I must admit at the beginning of this essay that I never much cared for the music of Michael Jackson or - for that matter - the Jackson Five. I grew up in Detroit, the former home of Motown Records, and yet Michael and his brothers were not exactly radio superstars in the 1970s and 1980s in the Motor City.
The Motown stars more likely to be played when I grew up in the 1970s were the grittier and more lyrically substantial artists like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, while acts such as Sly and the Family Stone and Parliament-Funkadelic led the non-Motown soul and R&B groups one would be likely to hear.
In the 1980s Detroit was better known as bastion of Prince fans than it was for being a hotbed of Michael Jackson aficionados. True, MJ's 1984 Victory Tour with the rest of the Jackson brothers did well in three shows at the Pontiac Silverdome, but even this mega-hyped tour did not fare as well as the seven sellouts in nine days that Prince racked up at Joe Louis Arena that year. This, of course, came after Prince played nine shows in four months during the 1999 Tour, where Detroit became a sort of second hometown for Prince due to his massive fan base.
I always found the musical catalogue of Michael Jackson to be vapid, even soulless, at times, and I am hard-pressed to think of one MJ song I actually can say that I like. As a kid I found "Ben" to be listenable, and I give him kudos for the crossover "Beat It" with Eddie Van Halen on lead guitar, but beyond these two songs I find most of Michael Jackson's to be forgettable, and much of it sounds antiquated these days.
Anyways, I was saddened to hear that this tormented, strange, and perhaps perverted little man had died, but to afford the death of Michael Jackson this much coverage is beyond overkill. He certainly recognized the growing power of music videos as a marketing tool, and as a choreographer and dancer he proved himself to be an innovator, but in the end he was little more than another washed-up pop star trying desperately to re-ignite a creative flame that had begun to fizzle as early as the 1987 Bad album.
So: rest in peace, oh proclaimed King of Pop, but it is time for the networks to move on.