how they were successes in their own right.

Off The Wall: Released in 1979' three years before "Thriller", was Michael Jackson's first album as a solo artist, (he had released other solo albums while a member of the Jackson 5, but this one was his very first after leaving the group). The album featured such notable songs as "Rock with You", "She's Out of My Life", and "Don't Stop Till You get Enough". To date the album has sold 8 million copies nationwide and 20 million worldwide. "Off The Wall" is a certified Multi-Platinum album.

Bad: Jackson's next album after "Thriller". This one is a phenomenon in its own right as stated in my previous blog entry. There were five singles from this album that made number one on the billboard top 40 and they were: "Bad", I Just Can't Stop Loving You", "Man In The Mirror", "The Way You Make Me Feel" and "Dirty Diana". (A feat that no other album, not even "Thriller", had ever done up to this point). The Bad tour also broke records for the amount of sold out shows worldwide. "Bad" was also the best selling album worldwide in 1988' and 1989'.

This is just the beginning; I think you are starting to see my point. So Michael Jackson's other albums weren't as huge as "Thriller", but that doesn't mean they weren't successful.

Stay tuned for the next installment as we continue to prove just how wrong Bob Jones and Stacy Brown were with this bogus statement in their book.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Thrill of Michael Jackson’s "Thriller Album"

It would seem that when it comes to talking about the albums that Michael Jackson did over the years, one album would be brought up more than any other. That album was of course, "Thriller" which was released by Epic Records in the fall of 1982'. All of us know Michael Jackson had huge success prior to "Thriller" and after its triumph, but even if "Thriller" had been his only achievement, it would have been enough to make him a music legend. So many things about this album make it a part of music history, as we all know it.  Here is but a few examples:

·        "Thriller" remains to this day the highest grossing album of all time.

·        "Thriller" featured a 14-minute music video for the title song that changed the course of music videos, as we all know it. They went from being simplistic to cinematic achievements, with Jackson working with director John Landis to create a video that was very much like a short horror film, complete with a narration by horror film star Vincent Price.
·        The Thriller video broke down barriers at the video music channel, MTV where it became one of the first music videos done by a black entertainer to be heavily featured on the cable network.

·        The album Thriller would have several singles that would make it to number one on the bill board charts, including "Billie Jean" and "Beat It".

·        The album "Thriller" was ranked number 20 in Rolling Stones Magazine's 500 greatest albums of all times list.

·        Michael Jackson won a record breaking 8 Grammy awards and 8 American Music awards for "Thriller".

I could go on and on about the success of "Thriller", as I said before if this had been Michael Jackson’s only achievement as a recording artist it would have been enough for him to have achieved immortality in the music industry with just this album alone. But, of course this wasn’t his only achievement, it was no doubt a huge triumph, perhaps a little too huge at the time. There’s a saying once you have reached the top there is nowhere left to go but down. "Thriller" was an album that no one, and I do mean no one even Michael Jackson could live up to, and that is why all these years later "Thriller" still remains the highest grossing album of all time. To hear some talk, such as former Jackson publicist turned author Bob Jones, because none of Jackson's other albums after "Thriller" ever reached the same success Michael Jackson was a has been. If that’s the case so was every other recording artist out there, I’m sorry to tell Mr. Jones and others who stood by this belief, that "Thriller" was just too big for anyone even Michael Jackson to be able to compete with. Does that mean that all of Michael’s other album’s after "Thriller" were flops, or could they be considered a success in their own right? Think about it, right after "Thriller" Michael put out the album "Bad",

which turned out to be the biggest selling album of 1988'-1989', and his Bad Tour which consisted of a 123 shows was attended by a whopping 4.4 million people and had sold 125 million dollars in tickets.  It was rated the greatest concert tour ever. 
In another blog entry, I will go into other albums that Michael Jackson had in his solo career that could be considered successes in their own right, even if they had to be eclipsed by the thrill of "Thriller".

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jermaine Jackson: Loving Brother or Judas?

It’s no secret that when Michael died in June of 2009', the one brother who became the most verbal and supportive was Jermaine. He appeared in many interviews, singing his brother’s praises, talking about how much he missed Michael. Yet, like Latoya he met with much scrutiny from Michael’s devoted fans, why because some of them just didn’t buy that Jermaine was truly the loving brother he was portraying himself to be. Why was this back lash occurring?

Well it would seem that Jermaine and Michael weren’t always that close. Yes, they performed together during their childhood in the Jackson 5 and they appeared quite close back then. But somewhere down the road things must have soured between the two brothers. What actually happened I’m not quite sure, I do know that about twenty years ago Jermaine released as song called "Word to the Bad", to when you hear it you know it was directed at Michael and not in a good way.

To view the lyrics to this song and to understand the complexity of it you can go to YouTube by CLICKING HERE.

Needless to say this is an ugly song that leaves you to wonder what provoked it. Was Jermaine jealous of Michael’s success at the time?  Were there those around Michael who were cutting him off from his family in order to control his career? You have to wonder just what was going down during this time. So once again here was a Jackson sibling that Michael Jackson fans have refused to forgive, despite the fact that years have gone by and the rift between the siblings was once again mended. How do I know the rift between Michael and Jermaine was mended the same way it was mended with Latoya? Simple, like Latoya, Jermaine was there in court supporting his brother throughout the 2005' child molestation case. Jermaine was also very verbal to the press during this time that his brother was innocent. He appeared on "Larry King Live" after the Not Guilty verdict came down and he told King that he never doubted his brother’s innocence for a minute.

Still there have been fans that doubt Jermaine’s loyalty to his brother. I have to admit YouTube doesn’t help matters here. Although I love YouTube, it’s a great resource tool that has been utilized constantly on this blog, but it can also cause problems. Why, because when someone views a video for the first time it's hard to reconcile yourself to the fact that this is a video that was done many years ago, not yesterday. I have read blogs that make it sound like "Word to the Bad" was released yesterday when in actuality it was two decades ago.  Let's remember no family is without a dispute at one time or another.

Then to top it off fans who don’t like Dr. Tohme Tohme blame Jermaine for him being introduced into Michael’s life. It was Jermaine who introduced them and it's been rumored that Tohme is actually related to Jermaine’s current wife. It did seem rather odd I must add when Tohme; someone who had been dismissed from Michael Jackson's employment a month before Michael's passing was actually the spokes person for the Jackson family at the press conference following Michael’s death at the hospital. It also seemed odd that he was given the right to fire Michael’s staff from the L.A. compound on that dreadful day (June 25, 2009). So what is Tohme’s relationship to the Jackson’s and how does Jermaine fit into it? Only the Jackson family knows for sure. What I do know for sure is that Michael and Jermaine weren’t enemies at the time of Michael’s death, they were apparently close once more.  Jermaine stated when he last saw Michael at his parent's anniversary party in April that Michael had asked him if he was coming to London to see his concert.  Jermaine said that he told him he would be there and that he wouldn't miss it.

So was Jermaine a loyal brother or a Judas? I would have to say he was a loyal brother, at least until someone can give me something more concrete and factual to prove otherwise.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor, a Longtime, True Friend of Michael Jackson (Part 3 of 3)

In the last two installments I discussed some of the good times and the bad times in what was the long endearing friendship between Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor. Their friendship seemed to remain strong no matter what was thrown at it. But there was one point where Taylor was reported as fearing that maybe she had lost her Michael. It was after he was found not guilty of the Child Molestation charges in 2005'. The trial and all the scrutiny in the press had taken its toll on Michael and he had become a shell of his former self, distancing himself from those who loved him. He left the country and moved around first to Bahrain, Ireland, and Spain and to other places throughout the world.

Still Taylor was reported as saying that although she understood why he left the United States that she never lost hope that one day Michael would return. She told Larry King on CNN that she understood why he left and that she still was in communication with him.  Her wish was later granted in 2006' when he did come back to the U.S.  There is not much written about their relationship when he did come back to the U.S., although I would like to think when he came back to the states that he continued his contact with her, especially, when Taylor stated after Michael's death that she had been planning to go to the opening night performance in London for his "This Is It" concert. Taylor was reported as being excited over the prospect because the Michael she talked to over the phone was once again her long time friend who was as funny and animated as ever and not the broken man who had left the court room some four years before. In fact, Taylor has stated in interviews that she was happily packing to go to London when she heard the earth shattering news that Michael was dead. Obviously shaken over his death and not in the best of health herself Taylor had a hard time coming to terms with Michael's untimely death. It was reported that the family wanted her to appear at his memorial service at the Staples Center and to speak about their relationship, but Taylor just couldn't bring herself to do so. She would later post on twitter this regarding the Staples Center memorial.

"I've been asked to speak at the Staples Center. I cannot be part of the public whoopla. And I cannot guarantee that I would be coherent to say a word," she was quoted as saying. "I just don't believe that Michael would want me to share my grief with millions of others. How I feel is between us. Not a public event."

Taylor did attend Michael's funeral a few months later and sat near the family. Michael was of course interred in the Great Mausoleum at Forrest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California. I have to wonder just what part Taylor played in the decision to put him there. Why, because it was debated for months where Michael should actually be put to rest. Some members of the family wanted Neverland Ranch, whereas others were totally against it believing that Michael wouldn't want that, (I honestly don't know if this is actually true). As they debated over this, Michael remained in a freezer in the morgue, and I have to wonder if Taylor intervened and suggested Forrest Lawn to Katherine Jackson. The reason I wonder this, is because after her death in 2010' where was Elizabeth Taylor put to rest? That's right the Grand Mausoleum at Forrest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California. It's possible that somewhere down the line, maybe Taylor had talk to Michael about the fact that she wanted to be interred there. After all, she wasn't in the best of health so I could actually see them having such a conversation, although at the time I doubt that Taylor believed she would out live Michael. Perhaps Michael voiced interest in the place, it sounded like something he would do being the film buff that he was, especially with such stars as WC Fields and Clark Gable being put to rest there.
In any case, whatever ultimately happened Michael ended up at Forrest Lawn, as did his beloved Elizabeth. Two close and devoted friends in life now once again together in death. Obviously not even death had been able to sever their bond of a lasting, true, and loving friendship.
Rest in Peace Michael and Elizabeth, you are both deeply missed.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor: A Longtime, True Friend of Michael Jackson (Part 2 of 3)

In the last blog entry I discussed the beginning of what was to be a long and beautiful friendship between Michael Jackson and legendary screen star Elizabeth Taylor. I talked about some of their happier and fun times together, but now as in any friendship comes some of the harder times that the two faced.

As in any friendship or even relationship the bad times would come along as well as the good times, and these were the times that usually tested the relationship. In fact during the bad times it's usually when the strength of a relationship is truly tested. During these troubled times I can honestly say beyond a shadow of a doubt that the friendship between Michael and Taylor endured and perhaps became even stronger.

Perhaps some of the most difficult times this relationship endured were in 1993' and 2003' when Michael Jackson was accused of child molestation. Taylor never wavered in her devotion for her long time friend. She stood by him with fierce devotion and was always very strong in her conviction that he was indeed an innocent man who was falsely accused. She would actually be quoted as saying during the 2003' arrest and allegations about Michael:

"I believe Michael is innocent and that he will be vindicated," Taylor said in 2003'.

She also made it quite clear that she had spent much time at Neverland ranch over the years staying in one of the guest cottages on the estate, and that she had never witnessed any questionable behavior. Here is a quote from part of her testimony during Michael's child molestation trial.

"There was nothing abnormal about it. There was no touchy-feely going on. We laughed like children, and we watched a lot of Walt Disney. There was nothing odd about it," Taylor said.

Taylor was also reported as playing a pivotal role back in 1993' to get Michael to go into rehab for his addiction to painkillers. Being a recovering addict herself I don't doubt for a minute that she would have wanted to help Michael any way she could to get the help he needed.

These are just a few examples of no doubt bad times that this friendship had to endure, and did so while coming out even stronger. But could anything separate Michael and Taylor as well as sever their close bond? Stay tuned.