For five decades in the popular music industry Michael Jackson left his mark on the genre, not rarely deep and often revolutionary.
Together or as a soloist, Jackson changed the perception for the general public of the black singer, then revolutionized the figure of the pop idol. He broke racial, international and generational barriers, his concerts marked milestones in the history of the show and defined what would be the vehicle for every artist and group in the record industry: the music video.
Since its inception with the group that conformed with its brothers, the Jackson 5, under the auspices of the Motown label – which launched black artists on the white market – the boy Michael stood out for his angelic face, vibrant voice, agility for dancing and great stage management, despite his tender years.
The Jackson 5 performed a combination of songs with agile rhythms mixed with pop and romantic themes rooted in the soul genre of black music.
They were the most successful Motown ensemble, invited to participate in their own television specials, which further highlighted the qualities of young Jackson. Gordon Berry, founder, and producer of Motown kept insisting on giving Michael a stellar role, placing him in front of his brothers with pieces in just to highlight his singer and dancer skills.
Inevitably it was time to launch as a soloist and he did it first with the album “Off the Wall” and then with “Thriller” which, with its 65 million copies sold, set a commercial record that – in the opinion of many experts – never It will be overcome.
The music video
The release of these albums was accompanied by several videos, an element that gradually became increasingly indispensable in the music market.
In the incipient music video industry, the productions of that time were little more than a recording of the artist or ensemble making a musical track’s phonemic. Michael Jackson transformed the genre.
Jackson approached the video of his single “Billie Jean” as if it were a movie; telling a little story in 3 minutes, filmed with the highest production standards, including specialized designs of scenery, lighting, special effects, costumes, and choreography.
The dissemination of music videos was made through the new MTV subscription channel, which at that time was just beginning to accumulate affiliates and “Billie Jean” had a limited audience.
Everything changed one night in May 1983, when Motown presented a television special celebrating the 25th anniversary of its founding. It was an evening with all the hits and artists of the label, but it went down in history for one of its events.
The Jackson 5, meeting for the first time in several years, sang a mosaic of their songs and then left Michael alone on stage to perform “Billie Jean.”
The audience in the room and the millions of viewers around the world watched in amazement the new androgynous figure of Michael Jackson – in his early stages of plastic surgery – imposing his new fashion of dress, singing the contagious musical theme accompanied by his famous moonwalk. It was a moment of epiphany, an impossible vision, a superstar was born.
The video “Thriller” cemented Jackson’s reputation as a pop genius. More a short film than a music video, “Thriller” included a large cast of actors, singers and dancers under the direction of leading Hollywood filmmaker John Landis (director of “A werewolf in London”), and with a budget of millions of Dollars.
From then on, every time Jackson released a new song, the expectation was not only focused on the musical theme but also on the innovations he would make in the genre of music videos and the new techniques of special effects and cinematography.
This, in turn, influenced their live concerts, as they had to reflect the same visual and sound experience of the music videos and that is how they became complex shows of light, sound, effects, and choreography.
Any artist who wanted to compete with the king of pop had a difficult task to overcome his productions, both on stage and on video.
It had such an impact on the fans and the record industry, that years later – after having overcome accusations of pedophilia, negative press and suffered from poor health – the world looked forward to his return.