“No Mortal Can Resist The Thriller!” – A Cute Story About A Woman’s Mild Obsession

Sources: Connect Statesboro – By Brittani Howell | All Things Michael

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I was deeply saddened to hear that “Thriller” practice would be cancelled this week due to rehearsals for the upcoming Dracula ballet (page 15, in case you’re interested). This is going to sound completely dorky, but I have to admit it: dancing in a “Thriller” zombie parade has been on my bucket list since I realized that was a widespread tradition.

My first encounter with the “Thriller” was back in my senior year of high school. My AP Calculus class was an odd bunch to the man, right down to our teacher. At some point during the semester we decided that learning “Thriller” would be a better use of our class time than preparing for the AP Calculus test. We performed the dance at the Halloween pep rally, and it was fantastic — almost worth the fact that we all pretty much bombed the AP Calc test later in the year.

Ever since then, though, I get mildly obsessed with the cult classic every time Halloween rolls around. Macon used to do a “Thriller” parade every year and I always, without fail, managed to be out of town when it happened. One year I happened to be walking through the park when I saw the zombie mob out practicing. I jumped in just for kicks, even though I didn’t know anybody and wouldn’t be there for the performance. That’s how weird my obsession with this dance is.

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So my course of action seemed pretty clear last year when, as a teacher in Thailand, I had to come up with something to do with my class of rowdy little Thai seventh-graders for their Halloween English lesson. My other English co-teachers did Halloween vocabulary Bingo or had them create their own monsters. Really good, smart, academic activities — and, of course, not what I was going to do at all.

On Oct. 31, all of my classes walked into our classrooms throughout the day to find the desks pushed up against the walls, the Michael Jackson video projected on the white board, and Teacher Brittani standing at the front of the class wearing a witch costume and a mildly manic grin.

Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that no mortal can resist the evil of the Thriller, but I will assure you that not one of my little Thai students could. Despite the looks of absolute horror that spread throughout the room when they figured out we were learning a dance for the day’s lesson, every single one of them had mastered the zombie hands and the Michael Jackson shimmy by the end of class, counting out the steps in Thai and dissolving with laughter at how stupid we all (okay, mostly me) looked trying to learn the dance. Even my rowdiest, naughtiest kids threw themselves into the activity, and by the day’s end, I had set loose a horde of little zombies on the town.

My classes were taught on a rotating schedule, so I only had half of my 360 students on Oct. 31. The next day I came into class in normal clothes with lessons prepared, and as I wrote up the exercises my kids all came rushing into class, wildly excited — and then confused, when they saw a distinct lack of Michael Jackson in the room.

“Teacher,” one of them called out, his hand in the air. “Teacher, play game?”

“No, bud, not today,” I answered, wondering what had made him think that was on the day’s agenda. I looked around the classroom. The kids looked at best crestfallen ­­— at worst, devastated. The boy who’d spoken first put his hand in the air again, looking earnest and confused. “Teacher, Halloween?”

And that’s how 40 Thai children guilted me into a full class of playing Bingo to make up for not teaching them a Michael Jackson dance.

And that’s a long, meandering way of saying: If you aren’t planning on dancing the “Thriller” at the Oct. 25 Scare on the Square, you’re missing out.

Brittani Howell is the editor of Connect Statesboro. When she signed up for “Thriller” practice, she was the first adult. The second-oldest person was, like, six. If you want to get in touch, shoot her a message at bhowell@connectstatesboro.com!

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THE EVOLUTION OF THE MUSIC VIDEO

Sources: Noise Porn – By Meredith Connelly | Edited By – All Things Michael

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The music video. It’s something we naturally associate with music and the artists that produce it. For the current generation, a song without a music video would be, in a word, irrelevant.  Like a cell phone without texting capabilities or an arm devoid of silly bands, a song with no accompanying music video seems almost unthinkable to people who have grown up in the age of modern music, accustomed to an industry as commercially oriented as it is eclectic. But believe it or not, the music video has undergone some major cosmetic changes in a relatively short time since its conception and first rise to prominence during the late seventies and early eighties. It’s a facet of the industry that has altered itself not gradually, but in evolutionary leaps and bounds on par with the difference between an amoeba and an adult Velociraptor.

Even from its admittedly shaky beginnings, you would have had to been completely blind not to see that, from that first, awkward, drawn-out, and fuzzy rendition of “Video Killed the Radio Star” in 1981, music had been irrevocably changed. MTV became the mecca for artists looking to make it big, opening a Pandora’s Box of new, unexplored creative territory. Initially, videos followed the general pattern of blah in the style of the Buggles and Rick Astley: basic, no-nonsense; boring. People were bound to (and did) get tired of watching other people writhe around on screen with sunglasses on. Eventually, innovators like Dire Straits and Peter Gabriel saw the music video not merely as a space to be filled, but as an opportunity to make an impression with artistic expression. Using what were, for the era, cutting-edge stop-motion and animation techniques, the music videos for the songs “Sledgehammer” and “Money for Nothing” were catapulted into the category of iconic.

Other groups saw the music video as a way to perpetuate ideas of anti-establishment anger or to encourage political activism. Still others realized early on the potential of the music video to serve as a spectacle. U2, for example, filmed the music video for “Where the Streets Have No Name” atop the roof of a Los Angeles liquor store to the delight of the public and the annoyance of police. In fact, annoying the man became a popular pastime of many groups when it came to their music videos, as bands like Duran Duran with “Girls on Film” garnered more attention with threats of censorship from MTV than they would have if they had just made a video sans topless mud wrestling. But who wants to live in a world without topless mud wrestling?

One musician who really changed the face of music videos towards what we know of them today was Michael Jackson. Introducing for perhaps the first time the concept of the cinematic music video, Jackson upped the ante by including fantastic make-up, mini-story lines, and choreographed dance numbers into “Thriller” forcing subsequent artists to attempt to stand out in a post-Thriller world by adding these elements to their owns videos, even if the result wasn’t exactly spectacular. (Just watch the video for “Uptown Girl” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.)

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All this change happened in the span of a few decades, a remarkably fast transition that left the industry and its constituents scrambling to meet the demands of a public now nearly obsessed with the imagery associated with their favorite songs. The mere existence of MTV, a channel dedicated entirely to the new craze, proved that the music video had arrived, and that it intended to stay. And stay it did, although its relevance in broadcast media has declined somewhat in recent years.  With MTV airing more Teen Mom than angsty teen rock these days, it would seem that the music video has, once again, transformed and adapted itself to the situation at hand, making its presence known online rather than on-air. Anyone with internet access and a brain could tell you that YouTube has become the modern Mecca for the music video, as most major artists rack up millions of views per song on the site.

Forgive my further referencing of the woman, but in order to understand the state of the modern music video, Lady Gaga serves as a sort of Petri dish depicting a wide range of video trends. Watch a Gaga music video and you might as well be going to see a short film more confused than someone watching 2001: A Space Odyssey sober. Product placement galore—another hallmark of Gaga’s (see “Telephone”)—something that had just begun to pose problems in MTV’s early years, has now become almost expected, a full-blown commercial epidemic that blurs the actual purpose of a music video: to entertain, rather than to sell. Have you seen “Anaconda”? I’m not sure if it’s a commercial for energy drinks, stereo systems, exercise clothing, or maybe just a plug for the blossoming butt implant industry.

While flash certainly reigns supreme, we can also see a return to a simpler take on the music video, more than the Buggles but less than “Marry the Night.” Minimalist music videos like Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” or Radiohead’s “Lotus Flower” align with an increasingly popular tradition of music videos that accompany but do not overshadow the song itself. Other artists like Gotye in “Somebody That I Used to Know” or Coldplay with “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” let visual effects, whether digital or physical, take center stage in beautiful mash-ups of art and music. All in all, this is a welcome break from modern cinematic music videos. Five minutes into the introduction of “Born This Way” when you still haven’t heard anyone start to sing, nerves can start to fray. If you find yourself asking, “Why can’t I just watch a music video without having to look up what a Russian bath house is?” then a return to minimalist sanity might not be out of line.

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There still remains of course, a slew of future changes to our current idea of the music video. It’s a genre that has changed and evolved as much as the industry itself—arguably more. And with no shortage of artists wanting to challenge authority, demonstrate their creative genius, or let their freak flag fly, it appears we will be watching the evolution of the music video, from single-celled to organically complex, for the next decade or two and beyond.

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The Best Halloween Playlist Ever

Sources: The Gate | All Things Michael

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Halloween is my favorite time of year for lots and lots of reasons, including the costumes and the spooky atmosphere, but what is with the music? Despite Halloween’s macabre mood, especially in the movies, the playlists that celebrate Halloween are pretty cheesy, so I decided to try to put a moodier playlist together finally.

So what was I looking for? Absolutely no “Monster Mash”, “I Put a Spell on You”, and no theme songs from movies or TV shows. Instead, I wanted darker, moodier songs, plus a few classics, even if they were pop songs. Most of my top picks were also from Halloween movies–The Crow, Shaun of the Dead, Lost Boys, Ghostbusters, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. And, yes, what would a Halloween playlist be without Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”?

Here’s the full list of songs, in no particular order, plus you can listen to the playlist on Spotify below–if you’re not already a member you may have to sign up. Take a listen and then tell me what you thought, or share the playlist with your friends. Plus, if I can find any more great songs, I’ll add them, so tweet or comment with your favorites below.

Best Haloween Ever playlist:
“Thriller” Michael Jackson
“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” Blue Oyster Cult
“Dead Souls” Nine Inch Nails
“I Put A Spell On You” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
“People Are Strange” Echo and the Bunnymen
“Ghost Town” The Specials
“Dragula” Rob Zombie
“Cry Little Sister” Gerard McMann
“My Body’s A Zombie For You” Dead Man’s Bones
“The Killing Moon” Echo and the Bunnymen
“Ghostbusters” Ray Parker, Jr.
“Little Drop of Poison” Tom Waits
“This Is Halloween” Marilyn Manson
“Paint It, Black” The Rolling Stones
“Burn” The Cure
“Time Warp” Rocky Horror Picture Show

Playlist

 

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15 Moments In Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ Video We Can’t Wait To See In 3D

Sources: Alice 95.5 | All Things Michael

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Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller” is getting a new look. Director John Landis tells New York Daily News he plans to revamp the iconic music video by re-releasing it in 3D.  The news comes after Landis finally settled a long dispute with the late superstar’s estate.

The director is keeping the details of the project under wraps, but says the video will be released “in a highly polished and three-dimensional way” that will be “very exciting on the big screen.”

It’s still unclear, however, if the 14-minute short film will run in theaters – and there is also talk of a Blu-ray release. So you could own it forever!

“Thriller” in 3D is slated for release sometime in 2015. Since we are SO excited about this iconic video being revamped, let’s take a look at the video’s best moments that we can’t wait to see in 3D!

1. The video starts out as a film within a film. The leading lady was so excited when Michael asked her to be his girl…

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2.. until the full moon turned him into a WEREWOLF.

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3. Meanwhile, IRL, Michael and his real girlfriend leave the movie because she was scared … yet they take a walk down an empty street and right by a cemetery.

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4. And then woke up the entire cemetery.

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5. Literally, they unleashed a zombie army. It was basically “The Walking Dead.”

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6. Oh no! They’re SURROUNDED!

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7. Then she realizes Michael is actually also a zombie.

8. But he’s not just any old zombie … he’s a DANCING zombie. And so ensues one of the greatest dance sequences in a music video of all time.

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9. Seriously, this will forever be SO AMAZING.

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10. GENIUS.

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11. He’s not a zombie anymore! Maybe he danced it off?

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12. Just kidding. He’s still a zombie.

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13. And he and his zombie army are after his girlfriend.

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14. Good thing it was just a dream.

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15. OR WAS IT. OMG ZOMBIE INCEPTION.

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Watch the entire video below!

 

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‘The Twilight Zone’ Inspired Music Tracks

Sources: Music Times | Edited By – All Things Michael

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On this day during 1959, one of the greatest television shows in history made its debut (Editor’s Note: This opinion is entirely, 100 percent in the mind of the writer): The Twilight Zone. Creator and narrator Rod Serling created a brand of terror that was so much more effective than the eye-rolling horror flicks of the time because it forced viewers to think, and think about what monsters lay subtle and dormant within themselves at that.

Unfortunately, the title didn’t lend itself to any great music, or certainly not any music that can live up to the title. But here’s five tracks that used The Twilight Zone as inspiration, for better or for worse.

“Threatened” by Michael Jackson (2001)

Michael Jackson had a pretty solid record working with the voices of classic horror—after all, Vincent Price‘s narrative bridge for “Thriller” was a cherry on top of one of the greatest pop singles of all time. Unfortunately Serling had passed away before Jackson could tap him for any album after Music & Me (the TV icon died during 1975) so the pop star had to rely on a clip from The Twilight Zone when recording “Threatened” for 2001’s Invincible. And a scary song it is, although not in the traditional method used by Serling on his show. Jackson repeatedly tells the listener that “you should feel threatened by me” while embarking on his stalker narrative. It, well, uh, left us a little unnerved.

“Twilight Zone” by Rush (1976)

There’s no hiding that Rush and drummer/lyricist Neil Peart were hugely inspired by Serling and The Twilight Zone. However on an album that hosts the most famous of the prog rock band’s conceptual journeys, “2112,” why was the first single “The Twilight Zone” from the less memorable B-side? Peart has acknowledged the song is based on two sketches from the show in particular—”Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?” and “Stopover in A Quiet Town”—two great episodes that add up to one unusually boring Rush track. Serling’s influence was put to better use apparently, as he is thanked in the liner notes for both Caress of Steel and A Farewell to Kings.

“Twilight Zone” by Golden Earring (1982)

Golden Earring wasn’t a band based around paranormal activity but you wouldn’t be able to tell after looking at its two biggest hits, the 1973 rumination on psychic booty calls (“Radar Love”) and 1982’s “Twilight Zone.” The interesting thing is that, although referencing the title state, “Twilight Zone” isn’t based on the sci-fi series at all: It’s based on the book The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum. If there’s any doubt, check out the music video: Vocalist Barry Hay spends the whole bit on the run from the other members of the group who are attempting to nab him. So we suppose Golden Earring deserves points for being about 20 years ahead of Matt Damon‘s hit film series. Go for the extended version of the track that, like “Radar Love,” is well worth the extra few minutes.

 

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What Indie Musicians Can Learn From Iconic Music Videos

Sources: Hypebot – Kathleen Parrish| All Things Michael

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Creating a music video that stands the test of time is tough, but not impossible. (In fact, narrowing this list to only four is almost as difficult!) Having a hit music video can sometimes make or break a song, so it’s helpful to study legendary videos for inspiration. Here are four distinctly different styles of iconic music videos, and how you can apply the same winning techniques to your own videos.

1. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson and his girlfriend run out of gas while driving in the dark. As Jackson gives the unnamed girl a ring and asks her to be his girlfriend, he tells her he is “different from other guys.” As the full moon rises, Jackson transforms into a werecat, urging the girl to run away. She does, but Jackson’s alter ego lunges at her and, presumably, kills her offscreen. Cut to Jackson and his girlfriend at the movie theater in real life, throw in some Vincent Price, zombie makeup, and an iconic dance sequence, and “Thriller” is one of the greatest music videos of all time.

Why it worked: “Thriller” broke new ground in both the music and film industries, merging the two mediums together. Creating a more complex story than many music videos at the time, along with its extended length, set “Thriller” apart from the rest.

What indie artists can learn: The catalyst behind now-commonplace longer length music videos, “Thriller” is a prime example of telling a great, compelling story within any length video. By really thinking through your storyboard, you’ll capture the attention of viewers and dramatically increase the chances that they’ll watch your video the whole way through.

2. “Take on Me” by A-ha

Incorporating pencil sketch animation and live action, the video follows a romantic fantasy between the lead singer and his girlfriend. As she reads a comic book, its car-racing hero reaches from the page, inviting the girl into his animated world. A chase with the hero’s racing opponents, a return to the real world, and a happy ending captivated fans, and the video was a huge success.

Why it worked: Director Steve Barron, responsible for the video for “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, delivered yet again with “Take On Me.” Besides the song’s inherent catchiness, its music video is still interesting to watch, even decades after it premiered. The combination of live action and animation is always iconic and timeless.

What indie artists can learn: Music videos are a great way to incorporate other forms of art. Consider utilizing your and your band members’ non-musical talents to create something a little out of the ordinary.

3. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

The video opens with Queen singing a capella in the shadows, cutting back and forth to a live performance. During the middle of the video, a simulated opera of the band members appears before another cut to the live performance. Throw in a mixture of minimal effects, and you have the masterpiece of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Why it worked: Shot in near-darkness, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a perfect example of keeping things simple. The idea was creative and represented the song well due to its operatic nature, and the band because of its live performance aspect.

What indie artists can learn: Sometimes keeping a video simple is best. While there are some special effects in the video, the overall raw feeling allows the theatrics to shine, rather than any fancy trimmings.

 

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Excellent Book Review Of Susan Fast’s Michael Jackson’s Dangerous (33 1/3)

Sources: Michael Jackson Academic Studies – By Karin Merx | All Things Michael

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Dangerous by Dr. Susan Fast, volume 100 33 1/3, Bloomsbury, ISBN: PB: 978-1-6235-9; ePDF: 987-1-6235-6102-4; ePub: 987-116235-6156-7

‘Dangerous’ is a must read for every Michael Jackson fan, non-fan, critic or music lover. Dr. Susan Fast meticulously researched Michael Jackson’s 1991 album in a way that has never been done before and in doing so she puts Jackson back where he belongs; in the spotlight as the highly talented black musician and artist he was… and he was dangerous too!

The book also makes readers want to re-listen to the music and re-watch the short-films again and again.

Fast structures the book by dividing the songs on the Dangerous album into categories: ‘Noise’, ‘Desire’, ‘Utopia’, ‘Soul’ and ‘Coda: Dangerous’. Before she starts analyzing the songs, she places them in the context of the time addressing the problems that surrounded Jackson, to make clear this album is by no means the end of his career but foremost the start of his adulthood. Fast explores the use of noise in the Dangerous album, Jackson’s adaptation of hip-hop and classical music through his own interpretation and she integrates his short-films into the discourse.

Fast explores the use of noise in Dangerous, including Jackson’s adaptation of hip-hop and classical music through his own interpretation and she integrates his short-films into the discourse. On her way, Fast debunks the dominant narratives that surrounded Jackson’s life and explains in-depth how he fought against racism and other world problems, while maintaining his sense of self as a (hetero) sexual being. A closer look reveals that he is not at all the man-child that the critics persistently described him as. Counteracting these narratives is Fast’s representation of a mature intellectual man, artist and performer who knew exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it.

In the first two chapters, ‘Noise’ and ‘Desire’, Fast takes us along on a journey of the album’s first six songs. She dissects them, places them in context what Jackson meant and what critics made of them. At one points she has to ask herself if she watched the same short films that the critics did at that time. She describes in detail the sonic enhancements Jackson used as ‘non-musical’ sounds. She writes that on Dangerous, the noises are more than just a ‘cheap thrill,’ especially the breaking glass in the “Panther Dance” where Jackson ‘unleashes his profound rage against structural racism’.

In discussing the album cover art by Mark Ryden, where the globe is the central focus of the painting, Fast defines the fundamental idea at the heart of the Dangerous album as: ‘something is breaking, is broken.’ Jackson obviously used noise as a signifier for critique and he incorporated the hip-hop soundscapes, but he did it in his own way. From this album forward, he begins to use his voice more and more roughly, adding even more grittiness, “blackness”, machismo, noise and danger.

Fast also addresses the abuse Jackson had to endure regarding his gender and sexuality. He was often caught between being perceived as either the sexiest man on earth or a self-hater who destroyed his face to become a monster. The author neatly debunks critics who suppose that the sensual, passionate performances of Jackson must necessarily be carried over into everyday life. If he does not, the critics perceive the performance as faked. But Jackson was a master in modelling the intensity of his sensual body in his performances. According to Fast it is the combination of his softness and the erotic dynamism that makes fans believe he was the sexiest man ever.

Jackson apparently grouped the songs on this album to give four different views of love, and his message was that love could be complicated and cruel. She makes clear that Jackson was using an important strategy here, as he presented himself as shy, humble, respectful and disinterested in sex; which includes both on and off stage.

After the first six songs, she brings us into the theme of ‘Utopia’, which is defined as escape and mysticism. This section revolves around Heal the World (the seventh song of the fourteen), which is seen as ‘an important thematic pivot point’ because it moves the listener to a somewhat disturbing view of utopia. The songs are at the center of the album and Jackson offers two utopian visions: one more general view and one about race. For the first time the children are introduced and one can hear their voices in the music. As a matter of fact, on this album Jackson uses the voices of children for the very first time. But, Fast writes that it is important to know, he did not go for the conventional idea of a future that belongs to children. The song sounds white, and even though it is certainly clear that Jackson could easily made songs sound blacker. It is just not what he wants at this point with this particular song.

In “Black or White,” Jackson seems to mix white and black music conventions by having the black rap section performed by a white musician, while the white rock section is performed by Jackson himself, a black performer. She brings the short-film into the mix to discus Jackson’s racial politics and how he beautifully takes on the role of shutting the director out visually to emerge into his final coda. The “Panther Dance” is where the noise comes back; noise used as a form of protest. Jackson’s points were not immediately understood or accepted by the general public, which forced him to re-edit the “Panther Dance” with graffiti art, making it more intelligible to television audiences. Fast concludes that the circumcision of the “Panther Dance” was a violent act against Jackson as an artist and done only to ‘protect white sensibilities’. But she asked herself why he capitulated? Was Jackson aware of the fact that the public was not yet ready to be confronted with structural racism?

In the chapter titled ‘Soul’, Fast beautifully de-constructs the cover art by Mark Ryden, and reveals that Jackson also had the considerable input into the artwork himself. Given that Jackson was a very literate man, and a serious student of history and art history, the reference to Renaissance Christian art in his own work is really not so strange. The cover is divided into three parts like a triptych, with Jackson’s eyes behind the mask positioned at the centre. But there is more. We also see surrealism in the art that can be perceived as contradictory. It is a complex album cover that uses rich and ambiguous imagery. Fast wonders if it has any relation to theSgt.Pepper album cover of the Beatles and describes it as capturing Jackson’s expansive world-view, or ‘theology’.

The four songs that follow form the heart and soul of the record because they begin to address real ‘torturous personal struggle and quasi redemption’. No moralising, no children and no noise. Here we can read how Jackson attempts to merge these genres: the renaissance, classical, and rock. Jackson is able to use his voice, with its purity and versatility to the fullest expressive extent here, which is always pitch perfect.

Fast analyses how Jackson utilises Beethoven’s ninth. However, instead of answering the musical (unresolved chord) question like Beethoven does in the passage that follows, Jackson let’s it linger. This also brings to her mind the concept of Renaissance polyphony: ‘voices are reminiscent of the boys choirs’. However, the most important thing at that moment is how Jackson returns to the music of the black church; he gives the community a voice. In this cluster of four songs (“Keep the Faith”, “Will You Be There,” “Give In To Me” and “Who Is It”), Fast writes that Jackson made a spiritual journey, mainly by invoking different musical languages. The short-films for the three last songs I mentioned,do not do the music justice, according to Fast, and I must say I agree with her. For her, one of the reasons is the fact that Jackson does not dance. I have other reasons, but this is not the place to address them. Fast concludes that this group of songs expresses how Jackson was wrestling with religion, the soul, betrayal and redemption; serious adult stuff, she adds. And the cover art depicts the struggle so beautifully, bringing high and low art traditions together into one. This album is not merely about the ability to achieve commercial success, it is musical work about social unity.

“Dangerous”: The coda (which literally means ‘going back to the beginning’), signifies Jackson’s returning to noise, and to his breath. Fast describes Jackson’s musical use of breath as something of a sonic principle, sonically connecting the musical dots throughout this album. Fast calls “Dangerous” Jackson’s most ambiguous femme fatale song. According to Fast, all hisfemme fatale songs have different narratives and deserve a good thorough study.

Finally, when we reach the end of the album of this fine book, Fast concludes that Jackson was at his best when he was politically engaged and interested in social justice. She acknowledgesDangerous as a monumental album, the album that marks the point where he is fully matured as an artist.

Although it took 99 editions in the Bloombury series on popular music to dedicate the 100th edition to Michael Jackson, I am glad Susan Fast was the one who did the job. As a musicologist she is quite capable of writing about the complexity of Jackson’s music, offering a clear insight into his process. By placing the work in a cultural context: racism, politics, gender and sexuality, she also offers the non-musician an excellent read and good critical insight. Mostly because she makes crystal clear that Jackson knew exactly what he was doing as a writer and performer, his versatile voice and body combining high and low art to convey a serious message. Fast’s analysis also makes it clear that Jackson was able to ingeniously communicate his message through the compilation of the album itself. This book offers a much-needed in-depth analysis of Jackson’s music and art. Let’s hope it will forever silences the tabloids! Highly recommended… and don’t forget to listen and watch again!

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How To Play Eddie Van Halens’ ‘Beat It’ Guitar Solo – Lesson With Chris Zoupa

Sources: Ultimate Guitar – By Chris Zoupa | Edited By – All Things Michael

Eb Standard tuning: Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb

Difficulty: Advanced

This solo is diamond encrusted win. I remember hearing this solo as a wee tot and thinking “Hot diggity damn, that’s bogus!” Keep in mind it was the early ’90s and I would’ve been maybe 6. Now, an older gentleman, I put aside about 4 hours to nail and transcribe this solo properly and here we are.

The majority of this solo is a bit of whammy action and some tapping EVH style and if you’re familiar with Eddie‘s soloing style from other songs, you’ll probably see some motifs and themes of his you’ve seen in other songs and solos. As usual we’ll break the solo down into sections and look at anything that could be potentially problematic. I’ll also leave a link to YouTube and the tab at the bottom of the article.

Section 1 Tips

The opening to this solo is with the rising whammy. However the tapped and artificial harmonics are a little tricky (see excerpt below).

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You’ll notice in the 3rd bar of this excerpt that there’s 2 artificial harmonics on the 14th fretof the 3rd string. Due to the tension changing between the 7th fret and the 9th fret the pitch changes as well as the technique. I found it easy to tap the first one and do an artificial pinch harmonic by gently brushing the 14th fret with my index finger on my picking hand and then plucking the string with my thumb. This is a very Eric Johnson way of getting harmonics smooth and less squealy harmonics. I’m not 100% whether Eddie taps both of them but it’s extremely difficult to get a clear tap harmonic the second time. If you listen to the John 5 cover of this song he plays a tap then the pinches like I do.

Section 2 Tips

The section deals with a pretty weird and complex legato lick that stretches from the 12th to19th fret. Let’s have a look at it as a 6 note shape (see diagram below).

STRETCHSHAPE

I tried a 2 formations and pointer-middle-pinky finger worked the best for me. If you use the ring finger on such a massive stretch the pinky note can be especially hard to get to. Get as comfortable as you can with this shape and the fingering you with to use as the lick we have to put with it is pretty tough (see excerpt below).

STRETCHLICK

Pay close attention to legato in this lick and be wary of questionably timed string changes. I dare say this little phrase nearly made me give up on the entire solo so be super patient with it guys.

Section 3 Tips

The tapping in the final section is a relatively simple idea played across 2 strings. There’s a bit of a stretch on the fretting hand but the tapping itself is pretty simple (see excerpt below).

TAPPING-S4

The timing on this is pretty predictable and consistent. We’re basically working in semiquaver (or sixteenth note) triplets. It’s not ridiculously fast on the tapping hand so you have options as to whether you want to have 2 tapping fingers (one per string), or to just let one tapping finger do all the work.

Finally, I wanted to have a look at the epic and fist raising crescendo of the solo that uses an aggressively attacked tremolo picking phrase (see excerpt below).

TREMOLOSHRED

Once again we’re ealing with semiquaver triplets. The timing on this is important. I listened to the solo countless times to nail the phrasing and to get the tremmed notes changing at the right time. If you can get your hands on a program to slow solos/songs down I would definitely recommend it for this phrase in particular.

Take care guys and happy shredding!

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