July 2, 2009

Perfect Song, Perfect Scene #6

[Originally this post was going to be my only tribute to Michael Jackson, as it features one of the best, if not the most recent, uses of his songs in a movie. A secondary choice, and I'm completely serious, would be "Will You Be There" over the closing credits of Free Willy. Anyway, I'd rather not remember why I saw 13 Going on 30 in the theater, but I will never forget the ear-to-ear grin I had on my face throughout this scene as I resisted the urge to actually get up out of my seat and start dancing, as is always the case when MJ comes on.]

Party for Poise Magazine
, 13 Going on 30 (2004): "Thriller" by Michael Jackson


  1. Of course while it does bring a smile, it also mires some (including myself) into deep depression. It's been a rough week, and those with a deep passion for his music and what he meant them will take a very long time to get over it. The 'holier than thou' attitude of a few bloggers, who refuse to even mention his name, as if he never existed (didn't the legal system exonerate him or am I making this up?) is sickening, but other than saying that I won't go there.

    Today's memorial will be most poignant, I'm sure. I don't know if I have the courage to watch.

  2. I get where you're coming from, Sam. I couldn't really hide my fandom for Michael Jackson after I starting writing that Truman Show post the other day. I don't think bloggers are in any way obligated to post anything about him, but the in a lot of comments I've seen on news articles I've really been surprised at how many try to deny that his music was important. I mean, if you were between 10-20 years old at any time in the last 30 years, chances are you went crazy for a Michael Jackson song at some point. It's almost a certainty, regardless of where you are on the globe. There will simply be no other TALENT of his stature and success ever again. I'm convinced of that; the current and future circumstances of music and celebrity and technology will prevent it.

    Anyway, if I wanted to be emotional I would have used the Free Willy clip, but this is the one that I think most exemplifies how MJ is and will be remembered. Any occasion, any time, any where, put on one of his songs and see what happens. It could bring peace to war zones.

  3. Thanks for linking to the Free Willy clip. That sure brings me back! Nobody could make corny work like MJ...it was one of his many talents. Try as you might not to like We Are the World, Heal the World, or the Free Willy song you'll find yourself humming them an hour after listening.

  4. See, I don't even think it WAS corny, at least not at the time. That's how pop music used to be, in case anybody forgot. Pretty much the entire early 90's was light, positive ballads - heck, Bette Midler and Celine Dion had #1 hits when Mariah Carey didn't ("Hero", etc.).

    I'm pretty sure the Spice Girls marked the turn to less musical, more dancy/catchy tunes that ushered in the boy band/Britney Spears era, from which we are still suffering. Everything on the radio these days, from what I can tell, is utterly meaningless, both musically and lyrically. We went from "Man In the Mirror" and "Heal the World" to "The Whisper Song" and "Umbrella". I mean honestly, just turn on your radio and really try to listen to what's being sung about.

    Which is why it would have been interesting to see if MJ could have recaptured an entire generation with his new tour, thus putting every contemporary pop artist (except for his talented heirs apparent - Timberlake, Usher, Ne-Yo) to shame. But now it will never happen.

    So yeah, there's my cynical pop music analysis for the day.

  5. It will never happen - not that way, at least. But with the wall-to-wall coverage and crush of album purchases - which can't all be due to nostalgia - I suspect not only a resurgence in popularity and familiarity with the music as opposed to the persona, but a lasting impact on the musical scene in years to come, which can only be for the better.

    You are right to highlight the emotionalism of past pop vs. what's out there today. Not that pop was always emotional, or that none of it is so today, but there is an overall trend. And Jackson managed to make the most plastic of musical forms deeply felt. That was one of his greatest achievements.

  6. "a lasting impact on the musical scene in years to come"

    Man, I really hope that's true, but I won't hold my breath.

    I also should have clarified a little bit what I meant about older pop music. It definitely had more emotions or maybe "values", if you want to call them that, but I was also thinking more along the lines of what you're saying: almost nobody sang with as much passion as MJ, from "Ben" to "Beat It" to "Remember the Time" to even "You Rock My World" and "You Are Not Alone" (the last minute of which is especially moving).

    I'm not talking about the "hee-hee"s, but his attitude and singing voice combined with the shouts and improvised grunts and other sounds. He was putting everything he had into each song, compared to the sleepy detachment of what I hear on the radio these days, like it's cool to be so nonchalant about the words you're singing.


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