Celebrity deaths can seem like a personal loss for avid fans – and last week, fans lost a few familiar faces.
Tuesday, 86-year-old TV personality Ed McMahon died.Then, Farrah Fawcett, the actress and poster girl whose look and hairstyle was sought after by a wave of teen girls, died Thursday after a three-year battle with cancer.
Another more unexpected death struck the hearts of of fans and consumers Sunday morning – TV pitchman Billy Mays died one day after landing at the Tampa International Airport, where the tires of the plane blew out and objects reportedly hit Mays in the head, though it is still unclear whether the incidents were related.
Perhaps the most famous superstar to die last week, however, was pop star Michael Jackson, whose cause of death is still unknown – reports include tales of heart attacks and drug overdose mixed with family and friends’ tales of his personal life.
As a tribute to Jackson’s career, the Oracle staff took a look at some of its favorite songs from the “King of Pop.”
When Jackson’s later years became plagued with pale skin and bad press, many found it hard to remember he was once a beloved child star of the ’70s. The Jackson 5, with young Jackson as the lead singer, had several successful singles that are still popular today.
The single “ABC” was heard on American Bandstand in 1970 and was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list the same year. It has been included in the soundtrack of several movies, including Dogma and The Italian Job.
It’s a classic song about the simplicities of love. The lyrics were easy to follow – as easy as 1, 2, 3 and A, B, C – the beat was light and overall the song was acceptable and fun for all ages. Jackson was young, adorable and lovable as he started what would become an impressive musical career.
– Emily Handy
I must first say that one of my favorite movies of all time is The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese. In the movie there is a scene in which two groups of men meet in an abandoned warehouse. I jokingly said, “This looks like it’s straight out of a Michael Jackson video.”
Only a few days later, I learned that Scorsese actually directed Jackson’s “Bad” music video. I have loved the song and the video ever since. In the video, a hoodlum played by a young Wesley Snipes tells Jackson’s character that he is no longer “bad” – to which MJ offers a musical rebuttal. The song is also the basis for one of my favorite Weird Al Yankovic parodies, “Fat.”
– Joe Polito
“Black or White”
“Black or White,” released on the Dangerous album in 1991, has to be my favorite Jackson song. It was one of the first of his songs I liked.
The fast-paced beat of “Black or White” always seems to energize me. I like how it is mainly a dance song, but mixes in a little hip-hop as well. The song’s wrhythm is incredibly uplifting and boosts my mood right away.
The lyrics also present a great message of racial harmony and leave me with a hopeful, happy feeling.
– Jessica Zok
My introduction to Jackson occurred at summer camp when I was 10 years old, through the music video for “Thriller.” I had never seen anything that scared me more or gave me worse nightmares – but I was glad to have seen it.
Later on, watching the video, it was fun to laugh at my childhood fears of a zombie-like Jackson. The song’s rhythm and lyrics make it different from other Jackson songs – it talks about a fictional reality, one that could be perceived by the listener in many
different ways. However, the famous video spells out a story so clear that it becomes difficult to imagine a Jackson any different than he is portrayed there.
– Hannah Feig
“Man in the Mirror”
Jackson could certainly pump up crowds with his exhilarating dance moves, flashy outfits and gripping voice. However, the King of Pop showed a different side in this favorite.
Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” is a slow, emotional jam that touches the depths of anyone’s heart.
Most of Jackson’s hits made people dance, but this one brings a tear to the eye as he challenges himself – and others – to “make that change” inside themselves to make the world a better place.
Jackson shows that even one of the world’s greatest pop stars can have a hunger to do more in a lifetime. It all starts with us.
– Kerry Klecic
“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”
My family had a great influence on my musical preferences while I was growing up. Whatever they listened to, I listened to – including Jackson. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” has always been one of my parents’ favorite Jackson songs, and in turn my favorite as well.
That is one of the legacies Jackson left – he was able to bring together generations of families and people of different races with his music.
Every time I hear that disco track or any other Jackson hit, I can’t help but dance along with the beat.
– Jenna Withrow