Monday, June 29, 2009

Remember The Time (Part 4)

As mentioned in my earlier post, MJ's death has led to a massive buying spree of his back catalog, and the result is that he has broken quite a few records, yet again.

In Singapore, Thriller 25 has jumped to #1 on the HMV charts. The only reason why his other titles didn't chart is simply because they were low on stock. However, you can bet that HMV, like all the other retailers all over the world, will be frantically ordering stock this week to meet demand. And we should then see the other titles charting as well.

However, it is in the UK where MJ's really making waves. Not surprisingly, he topped the UK album charts, but with which album? Number Ones of course.

This best-of compilation was released in November 2003, right when the second wave of child molestation charges surfaced. Worldwide, the album has sold 6 million copies already. This figure is expected to rise significantly now.

MJ also placed a total of 7 albums in the Top 75. Even more impressive is the Singles charts, where a massive 43 out of the top 200 singles feature MJ either as a solo artist or as the Jackson 5 or The Jacksons. The highest charting song is Man In The Mirror, reaching #11. This song was originally released in January 1989, that's more than 21 years ago.

All in all, MJ accounted for over 300,000 albums and singles sold in just 2 days. As the media coverage of MJ's death shows no signs of abating (expect many more magazine covers to be published in the next month), MJ is sure to make his presence felt for a long while.

Meanwhile, check out the wonderful special commemorative issue of TIME magazine out on newstands now. I bought 2 copies...

Newsweek was also quick to jump on the bandwagon. However, the Newsweek one is just an article, not an entire issue dedicated to MJ, so I only bought one copy.

In Singapore, 8 Days and i-Weekly also worked OT over the weekend and put MJ on the cover. I don't have pics but you can get them at newstands all over Singapore now. The firsts of many more to come...


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Remember The Time (Part 3)

MTV has been airing lots of MJ specials, and they very quickly put together a one-hour programme hosted by MTV VJ Sway, and it was aired earlier this afternoon. It's a great show, where Sway had some guests in studio and a host of other celebrities calling in to share their thoughts on MJ.

I also like the special MJ MTV channel bug:

You can watch the clips on here on

The most valuable clip here is clip 9, Slash Shreds Onstage With Jackson For 'Billie Jean'. I had never seen this rehearsal footage before! Here you can see Slash without his trademark tall hat (he looks just like a backstage worker) but more importantly, MJ being totally focused yet comfortable onstage, sharing a very human moment with Slash.

He's laughing here and you almost feel like you never knew he was capable of being so laidback. It's a gem, and I would really love to see more rehearsal and behind-the-scenes footage.

As more and more celebrities and musicians express their grief and pay tribute to the King Of Pop, I thought it would be nice to capture what they said on their official websites. Here are some that I managed to find.

Paul McCartney

I thought it is extremely gracious of Paul to pay tribute to MJ, especially since Paul himself is a legend in his own right, being part of the biggest band in history that changed the world on a scale comparable to MJ.

But also because Paul and MJ were supposed to be feuding over MJ's possesion of the publishing rights of The Beatles catalog, where Paul would have to pay MJ royalties each time he performed his own Beatles songs in public.

After all, they had great success with Say Say Say and The Girl Is Mine in the early 80s, where the former reached #1 while the latter peaked at #2. So thank you Paul, this kind gesture has changed my impression of you.

To be honest, I didn't really expect this note from Madonna. She's the Queen Of Pop herself and she hasn't exactly been very vocal about her admiration of MJ in public, not for a long time at least.

They did have an iconic moment together though, as Madonna was MJ's date at the 1991 Academy Awards (that's the picture in her note). Imagine the headlines that generated - the King and Queen of Pop together at the Oscars!

Kanye West
Kanye has long made his admiration of MJ very clear to anyone and everyone who would listen. Before being the megastar he is today, he was only a producer. And he started fulfilling his MJ dream by writing and producing a few tracks on Janet Jackson's Damita Jo album in 2004.

Since then, he has released 4 solo albums and sampled MJ's P.Y.T. on his hit Good Life. He also produced a remix of Billie Jean on last year's Thriller 25th Anniversary album.

He also frequently name drops MJ in his songs. Here's a sample:

On American Boy (Estelle featuring Kanye West):
And I'm feeling like Mike at his baddest

On Knock You Down (Keri Hilson featuring Kanye West & Ne-Yo):
This is bad, real bad, Michael Jackson

On Golddigger:
She walkin' around lookin' like Michael with ya money

Kanye has always stated he aims to be as successful as MJ in terms of being innovative in music and fashion, and I think he's in the right track. Time will tell if he will succeed.

Justin Timberlake
Justin shared a lot of common with MJ. He started out his career as a member of a 5-man group, *NSYNC. He was the lead singer and focal point of the group. He released his first solo album and it was a success, but it was his second album that propelled him to superstardom. His trajectory to fame is very similar to MJ, just that he started his career later.

When he made his debut performance as a solo artist at the 2000 MTV VMA's with Like I Love You, he wore a black fedora hat not unlike MJ's. And he got quite a lot of comparisons that he was emulating MJ. After a while, he began to distance himself slightly from MJ and tried to establish himself as an artist in his own right.

Then there was also the Superbowl incident that led to the souring relationship with Janet, so perhaps that has made Justin stay away from MJ for a while. So it was nice to see this note of his too. After all, he was inspired a lot by MJ.

Whitney Houston
MJ and Whitney were two of the biggest solo artists in the 80's, they were both African-Americans, they had their fair share of problems in recent years, and they were on the cusp of a major comeback this year (Whitney will be releasing a new album later this year). As such, Whitney felt a close connection to MJ and I sincerely wish her all the best for her comeback.

Mariah Carey
Mariah took on in the 90's where Whitney left off, scoring strings of #1 singles and albums. Besides being on the same label, Mariah also had a close connection with MJ because one of her trademark and early hits that established her was a cover of the Jackson 5's I'll Be There. It was so successful that some people didn't even know it was a cover of the J5 hit!

MJ later roped Mariah in for the all-star recording of the 9/11 tribute song What More Can I Give, that ultimately didn't get released (until much later) due to MJ's many legal tangles with the song. Maybe they should release it properly now, as a tribute to MJ.

Here's a performance from the United We Stand benefit concert:

Celine Dion
Celine Dion was also label mates with MJ, and it's nice to see how she has remained humble despite all her success. Her mammoth Las Vegas residency was perhaps the standard that MJ was going for when he agreed to do the 50-date O2 Arena shows.

Coldplay are the biggest band in the world right now. They have released four commercially and critically successful albums and they show no signs of stopping. It's nice to know that they respect MJ this much too, even though their music is not that similar.

Britney Spears
Britney and MJ have a lot in common for sure. She is perhaps the female equivalent of MJ in terms of papparazi attention and badgering. Her public breakdown led many to wonder if she will surpass MJ in the "weirdo" stakes. But thankfully she managed to regain control of her life and put her career back on track with her latest Circus album.

Britney was perhaps somewhat responsible for one of the times where MJ became the butt of jokes. This was at the 2002 MTV VMAs, where she introduced him as her Artist of the Millennium, but he misinterpreted that MTV was bestowing the honour on him, and there was no such award.

But till this day, I still believe MTV played a part in the prank, or why would MJ have a speech prepared, written out on a piece of paper that he brought onstage with him?

Britney also sang a duet with MJ the year before, as part of his 30th Anniversary celebrations concert in New York, just one day before the 9/11 attacks.

Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones is perhaps the most important person that affected MJ's career. If MJ had never worked with Q, he might never been as successful or famous.

Q met MJ on the set of The Wiz, where he was producing the soundtrack for while MJ played the role of the Scarecrow. Q then became the producer of Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad, and the rest is history.

While some might argue that with MJ's talent, it wouldn't matter which producer he worked with and he would still deliver the goods. But a good producer brings more to the table than just twiddling the knobs, and I strongly believe that Q brought out the best in MJ.

A.R. Rahman

Ever since the success of Jai Ho and the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, Jai Ho has been thrust in the spotlight and described by the media as the "Michael Jackson of India". It is a fair comparison, where Rahman is huge in his homeland. It's great to see MJ crossing boundaries and influencing musicians and artists from all over the world.

Hanson started off their career like the Jackson 5, scoring a #1 hit with their debut single, MMMbop. They are a family of brothers too and the youngest of them, Zachary, was the same age as when MJ hit #1 with his brothers with I Want You Back.

Sadly, their careers never took off the same way the Jacksons did, and they're still making music now but enjoying the same level of success as before. But no doubt, MJ played a big part in their lives and influenced them a lot too.

Wyclef Jean
We haven't heard much from Wyclef since Hips Don't Lie with Shakira, but more than 10 years ago, Wyclef was still with The Fugees and they were huge. Wyclef was also a producer and he remixed some of MJ's songs, including 2Bad from the HIStory album.

Lisa Marie Presley
This isn't so much a tribute as a revelation from Lisa Marie Presley, who once married MJ before divorcing him 20 months later. It was a huge event when they got married in 1994, as the King Of Pop entered a union with the only daughter of the King Of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley.

The timing of the marriage also raised eyebrows, as MJ has just settled out of court the first child molestation accusations in 1993, and was due to release a new album in 1995. Many saw it as a marriage of convenience, a PR stunt.

Whatever it was, it didn't last, but in this note LMP reveals that she really loved MJ, and the marriage wasn't a sham. It's also startling to read that MJ predicted he would go the way Elvis did. It's very tragic indeed.

Well, to brighten things up, there are some good news and it's actually nothing new because it's MJ being MJ again - returning to #1.

MJ is expected to top the UK charts this Sunday and US charts next week. Read the news here:

This is really proof that MJ's legacy lives on...


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Remember The Time (Part 2)

The news that MJ is dead took some time to sink in, but by yesterday afternoon, I was feeling much better already. It was heartening to hear MJ's songs being put on high rotation throughout the day, with Class 95FM and Power 98FM playing a different MJ song every hour.

Class 95FM also produced several snippets "Remembering Michael Jackson", featuring trivia and milestones of his career. It was a nice touch and I deeply appreciate the outpouring of love from the DJs and the station.

In fact, for today's blog post, I want to focus on the immediate impact MJ's death had on the world's media. I have always felt that MJ is (was) the world's most famous living person, and it was proved beyond doubt yesterday.

As such, I visited all the major news sites and unsurprisingly, all of them featured MJ on their homepage. And it was not just one or two articles but multiple stories covering his death. Almost every one of them had video stories, photo galleries celebrating his life in pictures, lists of his best songs/videos, career milestones and more. I would say the amount of coverage he received in a single day is unprecedented.

On Google News, a news story aggregator, the number of news stories related to MJ grew and grew. At midnight last night, it was 13,497 articles. At about 2am, it had grown to 16,008, and at 3pm today, the number has ballooned to 20,182 articles. I don't think even Obama's presidential election received so many web-inches dedicated to the subject.

Midnight - 13,497 related articles

2am - 16,008 related articles
3pm - 20,182 articles
I thought it was important to capture the moment, so I saved screengrabs of all the other major news channels last night. Here's a snapshot:

The NEWS websites:



ABC News

The New York Times
USA Today

The Washington Post
Sky News


Entertainment Weekly

E! Online

The Hollywood Reporter
The MUSIC websites:

Yahoo! Music

Rolling Stone

And of course, MTV was also one of the first to pay tribute to the man. All their international MTV website homepages were skinned with MJ images, and the channel immediately changed their television programming to feature MJ specials. All within a day. (USA)

MTV owes a huge debt to MJ and it is fitting and gracious of them to do all these in such a short turnaround time. MTV Asia has lined up a series of MJ specials, and you can check out the showtimes at

As news of MJ's death broke, the media were not the only busy ones. Millions of people around the world, people who might not even have been fans, posted the news and comments online on social networking sites. Twitter went into overdrive and almost crashed, while Facebook homepages were inundated with staus updates and links from news sites.

This particular article struck me as funny, and yet perfectly encapsulates the power of MJ, even in his death. From CNN: Jackson dies, almost takes Internet with him

Another report on how MJ couldn't resist breaking even more records. From USA Today: News of Jackson death breaks Web records

Even Wikipedia got mobbed, as the Michael Jackson entry set the record as having the highest traffic in its 8-year history - nearly one million visitors in the hour after MJ's death was confirmed. From The New York Times: With Jackson Entry, Wikipedia May Have Set A Record

YouTube also experienced a surge in traffic for MJ clips, as millions of people posted YouTube links onto their Facebook profiles. Yesterday, they also put MJ in the Spotlight on their homepage.

YouTube homepage

On the retail front, people are also responding by forking out money to buy MJ's albums. I visited a few CD shops in town yesterday and all their stock of MJ titles were gone. HMV still had stock, and they quickly printed a headerboard and dedicated an entire rack for MJ's albums.

HMV Heeren
Internationally, MJ albums surged to the top of the charts, as evidenced by Amazon's bestseller lists.

Amazon homepage

Albums and Videos charts
Looking at all these, it helps to soothe the pain and it provides me great pleasure to know that I'm not alone in recognising MJ's talent and the profound effect he had on me. It is unfortunate that only in his passing will he be remembered for his genius, but maybe, it's better late than never.

MJ is an enigma and he always will be. The attention now will turn to investigating the cause of his death and about cleaning up the "mess" he had left behind - his children's custody, his debts, his will, his 50 concerts that never happened and more. But I want to remember him for just one thing today - his legacy.