Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Michael Jackson remembered: That was easy

Well, the one inarguable thing about today's event was that Staples could never have imagined naming rights for that building was going to succeed in pulling down so much worldwide advertising.

I'll bet, though, there's someone in a Staples Marketing Office who's spent the week trying to get the name changed to something with even more of a sales message - The Five-For-Four Gel Pens At Staples Arena, perhaps.

If you set aside the creepy and pointless dragging out of some random kid from Britain's Got Talent to speak on behalf of "everybody" in the world - like Torchwood in reverse - and the actually quite affecting (and totally inappropriate) wheeling on of the kids to try and push a cynical marketing exercise beyond criticism, what this memorial really did was to ease a world's tight shoes. For the last week and a half, it's been trumpeted almost every time a newsreader sat down that Jackson was the greatest performer in the world. And most of us have sat there thinking "well... no, but..." desperately trying to recall a name that trumped him. One that everyone would agree on, obviously - I mean, Harvey from Another Sunny Day might be demonstrably better, but would not be a convincing answer for a pub debate.

Stevie Wonder. Smokey Robinson.

The tips of our tongue have been relieved of two unquestionable answers.

Interestingly, Stevie Wonder also was a child star who had to overcome enormous odds. And made some dreadful records, too, it's fair to say - especially when he rolled out his social conscience. Don't Drive Drunk, anyone? But Wonder has managed to not retreat into chimpanzee-befriending sideshow attention-seeking and has, with his campaigning on Aids and MLK Day, made a genuine and measurable difference to the world. Yet, despite all that, it's unlikely the BBC will clear a channel for live coverage of his send off.

Jermaine Jackson off Big Brother got to do a song, too; he wore a single glove, in a touching tribute to Lily Allen's Glastonbury outfit. It's always the single glove, isn't it? Wouldn't you have loved it if Usher had turned up made up like a zombie. As a tribute.

The speakers veered between the sort of anecdotes that would get jeered at a Fred Flinstone roast (Brooke Shields' memories of having laugh-offs are the sort of memories which are best enjoyed by those who were there) and the completely overstated. Al Sharpton can't help himself, I know, but you'd have hoped for better from the Luther King Kids. But no, they continued to add to the overwrought "he was the King Of Pop" gushing - proving, I suppose, that a pair of Kings can't beat a royal flush.

The oddest note was when some sportsbloke - Magic Johnson from basketball and sponsored shoes - proudly trilled that the Guinness Book Of Records had an entry for Jackson being the pop star who supported the most charities. Is that a real category? Is there a similar record for the basketball player who supports the most charities? Is there some sort of rule about how much they have to give, or could one of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs take the record by slipping ten cents in every collecting box in every newsagents in London?

The claims that he was a great, charitable man were somewhat undermined by the grandiose television special marking his passing; any last veracity in claims to put others before himself probably vanished when the gold-plated coffin came back in to shot.


Darren H said...

No Allen Klein obits? Awww...go on ... kinda had something to do with modern beat ensembles didn't he?

Laura Brown said...

You know, the other day I said to my husband, "Obviously Stevie Wonder is a greater artist than Michael Jackson was, and --" I was going to continue, "and I'm sure Jackson himself would have said the same", but then I realised that actually, he wouldn't have, would he?

Spence said...

The whole thing would've been improved greatly if, say, Usher had jumped up onto the coffin and moonwalked across it.

And on a different note entirely, Smokey's looking good these days isn't he? Now *there's* a true genius/legend.

Anonymous said...

"...proving, I suppose, that a pair of Kings can't beat a royal flush."

this is very funny, well done :)

M.C. Glammer said...

Was Quincy Jones there? Because I'd love to hear him reminisce on the "No squeaks, motherfucker" story.

Olive said...

@MC Glammer- have you any other source for that story other than PB? Not that I don't believe it, but practically every track on 'Thriller' features Jackson's trademark vocal ticks.

Speaking of unreliable sources, I've just looked at Wikipedia's list of top selling albums-


I knew that Back in Black was the world's 2nd best selling album, but by a factor of over 2 to 1? Seems a little unlikely.

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