The Jackson 5, The Love You Save

Posted in Michael Jackson, The Jackson 5, Youtube Favs on July 29th, 2011 by Willie

This was the third killer single (I Want You Back, ABC) from the Jackson 5 after they made their killer debut on Motown.  It’s a song with a crazy soaring melody and complex vocal arrangement that came from the hit making geniuses “The Corporation,” the Los Angeles wing of Motown’s machine.  This performance, from Ed Sullivan, is lip-synced, but who cares, the recorded version is so insanely good that its still thrilling to see the boys go all out performing it.  For my money, this is young Michael Jackson’s greatest vocal achievement.  It’s the most exciting and challenging lead vocal he ever did, and he absolutely owns it, breathlessly showcasing his unlimited talent and potential.  It’s spellbinding to see how relaxed and confident Michael is on that stage.  He just exudes cool, even at 11 years old. I really think it’s almost impossible how god-like young Michael was.  He is simply one of the greatest child prodigies in music history, and that includes the likes of Mozart.  Unreal.

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Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, Say Say Say, The Girl is Mine

Posted in Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Youtube Favs on July 19th, 2011 by Willie

The year was 1981.  Michael Jackson was staying over Paul and Linda McCartney’s house.  The pair of ultra stars were recording songs with Quincy Jones and George Martin for their respective albums.  For Thriller, MJ and Macca were laying down “The Girl is Mine,” a horrendous piece of saccharine pop.  For McCartney’s equally successful album ; ) Pipes of Peace, the pair laid down “Say Say Say,” a more superior pop song, but equally stupid in its generic lyrics and execution.  For Jackson, the pairing with a Beatle was both an artistic and commercial turning point for his career.  For Paul McCartney, it was the most costly business mistake he ever made.  When Michael was in the studio for “Say Say Say,” it was the first time he didn’t have Quincy supporting him, and he found he could hold his own with the very musical McCartney.  It was an experience that massively boosted his musical maturation and confidence.  Paul was a gracious host this whole time, even giving the young pop star an inside glimpse into how he was making billions, by purchasing music publishing catalogs.  MJ took the advice to heart.  In 1985, the long disputed “Northern Songs” catalog, which contained the entire Lennon/McCartney catalog was up for sale, and Michael Jackson outbid Paul for the controlling interest, dropping 40 million underneath Paul’s nose.  In years since the incident, Jackson has been painted as the villain that stole Paul’s songs.  The real story is more complicated.  Paul was actually offered the songs privately, but he wanted to share it with Yoko Ono out of fairness, but she wanted to hold out for a better deal.  If anything, Yoko is the biggest culprit in the Beatles not owning their own songs.  Anyway, the friendship between Michael and Paul fell apart not because Jackson bought “Hey Jude” and “I am the Walrus,”  but because Michael wouldn’t raise the royalty rate John and Paul agreed to all the way back in 1961.  Paul has felt that the Beatles had been cheated and underpaid for decades, and the fact that Michael wouldn’t give him a boost was unforgivable.  So, even though Michael and Jackson would never perform or record together again, at least they left a legacy of a massive abortion of  commercial pop for us musical archeologists to examine for the next 1000 years.  Thanks boys.

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Michael Jackson, Leave Me Alone

Posted in Michael Jackson, Youtube Favs on June 12th, 2011 by Willie

Soul week comes to a close with part 87 of my ever expanding youtube countdown.  Today, I have my favorite Michael Jackson cut of all time, “Leave Me Alone,” from Bad. Released in 1987, “Leave Me Alone” was actually left off the American version of Bad, but was later added as a bonus track.  This, I’ll never understand.  It was clearly the best song from the session, representing a clear, concise, and true message from the King of Pop.  It’s basically his banner, more than “Billie Jean,” or “Beat It,” and he should have played it at every live show.  Actually, I don’t think he ever performed it live, which is a shame, because its the hardest rocking piece of funk MJ ever came up with.  The thing that grabs me most are first few seconds.  That 80s snyth keyboard intro is nothing less than hardcore 80s psychedelia.  In fact, this whole song is the closest Jackson ever got to psychedelia.  It’s a swirling, paranoid, personal, foray into his inner demons set to pop music, and it rules.  Anyway, enjoy the music video, which is also one of Jackson’s best.

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Michael Jackson, Pepsi Commericals

Posted in Michael Jackson, The Jackson 5, Youtube Favs on June 2nd, 2011 by Willie

We’re the Pepsi Generation in part 79 of my youtube countdown.  I’ve got Michael, Marlon, Jackie, Randy, Tito, and Jermaine all pitching soft drinks in the height of the 80s soda craze.  These 3 awesome videos to take you back in time to a more magical place where if you were drinking a Pepsi and dancing in the Bronx, you might just run into Michael Jackson and his brothers doing the same.  Wearing the same clothes as them only increased your chances by the way.  The other video features the gang getting ready for one of their Victory tour shows, evidenced by the guy wearing a 350 dollar official Victory Tour jacket.  Lastly, I have a clip of Michael’s hair catching fire filming, the event that supposedly led him to consider more and more radical plastic surgery.  Pretty freaky stuff.  It’s kind of incredible that even though his head is blazing, he keeps dancing until the entire crew tackles him trying to save his life.  Crazy!


 

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Michael Jackson, James Brown, and Prince

Posted in James Brown, Michael Jackson, Prince, Youtube Favs on April 19th, 2011 by Willie

Part 39 of my youtube countdown is loaded with star power.  In it, you’ll see a Prince, a King, and a Godfather, the Holy Trinity of R&B, dance, funk, and soul.  In 1983, at a James Brown concert, we have the Godfather calling to stage the King of Pop in all his pre-insane person glory.  Michael Jackson gets up, sings a bit, then busts out some dance moves that just flatten the world with their perfection.  The first video presents James and Michael in crystal clear beauty.  Michael does some spins, some incredible James Brown-esque footwork, and throws in his moonwalk.  Just amazing.  Clip 2, sadly of lesser quality, covers the Michael performance again, but also includes the introduction of Prince to the stage.  Now, this was bizarre.  Prince, who seems high as hell, is carried to the stage by a bodyguard in full out foppish dandy boy mode, straps on a guitar, and plays a pretty terrible solo.  But, no matter, this moment is too amazing to ignore, or to criticize really.  It’s doubtful that this much talent, funk, and soul will ever grace a stage ever again.  Enjoy this eternal moment.

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We are the World, and the Rest of You Can Watch…

Posted in Michael Jackson, Youtube Favs on February 17th, 2011 by Willie

Continuing the journey down my youtube favorites list, I give you the infamous “We Are the World.”  This tune was written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson sometime in 1985, as a response to the horrendous Ethiopian famine which killed over a million people.  I guess it did some good as it raised between 50-60 million dollars according to Wikipedia, which is all well and good, but honestly, no one remembers the humanitarian crisis, but rather the image of all those super famous humans gathering in one room to belt out this piece of classic schmaltz.  Now, from a distance, this song really sucks.  Its cheesy, overwrought, and covered with a layer of outdated 80s glitter, but still, there is no denying the underlying charm of all these ultra-stars, and a few artists manage to give this thing some heat by the end.  Here are a few random comments I have for you before enjoy the vid.

#1.  Billy Joel, I love you, but go home, also that goes double for Kenny Loggins (for sucking), Kenny Rogers and Paul Simon (for making insanely strange faces.)

#2. Bruce Springsteen, you absolutely RULE the end of the song when you manage to hold your own with Stevie Wonder, but wouldn’t like you like a new take of your first line earlier in the song?  You make this face in which you look like you were shot in the stomach.  Although, I gotta hand it to him overall, this is the coolest look he ever had.  He’s like a combination of Elvis, the Fonz, and Dean Martin.  Man, what a rock star.

#3. We can all agree, this is Steve Perry’s greatest moment in music history. I think Journey is horrible, but what a soaring voice this guy has.

#4.  This video marked the beginning of when Michael Jackson thought it was a good idea to basically dress up as the fifth member of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…for the rest of his life.

#5.  The story goes that Prince skipped out on the recording of this song for some ego bruised reason…which, ironically makes Prince the most genuine superstar out of this whole group.  Why?  Because Prince wasn’t about to pretend he didn’t have an ego, unlike every single one of these stars, who tried their damnedest to make you believe they were selfless.

#6.  And lastly, Bob Dylan and his disciple Bruce Springsteen are dressed exactly the same.  Must have been awkward…

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The Jackson 5 Singing I'll Be There and Rockin Robin, Acapella!

Posted in Michael Jackson, The Jackson 5, Youtube Favs on February 16th, 2011 by Willie

Welcome to Part 2 of all the youtube videos I’ve favorited in the past 3 years.  And because its part 2, I’m giving you a double dip of J5.  I must have favorited these right after Michael Jackson died a few summers ago.  A little cheesy, but still an incredible display of raw talent.  Michael Jackson was clearly one of the greatest childhood prodigies of all time, right up there with Stevie Wonder and Mozart.  I found these videos from a series of youtube videos featuring just the vocal tracks of all the Motown greats.  Worth searching around for all of those.

I’ll Be There

Rockin Robin

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