Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson
标准 3553


Michael Jackson

He is a singer and songwriter. Michael Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana, as the seventh of nine children. Jackson and his brothers Jackie, Tito, Marlon, and Jermaine were assembled into a singing group when Michael was only five years old. Despite his extremely young age, he soon distinguished himself as a singer and dancer of prodigious ability. No mere child prodigy, Michael had a gift for vocal phrasing that was not only well beyond his years, but would have been astonishing in a performer of any age. After winning several talent contests, the Jackson 5, as the group was called, signed a recording contract with the Motown and proceeded to rule the charts in the late 1960s and early 1970s with such hits as "I Want You Back," "Stop, the Love You Save," "ABC," and "Dancing Machine." By 1972, Michael had begun releasing solo albums, and he sang the hit title song to the movie Ben.

Michael and the group (with the exception of brother Jermaine) left Motown in 1975, signing with Epic Records, which also gave Michael a solo deal. Two years later, he starred in the film version of the hit musical The Wiz, which also featured singer Diana Ross and comic Richard Pryor. Quincy Jones, who produced the soundtrack album, became one of Michael's longtime friends and collaborators. The year 1979 saw the release of Jackson's extraordinarily successful album Off the Wall; this record included the hit singles "Rock With You" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and eventually sold some 10 million copies. The singer had matured into a dynamic adult entertainer, but he also began to make his mark as a songwriter, crafting durable pop that synthesized rock and disco.

Jackson's next album, Thriller, was a quantum leap for him both creatively and commercially. Produced by Jones, the recording spanned a number of pop genres,enlisting rock guitar idol Eddie Van Halen to play a solo on "Beat It," for example, guaranteed access to listeners Jackson might not otherwise have reached and fired six Top 10 singles up the charts, notably the title track, a duet with Paul McCartney titled "The Girl Is Mine," and the raucous "Beat It." The state-of-the-art videos that accompanied these singles, meanwhile, coincided with the sudden dominance of Music Television (MTV); Jackson's distinctive "Moonwalk" and overall visual panache (combined with brilliant choreography and lavish special effects) won him an even vaster audience. Thriller went on to become the bestselling album of all time and garnered an unprecedented eight Grammy Awards; Jackson also snagged a Grammy for his participation in the E.T.: The Extraterrestrial soundtrack album.

Jackson was a crucial player in the all-star benefit project We Are the World, which sought to combat hunger in Africa. In addition to his solo work, he continued working with his brothers as part of The Jacksons; their 1984 "Victory" tour was a landmark of the decade.

Michael Jackson ruled the 1980s. Though his next album, Bad performed less spectacularly than did Thriller, it was a colossal hit by any other standard. He also racked up both music industry awards and honors from even the president of the United States. He had his occasional bad moments. His head was burned during the shooting of a commercial for Pepsi-Cola, and speculation abounded that he lightened his skin and had plastic surgery to make himself look more "white." But by and large his image as the world's most beloved entertainer was undimmed. Jackson's memoir, Moonwalk, was adapted into a film in 1988.

In early 1991, Michael's sister and fellow pop star Janet Jackson announced that she had scored the biggest record deal in history. One week later, Michael announced his new Sony contract, which made Janet's look paltry by comparison. His 1991 release Dangerous, however, did not perform to expectations. Some controversy was generated by the fact that Jackson reportedly only granted his innovative "Black or White" video to MTV on the condition that the network refer to him as the "King of Pop." A 1993 interview with talk-show host Oprah, an unusual step for the press-shy Jackson, helped boost sales. Over time, the album performed impressively; again, only the standards previously set by Jackson himself cast any doubt on its popularity. He was showered in laurels in 1993, including a Living Legend Award at the Grammys and, more controversially, the Humanitarian of the Year trophy at the Soul Train Awards.

Yet when Jackson's reputation as an androgynous recluse who lived in a state of perpetual adolescence established, rumors of his Peter Pan-like life and hobbies at his sprawling ranch increased. He also earned the scorn of some self-appointed moral guardians.

No one could have anticipated, however, the charges that rocked the entertainment world in 1993. A 13-year-old boy, identified only as a "friend" of the singer's, asserted that Jackson had sexually abused him during his stay at Neverland. Jackson was on tour when the allegations were made public, and he promptly brought the series of performances to a halt, claiming exhaustion and addiction to painkillers. After extensive legal wrangling and much mud-slinging from both the boy's family and lawyers and Jackson's defense team, Jackson opted to settle out of court for an estimated $20 million. Though he settled, Jackson denied any wrongdoing.

Despite investigation of a second boy who said he'd slept in the same bed with Jackson, but alleged no improper behavior on the entertainer's part, the Los Angeles District Attorney brought his investigation to a close in 1994. Jackson's attorney said this was due to lack of evidence, though others claimed it was the boy's refusal to testify that weakened the case. Meanwhile, longtime friends of Jackson's had issued passionate statements in his defense. "I am mortified and disgusted by what has been reported with no evidence of anything untoward," fumed producer Bruce Swedien, as quoted in Rolling Stone. "Michael is one of the most decent people I've ever met in my life. These allegations are preposterous." Jackson's own public statement expressed confidence that he would be fully exonerated. "I am grateful for the over-whelmingsupport of my fans throughout the world," it concluded. "I love you all."

Yet the scandal devastated Jackson and heightened speculation that his career was over. He lost his Pepsi endorsement as well as a deal to develop several films in which he hoped to star. "They just pulled the plug when the scandal broke," noted director John Landis who had helmed the epic "Thriller" video for Entertainment Weekly. The rumor mongering over the alleged molestation continued, as the media and industry insiders played the age-old game of trying to pin down Michael Jackson's personal life.

In 1994, Jackson shocked the public again in a very different way. He and Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of rock innovator and cultural icon Elvis Presley, were married in a secret ceremony in the Dominican Republic. The unexpected union was the cause of further speculation: had Jackson married to divert attention from his alleged homosexuality and/or pederasty? Was he hoping to save his career by establishing himself as a "normal" and adult man? A very staged kiss at the MTV Video Music Awards added fuel to the fire.

Meanwhile, Michael Jackson returned to what he did best: making records. He commenced recording new tracks for an ambitious package that would include his greatest hits along with an album's worth of new material. He gathered a number of hot songwriters and producers and even recorded a duet with his sister Janet. Epic Records, the branch of Sony that handled his recordings, prepared for a massive media assault. Jackson and Lisa Marie appeared on a television interview with Diane Sawyer; the singer and his bride vehemently insisted that they had a sex life and planned to have children. Naturally, such urgency only encouraged those who felt that their public claims to "normalcy" were career propaganda. Even so, the interview earned astronomical ratings and helped prepare the way for the new album's marketing blitz.

The marketing campaign for HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1 (1995) was the biggest ever seen for an album; amid the hype, strangely enough, Jackson was trumpeting the message that he resented intrusions into his privacy. When HIStory was released it met with mixed reviews. "It's not where music is headed, it's where music has been," complained radio station music director Bruce St. James, quoted in Newsweek. The public, despite the media bombast, seemed to agree. The debut single, "Scream," a duet with Janet that was supported by a flashy science-fiction video earned only a lukewarm reception, and HIStory dropped out of the top ten after only a few weeks.

Yet the record could scarcely be considered a failure, given that it was a double album and promised to issue singles for at least another year. One, the ballad "Childhood," also appeared on the soundtrack of the family film Free Willy 2, promising an even wider audience. "There will probably be nine singles," pronounced Epic executive David Glew to Billboard. "That puts us through two Christmases ... I think this will be one of the biggest albums of all time, [but] we know it will take the full weight of this company." Meanwhile, many fans who didn't adore the new tracks would likely still invest in the package just to have Jackson's classic hits in one place.

Another scandal erupted immediately, however; it involved the presence of apparently anti-Semitic lyrics on the song "They Don't Care about Us." Steven Spielberg, superstar filmmaker and stalwart defender of Jackson during his earlier travails, publicly criticized the lyrics, as did many other individuals and groups. Jackson announced that he harbored no prejudice toward anyone, though his remark that "my lawyers are Jewish" scarcely banished all doubt. A smaller ripple came from the revelation that Lisa Marie's two children from her previous marriage were unhappy living at Neverland. The couple would divorce amicably in 1996.

Later that same year, Jackson announced that Deborah Rowe, an assistant to his dermatologist, was pregnant with his child. The couple were married in Australia soon after his announcement, and Rowe subsequently gave birth to a son, Prince Michael Jackson Jr. A daughter, Paris Michael Katherine, was born in the spring of 1998. Jackson and Rowe announced their intention to divorce in the fall of 1999.

Even when beset by rumor and scandal and such has been his situation for much of his career, Michael Jackson has masterfully translated adversity into greater fame. While many argue that his work has been uneven, his contribution to modern pop has been enormous. Indeed, Jackson redefined stardom for the video era, and popular culture would never be the same.

  • 字数:1790个
  • 易读度:标准
  • 来源:外教社 2016-06-28