It’s rare that I discuss other bands or artists here on the blog, but I kind of thought this deserved special mention.
Have you heard the new Michael Jackson song that features Justin Timberlake…and more importantly, have you seen the video? It’s all over Twitter this morning, and so I decided to take a peek.
I heard the song itself on Monday night when it was used on Dancing with the Stars – not a show I normally watch, but I was flipping channels and caught it. I have to say that I like the song. It reminds me very much of Michael’s older work. I hear a lot of “Rock with You” in there, and I really like that. I have no doubt that the song, the album, and just about anything else they can squeeze the life out of will be exploited well beyond reason, which makes me incredibly sad, but the song is good. It’s Michael….and oh yes, it features Justin too.
I watched the video this morning. Granted, I’m not a Justin fan and I really don’t get his part in the video. Yes, I know he sings on the song, but for me even that seems to be a carefully placed afterthought. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he does a good job, because he does. (It’s his type of music and he performs extremely well. It’s not like he’s actually trying to sing on a Duran Duran song or something! Oh wait…) I just think his part wasn’t necessary. (Please see the above comment about exploitation.) However, that wasn’t what really set me off this morning to write this blog.
As I watched the videos, I must admit that at several points I found myself watching the clips of his old videos and feeling pretty melancholy. I wasn’t ever a huge Michael Jackson fan. My sister might even say that I couldn’t stand him. That’s not exactly true, I was just sick to death of hearing about him during a time when I felt that Duran Duran ruled the world…but that’s OK. I was young and didn’t quite get it, I suppose.
I don’t think you can really be a music fan or a fan of the American Dance movement and not see the genius that took place every time Michael performed. Overexploited? Yes. Without a doubt…but still brilliant in every single way. As my daughter Heather’s dance instructors have always told her since the very day Michael passed – when you watch Michael Jackson, you are seeing the same moves we use today, and he was the reason we do them. Musically, Michael is *the* reason people like Justin Timberlake got into music – you can hear that influence consistently in his work. So while I may not pay homage to the man in the same way I do Duran Duran, I have great respect for his music and talent.
So, getting back to that video – as I watched, it felt just a little creepy to me. I couldn’t decide if I was disgusted that once again Michael continues to be exploited even after his death, or that I was annoyed Justin Timberlake needed to take center stage…or that it was all just way too soon. In some ways, I suspect the latter. Michael died on June 25, 2009 (I googled it – no, I don’t just have these things in my head!), and while it has been nearly five years, I found that watching other very talented dancers doing his moves while his own videos played in the background just a little…well…sad.
I think to Duran Duran. How would I feel if it were them? I don’t even like to think about that. But truly? How would I feel if a label took their most iconic videos, like Rio or Hungry Like the Wolf put them together while someone like Justin – who claims to be just as influenced by DD as Michael (I really don’t buy that, by the way) did a duet with Simon…and not only Simon, but Simon post-mortem? Granted, Simon’s not a big dancer (unless you’re counting that chicken dance….hey…did you know it’s National Chicken Dance day??), but even so…a label will do whatever they need to do to milk the last bit of life out of something. If THAT doesn’t give you the shivers on this Wednesday, nothing will. But really, how would YOU feel?
I’d hate it. With a passion. I’m not really sure five years could make that work for me, either.
So to recap: Yes on the song…and a very sad no on the video.