Top Ten Tracks To Listen To When Feeling Poorly (Poll)

Sources: Daily Mail | Edited By – All Things Michael

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Forget paracetamol or honey and lemon. Listening to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is the best way to feel better when unwell, according to a new survey.

As part of a new poll, almost 90 per cent of people agreed that listening to a good tune can make people feel better when they are sick or facing difficult times.

More than 80 per cent said that in the past, music had made them personally feel better when they were sick or feeling low.

Bohemian Rhapsody, from British rock band Queen, is the nation’s favourite song for listening to when struck down by illness, or the blues, the poll revealed.

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The 1975 hit is almost six minutes long and moves through several sections, including a ballad segment ending in a guitar solo, an opera passage and a hard rock section.

It was written by lead singer Freddie Mercury for the band’s Night at the Opera album, the most expensive single ever made at the time it was recorded.

Out of a choice of ten songs, Bohemian Rhapsody was the most popular for male Britons (29 per cent) but was less popular among women (23 per cent)

Dancing Queen by Abba came second, as it was the most popular song for women (28 per cent).

Only 16 per cent of men named the Swedish pop group’s 1976 hit as their favourite.

Pharrell Williams’ 2013 hit Happy – which was number one in 25 countries – came joint third with ‘classical music’ generally.

The upbeat soul track was most popular for younger people aged 18 – 34 (30 per cent), while classical music (39 per cent) and Dancing Queen (31 per cent ) were voted most popular for over-65s.

Almost 70 per cent of people agreed they like to listen to music when they don’t feel well, and only 36 per cent said they prefer listening to speech than music when they don’t feel well.

Other favourite  tracks include Let it Be by the Beatles, Three Little Birds by Bob Marley and Angels by Robbie Williams.

Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, Elvis Presley’s The Wonder of You and Frank Sinatra’s My Way were also a favorite.

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The ComRes survey – of 1,000 people – was carried out to mark the BBC’s Faith in the World Week whose theme this year is the ‘healing power of music’.

Previous research has found that listening to sad but beautiful songs by the likes of Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen can also help you beat the blues.

University of Kent psychologists found that depressed or sad people prefer to listen to beautiful music that triggers important memories, and choosing music identified as ‘beautiful’ was the only way to stop them feeling glum.

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Master P Talks The Art Of Negotiation: “Michael Jackson Had The Biggest Deal”

Sources: Crib Notes – By Rodney Carmichael | Edited By – All Things Michael

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When Master P talks, you’d be wise to shut up and listen. This is the man, after all, whose late-’90s No Limit southern hip-hop hustle still serves as the blueprint for independent label success.

He gives AB+L Radio‘s Day1 the business this week in a rare 60-minute interview with hosts Maurice Garland, Brandon Peters and Nadine Graham. P tackles topics ranging from his disregard for ageism in hip-hop to personal matters to future film and business endeavors.

But things get really real when he explains how he scored the groundbreaking 1995 distribution deal with Priority Records, which allowed him to retain 100 percent ownership of his masters and 85 percent of his record sales.

“I made more than the record company that helped me put my record out,” he says. “I always was studying, going to the library and looking up deals, and I found out that Michael Jackson had the biggest deal.”

He goes on to detail how he tracked down Michael Jackson’s attorney, who required a $25,000 retainer before he would even talk to P. After he returned with the retainer fee, the lawyer told P that the key was to go after an 80/20 distribution deal, which the lawyer didn’t even believe Master P would be able to secure. “Probably because I was black and from the projects,” P says. “Who figured I was going to get that?”

But P was so confident, he says, that he turned down a $1 million dollar advance from Interscope in order to pursue a distribution deal with Priority that eventually paid off to the point that he “started employing half the people [at Priority].”

The interview starts around the 22-minute mark, but it’s definitely a classic Day1 episode worth a full listen. When it comes to the art of negotiation, self-worth and independent hustle, P proves he’s still the master.

Administrator’s Note:  This is  a very long interview, so listen to 46:16 – 47:08 to hear specifically about MJ. The full interview contains graphic language in various parts.

 

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Heartthrob Ablajan Talks About His Influence By MJ And The Tension Between Pop And Politics In China’s Xinjiang Region

Sources: Time – By Emily Rauhala | Edited By All Things Michael

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Sangzhu is not the sort of place you’d expect to find a pop star. An oasis town of some 30,000 people off the old Silk Road in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, Sangzhu is home to ethnic Uighur farmers, mosques and a bazaar. Women move quietly through courtyards, pulling their kerchiefs tight against the wind from the Taklamakan Desert. Bearded men lead donkeys down the road.

Then a bus rattles around the corner, shaking sleepy Sangzhu to life. From the backseats of the rusty clunker comes the kind of feral scream that can only be produced by wild packs of teenage girls. They pound the windows and wave their hands with celebrity-stricken abandon, jostling for a better view. “Ablajan!” they yell as they roll by. “Ab-laaa-jaaan!”

Standing street-side in a studded leather jacket and shades, glancing down at his iPhone, is the object of their frenzy: Uighur pop star, and hometown hero, Ablajan Awut Ayup. He looks up at them, smiles a little sheepishly, and touches his hand to his heart. Then he turns to me and pops his collar with all the mock swagger he can muster. “The ladies,” he says in English, “they like my style.”

Ablajan, 30, is one of the hottest singers in China’s vast northwest. His catchy songs fuse the rhythms of Central Asia with the stylings of global pop—a sort of Sufi poetry-meets-Justin-Bieber vibe. On stage, he channels the theatricality of his childhood idol, Michael Jackson, and the tight choreography of K-pop. His first album, Shall We Start?, sold more than 100,000 copies, no small achievement in a limited market. Local businesses vie to endorse Ablajan, and his face graces billboards in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi.

For Uighur youth growing up amid marginalization and strife, Ablajan’s story is the stuff of legend. Born and raised in a mud-brick courtyard in one of China’s poorest and most isolated counties, unable to speak Chinese or English until his teens, and lacking training and connections in the music industry, Ablajan somehow made it. To his fans, he symbolizes the possibility of a life that is at once modern, successful and Uighur. He often gives free shows and, during performances, tells kids to study hard and get a good job. “The message is that this is the 21st century,” says Ablajan. “We cannot make a living buying and selling sheep.”

Now Ablajan wants to take his music east to the Chinese heartland. He sees his story as proof that there is more to Xinjiang than what you read in the news. He is right, of course, but Xinjiang is a region on edge, and conflict has a way of creeping in. When my Chinese colleague Gu Yongqiang and I returned to our hotel after visiting Ablajan’s childhood stomping grounds, the police were at the door. They thanked us for coming and asked us to be on our way. Said one cop: “It’s a sensitive time.” [...]

The Reinventions of Rand Paul

Standing street-side in a studded leather jacket and shades, glancing down at his iPhone, is the object of their frenzy: Uighur pop star, and hometown hero, Ablajan Awut Ayup. He looks up at them, smiles a little sheepishly, and touches his hand to his heart. Then he turns to me and pops his collar with all the mock swagger he can muster. “The ladies,” he says in English, “they like my style.”

Ablajan, 30, is one of the hottest singers in China’s vast northwest. His catchy songs fuse the rhythms of Central Asia with the stylings of global pop—a sort of Sufi poetry-meets-Justin-Bieber vibe. On stage, he channels the theatricality of his childhood idol, Michael Jackson, and the tight choreography of K-pop. His first album, Shall We Start?, sold more than 100,000 copies, no small achievement in a limited market. Local businesses vie to endorse Ablajan, and his face graces billboards in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi.

For Uighur youth growing up amid marginalization and strife, Ablajan’s story is the stuff of legend. Born and raised in a mud-brick courtyard in one of China’s poorest and most isolated counties, unable to speak Chinese or English until his teens, and lacking training and connections in the music industry, Ablajan somehow made it. To his fans, he symbolizes the possibility of a life that is at once modern, successful and Uighur. He often gives free shows and, during performances, tells kids to study hard and get a good job. “The message is that this is the 21st century,” says Ablajan. “We cannot make a living buying and selling sheep.”

Now Ablajan wants to take his music east to the Chinese heartland. He sees his story as proof that there is more to Xinjiang than what you read in the news. He is right, of course, but Xinjiang is a region on edge, and conflict has a way of creeping in. When my Chinese colleague Gu Yongqiang and I returned to our hotel after visiting Ablajan’s childhood stomping grounds, the police were at the door. They thanked us for coming and asked us to be on our way. Said one cop: “It’s a sensitive time.”

Rhythm and Blues

When we landed in Urumqi, two members of Ablajan’s crew, the improbably named Frank and Caesar, met us at the airport and led us to a black SUV. As Frank steered the beast through rush hour traffic, Caesar talked, in rapid-fire Uighur, English and Chinese, about competing as breakdancer in southern China, and lamented that the central government blocks sites like YouTube where you can listen to rap artists like his personal favorite, Notorious B.I.G., “may he rest in peace.”

Most of Ablajan’s dancers and aides are, like him, Uighur kids from the countryside who dreamed of making it big. They live between worlds, learning Chinese to survive, and English as a cultural lubricant, while still clinging to a language and tradition of their own.

Ablajan attended Uighur-language school and spent his evenings toiling beside his father in the fields, singing folk songs to pass the time. He looks back fondly on his youth. “Xinjiang used to be peaceful,” he says. “Then we lost the peace.”

At 14, Ablajan caught a glimpse of Michael Jackson on TV and, for the first time, imagined a life outside Sangzhu. “When I saw him, I was like, Oh my God,” he says. He started practicing the moonwalk and writing songs, and at 19 made the 32-hour bus journey to Urumqi to study dance.

The next six years were a struggle to make it as a musician, and a struggle with the reality of being poor and Uighur in an increasingly expensive, segregated city. He worked as a wedding singer and practiced English and Chinese. Eventually, he was befriended by another young Uighur musician who gave him a computer, his first, and a workspace in his studio. He spent his days writing music and his nights working Urumqi’s restaurant and wedding circuit.

One of his breakthrough hits, “Is There Space to Play?,” turns rural-urban migration into a metaphor for coming of age, according to Darren Byler, an anthropologist at the University of Washington who studies and translates Uighur music. The song opens with the sights and sounds of Xinjiang childhood: the call to prayer, distant mountains, a bleating goat. By midway, we’re in China’s pressure-cooker schools, where the bags of books are heavy. It ends in the city—skyscrapers and cars are everywhere. Where are the stars at night? Is there space to play?

Hot Ticket

Ablajan is a big star in a small place. When he walks down the street, there’s an endless stream of people waiting to shake hands. At a Chinese Muslim restaurant in Urumqi, two cooks rush out of the kitchen, aprons and, gloves still on, to wish him well: “Peace be upon you,” they say, using the pan-Islamic greeting. In the town of Hotan, a teenage taxi driver refuses to let him pay. “Just write some more love songs,” he says.

With success and celebrity comes perks that young Ablajan might not have imagined. He has enough to live on his own and to send money and gifts to his family. When he visits his hometown he takes a flight, not the grueling overnight bus. And Uighur girls from as far away as Europe and the U.S. send him messages on Instagram, his social network of choice. “So many beautiful ladies,” he says.

But Ablajan also faces obstacles. Many of his fans do not have the money to buy tickets for his shows, and organizing a concert requires multiple layers of state approval. There are technical issues too. For a late spring performance at a college in Urumqi, his team set up a stage on a basketball court and students carried in wooden chairs to form an ad-hoc auditorium. Police lined the perimeter to watch the crowd. When the music started — two hours late because of technical problems — Ablajan was electric. But the guy manning the spotlight from a Toyota pickup mid-court could not quite keep him illuminated.

After the show, the performers gathered in the school stairwell that served as their dressing room. The dancers greeted friends and basked in the post-show glow, but Ablajan held back, despondent about the delays and glitches. He worries about letting people down, he says, and feels the pressure of being a role model to an entire generation of Uighur kids. “I’m only a bad boy on stage,” he said.

When we met the next morning to catch a flight south, he looked beat. I had bought tickets for 8:00 a.m. not realizing that half the region ignores government-mandated “Beijing time” in favor of “Xinjiang time,” which is two hours earlier. It was actually 5:00 o’clock in the morning and Ablajan had been up all night, replaying the performance in his head. But by time we got to the airport, he was himself again, greeting fans and cracking jokes.

As we boarded the plane, Ablajan was humming the tune to a 2013 hit by Toronto-born rapper Drake: Started from the bottom and now we here / Started from the bottom now the whole team here.

The Politics of Music

Ablajan rarely talks politics, wary, no doubt, of jeopardizing his career. But on July 31, violent clashes erupted in a village outside Kashgar, leaving at least 100 dead, according to state media reports. (The cause of the violence and the death toll are still disputed.) When the authorities then canceled a long-planned concert in Urumqi, Ablajan could no longer hold back. His team spent nearly a month, and a whole lot of money, preparing for what was to be a display of ethnic unity performed in front of officials and broadcast to audiences. Police shut it down less than an hour from showtime. Ablajan posted a picture of himself on Instagram, with a caption that read like a cri de coeur: “My name is Ablajan! I am not a terrorist.”

Late last year, Ablajan released his first Chinese-language music video, “Today,” an MJ-inspired epic featuring a car chase and shots of his entourage dancing on rooftops and roads in Urumqi and Kashgar. The goal was to generate some excitement online for the Mandarin single, his first, giving him a foothold in the bigger, more lucrative Chinese-language market. His manager, Rui Wenbin—a Han Chinese born and raised in Urumqi and formerly of Xinjiang’s culture ministry—believes Ablajan’s music can help bridge the divide between the Uighur and Han worlds. Says Rui: “He can be a messenger of peace.”

It won’t be easy. On my last night in Xinjiang, Ablajan and I walk to a public square near the local government office. It’s a warm evening and many people are out, walking arm-in-arm or pushing strollers. On one side, a group of elderly Han women practices a synchronized dance. Nearby, clusters of young Uighurs listen to music. Before the clock strikes nine, however, the cops come out in golf-cart-size squad cars, sirens blaring. Everyone has to go home.

As we walk back, Ablajan talks about going to Kazakhstan in the fall. If he can scrape up the money, he’d love to see Beijing someday too. “I need proper equipment, a choreographer, costumes, but …” He pauses and searches for the right expression. “Mei banfa,” he says in Mandarin: No solution. “I mean, this is Xinjiang, man.”

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Sugarland’s Kristain Bush’s Official “Trailer Hitch” Video Inspired By Thriller

Sources: Rolling Stone – By Allie George | Edited By – All Things Michael

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“The less I have to worry about, the more time I got for smiling,” Kristian Bush sings in his favorite verse of “Trailer Hitch.” The song, which touts the happiness earned from giving away material possessions, is the male half of Sugarland’s first official solo single. Its unconventional video, released this week, encapsulates his nice guy ethos and integrates his fascination with sci-fi and horror films. The plot: Zombies attack and Bush soothes the undead beasts with his guitar. “People have seen the lyric video and they get the message,” Bush says of the song’s “give it away” mentality, which was depicted by the singer-guitarist handing out money in the lyric clip. “Through the lens of a zombie apocalypse it is even more [true], because these zombies are testifying that you cannot take it with you when you go.”

Rolling Stone Country was on the set of the video — a dusky dive bar in East Nashville — where director Blake Judd, who has helmed videos for Shooter Jennings and Blackberry Smoke, cast us among his walking dead. Here are nine things we learned participating in Bush’s zombie apocalypse.

1. Sometimes an audience really can be dead.
Judd’s pitch for the video opened with the following exposition: Kristian sits backstage. The band asks, “What does it look like out there?” He opens the curtain, looks back and says, “It’s kind of dead.” “Whatever this is,” Bush recalls upon first reading the treatment, “it’s about to be awesome. There are so very few things that happen that are unlikely in this business. Like, it’s likely that Carrie Underwood‘s legs are going to be in another video, but it’s unlikely that this song is going to save the world from zombies.”

2. The video was inspired by “Thriller.”
Bush recalls his delight when he first saw Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller” video with its Vincent Price voiceover and dancing dead. “Why in the world are there zombies?” he says. “I can’t believe nobody’s really done that since, and I am just thrilled that Blake suggested this.” Artist and director quickly bonded on the set over their shared love of comic books, sci-fi and horror flicks. “It’s like a weird frat,” Judd says.

Video: http://vevo.ly/0mkYOt

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Netflix And Michael Jackson’s Thriller: Giving The Consumer What They Want

Sources: Huffington Post – By Markus Giesler | Edited By – All Things Michael

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What enables Netflix’s transformation from streaming service to original content provider?

From a conventional perspective, it’s all about big data and analytics or, as the New York Times put it, “giving viewers what they want:”

Netflix, which has 27 million subscribers in the nation and 33 million worldwide, ran the numbers. It already knew that a healthy share had streamed the work of Mr. Fincher, the director of “The Social Network,” from beginning to end. And films featuring Mr. Spacey had always done well, as had the British version of “House of Cards.” With those three circles of interest, Netflix was able to find a Venn diagram intersection that suggested that buying the series would be a very good bet on original programming.

This story not only overplays the important role of big data and the power of data analytics. It also creates the false impression that there is a kind of secret location in the collective conscious where “House of Cards” and “binge watching” always existed as a ready-made categories and all that was needed to discover them was cutting-edge data science.

Re-designing the product in accordance with what consumers really want (and using big data to find out what that is) is one strategy to look at Netflix’s shift. But how about retailoring consumers themselves (their expectations, viewing habits, tastes, preferences, and rituals) to the new offering’s needs? Would it still be enough, as Kevin Spacey argued, to “have learned the lesson that the music industry didn’t learn: give people what they want, when they want it, in the form that they want it in, at a reasonable price and they’ll more likely pay for it rather than steal it”?

Apropos music industry. Many years ago, I was still working as a music producer and composer and attending an industry dinner in Cologne, Germany, I had the privilege of listening to legendary music producer Quincy Jones. And so someone at the table asked him the inevitable question:

How did “Thriller” propel Michael Jackson from soul artist to pop icon?

All he could say, he replied, was that there was a strong focus, not only on Michael’s talent and the music, but also on the kind of listener he had attracted in the past as well as the kind of listener the creative team thought was needed to master the transformation.

All members of the creative team around “Thriller” — from sound engineer Bruce Swedien and video producer John Landis to Jackson sponsor PepsiCo and MTV understood themselves not so much as creators of captivating content but rather as creators of cultural identity and of a new type of American youth culture — one to whom Michael Jackson’s music would become truly indispensable.

For someone who has his home in the world of score, chords and hook lines, I found this a remarkably sociological statement. In essence, production is not about creating the “right” content that people want. It is a large-scale sociological project of creating the kind of audience that the content needs for its commercial success.

Big data’s role in making “House of Cards” a success is well documented. But “House of Cards” and Netflix’s other original formats also have another important role to play in reshaping consumers and consumption patterns in ways that enable the successful shift from Netflix, the streaming service to Netflix, the content provider.

This sociological dynamic is easily forgotten. Thirty years after the release of “Thriller,” for instance, the “Thriller” team’s “true genius” to have given consumers what they had always wanted easily overshadows their shaping influence on American youth culture.

 

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Star-Studded BBC Charity Covers Inspired By “We Are The World”

Sources: The Jazzline – David LaRosa| Edited By – All Things Michael

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The BBC have enlisted the help of an all-star cast of musicians, including Stevie Wonder, Jools Holland, and Jamie Cullum, to promote their newly launched BBC Music initiative.

The British network spent over a year assembling 32 of the highest-profile artists around to cover the 1966 Beach Boys classic “God Only Knows.” Collectively dubbed “The Impossible Orchestra,” the ensemble features (in order of appearance) the BBC Concert Orchestra, Martin James Bartlett, Pharrell Williams, Emeli Sandé, Elton John, Lorde, Chris Martin, Brian Wilson, Florence Welch, Kylie Minogue, Stevie Wonder, Eliza Carthy, Nicola Benedetti, Jools Holland, Brian May, Jake Bugg, Katie Derham, Tees Valley Youth Choir, Alison Balsom, One Direction, Jaz Dhami, Paloma Faith, Chrissie Hynde, Jamie Cullum, Zane Lowe, Lauren Laverne, Gareth Malone, Ethan Johns, Baaba Maal, Danielle de Niese, Dave Grohl, and Sam Smith.

Recorded at the now defunct Alexandra Palace Theatre in London, where the BBC held their first ever television broadcast almost 78 years ago, the song will also serve as the official charity single for this year’s BBC Children In Need charity appeal.

The Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson shared his delight with the final recording, saying: “All of the artists did such a beautiful job I can’t thank them enough… God Only Knows is a very special song. An extremely spiritual song and one of the best I’ve ever written.”

Elton John also spoke about his own role producing and arranging the song for all the artist, saying: “I feel like I’ve taken a thousand piece puzzle and thrown them in the air. I’m standing there trying to grab them as they come down and put them into place.”

This new take on “God Only Knows” debuted almost simultaneously across the BBC’s 20 television channels and their 59 radio stations at 8pm GMT on Tuesday October 7, 2014.

In 1997, the BBC held their first ever all-star supergroup cover, enlisting the help of Elton John, Bono, Courtney Pine, Dr. John, Heather Small, Tom Jones, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and others to perform Lou Reed’s 1972 song “Perfect Day” to celebrate the taxpayer-funded network’s unique role in British television. The song was so well-liked it was released as a single, quickly hitting the top of the UK Singles Chart, and raising well over £2m for Children In Need.

This effort was partly inspired by the success of We Are The World, a 1985 charity single written and produced by Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones, and Michael Omartian, and performed by the super-group USA for Africa; which included Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Al Jarreau, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, and Stevie Wonder, to name just a few.

The single sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, and spurned a revival of philanthropic efforts across the entire ‘Western’ world.

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Meet The Feet-Footed Mexican Traffic Cop Who Dances To Michael Jackson

Sources: Daily Mail | All Things Michael

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A police officer in the Mexican city of Tijuana has built up a cult following after impressing drivers and pedestrians alike with his dance moves while he directs the traffic.

Jose Ruben Echeverria showed he has the moves like Jacko on Sunday as he danced to the King Of Pop’s classic Billie Jean while keeping the busy city streets moving.

The dancing traffic controller is quite a sight to behold as he incorporates several of Jackson’s trademark moves such as gyrating his hips and Moonwalking along with all important hand gestures to ensure that the traffic and pedestrians continue to flow as they should.

A police officer in the Mexican city of Tijuana has built up a cult following after impressing drivers and pedestrians alike with his dance moves while he directs the traffic.

Jose Ruben Echeverria showed he has the moves like Jacko on Sunday as he danced to the King Of Pop’s classic Billie Jean while keeping the busy city streets moving.

The dancing traffic controller is quite a sight to behold as he incorporates several of Jackson’s trademark moves such as gyrating his hips and Moonwalking along with all important hand gestures to ensure that the traffic and pedestrians continue to flow as they should.

You see them, wanting to cross, to get through, and so you need to look for a way to make that moment pleasant for them while they are stuck there, so when they finally make it [through] they can continue with a different attitude,’ he told Ruptly TV.

But Echeverria has to be careful he doesn’t become too much of a distraction as on Sunday he attracted numerous bystanders desperate to have photo taken with the dancing police officer.

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Moonwalk A Mile in His Shoes: Examining Michael Jackson Impersonators and ‘Dangerous’

Sources: NY Times – By Jon Caramanica | Edited By – All Things Michael

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Think of what it took to be Michael Jackson, pop star chameleon forever mutating in the spotlight: the outrageous level of talent, the unbearable amount of scrutiny, to say nothing of the constant revising around race and gender and more.

“This prosthetic idea of the human,” is how Susan Fast describes it in “Michael Jackson’s Dangerous,” her new book about the 1991 album that announced Jackson’s break from his polished pop mega-idol past into a more polyvalent present.

“Dangerous” is, for many, the beginning of the end for Jackson, even though it sold many millions of copies and generated several hits. It followed ” Thriller” and “Bad,” two of the most important and widely loved albums in pop history, and ones that, comparatively, barely courted controversy.

But Ms. Fast, a professor in the English and cultural studies department at McMaster University in Ontario, thinks “Dangerous” is important, too, and sets out to rehabilitate it both as an album and as a site of Jackson’s engagement with cultural politics.

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Susan Fast

That task can’t be done without touching on his body, which Ms. Fast calls “a work in progress, fully open to and trusting in limitless experimentation.” For someone so squarely at the center of pop culture, Jackson was far ahead of his time in terms of how he negotiated and altered his identity on the fly — a subverter in the pop spotlight.

Virtually all of his creative moments were moments of transition, and Ms. Fast makes a strong argument that “Dangerous” was among his most disruptive. In this book, the 100th entry in Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series, each one devoted to a single album, Ms. Fast employs close readings of lyrics, musical production choices and video presentations to underscore little discussed aspects of Jackson’s creative output.

Ms. Fast contends that, at around this time, lurid media interest in Jackson’s perceived oddity began to eclipse formal appreciation of his work. So she breaks “Dangerous” into thematically rich sections: Jackson breaking with his old self, then switching to familiar modes to make bold political statements and then coming full circle. She praises his use of nonmusical sounds as narrative devices, and contends that Jackson, often painted as resisting the cutting edge, was in fact borrowing some of hip-hop’s angst and reformatting it on his terms.

She’s also interested in the normative aspects of Jackson’s masculinity, an area of his identity that she says is often outright ignored, noting that Jackson’s “sexualized performances” were, for many, “too stylized to be believed.” But talking about the video for In the Closet,” in which he cavorts with model Naomi Campbell, Ms. Fast notes: “It seems, perhaps too oddly for some to contemplate, that he knows his way around a woman. Failure? I don’t think so. Threatening? Probably.”

There are brief pocket-history digressions into postmodernism, art history and other subjects in this taut book, but mainly Ms. Fast — an academic writing for a general audience — sticks close to what Jackson did on record, stage and screen, making himself up as he went.

Ms. Fast’s book has an unwitting partner in “The Michael Jacksons,” a photo and essay collection by Lorena Turner devoted to those who make impersonating Jackson their job.

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Lorena Turner and an impersonator

This is an eclectic, centerless group — Ms. Turner found her subjects on the street and through online solicitations — leading perhaps to unavoidably to imprecise ethnography. With someone as fluid as Jackson, the avenues for interpretation are wide open. Ms. Turner’s subjects are men and women, black and white and beyond; heavily made up or merely playing dress-up, capable dance mimics or those who prefer just to whisper sweetly.

The photos are striking. How could they not be? No two Jacksons look quite the same. Many are in thrift-store finery. Some use makeup to lighten their skin, some to accentuate or de-emphasize certain features. One man’s hands are about a dozen shades darker than his face.

This is a photo book that should be a movie, or at minimum a YouTube series. The detail in the photos is revealing, but the motivations behind each person’s choices would most likely be even more so. It would have been especially revealing to pair each of the photos with interview excerpts or detailed narratives. Ms. Turner did extensive interviews with her subjects, but apart from a few case studies at the end of the book, she does not include them, hampered perhaps by the varying degrees of self-awareness among her study group.

She does develop a loose taxonomy, breaking her subjects down into categories — look-alikes, impersonators, tribute artists — but doesn’t drill deeper to unpack affinities within and across categories. And she notes that most of the subjects choose the lighter-skinned Jackson of the late 1980s and early 1990s as their visual guide, but doesn’t explore why. (One scene in which an observer spits at the feet of one of the darker-skinned impersonators is striking but underexplored.)

For most of these performers, she writes, Jackson’s “skin color does not suggest a failed allegiance to blackness, as it did for many people of earlier generations, and his altered features do not signal self-hatred. In fact, many performers celebrate those transformations in their representations of Michael. They are not race, or gender-obsessed; their Michael Jackson is neither black nor white, male nor female, but a hybrid, uniracial person like themselves.”

In some of the interviews it’s clear that the subjects see themselves as custodians of Jackson’s legacy, responsible for upholding his image among everyday fans. Jackson is, to them, a costume, a set of rules for performance, a way to collect tips. But he is not a divisive figure — only a departed hero who needs new flesh. So they put on the outfit, the makeup, the dance moves, and give his complexity a breather.

THE MICHAEL JACKSONS

By Lorena Turner

Illustrated. 167 pages. Little Moth. $34.95.

MICHAEL JACKSON’S DANGEROUS

By Susan Fast

151 pages. Bloomsbury. $14.95.

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