Archive for the Music Category

Man in the mirror…

Posted in Music with tags on February 20, 2010 by Sharmila

I remember when I got my first Sony Walkman and listened to the first audio tape on it. I listened to MJ’s Thriller album and watched the Thriller video countless times thereafter. In fact, I remember every single video of MJ’s since his ” Off the wall days”. As kids we would try to do the moonwalk like MJ, slither and fall on our faces. His one move, labeled as the anti – gravity lean in the Smooth Criminal video was patented.Well and truly the King of pop, his iconic status remained unsurpassable as his albums broke record after record. MJ, was one of the first few African-Americans to surge forward and change the fate of aspiring Afro-American artists after him. Not many African-American artists were seen performing on MTV and MJ was the first to break the barrier, he did it with resounding success.

From the dizzy heights that he reached, he fell hard, right from the very top where the world had perched him. He was a victim of child abuse in his younger days and this I believe was the reason for his peculiar behavior in his later years. He lost his entire childhood while working for the Jackson Five and was the shining star. He was not playing with his friends when he was ten nor was he discovering his childhood, instead he would be whipped by a tyrannical father into improving his singing. When he achieved success, he became more estranged with himself than with the rest of the world around him. This is why his home, the Neverland ranch was a fairytale place, an enchanting magical world he hid himself in. He surrounded himself with children and became a child himself. It was his only hope of recovering a part of the childhood that he lost forever. He clutched on to living his fantasy life in Neverland. Dianna Ross and Elizabeth Taylor had maternal instincts for the reclusive MJ, they were probably the only ones who saw him as a child.

Sadly, his proximity to children in an opportune world became the reason for his spiralling downfall. Molestation charges where framed against him and he never recovered from the humiliation. He settled on the first set of charges in 1993 and was acquitted on all counts on the second set of charges in 2005. His addiction to various drugs was triggered around 1993 and worsened over the years. I for one always believed he was a victim and a lot of money was made by those around him. He trusted the wrong people.Interestingly, at the time of his death his financial state of affairs were supposedly bleak. But, he was an astute businessman. He had the rights to the Beatles catalogue and owned a 50% stake in Sony / ATV publishing company. The rights could run into the billions, and the net worth of his estate is still not clear.But, he is probably richer dead.

I watched ” This is it” on a flight from London to Hong Kong and I was mesmerized by the 130 minutes of the rehearsals which have been astutely converted into a preview of his final curtain call by Kenny Ortega. Every hit song of MJ’s has been meticulously performed by MJ and his dancers. Each song has takes from his sessions over two to three days of rehearsals and no more (judging by the costumes of MJ). I doubt he would have repeated his clothes so much.MJ looks fit and his movements are slick. He does not come across as a fifty year old and his energy could be passed off as that of a thirty year old. He is skinny and looks more so in flowing tuxedos and oversized jackets, but he has that MJ energy swimming around his aura. The sold out shows in London were to pay off his rumored debts, sadly, we will never know if that would have been the case. His financials remain as mysterious as the man, it may be buried with him, the world will never know. I was very surprised with ” This is it”, it looks a bit too surreal. It almost appeared as if ” This is it” would only see the video version and never the live version. It was a rather perfect arrangement of hours of footage.

Would MJ be happier dead than alive? I think he would be. I think he is happier in his fantasy land where he lives now, away from the media glare, away from accusations, away from a non supportive family and above all away from our prying eyes. His physical features remained an object of intense ridicule, albeit he blamed his pale looks to a condition called vitiligo. The King of Pop was treated as the Clown of Pop for a long time. Even after his death rumors about him never ceased. From spotting his ghost in Neverland and the CNN studios, the prying public haunt him. There were / are rumors also doing the rounds that he staged his death and he is very much alive. If this is the case, it would possibly be the best situation for MJ. He is probably happier “dead”. Here is the “rumored” video of MJ walking out of the van that took his “body” to the coroner’s office. Would we ever know the truth? The world’s obsession with the King of Pop has yet not ceased and we probably can never see the real ” Man in the mirror”.

This is it – Review from the Guardian

For everyone who’s thirsted for more Michael Jackson since his death little more than four months ago, the wait is finally over. For the rest of us, it’s time to look on in awe as Jackson’s memory – and the legendary fervency of his fans – is ruthlessly exploited till the pips squeak.

As is all too well known, Jackson was carried off shortly before embarking on a 50-date residency at London’s O2 Arena to try and pay off his rumoured $500m debts; footage shot during rehearsal for this series of shows forms

the vast majority of this much-heralded and hyped film, and goes some of the way to plugging both fans’ disappointment and his estate’s balance sheet.

So, to the burning question: is there any intimation of Jackson’s impending demise? I can’t honestly say there is. In the footage we are permitted to see, Jackson appears in pretty good shape for a 50-year-old – even if his general spindliness makes him occasionally look a bit like Skeletor in a lamé tuxedo. He performs at walking pace for much of the time, but makes it clear he is holding himself in.

As for the film itself, I can simply report that it isn’t too bad at all. It’s pretty much unadorned rehearsal footage, artfully stitched together to create complete song sequences; and since the O2 gigs were intended to present his crowdpleasing hits, they’re all here in their toe-tapping glory. Director Kenny Ortega puts himself in the frame quite a bit (sucking up to Jackson something rotten, it has to be said), and we learn that Jackson appeared to prefer culinary metaphors to describe his music: it must “sizzle”, or “simmer”, or indeed “nourish”.

The big fear, though, was that fulsome homages to the man and his talent would smother This Is It in a coating of treacle; thankfully, Ortega limits it to the occasional sobbing outburst from the dancers or choreographers. We are instead offered genuinely interesting tidbits of Jackson’s stagecraft, in the shape of intense discussion of cues, cherry-pickers and trapdoors – presumably to demonstrate how hands-on he was.

And there’s some fun sequences showing the creation of specially filmed inserts, such as the intro for Smooth Criminal having Jackson being Photoshopped into black and white movie clips from the 1940s, fending off Bogart and Cagney.

Jackson’s penchant for drivel couldn’t be entirely eliminated, as evidenced by the sickly little scene, built around a small girl wandering through an enchanted forest, that heralds Earth Song.

Still, this could have been a lot worse. It’s a bit much to claim it’s any kind of viable substitute for the live show, and since Jackson avoids conversation as much as is humanly possible it’s also a bit much to claim we get to know anything more about how he ticks. But This Is It a testament of a kind, and one that is no disgrace to his memory.