Nine years since his death, the legacy of Michael Jackson still lives on. A true artist and an all-around performer, Michael has greatly changed the landscape of pop music through his long and impressive list of life’s works. I think it’s safe to say that to this day, his impact on pop music remains unmatched. We remember him for his songs, iconic dance moves, revolutionary fashion, among others. Everything he does, he gives his 100 percent. His live performances are epic, but his music videos are a league on its own too. Making them into genuine works of art, his videos are more like short films, and are remembered just as much as the songs they accompany.
In honor of the one and only King of Pop’s 60th birthday, we relive his legacy by listing down some of his most iconic music videos.
Th music video that changed the game, “Billie Jean” is historic for several reasons. It was the first music video from a black artist which MTV featured repetitively on their channel, which led to the inclusion of several other African American artists to be featured on the music platform. In 1992, “Billie Jean” was inducted into the Music Video Producers Hall of Fame.
Directed by none other than Martin Scorsese, “Bad” tackled serious issues on race in the tumultuous ‘80s. Michael starred alongside a young Wesley Snipes in this production which features a tense confrontation between the two, and of course, an elaborate dance number by Michael. Behind the scenes, Scorsese shared through Rolling Stones: “We went over schedule; it was two and a half weeks of the dance sequence alone. I was mesmerized by it. The video monitor made us all dancers.”
Taking inspiration from classic noir movies, the video’s narrative centers on a crime story. His famous gravity-defying forward lean dance move, which he later patented, made its first appearance here. While it was originally executed with the help of wires and affixing his heels on the ground, it was such a favorite that he began performing it live.
This award-winning music video which Michael himself produced featured his iconic red leather jacket and his trademark movie-musical type of choreography. This track and the music video was one of his first works which ultimately catapulted his name into global superstardom, effectively cementing his status as a pop icon.
He has a long list of music video masterpieces, but I’m sure many will agree this was his best. A cult favorite, “Thriller” was responsible for giving kids nightmares, and giving your parents the Thriller fever aka dancing the choreographed zombie moves whenever the song plays (It was the OG viral dance, really). Sure, there’s a lot going on, but everything about this Grammy-winning video is literally perfect. Fight me.
Art by Marian Hukom
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