When I first heard he was having a series of concerts in London, I immediately computed how much it would cost me to go there and watch him. Seriously. I was willing to go on a hunger strike if it meant being in the same city as him. And when he died, I spent the weekend holding Kleenex and watching his videos on YouTube.
Five months after his untimely death, we still can’t help shaking our heads in disbelief. For those of us who had spent our formative years listening to his timeless hits and dreaming of one day seeing him perform live, his death was the death of that dream.
The first thing I did after that seeming stupor over the shock with his death, I bought the Essential Michael Jackson CD. See, we had cassettes of his songs back at my parents’ house but I only have MP3s of his songs in my laptop. I had to have real, tangible CD to hold. And I made Ipe promise we would watch the This Is It footage when it is finally shown.
True to his moniker, Michael still is King. I can’t help but wonder at how he had managed to keep his voice in top condition – he sounded as good as when he sang Rock Your Body. And his moves are still THE MOVES. He could clearly outdance every single dancer on his team, notwithstanding the fact that they were all probably half his age. And he was such a perfectionist – the footage showing how hands on he is, from the dance step, to the beat, to the tempo, even to how each note should sound and how each number was supposed to not just look like, but how they should feel like for each member of the audience.
He didn’t compromise – in one scene for Smooth Criminal, he didn’t even want hand signals from his dancers to ruin the moment (he was supposed to turn around after a clip finishes on the screen behind him); he just said, I’m gonna feel that. And that was it.
I envy that back up singer who was to duet with him on I Just Can’t Stop Loving You – with MJ guiding her not just on how she should sing but also how she should act on stage.
Performance-wise, I don’t think MJ aged at all. Or if he did, he aged really well, like wine getting better as it gets older. He clearly had the whole concert planned right down to the minute details in his mind. And, even after singing for more than four decades, he still sounds so good. We can’t say the same for Mariah or Madonna or Whitney or Celine. They all sound tired but MJ is as alive as he ever was.
However, it didn’t escape my attention that he seemed to say “God bless you” an awful lot. I can’t help but think that his mind is probably altered by all those drugs or whatever it was he was taking. He almost always seemed lost in his own world or speechless, or not making much sense at all. But then, he’s a consummate artist and all artists have their quirks.
Whatever it is, it cannot be denied that even in death, MJ was larger than life. WhileMiley Cyrus’ Best of Both Worlds opened bigger and is the current record holder for concert films at $65 million gross, MJ is surely on track to Beat It with $57.9 million on its second weekend. And you have to argue that Miley’s was meant to be shown on theaters while MJ’s was just a compilation of rehearsal footage.
Now, overseas, the battle is tilted already in MJ’s favor, breaking the $100 million mark last week compared to Miley’s $5.4 million overseas haul. How’s that for a comeback? It just goes to show that no matter how weird he may have become, or misunderstood, MJ made some of the best music in our lifetime and we would all pay with our hard earned money to see and hear him even for one last time.