100 Years Of Black Music

Sources: OUPblog – By Miki Onwudinjo | Oxford African American Studies | All Things MIchael

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Celebrate the end of Black Music Month with this timeline highlighting over 100 years of music created and produced by influential African-Americans. Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright, and Dyana Williams developed the idea for Black Music Month back in 1979 as a way to annually show appreciate for black music icons. After lobbying, President Jimmy Carter hosted a reception to formally recognize the month. From then on, June became the period to commemorate the greats such as Frankie Lymon, Billie Holiday, and Michael Jackson. The month has grown from small gatherings to large events hosted nationwide. President Obama has since renamed the national observance and has proclaimed it as African-American Music Appreciation Month. Whatever it’s called, the rich legacy of black music will continue to be celebrated every day, all around the world.

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Miki Onwudinjo is a Junior Level Marketing Coordinator at Oxford University Press.

Click here to see timeline

How Michael Jackson Inspired One of the Original YouTube Memes

Sources: Gizmodo – By Adam Clark Estes | All Things Michael

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An incredible thing happened on July 17, 2007. A video of several hundred inmates wearing orange jumpsuits and performing an immaculately choreographed dance to Thriller appeared on a small website called YouTube. Two years later, Michael Jackson was dead, and YouTube had changed history.

You might argue that Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance did for YouTube what his originalThriller music video did for MTV.

The video of inmates reenacting the original dance in a Phillippine prison was not only one of the early viral successes of YouTube. It was also one of the first times that a viral video became a meme with dozens of copycats uploading videos of similar performances from all over the world. Early adopters, of course, were college kids. Within a few months, the Thriller dance meme combined with the flash mob theme:

Suddenly, MJ’s jam from the early 80s was cheering people up all over the world, all over again. Michael Jackson died exactly six years ago today, but what’s remarkable is that the meme lives on. Two years after his death came this Thriller dance tribute in LEGO:

The Thriller dance has also become a mainstay at weddings. One could even argue that the Filipino prisoner Thriller dance was inspired by a grainy wedding clip from 2006, but it’s hard to say if prisoners in the Phillippines had access to high speed internet back in those dark ages before widespread wifi. Now, it’s self-evident that the meme is still being reenacted and reinvisioned. As with any meme, you know it’s hit mainstream when it’s being used as marketing materials. Case-in-point: the Thriller dance in a viral video from the Denver International Airport.

What’s inevitably remarkable about this little internet history factoid is the simple fact that it’s pure MJ. It’s a perfect encapsulation about how his music brought people together from all corners of the globe, from all cultures, and from every ethnicity. It’s fun to dance to!

I’d been living in New York City for less than a month when Michael Jackson died. That night, my friends and I wanted to pay our respects the best way that we could. We wanted to boogie. And apparently the entire city had the same plan. Wherever you went—in bars, in clubs, on the streets, in taxicabs—Michael Jackson’s songs were playing, and people were dancing. Everyone was so happy.

So today, on the anniversary of his death, let’s remember how Michael Jackson’s music inspires the best in us. It can make anyone from prisoners to minifigs dance. It can inspire an internet meme. It’s inspired a generation of memes. And for reasons like that, Michael Jackson will remain, in his own way, immortal.

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The 24 Best Michael Jackson Covers On YouTube

Sources: The Daily Dot – By Jam Kotenko| All Things Michael

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Today marks the sixth year the world had to endure without the awesomeness ofMichael Jackson. Arguably the biggest and best pop artist who ever lived, Jackson dedicated more than 40 years of his life to his craft, all that time gifting his fans with awe-inspiring dance moves and a sizable collection of hit songs.

Say what you will about him; Jackson will always be remembered as the King of Pop, and as of this writing, no one has come close to taking the title. To commemorate this talented genius, we’ve rounded up the best Michael Jackson covers performed by some of the musicians he has inspired in some way or another.

1) “ABC” by Cimorelli

Given that this band comprises siblings, just like the Jackson 5, it seems pretty perfect that they chose to do an a cappella cover of a song that features a young Michael Jackson.

2) and 3) “Beat It” by Pomplamoose and One O’Clock Trio

“Beat It” is the bees’ knees. It’s one of Jackson’s coolest and most memorable songs, and one that is pretty hard to duplicate. Which is why we appreciate the originality in Pomplamoose’s rendition of the opus:

Another equally captivating take on the song is by One O’Clock Trio, who gave it a beautiful bossa nova spin.

4) and 5) “Billie Jean” by the Civil Wars and Sungha Jung

Even though the two-man group that once raked in a bunch of awards for being the best duo from 2011 to 2014 is now no more, this live rendition of another popular Jackson track reminds us of their combined talent.

This is one of Jackson’s most covered songs, so of course we’ve got another awesome one for you, this one by guitar wizard Sungha Jung.

 

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Thriller: Celebrate Michael Jackson With His Top 15 Amazing Videos And Live Performances

Sources: Express.co.uk – By Stefan Kyriazis

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MICHAEL JACKSON lives on in some of the greatest pop videos of all time: We celebrate the anniversary of his death with our Top 15 magical MJ moments.

Six years ago on June 25, 2009, The King of Pop passed away.

Michael Jackson’s death due to acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication after suffering cardiac arrest was a shocking end to a glorious talent.

That talent, though, lives on in his remarkable music and seminal music videos.

We celebrate Jackson’s unparalleled life and work with our countdown of some of his finest moments on film. As well as his iconic pop videos, we’ve also found some breathtaking live performances and a fan-made tribute to his top ten classic dance moves.

First up is an incredible 15-minute live performance where the superstar, at the height of his fame, performs a medley of his greatest hits.

1. 1995 MTV Awards

Michael Jackson performs the songs The Way You Make Me Feel, Scream, Black Or White, Billie Jean, Dangerous and You Are Not Alone.

There is a memorable guitar solo from Slash, plus Michael’s sister Janet Jackson and wife Lisa Marie Presley Jackson are seen watching in the audience.

2. Billie Jean

The 1992 video is credited with launching the MTV music channel phenomenon and is still considered one of the best videos of all time.

Even if we thought for years that he was actually singing “The killer’s not my son” instead of “the kid.”

3. Can You Feel It

The first of out two eco-friendly tracks is the 1981 classic by The Jackson Five.

The video is an ambitious display of cutting-edge special effects from the time and the song, written by Michael, foreshadows the heartfelt plea of the next track…

4. Earth Song

This 1995 smash hit was an environment-focused plea to save our planet. The epic video was shot on four continents and won numerous awards.

Earth Song remains Jackson’s top-selling single of all time.

3. Can You Feel It

The first of out two eco-friendly tracks is the 1981 classic by The Jackson Five.

The video is an ambitious display of cutting-edge special effects from the time and the song, written by Michael, foreshadows the heartfelt plea of the next track…

4. Earth Song

This 1995 smash hit was an environment-focused plea to save our planet. The epic video was shot on four continents and won numerous awards.

Earth Song remains Jackson’s top-selling single of all time.

5. Black or White

Jackson didn’t only generate controversy in his personal life.

The video for Black or White was broadcast in 27 countries to an audience of 500 million viewers, the most ever at one time for a music video.

Featuring a cameo from McCaulay Culkin, the video should have been remarkable for the innovative face-morphing technology it used.

Instead, it hit headlines for featuring sexually suggestive scenes and racial graffiti.

6: Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

This funked-up pop classic from 1979 marks his first solo video.

Compared to the bombast and scale of his later effortd it is remarkably simple but his charm, charisma and effortless dancing already mark him out as a huge star.

The video also showcases his trademark black trousers and loafers with white socks.

A segment where he dances with himself marks him out as the modern-day successor to Gene Kelly.

7. She’s Out Of My Life

A change of pace in another classic from 1979.

Long before Sinead O”Connor braved a tearful close-up in Nothing Compares To You, Jackson bared his soul in an intimate video shot in a single take.

“What you’re seeing on there is one complete take, it was shot multi-camera,” recalls director Bruce Gowers.

“Very emotional he was in that. I was worried that he was actually going to break down and cry – which would have probably been a bit wonderful if we got some tears rolling down the face. That almost happened but not quite.”

8. Blame It On The Boogie

Strictly speaking this 1978 hit is by The Jacksons – Michael with brothers Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Jackie.

Confusingly written by UK singer Mick Jackson, it was a Top 10 hit in the UK but failed to crack the Top 50 in the US.

9. Say Say Say

What happens when you bring together two of the biggest names of all time?

Well, you get a pleasantly catchy pop song and a brilliantly bonkers video with the pair posing as con artist Vaudeville performers.

Exactly what Linda McCartney was up to is anyone’s guess.

10. Billie Jean Live

This is just one of many incredible live performances of his signature song with all the classic moves, from the leg wiggle to the Moon Walk.

Recorded in 1983 for the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever gala concert, it is a supreme example of a master at work.

11. Leave Me Alone

This 1989 hit has an irresistibly jaunty hook and playfully colourful video which disguises the very serious tone of the song.

The video took nine months to animate and three days to shoot the live sections and is a powerful anti-media rant.

The director, Jim Blashfield was impressed by Jackson’s willingness to also skewer his own plastic surgery obsession.

“The fact that he would think it would be OK to represent his plastic surgey, with the nose and the scalpel, it was just pretty great.

“I heard through the grapevine Michael’s mother didn’t like that particular image that much,” Blashfield said.

12. Jackson’s Top Ten Dance Moves.

This fan-made tribute counts down all the classic MJ moves.

13. Beat It

Jackson took the turf war between the Jets and Sharks in West Side Story to a modern audience in 1983 with his dance-fuelled showdown.

The track won the Grammy for Record of the Year and helped propel the Thriller album to becoming the best-selling album of all time.

With certified sales of over 42 million, it is unlikely to ever be surpassed.

14. Bad

The video for this 1987 hit was directed by Martion Scorcese, who knows a thing or two about tough guys.,

It also features an early uncredited appearance by future film star Wesley Snipes.

15. Thriller

For fans of a certain age, nothing will ever compare to the excitement this short film caused.

It had its live premiere on national TV in the UK and a generation of teens begged to be allowed to stay up late and watch it, while religious and conservative groups raged at the shocking imagery.

Try not to get chills when Vincent Price starts to intone that iconic intro: “Darkness falls across the land, the midnight hour is close at hand…”

Mind you, when Michael also tells his blushing girlfriend, ” I’m not like other guys,” it’s hard not to raise an eyebrow.

Luckily it’s all soon forgotten in the monster mayhem of the magnificent John Landis video.

 

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Watch Miguel Rivera’s Fingerstyle Cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”

Sources: Guitar World | All Things Michael

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Here’s a masterful take on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” from acoustic guitarist Miguel Rivera that was uploaded today, June 22.

We’ll let Rivera explain the background of his percussive/fingerstyle cover:

“I decided to start working [on] this arrangement because it was a great challenge. When you listen to the chorus of the original song, you can hear the main riff (recorded by Steve Lukather) together with the Michael’s vocal melody and, of course, drums, bass and other instruments.”

”My objective was to play all [of these parts] together: the main riff, the vocal melody and the percussion part. I had to find the proper tuning and make good use of the harmonics, but in the end I got it.”

It’s an impressive arrangement right down to the Eddie Van Halen-inspired solo.

Check out the video below, and follow Rivera on Facebook here.

 

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THE KING OF POP LIVES ON IN ‘MICHAEL JACKSON ONE’

Sources: Las Vegas Magazine – Matt Keleman | All Things Michael

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Before the curtain first lifted on Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson ONE in June 2013, original cast member and acrobat Aleksandr Wade articulated a sentiment that he seemed to imply was shared by his fellow performers: “You’ll probably hear it a thousand times: I’m the little kid that did ‘Thriller’ in his PJs.” And it’s not just the performers who started out as amateur moonwalkers; the creative team that developedMichael Jackson ONE includes people with a history working with or for Jackson himself, most notably writer-director Jamie King.

But while Jackson was an international celebrity, it was his inner world that interested the creators ofMichael Jackson ONE.

In bringing that inner world alive, ONE’s creators employ a cast representing at least 18 countries—six of the principal characters hail from five different continents. The four “misfits” personifying aspects of Michael Jackson’s character are played by Brazilian Gabriel Amaral (Clumsy), Italy’s Jade Xu (Shy), New Zealander Reimy Jones (Smarty Pants) and France’s Xavier Mortimer (Sneaky).

Ngame, the Moon Goddess who floats above the audience on a crescent-shaped celestial body, is played by Valerie Kimani of Kenya, while Wink, the nimble dancer set free from Michael’s Magic Trunk, is portrayed by U.S.-born Trent Jeray Mendoza.

“Beat It” rocks the house through the theater’s surround sound system as 18 dancers in white fedoras re-create iconic Jackson moves. The misfits (and the audience) are pulled into “The Vortex” as time goes haywire and bungee acrobats bounce with the controlled chaos. Once media mash-up machine Mephisto is established as the antagonist, the King of Pop’s four positive actions—hope, comfort, dream, believe—are subsequently manifested through physical, visual and sonic expression.

This inner universe becomes emotionally affecting as the Moon Goddess appears during “Stranger in Moscow,” with Jackson’s chill-inducing “how does it feel” hook taking the show in a melancholy direction. That mood continues when the misfits release Wink—the physical embodiment of a magical song—to a medley of “I’ll Be There,” “Human Nature” and “Never Can Say Goodbye.” There are more poignant moments ahead, such as sequences tailored to “Smile” and “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.”

But there’s no shortage of excitement either. Shy’s turn fighting off Mephisto with a martial arts staff and wushu expertise during “Jam” spins the stage into action after Wink’s emergence. Add in gravity-defying acrobatics on slacklines and trampolines, stunning sound design, fantastical combinations of choreography and special effects—from the LED-laden “Billie Jean” warriors to an ingenious sequence using silhouettes—and an inspirational sequence by one-legged dancer Jean Sok of France (to “Can You Feel It”), and you have one thriller of a Vegas experience. The King of Pop may be gone, but the magic that made kids around the world dance in their pajamas lives on.

Mandalay Bay 4:30 & 7 p.m. Sun. 7 & 9:30 p.m. Mon.-Tues. & Fri.-Sat., $69-$180 plus tax and fee. 800.745.3000

 

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20 Years Later, 20 Things You May Not Have Known About Michael Jackson’s HIStory

Sources:  People – By Drew Mackie | All Things Michael

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By 1995, Michael Jackson had people talking more than ever, but not just about his music. The King of Pop had endured a rough stretch since his previous album, 1991’s Dangerous, and public scrutiny.

The album first hit shelves on June 20, 1995, and we have taken the occasion to collect 20 HIStory trivia items that the casual Michael Jackson fan may not know.

1. It’s one of the best-selling double albums ever.

Sales estimates vary, but it’s purported that HIStory sold between 20 and 30 million albums, meaning that it sold 40 to 60 million units, as a result of being a double album. By contrast, Thriller sold an estimated 51 to 65 million units, and Bad and Dangerous both sold between 30 and 45 million.

2. There really was a Michael Jackson statue.

In 2014, artist Diana Walczak posted a video showing the creation of the iconic statue used on the album’s cover.

3. “Scream” is reportedly the most expensive music video ever made.

The Guinness Book of World Records has named this collaboration with Janet Jackson the most expensive production ever for a music video, and the reputation has consequently stuck. Director Mark Romanek, however, contests that title is unwarranted, and told NPR in 2010 that he knew of other videos of the era that “cost millions more.” Nonetheless, a 2014 Forbes post still ranked “Scream” the priciest.

4. It also featured the first-ever profanity in a Michael Jackson song.

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“Scream” was Jackson’s response to what he claimed was unfair representation in the media, before and after the sex abuse allegations. It features the lyric “Stop pressuring me / Stop pressuring me / Stop f—— with me,” which was uncharacteristic for the singer who had previously sang for an all-ages audience.

5. “Scream” was leaked before its debut.

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In May of 1995, Jackson heard “Scream” played on Los Angeles radio station KKBT 13 days before the song was to have been released. KKBT and a San Francisco sister station refused to say how they got the song early, according to the New York Times, and they played the song every hour until served a cease-and-desist order.

6. You can see a young Jena Malone in the video for “Childhood.”

“Childhood” is an autobiographical song about abuse Jackson said he suffered at the hands of his father. The video has Jackson sitting in a forest as an army of children flying magic airships flies over, and one of the children is Jena Malone, appearing before her first major film role the following year. (You can see her around the 2:56 mark.) The song later became the theme to Free Willy 2.

7. “You Are Not Alone” was the first song to debut at No. 1.

No song had previously debuted at the top spot on the Billboard Top 100,according to Complex. However, only four weeks later, Mariah Carey’s“Fantasy” became the second song to do so.

8. The video initially had Jackson appearing completely nude.

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The video stirred controversy for showing rather intimate scenes between Jackson and his then-wife, Lisa Marie Presley. However, an early version of the video never released to the public allegedly featured Jackson fully nude – “floating naked in water,” according to the New York Daily News – and the offending part had to be edited out digitally from the final cut.

9. The song got R. Kelly his first-ever Grammy nominations.

Kelly had sent Jackson a demo of the song in which he sang like the pop star in an effort to convince him to do the song. Jackson eventually agreed. In 2010, Kelly recorded his own version of the song as a tribute to Jackson.

10. “You Are Not Alone” was banned in Belgium.

In 2007, a Belgian judge ruled that the song plagiarized “If We Can Start All Over,” written by composers Eddy and Danny Van Passel. (The above video is purportedly a demo of that song, which was purportedly written in 1993 – well before “You Are Not Alone.”) However, the ruling had no effect on the song, R. Kelly or Jackson outside of Belgium.

11. “They Don’t Care About Us” angered the Brazilian government.

Brazilian officials did not want Jackson to use the favela Santa Marta as the backdrop for the video for his fourth single, claiming that he would be taking advantage of the residents and putting forth a negative depiction of Rio de Janeiro. A New York Times article on the matter noted that this controversy erupted around the same time as the one in Argentina over Madonna’s plans to play Eva Peron onscreen. In the end, neither country stopped either pop singer.

12. “They Don’t Care About Us” angered plenty of people in the U.S., too.

The original version of the song featured the lyrics “Jew me, sue me, everybody do me / Kick me, kike me, don’t you black or white me,” which prompted critics to accuse Jackson of anti-Semitism. Though Jackson protested, saying the lyrics weren’t racist because he “could never be a racist,” he eventually changed the offending lyrics to “do me” and “strike me.”

13. “Earth Song” is uniquely popular in the United Kingdom.

The environmentally themed song wouldn’t necessarily be at the top of most American fans’ lists of Michael Jackson songs, but it remains the singer’s best-selling song in the U.K.

 

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The Top Summer Songs From The Last 50 Years

Sources: OC Register | All Things Michael

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What songs have defined our summers in the last 50 years? Click on the photos to see the entire list.

We grabbed the top songs from the Billboard Top 100 lists for July 1 of every year since 1965.

Who’s the only ones on the list twice? Would you believe Michael Jackson, Usher, Paul McCartney, Katy Perry … and Monica?

One song, from 1969, was instrumental only.

Frank Sinatra made the list, and so did three alumni of “American Idol” (but none are Kelly Clarkson).

Which songs remind you of your high school years? Your college graduation? That great summer vacation?

In the comments section, tell us what memories these songs provoke.

If you hit play on the video, you can listen to 49 of the 50 songs (Prince does not allow his songs to be on YouTube).

 

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