Mickael Jackson

Le talent n’est pas l’apanage d’un style, et ne reste pas d’un côté d’une frontière, fut-il dit ici il y a 4 ans. Les créations de Mickael Jackson ridiculiseront longtemps nombre de clips d’une production showbiz standardisée (les effets bad boys sont depuis des clichés, l’original a d’une toute autre intensité chorégraphique).

Il a travaillé avec Martin Scorsese pour Bad, avec Quincy Jones pour certains de ses spectacles relevant d’un art total. Son Thriller est une oeuvre sans pareille de presque 14 minutes, son Beat It et surtout son Billie Jean (ici en version scénique) relèvent d’une véritable écriture qui ferait honte à d’autres grands noms de la pop si on osait les citer.

MJ a été un très grand créateur, aussi. Notons que La Vie des Idées a publié un -forcément- long article intitulé Il était une fois Michael Jackson.

Four years after MJ’s death, Peter Aspden, from the Financial Times Week-end, wrote an excellent article (The way Michael Jackson made us feel) about the sustainability of the best pop music.

How will the future judge the golden era of popular music that began in the middle of the 1950s and dribbled to a close sometime in the late 1980s? Changes in the making and marketing of music, and the way we listen to it, are having momentous effects on the industry. What will be left for posterity? Vinyl, the medium that transmitted most of pop’s most glorious moments, is already an ancient artefact, collected by zealots, hipsters and, presumably, the British Museum. Compact discs are already on their way out. The video clip is an outdated promotional tool. How will we remember the stars of pop? Talent shows? Tribute bands? Obscure retro radio channels?

Mozart is still celebrated because his music continues to be played by orchestra members who devote their lives to mastering his compositions. His genius is freeze-packed to last: modern orchestras do not look or sound dramatically different from those of his lifetime. Audiences are respectful of the ritual of attending concerts. They are reverential towards a period of musical innovation that will never go out of fashion; it is a touchstone for our deepest cultural aspirations.


But pop doesn’t have a hope of matching that kind of longevity. It has whored itself to corporate greed, and to the desperate desires of its practitioners to achieve instant fame and wealth. Who, over the age of 11, can actually remember last year’s X Factor winner? Perhaps it is only right that an art form that was designed to deliver evanescent pleasure should end like this: a bright comet that is already fast receding. But it is a shame. Pop music did become an art form. And it should be remembered, not least for the sake of its few true stars.To watch One and Love in 20, or 50, or 100 years’ time will be the nearest we can get to understanding the greatness of a period that is already receding in our rear-view mirrors. Pop music, the cultural historians of the future will say, really did have that visceral, effervescent appeal. It invented new things, and made you happy to be alive, not unlike Mozart. This is how it should be remembered. Big and bold and blowing your mind.

Edit 2013-06 – First version in 2009-06. Note that so numerous copyright issues with the YouTube videos.

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