I was a huge Michael Jackson fan in school. I was crazy about everything he did: his songs, his dancing, his videos, everything. I remember coming back from school every afternoon and playing Beat It 4 or 5 times and dancing around the room like an idiot. My mom used to almost roll on the floor laughing! I knew so many of his songs by heart. I couldn't understand many of the words then, and since that was the pre-google era, i used to make up non-sensical words trying to make them sound similar to what he was singing.
Over the years as my music taste evolved (i moved on to stuff like Eagles, GnR, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, REM, Cold Play, etc) and as his career graph plunged, i lost touch with his music. But every now and then whenever i chanced upon his songs i would listen with glee.
I saw This Is It in pune. As i feared, less than 5% of the cinema hall was occupied, and that too mostly by middle-aged firangs. I ensured that i sat in the middled of a large unoccupied space, not wanting any stupid noisy non-fans spoiling my experience by rustling plastic bags or jabbering away on their mobile phones.
I was blown away. This documentary is basically created from bits and pieces out of hundreds of hours of footage during the rehearsals of his come back tour This Is It. 50 shows, to be performed in London, had been sold out. Had those shows happened, they would have been absolutely MJ style; larger than life. Unfortunately he passed away weeks before the first scheduled concert. He and his crew had been working on the concept and execution for more than 4 years...
MJ became a star at the age of 6 as the lead singer of the Jackson 5. His solo albums Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad, Dangerous and History were all best sellers. Thriller remains the best selling album of all time, spending 37 weeks at the top of the US Billboard chart, and selling 110 Million copies (the 2nd best sold 49 Million copies), easily beating other greats like Pink Floyd, AD/DC, Meat Loaf, Eagles, Bee Gees, Guns n roses, Dire Straits, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. He won 13 Grammy awards (7th highest ever) and 22 American Music Awards, gave the world 17 No.1 singles, and achieved estimated sales in excess of 500 Million copies (different sources peg these anywhere between 200-750 million).
He changed the whole concept of music videos, delighting fans with terrific videos like Thriller, Beat it, Billie Jean, Smooth Criminal, Bad, Black or White, Remember the Time, Earth Song, and many more...
From the mid-80's onwards his skin colour and facial structure started changing, leading to rumours of numerous skin surgeries, reconstruction, and bleaching. It was said that he was suffering from a severe psychological disorder called 'body dysmorphic disorder' causing obsessive dissatisfaction regarding his appearance. There were reports that his nose had once fallen off. Some attributed these problems to an abused childhood (he publicly admitted on Oprah's show that his father Joseph used to regularly beat him up as a child). Then came the child sexual abuse allegations. People were quick to label him a freak, and he gradually regressed into solitude, for many years making news only for the various controversies surrounding him.
This Is It was the return he planned. Despite the years of absence and deteriorating health, he remained an awesomely talented musician and singer. And this documentary also shows the perfectionist that he was. His selection of dancers, stage props, moves, lights, visual effects, sound effects, etc, were all fine tuned to the smallest detail. And unlike many popular musicians, he had an amazing control on his music, hearing and correcting even a single stray note played by any musician around him.
Though it is immediately noticeable that he wasn't dancing as much (supposedly weakened by years of addiction to painkillers and valium), his trademark moves were as smooth. His lead guitarist, the blonde Orianthi Panagaris, was simply amazing. I was screaming along all the songs i could remember, not giving a shit about whether other people could hear me or not. How i wish atleast one of these shows had happened...
MJ remained a crowd puller till the end. There is endless footage of fans screaming, weeping, fainting during his performances. There is no doubt that there would have been similar frenzy had these last tours happened. I just hope that now that he is gone, people slowly forget the controversies, and remember him for his music. The one and only King of Pop.