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

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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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.


By Lorena Turner

Illustrated. 167 pages. Little Moth. $34.95.


By Susan Fast

151 pages. Bloomsbury. $14.95.

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Anti Bullying Campaign – “We Are the World 2014.”

Sources: Lock Port Journal – By Michael Canfield | Edited By – All Things Michael


MIDDLEPORT — John Wragg knows about the scars left on a victim of bullying, literally.

When Wragg was 14, he decided he’d had enough of the bullying he experienced in school. Unable to talk to anyone about the abuse he suffered regularly at the hands of his peers, one day the English-born boy went home, into the bathroom and slit his wrist with his father’s razor. He wears the scar to this day.

“I was bullied unmercifully as a kid,” he said. “I’m a survivor. I’m lucky.”

As an adult, motivated by his own experiences, and the near constant stream of stories involving kids and teenagers who have been bullied, Wragg decided to do something about the problem.

With the help of Lyndonville resident and bullying survivor Deborah Loke, Wragg, the CEO of Carmen Road-based Torquil Studios, created a video remake of Michael Jackson’s “We Are the World” titled “Anti Bullying — We Are the World 2014.”


Twenty-one local musicians appear in the video, as well as Medina Central’s Wise Middle School Choir. The video starts off with testimonials from several bullying survivors, and includes a plea from the family of Jamey Rodemeyer, the 14-year-old from Amherst who committed suicide as a result of the bullying he experienced.

Rodemeyer’s suicide brought national attention to the matter of bullying.


“I’m looking for the kid, like myself, that maybe will see this and see that there are people who care,” Wragg said. “If it helps one kid who’s being bullied from going home and slitting his wrist or taking his mum’s sleeping pills or hanging himself … then everything I’ve done and everything everyone has helped me do is all worth it.”

Despite receiving positive feedback on the video, Wragg is disappointed in the response he’s received from area school districts when it comes to bullying. He says his efforts to work with districts in Niagara and Orleans counties have fallen on deaf ears.


“I’m surprised by the lack of acknowledgement,” he said, noting that numerous phone calls to principals, school board members and superintendents have gone unreturned.

Released to the public on Oct. 6 to coincide with National Bullying Prevention Month, the video has been viewed all over the world, from Italy to Bulgaria to Hong Kong.

“It’s gone worldwide,” Loke said.

Several disc jockeys from 97 Rock in Buffalo have also posted the video, Wragg said.

While the video is meant to inspire bullying victims to seek help, it’s also aimed at dispelling the belief that bullying is part of growing up, according to Loke.

“Bullying is not a rite of passage,” she said. “That needs to stop.”


The video ends with Wragg imploring viewers to “prove” they’re anti-bullying by helping take his message viral.

“Take a video of yourself on your smart phone giving your name and saying, ‘I’m taking a stand against bullying. How about you?’,” he says on the video. “Post it to your Facebook page and challenge three of your friends to do the same.”


Learn more at


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Charity Group Puts A “Thriller” Of A Spin On Cancer Awareness

Sources: FoxCT | All Things Michael


The group is called CHECK 15.

Their goal is to create a Monthly Cancer Awareness Day.

How are they doing it? By putting out new YouTube videos on the 15th day of every month.

For October, they’ve put their own spin on a classic music video- Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’. Re-writing the original lyrics, CHECK 15 has turned thriller into a cancer survival anthem.

The non-profit group describes their efforts as a movement to help inform and break down barriers around the cancer conversation.


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Pharrell Channels Michael Jackson In Swarovski Crystal Cardigan On ‘Dear Girl’ Tour

Source: Huffington Post – By Dana Oliver | Edited By – All Things Michael


While we’re busy trying to convince the men in our lives to step up their suit game and invest in a proper pair of fall boots, Pharrell Williams continues to stunt on all ladies and gents with his effortless style.

The 41-year-old rapper/producer/songwriter hit the stage recently during his “Dear Girl” tour rocking a bespoke Swarovski crystal mesh cardigan that reminded us ofMichael Jackson’s dazzling performance outfits. Pharrell’s custom-made cardigan features white knit trims, giant silver popper closures and 5,000 Swarovski crystals.

He kept it cool by pairing it with a bright blue fedora, screen T-shirt, low-slung jeans and red Timberland boots with words like “equality” and “education” scribbled all over them. Plus, we detected a bit of guyliner on his baby face. But, of course he pulls it off.

Check out Pharrell’s shiny stage get-up below and see how it compares to The King of Pop’s iconic fashions.


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“Toddler” A Zombie Mom’s Parody Of “Thriller”

Sources: – By  | All Things Michael


If you’re the mom of a toddler, you’ve likely had a Mombie moment.

It’s that point in the dark of night when your potty-training kid has awoken and you find yourself changing bed sheets, scrubbing the carpet and washing yet another load of “big-kid” underpants.

And it’s a moment that Machel Green of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has delightfully captured in a YouTube video parody of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, called “Toddler.” Green, a former dancer for a theater production company, sings and dances with eight mom friends.

“We got the idea from the banter at one of our mom’s night out [gatherings],” says Green. “Surely we are not the only ones dealing with our toddler night training.”

Green’s husband, Jerrad, and 2-year-old son Noah appear in the video, too, along with signs from the Greens’ family business, Vintage Marquee Lights. 

Our favorite line?

“Cause this is Toddler… Toddler night. The beast is running from you while you’re chasing it with wipes…”


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