Legendary Thriller

By Ziyanda Sam

Born on the 29th August 1958 and died on the 25th of June 2009, Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, philanthropist and entertainer. Referred to as the king of pop, Michael is recognised as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records. His contribution to music, dance and fashion, along with a publicized personal life, made him a global figure in pop culture for over four decades. Being the sixth child of the Jackson family, he started his professional music scene with his brothers as a member of The Jackson 5 in the mid 1960s, and began his solo career in 1971.

Jackson became a dominant figure in pop music in the early 1980s. The music videos for his hit songs Beat it, Billie Jean and Thriller were known as the songs that transformed into an art form and a promotional tool because they helped to bring the new television channel MTV to fame. By performing on stage and music videos, Jackson popularized dance techniques such as the robot and moonwalk. His musical sound and vocal style have influenced hip hop, pop, contemporary R&B and rock artists.

The song Someone in the Dark was contributed by Jackson to the storybook for the film Extra-Terrestrial and the record won a Grammy award for Best Recording for Children in 1984. In the same year he won seven Grammy awards and eight American Music Awards which made him the most awarded in one night for both award shows. He won these awards because of Thriller, an album in 1982 which was the best-selling album worldwide.

Michael Jackson’s music took root in R&B, pop and soul because he had been influenced by the work of contemporary artists such as Little Richard, Diana Ross, James Brown and Gene Kelly. James Brown was Jackson’s greatest inspiration. He transformed the art of music and paved the way for pop music. His music videos such as Thriller shifted MTV’s focus from rock to pop music and R&B. Jackson’s music continues to influence artists such as Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Usher, Madonna and Justin Timberlake.

After Michael Jackson’s death, MTV returned to its original music video format to celebrate and pay tribute to his life and work. It aired most of his music videos that were hits. Jackson was declared as being the greatest entertainer that has ever lived.

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