Celebrating the King of Pop: 1958-2009

No words, printed or spoken, seem to do justice to the life and career of the late Michael Jackson, the brilliantly talented, irreplaceable entertainer who united the world with his music and spirit. The only fitting way to pay tribute to this musical icon is to celebrate his music – because his is the rare, exquisite kind that transcends the boundaries of genre, color, gender and time, and will continue to impact lives for generations to come.

The Jackson 5 perform mega-hit “I Want You Back” on Soul Train in 1972


Jackson debuts legendary moonwalk on the 1983 Motown 25 television special


Jackson’s 1991 music video for the idealistic, global anthem “Black or White”


How has Michael Jackson’s music touched you? Post your thoughts, along with your favorite performances and music videos, below.


  1. In no way, shape or form whatsoever as a solo artist

    As a member of the Jackson Five “ABC” and “I Want You Back” were worthy efforts

    As a human being the man was a disgrace

  2. He’s not my favorite 80s pop star, but the man deserves credit for putting out solid music and breaking down a lot of boundaries between genres.

    I’ve been pretty lucky in that my favorite artists haven’t had dramatic flame-outs or tragic deaths. Good wishes to all of his fans who were eagerly awaiting his comeback. Judging from the iTunes sales charts and media coverage, it looks like he did finally get celebrated again for his talent first. It’s just unfortunate that it had to happen this way.

  3. I must say that I am a bit dsappointed to see an article on an artist with NO discernable connection to country music on a site such as this. It’s bad enough that the newspapers were fawning all over themselves over him (kind of reminds me of the press coverage of the last presidential election) without seeing this site do the same

    P.S. who dubbed Jackson the “King of Pop” . Tony Bennett was described thus for many years – I thought you had to die first for a new king to move in and when I last checked Bennett was still alive and kicking

  4. In no way, shape or form whatsoever as a solo artist

    As a member of the Jackson Five “ABC” and “I Want You Back” were worthy efforts

    As a human being the man was a disgrace.

    Damn you, Paul. I wanted to be the one to say that! ;)

  5. @ Paul,
    If you think the coverage is too much, you have the option of not participating in the thread. I stay away from memorial threads on artists that don’t interest or concern me, as there are better uses for my time.

  6. Paul, to me, it’s unimaginable that Michael Jackson has not had any impact on the country music industry – if not on the actual music, at least on the country artists themselves. In fact, many country artists have spoken out in the past few days on this matter:


    I think very, very rarely do we see an artist like Jackson who is able to reach across all sorts of boundaries and unite people with music. That is such a beautiful thing –when someone is able to turn music into a powerful, positive tool– and I believe it should be celebrated regardless of genre.

  7. I’ve been sitting here for the last several minutes deciding about whether I should respond to this or not. I don’t want to create hard feelings or stir up a huge controversy, but there are some things that need to be said. Why has everyone conveniently forgotten Mr. Jackson’s, uh, inappropriate behavior with young boys? Why are holding him up as an icon?

  8. I don’t think anyone is celebrating his later life. Personally, I have no use for how he’s lived it. But I do acknowledge his musical influence and iconic status, for better or worse. Most coverage that I’ve seen lately does acknowledge the same. As far as why CU has chosen to cover it (in a very minor way, I might add), I think Tara addressed the reason rather succinctly. I have to admit, also, that Michael is one of the very few eighties artists that I’ve enjoyed, though there’s really no eighties artist that I fully embrace.

  9. Very disappointed in CU.
    Bad: No relation to country
    Worse: “Celebrity Death News”
    The End: Celebrating a pedophile

    Don’t give me the “he wasn’t”. I don’t know what’s worse, people celebrating a person that dangles a baby over a balcony, or the fact that the same people crying that he’s gone couldn’t give two rats butts about him 48 hours before he died.

    Waste of tv, internet, and “media” time.

  10. I know here is a lot of things that happened in Micheal Jackson’s life that were controversial
    to say the least. But CU is a blog about music, and well when it came to music Jackson was one of the greats.

  11. Seriously. The implication that we’re in any way condoning Michael Jackson’s actions in his personal life is ludicrous and even offensive. Glen Campbell beat women and he’s still respected as an artist/musician…and when we celebrate him someday when he passes, we won’t be condoning his past personal deamons, for the record. We’ll be celebrating his contribution to music. That’s the case with many other artists whose music we’ll positively discuss here as well.

  12. No words, printed or spoken, seem to do justice to the life and career of the late Michael Jackson

    That statement sounds like more than just his music is being celebrated. Nobody is saying that his actions are being condoned, but they are being conveniently ignored. The difference between Michael Jackson and your example of Glen Campbell is that Campbell became a born-again Christian and turned his life around.

  13. Perhaps that was a poor choice of word, but in my eyes, in order to celebrate an artist’s body of work…you have to celebrate his life as well, to the extent that it relates to his career.

    I’m not condoning any of MJ’s actions nor do I want to start a discussion about them. This is about his music and its impact, plain and simple.

  14. Without question, Michael Jackson was a seminal figure in the history of pop music, going all the way back to his and his brothers’ first #1 hit “I Want You Back” in 1970. And he was certainly a master at promoting his music, though I would never go so far as he did to call himself the King Of Pop. But regardless of whether all the rumors about his supposedly inappropriate behavior around kids, both his own and others, were true or not, he did not do all that great a job at public relations; he never made any effort to squash the innuendos. To me, he seemed content in later years to throw out all the great music he made for media attention and Celebrity. He actually believed his own press and his own ego, and that is a very dangerous thing.

    Even so, and while I don’t think the loss of Jackson was nearly as great as the losses of either Elvis or John Lennon, let’s face it, the Gloved One did a lot of great things in his day, including, for me, the title track of THRILLER (heard every year close to Halloween), and the USA For Africa “We Are The World” project. In the end, I hope people will remember him for being a great singer, and not a mere celebrity, as the media so often has done.

  15. Conveniently ignored? When you’re paying a quick tribute to an artist who has died, it’s not really easy to throw in all of the negative parts of his life. When Tara said “life”, I’m sure she did not mean that we were celebrating the seedy part of it.

    For the record, I acknowledge that he was not a good person, in case there are any doubts.

    Marc said that we were celebrating MJ holding his kid over a balcony, which is what my previous comment was referring to.

  16. Conveniently ignored? When you’re paying a quick tribute to an artist who has died, it’s not really easy to throw in all of the negative parts of his life.

    But with an artist like this, the negative parts of his life are the elephant in the room, are they not? While no one lives a perfect life, most people don’t have baggage on this grand scale.

    I’m not trying to cast aspersions on anyone on the CU staff or question anyone’s motives. I’m just not able to compartmentalize very well when it comes to crimes against children, and would prefer not to see child predators put up on pedestals, regardless of how worthy they may be based on their other accomplishments.

  17. I’m more disturbed that someone who is convicted of assault can surface in a popular summer movie and nobody seems to care about that.

    That’s an entirely different discussion. Why not be disturbed about both? Why does it have to be an either-or situation?

  18. Erik North and Tara probably best sum up my thoughts on this issue.

    MJ was not my favorite 80s artist but I definitely liked a good portion of his output. And there is simply no denying the impact he had on the music industry. I’m not sure what good it does to focus on the negative aspects of his personal life now that he is gone. He will be judged but it will be (rightfully) by someone greater than me. I wasn’t there to witness what happened behind closed doors. I can presume but never be 100% certain.

    Also, I think his title as the King of Pop is generally accepted.

  19. Look, people who aren’t a fan of Jackson’s and hate him for the private and personnal parts of his life have all the right to. But let people who are a fan of his MUSIC be able to pay tribute to his CAREER.

  20. I agree that when the original statement was “life and career”.. that takes into account all of his life, we can’t pick and choose.

    I’m tired of the hypocrisy and the american “media” pandering attention. To be fair, I’ve blasted that view in all forums, not just this one. :)

    I still have much love for the site.. just… ugg.. really? Just a bit disappointed. It has no place here.

  21. When it comes to Micheal Jackson, I think it’s always an awkward thing to talk about. I was born in 93 so I always seemed to remember him as a creepy pervert with a really weird nose. And I can’t recall knowing any of his music outside of the 70’s or 80’s, but looking at his music throughout those two decades, it’s easy to see why he was so famous. He had some great music.

    I can also agree that the media is having a little too much of a parade with his death, along with many celebs. While it’s nice to see them credit his music pre-90’s, they have completely disregarded that they helped make him a running joke for the past two decades(which I can’t blame them considering that he was a creeper.) I think it’s ironic how people try to make it seem as if they were Jackson’s lifelong friend(I’m mainly talking about the celebs) after the person is dead to get some sort of attention.

    I’ve seen people do this after my Dad passed, and it can get pretty annoying.

    I’ll try ending this post on a happier note saying that it seems that Jackson is, in a way, the Elvis Presley of Generation X. If you look at some of those quotes by those country artists many of them are in that generation.

  22. I hope the world will be doing a tribute to MJ – and we can see great artists celebrate this musical/performing genius!


    Category: recently departed celebrities

    Answer: More talented than Michael Jackson, Ed McMahon and Farah Fawcett combined

    Question: who is Fred Travelena ?


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