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Thread: Michael Jackson Top Hits and History

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    Michael Jackson Top Hits and History

    Michael Jackson Top Hits and History

    Now that MJ's gone, there's a strong urge to revisit some of his best numbers ever. This, of course, is subjective. Moreover, pretty much all his tracks were mega hits. Everyone can croon a line or two from Beat It to You are not alone. But some tracks are just undeniably personal.
    They bring back memories of our attempts at doing the moonwalk, spinning on our heels as MJ does in Smooth Criminal, howling an ‘Owwww!’, turning on a fan hoping it would billow our shirt out like it does in Dirty Diana, donning hats and tipping it with style as we hitch our pants at the waist trying to imitate Jacko's inimitable style. Of course, MJ clones around the world have it down to a T. But we can’t help but keep trying.

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    But it wasn't just that that drew us to Michael. He gave us truly romantic numbers that made us go gaga over him. Even if our boyfriends attempted it, it wasn't good enough. Only Michael's voice could make us go all sappy and mushy.
    And then there were his dance numbers, the staple of all school parties. Be it a freshers’ or a farewell party, MJ was blaring on the stereo.
    He could also make us feel more strongly about a cause or an issue than a National Geographic photo could. His reach was worldwide and instant. He got us to empathise with the crisis in Ethiopia, global warming, and war-torn Sarajevo. His straightforward lyrics set to some unforgettable tunes made us go on a quest in those minutes the song lasted and consequently when it was on a loop.

    Over the years, when he became a caricature of himself, most MJ fans went into the closet, denying him and of ever being crazy about him. But to all those people who embraced hip hop and heavy metal to distance themselves from the trend-setting music he fashioned, do you remember Slash of Guns 'n Roses fame in Give into Me? Yes, so please learn some R.E.S.P.E.C.T. and grow a spine.
    But the above lot seems to be the minority. Michael Jackson's curtain call which was slated to take off this July in London, had thousands of die-hard fans queuing up for tickets. And we're sure if MJ had performed, several more across the world would've watched the taped concert on TV. His star power is undeniable. There's nothing you can do but surrender to his tunes and tap your feet, hum along, sing aloud and scream out his name in a frenzy.
    Here's recalling some of his most impressionable songs and albums that still make us go crazy for the King of Pop.

    Beat It
    It's tempting to start off the intro to all the songs with 'this is a classic!' But this one most definitely is. Even MJ knew the magic this song held to fans and included it in all of his world tours. What makes this song utterly brilliant is that it is, in fact, very preachy. It asks you to 'beat it' i.e. the urge to grow violent. It calls for common sense - “You wanna stay alive, better do what you can. So beat it, just beat it.'
    And we wouldn't take this message from anybody but Michael. In the promotions for this track, MJ brought together two real-life gangs to show them the Gandhian way but it was just more fun this time.
    It's amazing what Michael could do with genres. Producer Quincy Jones suggested rock n' roll. And MJ delivered something totally mind-blowing. Rock & Roll wasn't about good vs. bad, or socially responsible messages or even the power of dance. It
    was about love, romance, and getting on the dance floor.
    Beat It did get everyone on to the dance floor, but also showed the world that being macho and a bully was nothing to be proud of.
    Critics have said that this probably was a dig at his overbearing, cruel father. But then MJ's got a point here.
    But getting back to the track, MJ didn't stop with just stepping up rock & roll. He and Quincy Jones brought in Eddie Van Halen for the incredible guitar solo. The rocker did it for no charge. He said, 'I did it as a favour. I was a complete fool, according to the rest of the band, our manager and everyone else. I was not used. I knew what I was doing - I don't do something unless I want to do it.' And we're really glad he did.
    Trivia: The 'knock' as Van Halen's guitar solo begins is said to be that of a person walking into Van Halen's studio at the time of recording. Another version is that it's Van Halen tapping his own guitar.

    Black or White
    The killer track with the killer video from Dangerous, which we personally feel is MJ's last best album, is an all-time favourite.
    Somehow this is a track that embodies Michael Jackson's desire to never grow up and be a part of the grim adult world. The intro to this song featuring Macaulay Culkin (MJ's favourite star kid) turning up the volume when the boorish dad wants to watch TV in peace is a simple image of defiance and wanting to be unfettered, that taps into our childhood as well.
    But the song clearly belongs to another plateau - one emphasising racial equality. That's what we love about Michael! There are no metaphors. It's a non-offensive in-yer-face message:
    But, if

    You’re thinkin’ about my baby

    It don’t matter if you’re black or white
    1990's biggest selling rock song roped in Slash for the intro and effectively mixes rock, dance and hip hop. If that didn't get us on the dance floor, the kickass video certainly did. Apart from MJ's brilliant moves - matching dance forms across the world – the biggest hit in the video directed by John Landis was the end - where the 'morphing' technique was used to meld faces from various races.
    Trivia: The girl that the fat oriental man morphs into is a very young Tyra Banks.

    This is the standard video to copy MJ's moves. It's chockablock with some of the most stunning routines. An all-black gear comprising black jacket, skin-tight jeans, belts, studs, buckles and steel-heeled boots were 'in'. And we all tried hard to look that way.
    That was one of the many MJ costumes that we mimicked for our dance performances in school. He wasn't easy to imitate. But he is the most easily recognisable.
    And we thoroughly love the part where he sings 'who's bad' in the rival thugs face. It's utterly, utterly cool. We can't believe that this is the same guy who in recent years turned out to be a recluse.
    For an utterly sensitive superstar he certainly does a good 'Bad' and he makes 'Bad' look real good.
    But hold on, MJ's still the Gandhian. What he means by 'Bad' is that it 'is a song about the street. It's about this kid from a bad neighbourhood who gets to go away to a private school. He comes back to the old neighbourhood when he's on a break from school and the kids from the neighbourhood start giving him trouble. He sings, 'I'm bad, you're bad, who's bad, who's the best?' He's saying when you're strong and good, then you're bad.' Michael's still the good guy.
    Trivia: The thug in the video is Wesley Snipes.

    Liberian Girl
    This haunting number was dedicated by Michael to his BFF Elizabeth Taylor. The song, though a romantic number, expresses an undying versatile love.
    Of Liz Taylor he says: [She] is a warm cuddly blanket that I love to snuggle up to and cover myself with. I can confide in her and trust her. She's Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, the Queen of England, and Wendy.
    But what makes this song unforgettable is the rocking video starring his celebrity friends. Stars such as John Travolta and Whoopi Goldberg are either enacting the lines from the song, chitchatting with other celebs and waiting for Michael to show up. We see all this through the third-person's point of view and in the end this third-person is revealed to be Michael Jackson himself. The wait, the building suspense, and the large helping of Hollywood celebrities in one song, makes it a classic.
    Trivia: The celebs who starred in this video are Paula Abdul, Rosanna Arquette, Dan Aykroyd, Mayim Bialik, Bubbles, Jackie Collins, David Copperfield, Emily Dreyfuss, Richard Dreyfuss, Corey Feldman, Lou Ferrigno, Debbie Gibson, Danny Glover, Steve Guttenberg, Jasmine Guy, Whoopi Goldberg, Sherman Hemsley, Olivia Hussey, Amy Irving, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Beverly Johnson, Quincy Jones, Don King, Virginia Madsen, Olivia Newton-John, Brigitte Nielsen, Lou Diamond Phillips, Ricky Schroder, Steven Spielberg, Suzanne Somers, John Travolta, Blair Underwood, Carl Weathers, Billy Dee Williams and 'Weird Al' Yankovic.

    Who Is It
    This may not be the most popular song from Dangerous, but it's pull is undeniable. The haunting tune talks of betrayal. It's a seemingly straightforward story of misunderstandings and secrets. But Michael Jackson's voice belting out the accusations and questions steeps us in the despair that he is shown enacting on screen. But this he manages to do even without the aid of the video.
    This song is and always will be a 'loop' favourite. It's got the quality that leaves Michael's voice ringing in your ears.
    Trivia: The video, a classic piece of work, was shot by David Fincher of Alien-3, Panic Room, Fight Club and Se7en fame. Only the best for Michael.

    Smooth Criminal
    Why we love this song? Cause we can't stop singing out loud 'Annie are you ok. So, Annie are you ok. Are you ok, Annie' nor give up on trying the anti-gravity lean in spite of falling flat on our face. We just LOVE this song!!!
    This man can make anything look good. He dons a white suit with a lilac shirt. And his incredible moves don't ruin the crease on the well-tailored suit one bit. With tommy guns and some goon-bashing, it’s an action-hero flick in a music video. Most of the times it's hard to separate MJ's song from the video as both are just that good.
    The song is from his short film Moonwalker also starring Joe Pesci. The dance in the nightclub immortalises gangster cool. MJ sure did put superheroes to shame with this avatar.
    Trivia: The special shoe that allows Jacko to do the anti-gravity lean was made especially for his stage shows (in the video it was done with the help of a harness) and has been patented in the US. It's made possible through a shoe with ankle support and cut out heels that allowed him to lean forward with additional support without having to keep the centre of gravity directly over his feet.

    The Way You Make Me Feel
    It's really, really annoying when any old guy on the street tails you but not when it's super cool Michael Jackson. And the demarcation is clearly visible to anyone who's seen the long version of the video. MJ woos the lady, not gawks. And what a way to grab a girl's attention. He yells out 'Hey' and sings out the first line, 'you knock me off my feet'. The rest is history.
    We're certain many men tried copying this style and we guarantee you they must've flopped. There's no matching the King of Pop.
    Trivia: MJ performed this number with Britney Spears at the 30th Anniversary Concert in Madison Square Garden.

    Spooky! And it still is even though we're 'adults'. There's always a story to his songs. And this one is utterly eerie. Jacko turns into a werewolf. The opening bars, the dark theatre with the horror movie, the walk past the graveyard, the wolf's howl, the zombies and the utterly spine-chilling laugh at the end of the track gives us sleepless nights. But just like the werewolf who can't help but burst out on seeing the full moon, we can't help but play the song again and again.
    We'd rather cower under a sheet than skip the song.
    It's no wonder that Thriller is one of the best-selling albums ever.
    Trivia: Ola Ray, the girlfriend in the video, sued Michael over unpaid royalties.

    Remember The Time
    One of the most popular tracks from Dangerous. It's remembered for taking the smile off comedian Eddie Murphy's face.
    MJ seems to have gone back to his roots with this number. It might be an opulent tale set in Egypt but the sounds are Soul and Swing. He even performed the track at the 1993 Soul Train Awards.
    This dance number had us walking like an Egyptian all over again - only with a lot more style. The video is memorable for the kiss MJ shares with model Iman, who stars as the Queen and is reminded of a past life where the two were lovers.
    The group dance with the complicated routine is unforgettable! Who cared if the VCR got jammed with constant rewinds and play. It was magic!
    Trivia: Basketball star Magic Johnson also starred in this video.

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