Tag Archives: Michael Jackson

THE BEST MICHAEL JACKSON SONGS OF 1984: NUMBER 5 – FAREWELL MY SUMMER LOVE

To commemorate the 5th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s passing I’m posting my 6 Favorite Post-Thriller Michael Jackson Releases from 1984 (very specific – I know – but the list fits perfectly within the theme of this blog and the focus of my obsessions).

These are the best songs either sung, written or produced by MJ that came out in the great (greatest) year of pop. Coming up today . . .

MJ 73#5 Farewell My Summer Love.

In 1984 everything and anything associated with Michael Jackson turned to gold (or platinum) so it’s no coincidence that in May of that year Motown ‘found’ this ‘lost track’ in its archives and released it. The label used existing Jackson vocals, originally recorded a decade earlier, and added new musical tracks. Hmmmm – a record label crafts a new release from old recordings completely without Jackson’s permission . . .  why does this seem so familiar? Hmmm.

Ok – that’s the last bit of sarcasm you’ll hear from me in this post. Although the label’s intent was to cash in – the effort resulted in the release of one of the sweetest, most tender songs of the summer. When I researched and listened to this song earlier this week I had an equally sincere realization. It occurred to me that I was the same age in 1984, when I heard first heard this song, that Michael was when he originally sang it. And, as it happens, the Spring/Summer of 1984 marked the first time I fell in love. So I’m going to ignore the crass commercialism and connect to the innocent, bittersweet (10% bitter, 90% sweet) vibe of the song.

We should also be thankful that Jackson’s voice sounds so good in this song. Imagine what it would have been like if Michael’s voice had not made the transition from childhood prodigy to adult SINGER. But listen closely and you can hear that successful transition from boy to young man in so many of the notes he hits on this record. (Sadly I did not make the same successful transition; thus my 5th grade star turn as the King in The King and I was my last great public vocal performance).

Favorite Moment:

Ten seconds in, right after the piano intro, Michael’s ‘woooowooowooooo’ is pure joy!

Favorite Lyric: 

 Bye Bye

Don’t Turn Around

You Might See Me Cry

You might also like:

#6 – Somebody’s Watching Me

Michael Jackson at His Best in 1984

Michael Jackson’s Thriller: Let the Truth Unfurl Part 1

Michael Jackson’s Thriller: Let the Truth Unfurl Part 2

Michael Jackson: Now & Then

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THE BEST MICHAEL JACKSON SONGS OF 1984: NUMBER 6 – SOMEBODY’S WATCHING ME

He ain't heavy, he's Rockwell

He ain’t heavy, he’s Rockwell

The world couldn’t get enough of Michael Jackson in 1984. Even after the constant radio airplay and video rotation generated by Jackson’s 1983 pop masterwork, Thriller; we still wanted more. And Michael delivered. Instead of taking a break after the insane success of Thriller – Michael Jackson ran a victory lap (pun intended) in 1984.

To commemorate the 5th anniversary of his passing I’m going to post my 6 Favorite Post-Thriller Michael Jackson Releases from 1984. These are the songs either sung, written or produced by MJ that came out in the great (greatest) year of pop.

Read here to see why I think 1984 was such a pivotal year for Jackson.

#6 Somebody’s Watching Me by Rockwell. Chorus vocals by Michael Jackson.
Joining me to discuss this song is Cutie Pie, the author of my absolute favorite Michael Jackson blog – All Things Michael!

Let’s all agree that without Michael this song would not be a hit. It probably wouldn’t exist.  The verses, sung by Rockwell, are fun in a tongue-in-cheek/high quality novelty song kind of way. But then the chorus kicks in and you hear that unmistakable alto delivering yet another unforgettable melody and you think you might be listening to a great B-side from Off the Wall.

One of the reasons I really like this song is because it illustrates Michael Jackson’s loyalty. Jackson and Rockwell (otherwise known as Kennedy William Gordy aka Berry Gordy’s son) were childhood friends. I imagine there were hundreds of wanna be pop stars who were clamoring for a chance to collaborate with Michael in 1984. But Michael chose to sing on the song that would turn out to be his childhood friend’s only hit.

Cutie Pie agrees that Michael makes the song work. “I loved this song the minute I heard it and it’s mostly because of Michael’s vocals.” She also informed me that, “Jermaine (Jackson) is singing background on this song as well as the duo The Weather Girls.”

And despite the fact that this is officially a Rockwell song, Cutie Pie points out that the theme of constant observation, ” . . . could also apply . . . to Michael as he never had any privacy from the press or his fans.”

And finally Cutie Pie makes a great point that this song tied into the themes of George Orwell’s 1984. Indeed!

“Big Brother is Watching . . . Rockwell!”

 Just the Facts: Somebody’s Watching Me went to #2 on the US and UK pop charts and stayed at number 1 on the R&B charts for 5 weeks.

rockwell showerBest Thing About the Video: Without hesitation or guilt I will state that Rockwell gives good shower scene.

Coming up tomorrow . . .  my 5th Favorite Michael Jackson Release from 1984.

You Might Also Like:

#1 – State of Shock

#2 – Centipede

#3 – Say Say Say

#4 – Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’ (Too Good To Be True)

#5 – Farewell My Summer Love

Michael Jackson at his Best in 1984

Michael Jackson’s Thriller: Let the Truth Unfurl Part 2

MICHAEL JACKSON AT HIS BEST: POST THRILLER

Michael-Jackson-The-Jacksons-VictorY-Tour-1984-michael-jackson-17890123-547-800Imagine the pressure an artist feels attempting to follow-up the success of a lifetime. Imagine: You’re Ralph Ellison trying to write the next novel after Invisible Man. You’re Orson Welles planning your next film after Citizen Kane. Now imagine it’s late 1983 and your Michael Jackson. You’ve just recorded and released the most successful pop album of all time. What do you do?

No one would have blamed Michael if he had taken a very long hiatus to enjoy the spoils of his great success. But something tells me Michael didn’t have a choice. OF COURSE he was immediately back in the studio writing, producing, recording and performing; inevitably generating some of the best singles of 1984. I think the most interesting thing about Michael’s post Thriller output is the fact that so many of his recording were collaborations. At one point I thought he was going the way of Prince and creating a family of protégés. But Jackson’s prolific collaborative phase was primarily confined to 1984, the year immediately following Thriller’s chart domination.

To commemorate the sad anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death this week I’m going to countdown my 6 Favorite Post-Thriller releases from 1984.

Coming up  . . . the 6th Best Post Thriller Song by Michael Jackson. And the 5th Best Song. But first, let’s look back at the album that set the standard. Below you can check out earlier posts about Jackson’s seminal album, Thriller:

Michael Jackson’s Thriller: Let the Truth Unfurl: Part 1

Michael Jackson’s Thriller: Let the Truth Unfurl Part 2

Calling on all Michael Jackson fans

mj84I’m planning a small tribute to Michael Jackson next week, throughout the week, to commemorate the anniversary of his death ( I can’t believe it’s been 5 years). I’m looking for some MJ fans to participate by sharing their thoughts on a few of the specific songs I’ll be posting about (WHICH songs? Ah – that’s a secret for now)

Please leave a comment or shoot me an email if you’re interested.

Thanks!

Michael Jackson: Now & Then

MJ2Trepidation and suspicion.

Those were my initial feelings when I heard of the plans to release a new posthumous Michael Jackson album composed of songs ‘from his archive’. It didn’t surprise me that a record label had found yet another way to generate money utilizing Michael Jackson’s name and image (and songs which Jackson never intended to share with the public). What has surprised me is the excitement this new album has stirred among tried and true Jackson fans. Are they the victims of a marketing and publicity blitz – or – are they open to the fact that, although the circumstances aren’t ideal, this is an opportunity to hear ‘new’ music from one of the greatest performers in music history?

xscapeMy plan was to ignore this new album – this Frankenstein creation. In my opinion, unearthing older Jackson songs that were never meant to see the light of day; splicing Michael’s vocals with the voices of current pop stars while giving producers the goal to make the music sound ‘contemporary’ and ‘radio friendly’ seems more horrific than anything portrayed in the “Thriller” video.

I was planning to hold my own personal protest. Instead of buying and listening to this new album – I would listen to Thriller (yet again) from start to finish (that’ll show them!). And then maybe move on to Bad – and then back to Off the Wall.

But I have to admit I’m curious. I’m curious to hear what these songs sound like. Will any of them come close to being as good as “The Lady in My Life” or “Beat It” or “Human Nature”? And I’m curious to see how I’ll react.  Is there anyway I can listen objectively? Well, there’s only one way to find out.

So – I’m going to listen to this new album – and I’ll share my reaction with you. But I’m also interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject. How do you feel about posthumous releases? Crass record label money-making technique  – or a gift to fans? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Now – I’m going to prepare to listen to this new album. But first . . . maybe I’ll listen to Thriller, one more time.

Previous Michael Jackson posts can be found here and here

Number One this Week in 1984: Lionel Richie’s Hello

lionel-richie-hello-1984Every time a Lionel Richie song went to the top of the charts in 1984 it was a victory for the Average Joe. Now don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing average about Richie’s talent. He’s a brilliant song writer who has created some of the most indelible pop songs of our generation, both with the Commodores and as a solo artist. But place Richie alongside Boy George, Prince, Cyndi Lauper, Cameo or David Lee Roth and it’s remarkable that the relatively mild mannered pop star didn’t get lost amidst the flash of his fellow music artists.

Ok – so Richie may not have had the moves of Prince, the mystique of Cameo, the quirky affability of Cyndi Lauper, the cool of Hall & Oates, or the sex appeal of Duran Duran. But he did have an album full of perfect pop songs –  including “Hello,” – which went to number one on both the R&B and Pop charts in May 1984. “Hello” also produced one of greatest music videos of the 1980s.

Following the video check out the 6 greatest things about Lionel Richie’s “Hello”.

This post is in response to the Daily Posts’s – Writing Challenge.

6. Lionel Richie’s Acting. Before the song starts Richie busts out some serious acting chops. He is quite convincing as an obsessed drama teacher. James Lipton eat your heart out!

Hello Hallway

5. Sweet Song, Creepy Plot: Lionel plays a drama coach who is also stalking one of his students. Ballet class? He’s there. Lunch break? He’s there! Drama Class? Well, sure he’s there because he’s the drama teacher – but still! Does this community college of the visual and performing arts perform background checks on their teachers?

4. Michael Peters Cameo! The great choreographer appears as Lionel Richie’s love interest’s dance instructor. Peters was the absolute best. In addition to Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield” he also choreographed the dance numbers in Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” and “Thriller” videos (discussed here). These are pop culture gifts! All hail Michael Peters!

Laura Carrington

 

3. The Blind Student. Was there anyone prettier than Laura Carrington? Oh man, why wasn’t she a bigger star?

 

 

2. The Call is coming from inside the house! Int, Night, Dark House: “A Blind woman steps out of shower, she’s alone in the the house and then . . . the phone rings!!!” Is this a horror movie or a music video? OR BOTH?!?!

And the number one greatest thing about Lionel Richie’s “Hello” . . .

Continue reading

Michael Jackson’s Thriller: Let the Truth Unfurl (Part 2)

mj-thriller-1984

Michael Jackson’s Thriller ended its 80 week run at the top of the album charts in April 1984. I’ve pulled together 3 MJ acolytes to discuss Jackson’s masterpiece. In our previous discussion we talked about our favorite and least favorite songs on the album, whether we consider Thriller perfect, and what drove Michael to create one of the most successful albums in history.

Part 2

Sean: We’ve discussed Michael’s music – now let’s talk about the videos from Thriller.

Norman: He was a visual artist – he was one of the first visual artists and those videos (from Thriller) are incredible!

Sean: He was the first black artist to be played on MTV. Before 1983 MTV did not play black artists in heavy rotation.

Norman: That was 1983? That’s within my lifetime! And that was just ok with people?

Shana : Well Walter Yetnikoff got gangsta with it – you know that story. He was the head of CBS records and Michael was really pissed that he did not get the cover of Rollingstone after “Off the Wall,” and he was accusing the industry of being racist – rightfully so. But when MTV wouldn’t play (Billie Jean from Thriller) because they said it wasn’t their ‘audience’ – Walter Yetnikoff was like – I will pull all of our artists’ videos from your network if you do not play Michael’s videos. Which was at a time when it mattered to artists to have their videos played on that network. And that’s what set everything in motion.

Sean: And I love that Michael was like – you want rock? Here’s “Beat it”. You like R&B – here’s “Billie Jean”.

Norman: You like amazing novelty yet soul/funk? Here’s “Thriller”!

Sean: So what’s everyone’s favorite video from Thriller?

Norman: “Thriller”. That goes without saying, right?

mj-beat-itShana: I think my favorite is “Beat It”.

Sean: I’m going to say “Beat It” as well. It’s concise, it’s tight, it tells a story and has some of the most memorable choreography in music video history. Plus “Beat It” was so good he decided to make it again and call it “Bad”. “Bad” is basically ‘Beat It Part 2..’

Norman: There are only 3 videos from the album Thriller – “Billie Jean”, “Beat It”, “Thriller”.

Sean:  I’m sad that there was not a video for “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin”.

Norman: Or “Human Nature”. I’ve seen the “Human Nature” video in my head!

Sean: Me too! It’s black and white – lots of beauty shots of NYC at night.

Norman: Yes!

Sean: Christine – what’s your favorite video from Thriller?

jackson-lays-down-some-moves-in-the-zombie-dance-scene-from-his-1982-thriller-music-video-ctChristine: I can’t answer this question without sounding like a hypocrite (Note: in our previous post Christine admitted the song “Thriller” was her least favorite on the album). The “Thriller” video is obviously my favorite. “Thriller” changed music video as we knew it.

Norman: Thriller is the best music video of all time! Of any artist! Ever! No video has come out that is better than Thriller!

Shana: But the best doesn’t have to be your favorite.

Sean: It’s two for “Beat It”, two for “Thriller”. Ok – most important question for everyone – can you do the “Thriller” dance?

Shana: Not in its entirety.

Norman: Not in its entirety.

Christine: No.

Sean: I’m disappointed in all of you. Ok – let’s move on and discuss the aftermath of Thriller.

Shana: I’d argue in the scheme of things that Thriller was the moment Michael – who was always a performer his whole life – really just wanted to devote himself and almost sacrifice himself to the crowd, for the applause. Thriller is the last moment in his career when he made an album that was solely for the fans. After that – the albums were a little bit more for him. Bad, for example. He made that album when he was going through some stuff so he comes out with really personal songs like “Leave Me Alone” and “Dirty Diana” and “Another Part of Me”.

Norman: I don’t think Bad is like that  – I think it (Michael working out his personal demons phase) comes later. I think Bad was trying to completely be Thriller Part Two.

Shana: No!

Norman: He had every intention of making an album that was just as successful.

Shana: I think he became much more personal making Bad. Thriller was the least autobiographical.

Sean: But the most popular.

Norman: Thriller was for us. It was The Passion of the Jackson!

Cuz-this-is-Thriller-michael-jackson-13030300-1213-912

You Might Also Like my Countdown of the Best Post-Thriller Michael Jackson Songs in 1984:

Michael Jackson at his best in 1984

#2 – Centipede

#3 – Say Say Say

#4 – Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’ (Too Good To Be True)

#5 – Farewell My Summer Love

#6 – Somebody’s Watching Me