I'm not sure who is at most fault--the artist, label or media--but this whole notion that it is acceptable to deliver an album that is only digestible in small dosages is annoying. Considering the slump in record sales in recent years, it is apparent that the buying public has had enough.
This wasn't the case 25 years ago when Michael Jackson released his classic Thriller album. I'm looking at the track listing and the notes about the performance of each single, and it is actually pretty shocking when compared to contemporary records.
Thiller had just nine songs on it. Of those nine songs, seven reached the top 10. If you break down those seven top 10 tracks, five entered the top five, two of which even hit number one. Talk about getting your money's worth. Soulja Boy has been Yahoo! Music's most searched artist for more than two months, but doesn't the Superman craze stop with "Crank That"?
I am not comparing the artistry of Michael to that of Soulja Boy. I'm just making the point that there is a major difference between the music crazes that consumed 13-year-olds today and 25 years ago. I should know. I was in the 8th grade when Thriller came out. The only song I hated on the album was "Billie Jean" and that's solely because my name is Billy, and all the kids thought it was so funny to call me Billie Jean.
Even as a young teen it was easy to appreciate Mike's good music. For me, it was the pureness in his voice when he sang ballads like "She's Outta My Life" from the Off The Wall album or the way he attacked each syllable on "Beat It." Add to that the production genius of Quincy Jones and all the elements of performance that Mike brings to the table and it was revolutionary. 25 years later it is still relevant.
Eighteen year-old Chris Brown can impress his fans by incorporating a tribute to Mike during his show while more bits of Mike's work can be found in offerings from everyone from Usher to Ne-Yo to Fallout Boy (see Mike influences video show).
A couple more young Mike fans will be paying their respects in an even bigger way. Kanye West, will.i.am, and Akon contribute remixes to Thriller - 25th Anniversary Edition due out in February.
Will.i.am remixes "The Girl Is Mine 2008," "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)," and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," the latter also features Akon. Kanye provides "Billie Jean 2008." These are packaged along with the original track listing, a few previously unreleased songs and a DVD featuring three videos and the classic Motown 25: Yesterday, Today And Forever performance of "Billie Jean" where Michael introduced the Moon Walk.
It's crazy to think that a person with such a legacy has descended from the uncontested self-proclaimed King Of Pop to that of the King Of The Tabloids for his controversial plastic surgeries and affection for kids.
After the child molestation trial in 2005, I seriously wondered how his catalog would fare after he endured such a turbulent media frenzy. Water cooler talk about the trial had not been in Mike's favor. I got my answer when attending my wife's company's holiday party that year.
While socializing and eating hors d'oeuvres, the deejay started the party, kicking things off with Michael's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." I felt a lump in my throat. I thought, Everyone is sick of Mike right now. No one wants to give him a second thought. The deejay needs to change the song.
But I was wrong. People put down their drinks and packed the dance floor within minutes. It was like it was 1979 all over again.