Michael Jackson: A Musical Icon

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Dubbed as the ‘King of Pop’ Michael Joseph Jackson famously known as Michael Jackson or MJ was an American songwriter, singer as well as a dancer who was a popular entertainer globally with his music. Born in 1958, Michael Jackson turned to become an icon in the music industry becoming the best-selling American dancer, composer, singer and songwriter (Johansson 268).  His music career began at a tender age, with his overall contribution to dance, music and fashion, making him one of global figures in a span of four decades or more in the famous popular culture. Not only did he perform pop music, but also had songs in other genres such as rhythm and blues, funk, rock, disco and soul, etc.  This essay discusses Michael Jackson as a prominent composer and performer, his life, musical era, style as well as his well-recognized work/performances.

Born on 29th

August 1958, Michael Jackson was raised in a family of singers. He was born in Gary, Indiana State, United States as one of the children of Katherine Jackson and father Joseph Jackson, who was a guitarist but put aside his aspiration in music to cater for his family. He was part of a family group as early as age 5 which was known as Jackson 5 and was established in 1964. They played in the local clubs in Gary Indiana. As their talent grew, so does their overall influence with their music (Johansson 278). The Jackson 5 later moved to California after signing for Motown records with their releases making US number one hits. Borrowing from his family grassroots in music, he went solo in 1971-1972 with his singles “Got to Be There," "Rockin' Robin" and "I Wanna Be Where You Are" making a name for him as they stormed into the charts (Khan 190). His family played an important factor behind his venture into as the Jackson 5 which was established by his father providing him the first steps into music (Khan 192). His early music more so controlled by family thrived and in turn provided the best platform into the music scene when he went solo. His father was a known force behind the success of Michael Jackson as well as his other siblings into their music career such as Jackie, Marlon Jermaine, Randy, Michael and Tito Jackson (Khan 198).

Since venturing into music with the family group, the Jackson 5, the rise of Michael Jackson in pop music has continued even when he went solo. The music that was made during the days of Michael Jackson were characterized by heavy use of musical instrument, use of beat box in composition, as well as imitation of instruments. On the other hand, his vocal changed from soprano to high tenor. Michael Jackson was known for pop music, to a point he was labeled as king of pop. However, he performed in other styles of music such as rhythm and blues, funk, rock, disco and soul, etc. his music was characterized rhythmic dances and electric movement on the stage. His music was characterized by energizing dancers, with instruments such as guitars (both Jazz and bass guitars) and/or saxophone is a mainstay in most of his music. There was also the use of piano, drums beat boxes and synthesizers. Michael was well known as the composer and writer of most of his own music such as black or white, Dirty Diana, Heal the world, the way you make me feel among others.

Michael Jackson did numerous songs with some of them gaining fame among the music lovers. However, some of his music becomes so popular and elevated his fame as one of successful music singers and writers. One of the most popular songs by Michael Jackson is ‘Thriller’. This is one of his signature songs. The mini-film music video was at one point ranked as one of the successful music video. Selling more than 9 million units, the song became a trademark of Michael Jackson, and remains one of the songs used to identify him even after his death (Brackett 171). According to Johansson (264), his musical legacy can be attributed to the rest of ‘Thriller’ album, which was his landmark release and become the biggest selling album of all time. Additionally, there is also the ‘Man in the Mirror’ another of Jackson’s well-known works. Though not written by him, the song was the fourth release in the album ‘Bad’, and in terms of lyrics it’s regarded as one of the great. The song requests the listeners to work towards change the world by fixing whatever need to fix first.

In conclusion, Thriller, the Moonwalk, High-pitched music as well as famous crouch grabbing brings to mind Michael Jackson, his music and dances.  He was a pioneer when it came to dance floor, in the studio as well as among the black artists. In addition to being a star in the music industry, he was also credited to the importance of choreography. The songs Billie Jean, Thriller, and Beat It, all aided in Thriller's immeasurable success by contributing innovative lyrics, choreography, and music videos. Michael Jackson remains an icon in the music industry, with his music continuing to receive airtime even to date. He earned his pop music icon through the creation of music which transcended genres, not to mention redefining the roles of music videos as well as dancing.

Works Cited

Brackett, David. "Black or White? Michael Jackson and the Idea of Crossover." Popular Music & Society, vol. 35, no. 2, May 2012, pp. 169-185.

Johansson, Mats. "Michael Jackson and the Expressive Power of Voice-Produced Sound." Popular Music & Society, vol. 35, no. 2, May 2012, pp. 261-279.

Khan, Amir. "Michael Jackson's Ressentiment: Billie Jean and Smooth Criminal in Conversation with Fred Astaire." Popular Music & Society, vol. 35, no. 2, May 2012, pp. 187-201.

October 05, 2023




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